Tag Archives: Student

Final Reflection

As my experience with my website is coming to a close, it is now the perfect time to post my final reflections. The website that Dakota and I created was better then we had imagined it would be, even with the flaws we still have to fix. Both of us admit to not being the most technologically savvy people, so what we were able to create pleased us to no end.

We did deviant from the contract in several ways by content and design. Originally, we had hoped to create a digital archive with numerous amounts of pictures and newspaper articles that viewers could see. However, due to peer edits and lack of time, our agenda had to change. Now our site is more of an overview of what our region was up to, along with clipped articles that focus on specific topics. This narrative style is seen throughout the website and on our changed tabs.

The “Home page” deviated from the contract in that it is not as long winded as we had first envisioned. When we had first began creating out site, we had  long paragraphs in mind for our mission statement. As time went on however, Dakota compacted the mission statement into a couple of short paragraphs that worked better and did not overwhelm our intended audience as much.

The “In the News” tab became two separate tabs, “Entertainment” and “Women in War. The “Entertainment” tab stayed close to the contract in that it did continue to state what events were frequently mentioned during the war and had countless articles as visual aids. However, baseball came to replace  the topic of diseases, as with more research I learned the diseases were featured in Richmond not the norm in Wise. The “Women in War” page also managed to stick close to the contract. I diligently listed the organizations that women participated in and added articles throughout. And yet with encouragement and thought, I increased the descriptions of what they did in their local clubs.

The last tab that I had, “The Flu” underwent some drastic changes. With more research, Dakota and I found that the articles I had clipped did not fit the Spanish Flu epidemic. The articles also didn’t fit, in that they were about Richmond and not Wise, Dickenson, or Big Stone Gap. So with a heavy heart I removed them.  I also allowed Dakota to overtake my tab and add in paragraphs he had found within his research. His narrative explained that the flu had been caught within the mountains, but that information was limited. All in all, my tabs deviated a little from the contract, but in ways that I felt improved the website credibility and design.

Dakota’s tabs of “Local Memorials” and the  “Honor Roll” managed to not deviant from the contract at all. Which was a wonderful achievement, as the intended way was simple and to the point. However “The Local Reflections” had to evolve as he was not able to obtain the appropriate permission to digitally scan the booklets. Dakota overcame that obstacle and wrote an essay using lines that conveyed the main message of the authors. Ultimately, Dakota’s tabs kept to what we had intended and contributed to the site in a helpful and interactive way.

For our division of labor, it safe to say that Dakota and I both stayed within the structured parameters. Though as stated above, Dakota did take over “The Flu” tab due to him having more relevant research, both of us used our own contributions of research to complete our own tabs with little to no help from the other. Though we did work together to edit the tabs and make website a success.

In Conclusion, Century America has taught me that it is okay to change your original plans. That both historical research and the digital world is a constantly evolving process that can bring joy, heartache, and frustration. And yet, even with all the days I wanted to pull my hair out or throw my pencil down, I would go back and do it all over again. Century America has taught me lessons I know I will use in both my academic and future careers.


I can’t believe this course is coming to and end. Joy and I have come a long way and I must say I could not be happier with how the site turned out! Overall, this course was quite a learning experience. I had never worked with WordPress before so it tested my patience quite a lot but I  gained a lot of new and useful skills.

There were some areas of the site that deviated from the original contract we drew up, however, none of the changes were that significant. We changed the theme to better display our information and we omitted the section on Women’s Naval Militia since I could not find enough sources to write up the section.

Throughout the course, I appreciated the feedback Joy and I received for the site from Dr. Pearson and Dr. McClurken as well as the other students in the class . It was really helpful to have this open dialogue between all the members of the course because all the comments we received bettered our site.

I appreciate the fact that the Century America course gave me the opportunity to explore the archives. I really enjoyed spending time in the Sarasota History Center during the researching stage of the course. It was fascinating to see the various materials stored at the Center as well as figuring out which materials were useful for our research. It sort of felt like a scavenger hunt. Also, getting to meet and interview Harriet Burns Stieff was an amazing opportunity. We were able to capture her story and share it with the community. Her family’s ties to the community are so prevalent that it felt like a duty to provide some form of documentation of it. Through the use of videos, I believe that I was able to do so.

