Close to the Finish Line!

This week Julia, Jack, Candice, and I have been working on the UMW and overarching CA websites, mostly just making tweaks to existing content. Unfortunately for us, but fortunately for Candice, Candice now has a real-life job at the Virginia Historical Society! It’s really awesome, but we never get to see her anymore. :(

For the CA site, I finally got the timeline to order the categories correctly, thanks to the wonderful Ryan Brazell from DTLT! Ryan informed me that the categories structure themselves based on chronology–so the “International” events appeared before the “National” events because the first International event occurred in 1914, whereas our first National event occurred in 1916. For simplicity’s sake, we decided the easiest event to add would be Woodrow Wilson’s election to the presidency in 1912. We also added his re-election in 1916, especially because his primary platform was neutrality. I also decided to add a link on the home CA page to the timeline within the widget, so that there is something on the home page (besides a menu option) that prompts viewers to explore the timeline. We made the minor changes to our wording that Dr. Pearson suggested. The only other change is on the “About” page. I change the links for each school (within the main content–not the widget) to go to those institutions, rather than the CA websites. Additionally, I thought it would be nice to link to our digital portfolios. Aside from our group, only Dara has told me that she is working on a digital portfolio that we can link to. If anyone else has one, please let me know! The only huge thing we have left to do for the CA site is to add a bibliography with the full citations for images from the timeline.

As far as the UMW site goes, we are currently experimenting with drop caps (inspired by the lovely Jenn!) and footnote placement. For the drop caps, sadly the plugin is not totally compatible with our pages because the first letter of our page content is often not the first letter of the paragraph. I added CSS myself for the drop caps and will have to put them individually on each page, but it really doesn’t take that long. For the footnotes, we ultimately decided that having them on the page will be much better than having them all lumped together on a separate page. We liked the idea of having drop-down citations, and once again, DTLT came to our rescue! Timmy sent Jack some code so that our citations can exist at the bottom of the page, but are essentially hidden until visitors choose to view them. We need to go over each of the pages with a fine-toothed grammar comb. Otherwise, the only huge thing we have to do for the UMW site is to add a comprehensive bibliography.

Since most of what we have been doing is making tweaks to the two websites, our in-class update in Dr. McClurken’s Digital History seminar was an exciting game of jeopardy! If you all are curious, our jeopardy game can be found here. At Julia’s extremely clever suggestion, we rewarded the winning team with Smarties and the losing teams with Dum Dums.

We’re really excited to be so close to finishing our project! (But also sad because we want to research more and add even more to the site!)

Writing and Pulling the Site Together

This week our milestone was to have all of the text for our website drafted, and we successfully met it! Not all of the text has been uploaded and published on our site yet–that is the next step that we will be working on. We also need to add in citations for our work (an issue that we are still discussing: footnotes? endnotes? where do we put them? etc.). Colin mentioned in class that I showed him how to do footnotes in WP. For anyone else interested, here are the basic instructions.

  1. Place the numbers for your footnotes where they would normally appear in the text body.
  2. When you’re writing a post, there are two view options: Visual and Text. The default view is Visual. To make a footnote, switch to the Text view (top right-hand corner).
  3. Find the numbers that you need to superscript.
  4. Enclose the footnote numbers in the superscript tags, like so: “sup”1″/sup”. Except instead of quotes, use the triangular brackets <  > .
  5. At the bottom of your post/page, create a line (I simply use A LOT of hyphens). This step can be done in the Visual or the Text view.
  6. Then start numbering and list your citations! It should look like so:

This is a sentence containing information that needs to be cited.1 If you have any questions, just ask!

Additionally, we’ve also been ironing out navigation issues with our site. I am an advocate of drop-down menus, so that visitors wouldn’t have to return to the Fredericksburg or FSNS homepages in order to choose another category. Basically, it’s easier navigation. However, Julia, Candice, and Jack didn’t like the idea of drop-down menus, especially because they can be distracting if accidentally moused over by a viewer. We have compromised by adding links at the bottom of each narrative, so that viewers may continue on to the next story (or go back), and we will also include navigation links in a custom sidebar so that visitors do not have to scroll all the way to the bottom for navigation. The sidebar is also great because it shortens the width of our text area, which was too large for our liking–we were afraid it would intimidate viewers.

