Footnotes Plugin

Sorry to everyone who might have been looking for me to post the name of the footnotes plugin yesterday- I was just getting over a reaction to a bee sting and food poisoning as well, so I came home and spent some much-needed time on my couch staring at the backs of my eyelids.  This morning I felt so good that I got out and completed a bunch of spring yard work that had started to pile up and I almost forgot about posting this.  So, without further ado, the footnotes plugin is: Easy Footnotes, Version 1.0.8, by Jason Yingling.  I looked through several before deciding on this one, and it’s very simple to use, and extremely clean and professional looking.  If anyone has any trouble with downloading it or figuring out how it works, please email me and I’ll try to lend a hand.  Back to the yard!

Finish Line!

I haven’t made a post lately because I’ve been buried up to my eyeballs in research and construction of the website.  Today’s the day though- I’ve got one last narrative to do and the Bibliography of my sources to complete and my part of the site is done.

I was thinking this morning about the headings on the site.  We have several and I don’t want a user to get overwhelmed, so I’m thinking it might be prudent to nest some of the headings under one larger heading.  I’ve been playing with the site and attempting to do that in the last few minutes but I’ve not had much success.

No matter.  I have an 11 o’clock meeting with the tech guru here at UNCA, Laurie Miles, who helped me a few weeks back getting everything organized, and I’m sure she will be my savior yet again when it comes to all things tech.  I used to believe since I was on the end of Gen X/beginning of Gen Y, that I was so wonderful at technology, but this class has proved otherwise!

It’s all turned out well in the end though.  I’m really proud of what Ben and I have put together.  I really enjoyed finding the historical items I’ve found- it’s been extremely eye-opening- and it’s even making me consider the possibility that I’d like to continue with the site after this semester and keep adding to it.  We’ll see.  For now, I see the light at the end of the tunnel, and I’m steadily gaining on it.


Origin of a Website

So I’ve been on Spring Break this week.  Although, it’s not really been much of a Spring Break.  I’ve worked on two 10+ page research papers, a 30 minute PPT presentation on wetland restoration, attempted to work on some Latin homework (this was the least successful of my endeavors), spent one day in Pack Library and one day in the UNCA Archives collection finishing up, worked on index cards for my next History test, and I just finished uploading all my images for the website into Google Drive.  I found a lot of great images at both the Library and the Archives, and I’m already beginning to formulate some narratives to go along with them.  The week has flown by and I still have a lot to do for the website as well as my other classes to get through to the end of the semester.

I’ve already started playing around with the home page on the website, and have uploaded a background image and given it a title, and I’m excited to get some more things up on it this week.  Stay tuned!



“Creating Meaning in a Sea of Information”

That was the title of Part 4 in Writing History in the Digital Age, which is part of next week’s upcoming assignment.  In this article, that title was what stood out to me- “a sea of information”.  They even mentioned an earlier site we looked at and also my favorite digital history site, The Valley of the Shadow.  I went ahead and completed this assignment because once again I’m at home in the snow.  Hopefully we have class tomorrow, so Ben and I can run by Special Collections, at least for a few minutes.  I want to speak with Gene again about finalizing what I will be able to digitize for my site from the UNCA Archives (regarding copyright).

Even though my research has been slightly sidetracked with all the bad weather, I don’t feel overwhelming amounts of pressure that I’m not going to be able to obtain enough information for the website.  Rather, it’s sifting through the availability of information (that “sea of information” again) and presenting what I feel are the most important pieces.  I already know I’m going to have to be careful about not putting up too many documents and photographs and such, simply because there won’t be enough time.  I’m a very visual person, so I also have to be diligent about integrating documents and photographs and the like with enough interpretation that the site finds an ideal balance between an archive and a narrative.  Another key point in the article.

I also looked at the AHA Perspectives article on Marx in the Mountains.  It was about hunger and poverty in Vermont and linking the teachings of Marx to those problems in the Vermont economy.  I related to the information because it sounded a lot like Western North Carolina, and also because this is a very important piece of my website.  The rural poor- in my neck of the woods, classified not so much by hunger, but definitely by poverty.  Self-sufficiency and semi-subsistence lifestyles are themes I want my part of the website to highlight for this area as well.  I think those themes have always been important to this region (especially so during a World War) and that they are still important.