I must say that the video editing process was quite a journey. As I was editing the first video on development my computer stopped working and all those edits were lost. It took me a while to get a new computer and the program set up. I had to redo the edits on the previous program but once I did so I was on track again.

Besides editing the four videos and transcribing them, I worked on the Agriculture and Woman’s Club section. From the beginning of the project, I showed interested in exploring the Woman’s Club since I had never heard about it but kept seeing the club popping up in the newspapers I was looking at. It was interesting to learn how huge of a role the members of the club played it making Sarasota the way it looks today. It was in charge of the beautification of the town. So all the beautiful vegetation lining the streets of downtown Sarasota today owe it to the club.

Overall, I could not be happier with my experience with Century America. This is such a unique course that connects students of similar interests from various liberal arts colleges across the United States together. I gained so many new skills and solidified others. Thank you all for being such engaging and helpful peers!

Final Reflection

The website that Kana and I created went far beyond what I envisioned. I am so proud of the work Kana and I have done and feel that we truly did our best to produce an accurate, comprehensive look into Sarasota during the Great War. We managed to get to this point by sticking fairly closely to our project contract and original division of labor.

A key component of our contract was keeping the site attractive and accessible. Kana and I agree that the theme and other aesthetic elements of the website came out well. But, in order to achieve this, we did end up using a different theme than the one we originally planned to use in the contract. Besides solely visual elements, we feel that we managed to find a good balance between images and text. Most importantly, it is our opinion that we were able to write with historical integrity without sounding too academic. Thus far, these views have been supported by members of the Sarasota community who have seen the website. Our parents, friends, peers, and random members of the area have all be able to enjoy the content. Last week I called a local video store for an entirely different project and when I told the owner my name, he commented that he is a member of the Historical Society of Sarasota County and saw my website in an email sent out to Society members. A Sarasota native, he said he loved the site and showed it to all his friends.

Regarding the layout of content, there were a few deviations from the contract. Under the War Effort section, we added a subheading on “Enlisting” and removed a tab labeled “Women in the War Effort.” This change was due to a lack of information regarding a woman’s naval militia that was mentioned briefly in a single source. Instead, the role of women in the war effort was touched upon in all relevant sections and more specifically in the tab, “Woman’s Club,” under “Social Life on the Homefront.” We also removed an intended subheading on railroads under the “Wartime Economic Development” tab. This was mostly due to a lack of time; when it came down to adding the section, there was already a good amount of content under “Wartime Economic Development” and little time left to add more. The last main deviation was moving the section on disease, originally placed under “Social Life on the Homefront,” to its own tab called “Influenza.” A positive addition that was not on the contract was creating an individual page for Harriet Burns Stieff, providing a page where visitors could see all video clips of her in one place and read a bit about her and her involvement in the project.

Our division of labor turned out almost exactly how we planned in the contract. As stated previously, the section on the woman’s naval militia did not come to fruition, and thus Kana did not get a chance to write about that. Besides that, we both read over and helped edit each others’ sections. Occasionally when doing archival research we individually came across sources that were relevant to parts the other person was writing about. As such, we did not maintain a clear division of labor in the sense that nothing was done without some form of collaboration. But, generally, we stuck to our assigned tasks.

Again, we are incredibly proud of our site and grateful for the experience we have had in this class. I think I can speak for Kana as well when I say that we both learned skills that will benefit our academic careers and beyond.

The Last Post

Having spent the past semester reflecting on past events, it seems only fitting that we conclude our participation in the Century America Project in the same fashion.

In reflection, therefore, what must be immediately addressed is the extent to which my research-partner and I ultimately deviated from the parameters which we had set for building our website. Plans to incorporate an interactive map of our community or a timeline of important events occurring therein eventually proved to be somewhat overly-optimistic, given our joint lack of experience with digital architecture. In the case of the timeline, we did include the caveat that the timeline was only “a prospective” addition to the site.