Another navigation issue we struggled with was where to place the icons for each narrative within the Fredericksburg and FSNS main pages. We want visitors to read the introduction text, so we initially placed the icons at the bottom. However, when they are at the bottom, you can’t see them until you scroll all the way down–visitors may never know that they’re down there if they don’t bother to read the whole page! We considered placing them alongside the text, Wikipedia-style, but decided that that method wouldn’t look as visually appealing. Our only concern with having the icons at the top of the page was that visitors would automatically click the icons without reading the introduction. However, as long as we keep the icons a reasonable size (which we are) visitors can still see the text below and know that there is something they should read before looking at the other narratives. A classmate of ours (from UMW’s ADH2014 class) suggested labelling the narratives chapters–an idea which we really like and are trying to incorporate into the site. We aren’t going to number the chapters because that may seem too constricting, so we are just keeping them as categorical chapters.

Aside from the larger issues of navigation and layout, we have been battling the smaller issues in WP like image gallery spacing and visibility of image captions. We have also been having great debates about what pictures to use for the icons on the Fredericksburg and FSNS main pages, as well as the home page for the entire site. It’s taken a lot of backtracking and persistence, but we have finally located images from the time period that are representative of Fredericksburg and FSNS, as well as each of the categories we discuss. (There is one category–Influenza Epidemic at FSNS–that we could not find the perfect image for. We were hoping to find an image of the FSNS infirmary, which I thought definitely existed, but apparently my brain completely fabricated that memory. We settled for a picture of two students in nursing uniforms.) Finding these images has actually been really exciting because they help the site take a much better shape and definition!

Finally, we have also been working on the overarching Century America home page. Candice talked to the MapsAlive people and Dr. McClurken has cleared it for our use!2 This interactive map will be on the CA homepage and have links to the websites for each of our schools. The homepage will also contain brief information about the project and class. On a separate page there will be a large timeline (thanks everyone for sending me your dates and citations!) with school, national, and international events from the time period. The CA will also have a separate “About” page and “Credits” page.

It has been an exciting week for us at UMW–we love the shape our site is finally taking!!


1.  Wow, a footnote! How cool!
2. Special thanks to Dr. McClurken for finally approving our choice of MapsAlive.

Digitization, Writing, and War Orphans

This week’s progress report for the UMW group can be found here! I just have a few comments of my own to add.

As Jack mentions in the progress report, we went back to the CRHC this week to make digitization requests. The woman who normally scans was not in that day, but the next day she scanned and emailed me all of the items that I requested.  I also received scans from UMW Special Collections (only a few because luckily the main sources from Special Collections are already digitized and online), so everything for my portion of the UMW site has been digitized! I don’t know if we will include every single digitized image on the history pages, so hopefully we can put additional images into the image galleries that Jack is creating.

Our next milestone is March 20, by which date we have agreed that we will all have the text for the website complete. I have started writing the “Student Life” page for the Fredericksburg State Normal School portion of the website, and after completing that I will write the “Academics” page. Both of these pages are really fun to research, and it is fascinating to see the sort of changes that the Great War wrought upon course offerings at the school (some of which you can read about in this blog post). In going back through some of my sources and doing additional readings, I found some really cool bits of information! The coolest find for me was that several professors and student clubs adopted French and Belgian war orphans! It seems that the professors or student groups only cared for each orphan for a year, so the “adoption” was not permanent–nevertheless, I think it is still amazing that the teachers and students were so involved in caring for victims of the war. In all, the Fredericksburg State Normal School adopted 5 war orphans during the war years!

I also found some excellent quotes while I was reading through yearbooks and academic catalogues and bulletins. I will include them below.

“The world has moved, and to those who stay at home is given an opportunity, too often neglected by parents and ignored in homes, to awaken through the heroes and heroines of a locality the spirit of American democracy.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, October 1917, page 4

“The interests of these valiant and sacrificial nations must be our interests and their needs ours, for they are fighting our battles.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, October 1917, page 11

“It was a beautiful spirit of co-operation between school and community.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, January 1919, page 4

“Teachers, the war is over. . . . From the school-houses of our Commonwealth, the children are calling as never before for your patriotic service.”
–Fredericksburg SNS Bulletin, January 1919, page 14

Note: The featured image for this post is from the 1918 Fredericksburg State Normal School viewbook.