I’ve noticed lots of folks went ahead and posted their contracts.  I shared mine only via Google Docs with Dr. Pearson and Dr. McClurken, but I’m happy to include a blurb regarding my “side” of mine and Ben’s joint website.  My plan is as follows and comes directly from my contract:

Upon entering the “Rural” side of the website, the visitor will come to a homepage with a black and white background of photos from the Great War time period.  The visitor can then choose to click on one of the following headings: Farms and Small Towns, Churches, City Laborers, Rural Color, Prohibition Roots, Flood of 1916, or the Railroad.  Upon clicking one of these headings, an additional page will open with the option of opening the subcategories: Newspaper Articles and Photographs, Ledgers/Records, Diaries/Letters/Journal Entries, Maps, Other Photographs.  Each of these subcategories will likely contain at least one image, perhaps more than one, as well as a narrative to go along with the image.  For example, the “Other Photographs” subcategory under the Flood of 1916 will contain black and white photographs of the occurrence, as well as a small narrative to let the visitor know the background story.  Within the narrative, there may be one or two highlighted words or phrases that link the “Rural” side of the story back over to the “Urban” side of the story.  Again, with the example of the Flood of 1916, there may be a narrative as to the type of damage done to a particular business in downtown Asheville, and that business name would be hyperlinked back to the “Urban” side of the website along with information about that particular business.

So, the plan next week is to start consolidating that “sea of information” and to see if Ben and I can streamline it into a working, interactive, and inviting website.

Project Contracts

I don’t really have much of interest to blog about, and I don’t much feel like typing any longer since I spent the last hour and a half typing a draft for the project contract.

So then.  About the only other item I have to report on is the weather from hell we’re currently having.  In fact, my pipes froze last night, so all in all, I’m in a real stellar mood.  Since the weather has been playing havoc on attempts to gather research, my colleague and I pushed back our trip to Pack Library to next Tuesday.

At least we’ve gotten a start on the contract though.  Perhaps I’ll blog again when my water unfreezes and I can wash some dirty laundry.

Tata for now.


Site Refinement

After finishing Over Here (and before starting the exorbitant amount of homework I have in my other classes), I started thinking about the layout of our planned site again.  I’ve refined my idea a bit, and even though I have it written in my notes, I’d like to add a short blurb about it here as well.

After mulling over what Leah had said, I realized that I want to be careful not to make the overall scope and arrangement of the website so initially difficult that it would take a professional web designer to put it all together.

So on that vein, here is my new idea.  After the home page, where you can choose which “side” to enter- either Urban or Rural- you will have an “additional” home page on the Rural side.  I’d like to have a black and white background, perhaps a map layout of the outer reaches of the county???  Something to that effect, and in front of the background photo just a simple type of menu- not sure yet if I’d like tabs, or something else- but headings for things like Laborers, Prohibition Roots, the Flood, the Railroad, Churches, and Farms.

Once you clicked on each of those, you would get a new page with another menu, again, not sure of the exact layout, still contemplating that one, but it would then have clickable headings for Newspaper Articles, Ledgers/Records, Diaries/Letters/Journals, Maps, and Photographs.  In the background perhaps a 4-way split screen of black and white photos of a rural family farm, a picture of workers in the city, a WWI soldier from the area, and a picture of maybe the Railroad.

Once you clicked on these headings, you would then get the primary and secondary source material, along with explanations if you so wanted it.

This is just my thoughts so far on the project.  I think this is a bit of a better idea for my side of the website, compared to my initial, rather complicated one.

Site Dreams and Primary Source Roads

So my colleague and I decided we had both better complete a post on our primary source list and our planned outline for the site.  The reason being, while we will have ONE main site, we plan on having TWO layered sites.

From our homepage, the plan is for the user to have a choice as to which side of the site to enter; either a section on the urban, affluent, tourist-related side of Asheville, or to enter the side regarding the more rural, farm-country, and economically disadvantaged side of Asheville.  I’ll be focusing most of my research on the latter.

I’m hoping someone, perhaps even in our New Media department here at UNCA, will know about a type of technology where you might be able to scan a real photo, say an aerial shot of a Barnardsville farm, and then I can label certain buildings as menu headings to open additional types of categories.