In terms of the proposed pages which would comprise the site, our contract is largely congruent with the current state of the site, though we ultimately determined, after advisement from Dr. Pearson, to combine the proposed “Chester Ronning” page into that for the Camrose Lutheran College. Likewise, the idea of a “Daughters of Empire” page was eventually folded into the broader category of “Women’s Contributions”. Finally, the “Our Experiences” page proposed in the contract was dropped all together, as we came to feel that a page describing the process of building the website was of lesser importance and therefore an unnecessary allocation of time and energy that could be better utilized on other developing other aspects of the site.

As for how closely the content of those pages that were eventually included accords with our contract proposals, the overlap appears, in my estimation, to be fairly close for the most part. The only major exception would be that the page for “The Military Experience” currently contains little information concerning the specific units mentioned in the contract (other than a brief reference to the Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry) or to recruitment drives. This particular deviation resulted from the realization that the topic of recruiting fitted better within the “Propaganda and Attitudes Towards the War” page than “The Military Experience”, which ultimately became became devoted specifically to the story of Sgt. Harry Connor as the emblematic Camrose soldier.

Concerning the experience of participating in this project, in brief, I’d happily do it all over again if the opportunity presented itself. The topic of study is both fascinating and important to understand in light of how so much of what we take for granted in modern social and geopolitical arrangements proceeds directly from the Great War and its aftermath. Additionally, the digital and archival course-work, while perhaps somewhat intimidating for the neophyte, was both extremely useful experience as a scholar and also a lot of fun. Finally, it must be said that the teleconference aspect of the course was excellent. Drs. Pearson and McClurken, ably assisted by Leah Tams, married academic professionalism with humor in a highly-effective manner, and in terms of the websites that the students eventually produced, I think that the results speak for themselves.

In conclusion, I’d like to thank Drs. Ellen Pearson and Jeff McClurken, Leah Tams, my research partner, Summer Roasting and our fellow student-participants in this program for an immeasurably enriching experience.

~James Hudec

The End (Or Project Reflections and Defending the Contract)

As I sit here typing this, I’m in the middle of making some edits on our site and I can’t believe my Century America experience is almost over. I’m graduating in a little over a week and soon I will be on to my next adventure. For now though, I have some school work to attend to and finish up.

Everytime I go onto our site to correct errors and make changes to our content, I feel extremely proud of the work Colm and I have accomplished this semester. It’s been stressful and frustrating at times, but it’s also been an incredibly rewarding experience and I’ve learned a lot about the world of digital history. It was great to get back into the archives and do hands on research, too.

When it all comes down to it, this journey was a trial and error process. I’m incredibly pleased with the way our site turned out, but the journey to get to this point involved straying from the contract and ultimately figuring out what do with the website that was in our best interest as a team with the amount of time we had. Initially, we were going have a “Highlights” and “Full Report” page. The home page would provide links to both pages and it would be the first thing viewers would see when they came to the site.

The “Highlights” page was initially meant to be a platform for people interested in learning about our research without having to read through the full report. It was going to allow people a quick run down of the material that wouldn’t necessarily be as enriching, but would be just as interesting. That page ended up involving into what we called our “Getting Started” page in our first website draft. All it had on it was a few key points from both the Stevens County section and the West Central School of Agriculture section, and a map. It transformed from a run down of the material to an introduction, and it was not being used effectively at all. With more time and a better understanding of digital technologies, I think we could have made an effective use of the “Highlights” page. However, after negative feedback from Drs. McClurken and Pearson and the rest of the class, we decided to scrape the page all together. The “Highlights” and “Full Report” pages were completely taken out and visitors are now immediately greeted with links to the Stevens County section and the West Central School section on the home page.

All in all, this makes much more sense and makes the whole website more accessible to viewers. I’m happy with the way it looks. It would have been neat to integrate a successful highlights page, but Colm and I may have been a bit in over our heads when we included that in the contract initially.