Impact of Digital History

The first article I read about the impact of digital history on the field of history was by none other than our very own Dr. McClurken. The first thing that struck me from this article was how much digital history, and digitization in general, has changed classroom teaching. Without the perspective of more than 21 years, all I have ever known in conducting serious archival research is having many materials available online, searchable catalogues, and occasionally photocopies or reproductions. I kid you not, my mouth dropped to the floor when I read that he used transparencies to show students nineteenth-century handwriting. Transparencies!!! That just boggles my mind, and I think really highlights how much digital history has changed the classroom. I also didn’t realize how much a dependency on digital history and its materials can cripple a class, if user interfaces, urls, or accessibility change. I definitely have to agree with Dr. McClurken that the relationship between the college classroom, and I would even say academia in general, and archives is mostly Web 1.0. From what I have seen with the digitization projects I’ve worked on, right now it’s all about actually just getting everything digitized and putting it up online, making it accessible. Oftentimes, little to no thought is given to how the accessibility of these great collections will be promoted. However, I would say that some institutions are definitely taking the dive into the ocean of social media and handling it pretty well! I am most familiar with the Smithsonian Institution Archives, and I know that SIA has a pretty active Facebook page, which can be found here. SIA makes at least one post a day, that highlights an item or items in its collections, and they usually try to make it relevant to current events. SIA’s blog, The Bigger Picture, also updates at least once a day with relevant content–right now SIA is posting a lot of content about collections related to women in science, in honor of Women’s History Month. Beyond Facebook, though, SIA isn’t really present on other social media platforms, and I hope that this fact will soon change. As much as some people look down on social media, there is no denying that Facebook, Twitter, etc. reach an incredible number of people, and institutions could reach a much wider audience if they embraced social media more. (I do realize that the issue is not that simple–there are many other things to consider when getting involved in social media, like Who tweets? Do they have to be approved by someone? Do you follow back people? Are you endorsing the people who follow you? Etc.) Part of Dr. McClurken’s point, though, is that this relationship is between the classroom/academia and the archives, and as we all (hopefully) know, a healthy relationship is a two-way street. So it can’t just be the archives who are embracing the social media and putting themselves out there. The classroom and academia must also embrace these social media platforms, which I think is part of the problem, particularly for the older, more “traditional” members of this field. Some historians cannot see past the social “mob” aspect of social media and cannot grant the platforms value. My own advisor seemed incredulous to discover that students use Twitter for classes. For a young person like myself, social media makes sense as a vehicle for establishing a relationship between archives and classrooms, but for someone who didn’t grow up with social media, I can understand how it can be overlooked.

Dr. McClurken also mentioned crowdsourcing, which I won’t go into detail explaining–rather, I will link to a current example of a digital history crowdsourcing project: the Smithsonian Transcription Center. Many of the SI museums/archives have contributed digitized materials to this project for the general public to transcribe. You can browse by theme or museum. (Dr. McClurken, there is a Civil War diary in there if you haven’t seen it yet! I haven’t looked at it, but I know it is a popular project.)

The second article I read was from the crowsourcing chapter in Writing History in the Digital Age (2011), and it is about digital history and black Confederate soldiers. I really like the article’s emphasis on using digital history to help democratize the discipline, without sacrificing accuracy. For many people history is an almost esoteric discipline–they can’t grasp its functions and advantages, how it works, what is “true,” etc. (For the record, I believe there is no such thing as historical truth.) I think using the internet for displaying historical materials and research is a great step towards involving more people in history and expanding historical knowledge. And, like all good historians, Madsen-Brooks emphasizes that we still have to be critical of the information we find online. She delves into a discussion about “historians” and who historians are, which I think is an interesting consideration but somewhat of a moot point. Just because you aren’t a certified, PhD in history doesn’t mean you can’t make a valuable contribution of knowledge to the field. History isn’t limited to one discipline–it is interdisciplinary and multidisciplinary at its best. Anyways, Madsen-Brooks’ cautionary tale against content on the internet is great, because it truly is something that we have to take into careful consideration–and the same goes for print sources as well. I think her analogy at the end of the article is a nice description of where the digital history field should go/is going: historians are the “guide[s] on the side,” helping to guide others engaging in history, teaching them how to think critically about their sources and analyze their information.1 Nevertheless, I see no problem with historians also taking center stage and making their own significant contributions, which can help guide and further inspire those engaging in history. The lesson for me from this article was that “the masses” are slowly infiltrating the field of history–which I don’t think is a bad thing–and that now more than ever, we need to be critical of our sources and information. The crowd can make valuable contributions to history. Maybe they can do simple things like transcribing, or maybe they can do analysis, who knows. Even if the analysis is inaccurate, we can still learn valuable lessons from them. For example, the Confederate records that Madsen-Brooks discusses highlight the difficulty of interpreting some primary sources and the different definitions of “soldier” that people hold today and held during the Civil War. Inaccuracies may bring to light new angles of a topic to consider. I’m not trying to say we should all go out and write wildly inaccurate pieces about history with reckless abandon–I am simply stating that there is a silver lining to this dark cloud of inaccuracies in democratized history that seems to be looming over some historians’ heads.