For instance, the local church would “ping” when hovering over it with a computer mouse, and then if you entered it, you might have a title menu on the next page that gives you the ability to look at church records, dockets, images, etc.  If you click on one of those, it will bring up that document and/or image and you might have a hyperlink that will take you to an analysis of that item, or even link you to another related item.

The seven “menu headings” I plan to focus research on for my side includes rural farms, churches, community buildings (for example, schools, the local Post Office and/or general stores), labor- including the Railroad, early stages of Prohibition, the Flood of 1916, and minorities.  Under some of these headings, such as rural farms, you might find links to see what the farms were producing at that time, or you might find a link to a person from that particular farm that enlisted as a soldier, or perhaps even their letters or diary entries.

The point is, each of these menu headings should have the ability to bring up additional subheadings.  A layered content.  That’s the basic outline for our website.  I’m sure it will evolve, and I’m sure Ben will be able to add to what I’ve already posted here to maybe give a different viewpoint of the “look” of our projected site.

As far as primary resources, I’ve found most of mine in Special Collections here at UNCA so far, but I am indebted to Ben’s research already, as he produced an extensive list for me to delve into more.  The following list includes several primary resources for contemplation of use on the final website.

From UNCA Special Collections:

The Asheville Citizen-Times (stunning primary source photographs, and thanks to Gene for getting the “ok” to use their content)

E.M. Ball Photographic Collection

Asheville: A Pictorial History by Mitzi Schaden Tessier

Fifty-Eight Years in Asheville by Charles Webb (and his other, Forty-Six Years in Asheville)

From Western Regional Archives:

Panoramic Black and White Picture of a Training Camp for WWI Soldiers

Pack Library (Information courtesy of Benjamin Jarrell):

Tobacco Records

Along the Electric Line

African-Americans Working on Streetcar Track

View of Chimney Rock from Esmeralda Inn

Asheville Grain and Hay Company Photographs

The “Barn Hills” (I’m particularly interested in looking at this collection, as I believe it may refer to Barnardsville)

Flood of 1916 (huge collection, and it appears as if quite a bit of it may be digitized already)

View of Mountains, Mt. Mitchell, Rainbow Falls

First Presbyterian Church Records

I still have planned to visit Mars Hill, Montreat, and Appalachian University Special Collections, and there could possibly be other avenues of interest between here and there.  At this point, this is currently where I stand with a dream and a plan.

Killing Two Birds with One Stone

So I’ve been thinking.  Dangerous thing, thinking.

Since I’m doing the rural side of life in my neck of the woods and several of my family members are current or former Norfolk Southern (Railroad) employees, I’m thinking it would be good to include some information in the site about NS.

Last night whilst ruminating on the subject, I came across the Teamsters Labor Union, which is one of the many unions available to NS employees, and found that they have an office in downtown Asheville.  I’m thinking I may have to give them a call and make a pit stop there soon.

I stopped by Special Collections at my home campus library again today and made it into some of the old local papers.  Talk about a treasure trove of primary source material!  Holy cow!  It was fantastic.  I found some of the most awesome information, old ads from the Great War time period, bits and pieces of articles from the day, and low and behold, a full page of photographs of troops from Asheville with an accompanying article.  Jackpot!

I was so excited that I dragged both Gene and Colin from their desks to show them my find, and they graciously came and looked at the material (something they probably already knew was there, but they did indulge my childlike excitement with praise nonetheless).  I’m already indebted to them both.

I made a list of the primary source finds in Special Collections and since I’d devoted almost my entire study period today to the work for this class, I figured I might as well keep the ball rolling, so I just completed my first timeline.  I’m going to try and copy and paste the link here on the blog, and I don’t know how it will look at first, but I thought I’d give posting it a shot.

I did my timeline on a two week span last summer when I visited Scotland and where I went each day.  Basic and simple, but I think it filled the requirement of playing around with the technology to see what I could do with it.

Incidentally, I had a blog for my Scotland trip last summer, and if anyone’s interested in taking a look at it and my Scotland photos, you can access it via

Without further ado (and I hope this works- fingers crossed), here’s my timeline (I think).

On second review of this post, it looks like it’s only the link.  I was hoping for it to show the actual timeline itself, and maybe I’ll find out later that there is a way to embed the picture of the timeline into my blog instead of just the link.

Examining Digital History Sites

The approach I used to take a look at the list of sites for examining digital history was a simple one.  I went to the home page and after looking at the entire page, if it looked like something I could easily navigate and something that would hold my interest, I went into the site.