When it comes down to research, I felt like I got started on it later than I would have liked and I ended up having some setbacks along the way–my car wouldn’t start because of the cold here in Minnesota and I was unable to make it to the museum for a couple weeks, which I was worried would set my research back a lot. Fortunately, despite my worries, everything turned out okay. I am proud of all the sources I’ve gathered at both the Stevens County Historical Museum and the on- campus archives at UMM. We had put March 20 as the date that all research was to be completed, and I made sure to be done by then. That said, an opportunity–when the archivist on campus ended up coming across some relevant Morris Tribune articles from the time period–came up later. I took advantage of that opportunity because I wanted to see if there was any more useful information I could garner–which there was–and it was a rather small stack of newspaper copies in the first place.

In terms of general timeline things, I can’t speak for Colm on his research, since we did much of it separately, but I believe I upheld everything on the timeline quite well.

Division of labor remained the same, except Colm and I ended up working on the home page together–it was initially given to Colm as a task, but it just ended up working as a team effort. Colm chose, edited, and uploaded the pictures and I wrote the text.

Much of our project contract is built off of our idea of the “Highlights” and “Full Reports” pages, so it does look much different from what eventually resulted in the final project. Other than that, I believe I’ve upheld my side of the contract rather well. All the pages I said would be created for the WCSA side of the site were created and I’m really proud of the way they turned out. We did say we were going to use a commenting tool, however that didn’t happen–which I think is for the best, as I really like the way the site looks as it is and I fear comments would detract from that.

This project was quite the journey. It was an adventure to utilize digital media in class and in video conferencing into class every week. Technology glitches happened more than occasionally and they were just something we had to accept as a class–it always made for a much more interesting hour and fifteen minutes, that’s for sure! I had so much fun learning about the West Central School of Agriculture and I truly feel a stronger appreciation for UMM’s campus history now that I have all this knowledge about it from the Great War period. This journey wasn’t always easy and mistakes were made, but I’m incredibly proud of the website Colm and I have put together and I hope the citizens of Stevens County, as well as anyone who stumbles across it on the web, enjoys it too.


Century America Reflection Paper Due May 2nd

The Century America COPLAC project has provided me with a better appreciation of digital history. Previously, I had regarded digitalization as an easy skill. Grandparents and even elementary age children are able to create Facebook profiles and Word Press Blogs with apparent ease. However, I was unaware of the complicated processes associated with website design and writing. As a history major, I felt unprepared to create HTML and CSS coding for vital components of the digital project. I invested many hours searching through coding books to obtain the correct locations of periods and quotations marks so essential to web design. These unexpected difficulties created obstacles toward the completion of our project contract. My partner and I adjusted our goals to reflect these challenges. However, confronting these difficulties I became a better historian. I learned how to conduct community research and efficiently organize my time. More importantly, I gained an understanding of the skills required to present history to wider audience.

Community research was essential to our project’s success. Through interviews and meetings, my partner and I were able to discovery important sources which altered the course of our research. My project partner, Laura Galbraith, and I first encountered John W. Zimmerman and Kim Ward as they were completing the Call Field Aviation Base mural at the Wichita Falls Municipal Airport. Zimmerman and Ward provided insight on important subjects and gave us contact information regarding how to obtain research. Such information included the contact details of Lita Watson who is the head archivist of the Wichita County Archives. Ward used photographs from the Wichita County Archives to reconstruct the base’s layout which was essential to her mural’s perspective. Laura and I were able to use Ward’s outline to gain a better impression of the base which helped in our own search of Call Field photographs. Ms. Watson of the county archives also contributed toward our search by allowing me to explore unhindered through the vast archive. Often, I would invest my Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday afternoons examining records and inquiring with archivists about additional sources of research. Such discussion reviled that the complete collection of the Wichita Daily Times was located at the Wichita Falls Public Library. The Wichita Daily Times was the daily news publication of Wichita Falls during The Great War. This source was essential toward interpreting our project’s topics such as Call Field, The Spanish Flu, the Oil Boom, and the Women’s war contributions. Through an online Facebook Group dedicated to Wichita Falls history, I encountered city cartographer, Paul Bata who reconstructed a map of the Call Field Base. He used old photographs, property records, and satellite imagery to overlay the 1918 aviation field map on the current topography. Bata’s unique map connects Wichita Falls to the past. Although this research was vital to our project, the methods to obtain these records were time consuming. Future students of Century America should be advised that community and field research efforts require greater time commitments rather than secondary source research on databases.

Regarding our project contract, adjustments were needed to accommodate the various research challenges I encountered. Arguably, despite these changes, I upheld my commitments listed in the contact. I was initially responsible for the creation of the Call Field Page, Oil Boom Page, Bibliography Page, the Timeline, and half of the Women’s Page.  According to the contract, the Call Field Page was intended to include a detailed list of all service members that perished while training and include the schematics of Call Field Base’s construction. As I was conducting my community research, I overheard concerns that the list of men who perished was also under dispute. However, having compared the memorial stone at the Wichita Falls Municipal Airport with the records within the Call Field Engineer and Call Field Stabilizer, I feel confident that the memorial stone accurately represents those who died while training. Unfortunately, I was unable to locate the original blue prints of the aviation field. In addition, I did not include a memorial listing of all fallen airmen and I omitted the timeline. Debatably, the interactive carousals of the Call Field publication are more useful to student researchers and are more fascinating to local Call Field enthusiasts. Although these carousals do not display the graphics or dates in a linear fashion, viewers are able to see the memorial listings in the original publications. The time required to upload all six carousals made it impossible to construct the timeline. The Oil Page and Bibliography Page were completed with few deviations from the project contract. Since Laura omitted the Genealogy page, I was unable to summarize the individual entrepreneurial families’ successes which in part defined the North Texas Oil Boom. Instead, I focused my discussion on the development of North Texas oil businesses and Call Field. Laura was also unable write the section regarding the Spanish Flu. Therefore, I undertook the Spanish Flu research and arguably satisfied all related conditions according to the contract.

Laura Galbraith’s adjusted contributions included the Women’s Role, the Timeline, uploading the map, and writing half of the home page. She primarily focused on the technological aspects including setting the color scheme, selecting the background image, and setting up the pages. Laura sufficiently described Women’s Roles during The Great War. This section does not deviate from the contract.

Overall, I believe that Laura and I are pleased with the website despite the few deviations from our contract. Unfortunately, we were unable to invest the necessary time to integrate our YouTube videos on an interactive map. These videos may possibly become components on the timeline depending on Laura’s availability. Our project’s accomplishments represent the community’s involvement. Many of the sources that were vital toward our analysis were given and used with permission by various people and entities across North Texas. This process of digitization has helped Laura and I become better historians.


Hello World

So today is the day we are turning in the final draft of the website and I have to say that I am excuited and nervous at the same time. Both my partner and I made numerous correctations and made late night/ early morning phone calls in our effort to make this site the best it could be.

Below is the link to the website.


I hope that you guys enjoy it and learning about the Wise community as much as we did. Until Next time.


Errors Caught and Lessons Learned

Earlier today, when I came into work, my boss at the archives gave me some copies of old articles of the Morris Tribune from 1917-1919 that he had recently come across.

Although I’ve considered myself formally done with my research for a few weeks now–I mean, our website is due next week–I was grateful that he thought of the project. I decided they might have some nice information in them to beef up my existing pages on the website. I never got around to looking at the newspapers when I did my initial research, though it probably would have been a good idea.

Good thing I decided to take a look, too: as I was looking through the articles related to the West Central School of Agriculture, I came across a glaring error in my research.

One of the articles reported that in 1917, 150 students were enrolled in the school, a thirty-five student increase from the previous year.

This was all fine and dandy until I realized I had documented and included on one of my website pages that there were 500 students by 1914. This could not be correct! The math did not add up. 500 in 1914 and 150 in 1917? No, that was impossible! The source I got the 500 number from was The Great War documentary created by the Stevens County Historical Society. I’m not sure if I wrote down the numbers wrong when I was watching the movie or if they reported inaccurate information in the film.