Such elements are what I am looking to incorporate in my side of our website, and I think that my colleague agrees with me.  We want something that is initially clean and just a “scratch the surface” type of intro, and then as each additional layer is revealed, the substance of the website becomes more striated and complex.

Those elements were what I saw incorporated into the Valley of the Shadow blog, the University of Houston’s Digital History blog, and the Emilie Davis Diaries.  These three blogs were my favorite.  They each had a fairly simplistic opening page, and I especially like that the Valley of the Shadows blog used their home page as simply an introduction page with a button for the site entrance.  I also liked how this particular blog split the time frame for the Civil War into three subsets- before, during, and after- and then each of those subsets had compartments (which were all identical in each time frame) in which to click to see primary documents, pictures, etc. and obtain an analysis of that information.

The Digital History site for the U of H was a bit more complex, and I hesitated before entering the site, but the graphics combined with the timeline made it a bit easier to navigate versus the box and grid line contraption on The Emancipation Project blog.

I also loved the timeline at the top of the Emilie Davis Diaries blog home page where each page of the site was broken down into particular diary entries from consecutive calendar days.  I also thought including the original diary entry off to the side of the page, with the ability to click and enlarge the entry, was genius.  I’m the type of person (historian) who likes to see the original of something, be it a photo, diary entry, letter, etc., when I’m learning about it.  Makes it more real to me, sort of brings it to life.

In thinking of the audience in which I’d like for most of the information on the Asheville site to be viewed by, I keep coming back to the K-12 set as well as the people who live in this area.  I don’t want a site that is so complicated it’s going to keep folks from even attempting to enter it.  Yet I don’t want a site that is too simplistic for a seasoned professor to glean some tidbit of information from either.

I continue to concur with my colleague’s musings on this: I think our blog site would be best suited as a kind of “archaeological dig site” if you will.  On the surface you have more of an overview on what you are about to uncover, something that would invite both the student as well as the professional historian alike.  When you reveal that second layer, it becomes more detailed, and by the time you reach the “bones” of the site, you are obtaining a completely detailed picture of the Great War.

In my mind this is going to be what appeals to a broad range of academic and age groups.  A site in which you can gain a broad overview of the subject in just a few clicks, but a site with enough meat in it that anyone with a hunger for the subject of the Great War in Western North Carolina will be fully satisfied when they finally close down their laptop.

Preliminary Survey of Local Archives

Luckily for my colleague and I, the Asheville area appears to be a historian’s mecca.  While UNCA was not around during the Great War years, there were still many other notable buildings- shops, churches, private homes- both in Asheville and the surrounding areas.  What’s more, people were not only documenting the birth and use of these places, but also the everyday normal activities that these folks were undertaking.  Even better, there are many archives in and around Asheville that have kept a record of all of it.

Out of my list of archives thus far, I’m most excited about my college’s special collections.  Part of that reason is the University Archivist and Head of Special Collections, Gene Hyde, seems to really know his stuff.  Just from the short visit where I went and introduced myself, he was able to point me in several good directions as to where to look for the type of information I’m interested in researching regarding this time.

I think what caught my eye the most in UNCA’s special collections, were some of the memoirs and journals that were available from the time.  There was one in particular, a small, delicately-bound blue book, couldn’t have been more than 75 pages or so, and I only caught a few words and phrases in it, but I was suddenly transported back to my Grandparent’s front porch on a late summer afternoon, inundating them with questions about “the good ol’ days” and listening as they spun timeless stories that fascinated me.

Asheville, or more particularly, the suburb of Oteen, houses North Carolina’s western-most regional historical archives, and my colleague and I have a trip planned there next week.  That same day we will also be traversing the Pack Library in downtown Asheville, another place I’ve been told (by more than one person) that is a treasure-trove of artifacts from days gone by in Buncombe County.

I have four other colleges in the area whose special collections I’m interested in perusing- Montreat, Warren Wilson, Mars Hill, and Appalachian.  Along the same vein, the Biltmore House has their own special collections, and while it’s usually off-limits to most of the general population, we have decided it would be worth a shot to send Biltmore’s Archivist an email to let them know what we are undertaking and to see if it would be possible to open up their vault to us.

I feel like my colleague and I are off to a great start, and I look forward to delving into some of this material beginning next week.