Regardless, I found myself freaking out because I didn’t want to be responsible for shoddy historical research! As I thought about it more, I realized that the small size of the campus couldn’t have even supported 500 students in 1914. The two residents halls weren’t big enough  (The Boys Dormitory, which is currently known as the upper-class residence hall, Spooner Hall, only houses up to 90 students today) and the few other ill-equipped buildings on campus in 1914 couldn’t have sustained such large numbers. As I found out by looking through more of the articles, by the 1918 school year, the school was in dire need of overflow housing with close to 200 students. Furthermore, the 1914 Moccasin, which I did look through early on in my research, had relatively small class sizes with nowhere near 500 students in the whole school. I should have been skeptical of the 500 number from the start.

I’m so glad I was able to look through these articles and catch this mistake. I haven’t changed it on the website yet, but I will soon.

I’m taking this as a lesson–to be more careful with my source information in the future and to question information that doesn’t seem right from the beginning. After all, this is a learning experience. Although I’ve done historical research before, I’m still learning. We all make mistakes and this is one I’m definitely going to keep in mind for the future.




Hello World.

So I have now got written permission from The Post. It was an interesting visit and I got to talk to the Head editor. He even gave me a tip on another memorial for our memorial tab.

So today, I am working on a research paper for another class but tomorrow, I am going to work on doing the citations for my images and playing with them in paint. I want to add a border around relevant information and try and increase the image size.

I will then be moving the images from one big gallery to among the text on Saturday along with increasing the narrative of the text.

That is all that I can think to write about now.

Until next time.


Working Towards the Finish Line

Well, hey there! It’s been a while.

I didn’t really have anything new to blog about last week since we weren’t supposed to be doing any work on our websites while waiting for them the be reviewed. Since presenting and receiving feedback, I have a bit more to say that I can actually turn into a successfulish blog post.

As the semester is coming to a close, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I’m going to get everything done in these next few weeks. I’m presenting research I did for my comp studies class last semester at Morris’ Undergraduate Research Symposium next weekend, so I need to finish up and prepare for that presentation.  I have to finish writing my English senior thesis paper and then prepare to present that, which is going to take up a lot of time–I mean, this is the only class I actually need to graduate and it’s necessary for receiving my English degree…so it’s kind of a big deal. I have responsibilities to attend to for my one other class here on campus and I have to finish this website…and then promote it to the community. I also have Hall Director stuff to get done, as we near move out and hall closing for the year.

Okay, so it’s no that much. I only have twelve credits this semester and it could be way worse. I’ve experienced way worse. But I just worry about getting things done by nature so, naturally, I’m worrying.

My main concern with our website right now is the layout. Colm and I realized how utterly useless our “Getting Started” page is and we are seriously considering getting rid of it. We probably will. Rearranging our menu so that the Stevens County and WCSA pages are more accessible is a top priority, too. I also didn’t consider how clinical “Full Report” sounds until it was pointed out during our presentation, so Colm and I will definitely be changing that, too.

Overall, I’m super thrilled with how our site looks and the Nirvana theme has been pretty good to us…but let’s be real–webpage accessibility, which was important to us from the beginning, is actually pretty crappy at the moment.

I have some work on my own pages, which I was aware of. Lots of proofreading needs to happen plus a few small things that will make a huge difference.

Our “About” and “Resources” page needs work too.

I’m eager to complete our site and show off the finished product around the community, but I’m not gonna lie–I’m also really nervous. The first version, though it was supposed to be as complete as possible, had some leeway because it was the first version. Turning in the finished product, though? That’s going to be a different story. I’m going to want everything to be perfect and, of course, I’ll worry that it’s not, that’s it’s really super crappy and shouldn’t even see the light of day.

Colm and I still have a lot to do about it.

I guess instead of blogging about how worried I am, I should actually do something about it and get to work!

Best of luck to everyone else as you all finish your sites up, too!