Also, here is a paragraph about the value of crowdsource projects like Wikipedia from my other digital history blog: “I also have another comment to add to our conversation about Wiki and its validity/usefulness.  Because Wiki is such a high-traffic site, the Smithsonian museums are making an effort to contribute to Wikipedia, by editing pages related to Smithsonian museums and collections, or creating the pages, adding links that will direct visitors to the appropriate SI site, thus increasing traffic to their own websites.  I attended an SI meeting that talked extensively about this process, and I found it fascinating!  It really is a great way to increase site traffic, because Wikipedia is such a popular site, and it’s also just a great way to get the word out about things and contribute to public knowledge.  It’s also really cool, because I think it shows how the perception of Wikipedia has evolved over time, and people are slowly beginning to realize that maybe it isn’t so bad after all.  It can be a source of valuable information, if the “right” people are creating and editing the pages.  A leading research and museum institution, the Smithsonian, hires what they call Wikipedians-in-Residence to create and improve SI-related content!  The Wikipedians-in-Residence and their associated SI units also occasionally host edit-a-thons, where they marathon-edit pages on a given subject to improve content and link to SI sites/collections.  Really cool concept!  You can read more about one specific WIR here!”

Disclaimer: The featured image from this blog post is from Virginia Tech’s Digital History Reader, which can be found here


1. Leslie Madsen-Brooks, “‘I nevertheless am a historian’: Digital Historical Practice and Malpractice around Black Confederate Soldiers” in Writing History in the Digital Age: A Born-Digital, Open Review Volume, edited by Jack Dougherty and Kristen Nawrotzki, (accessed March 5, 2014).

Logo Thoughts

Just a quick post to share my thoughts about the logos for the project! My favorite logo is the first one in the PDF, and the runner-up is the last one in the PDF. Chelsea did a wonderful job creating all of these logos–they are well-balanced and contain good, basic information about our projects. I really love the deco font that she chose for the logos (the first font–the second one seems a bit too modern). My only complaint, which is very slight, is that the “1914″ on the book spine looks more like “1911,” because of the font face and the size. Perhaps we could move “The Great War 1914-1919″ off the spine, and have it trade places with “Digital Liberal Arts Project” in the logo? I hate to have Chelsea keep running around, switching these logos for us, but I think that it’s really important to get the logo right. What do you guys think? (It’s totally okay to tell me that I’m being too picky–it has been said that I’m a perfectionist and/or overachiever.)

Special Collections: Academics and Student Life

Disclaimer: The first time I attempted to write and publish this post, WordPress lost all of my text changes. It was an hour and a half wasted because I couldn’t recover anything and now must rewrite the entire post again. Such a typical Monday.

This past Thursday I went back to Special Collections in order to do some more research for my areas of the site: Academics and Student Life.  Way back at the beginning of the semester, Julia, Jack, Candice, and I visited Special Collections and got some great preliminary information from sources on the homefront experience at the Fredericksburg State Normal School.  I wanted to go back and take a look at some of the catalogs that had not been digitized, due to their fragile condition, and to see if Special Collections had anything about certain clubs, like the YWCA or Red Cross Club.  I took a look at the 1918-1921 catalogs, so that I could compare course offerings during and after the war (and because these are not digitized, with the exception of the 1921 catalog, but it was there while my laptop was not).  It was tedious to go through each catalog, but I found some great information about academics and other areas of SNS life.  The June 1919 catalog lists a War Activities faculty/staff committee, which Bunyan Y. Tyner chaired.  I asked Mrs. Parsons if Special Collections held anything pertaining to this committee, but she said they did not.  We did take a quick glance at Tyner’s papers, but they do not begin until the 1920s.  The June 1919 catalog also has a short section on War Work at the school, and it contains a lot of information about the YWCA’s contribution to the war effort.  In 1918 and 1919, student enrollment in the YWCA was around 75%, and it jumped to 96% in 1920!  This drastic increase surprised me–I would have thought that an increase in membership would have occurred during the war, not in the postwar years.  But, perhaps the YWCA benefited from its great contributions during the war and gained membership afterwards.

Academics-wise, some very interesting changes occurred in course offerings during and after the war.  The most interesting changes took place in the History and Foreign Languages departments.  The June 1920 catalog lists several new history courses, one such being “History Epochs,” which included the recent World War.  The History department also offered several courses on “Hero Studies.”  The American Hero Studies course is described like so: “This is a course designed to help those who expect to teach history.  Stories of the most important characters are taken up and discussed in order to give the students a thorough knowledge of the greatness of those who have contributed to the making of America of to-day.”  There was also a “Greek and Roman Hero Studies” course.  I strongly suspect that the US victory in the war influenced the creation of these classes, especially because the tone of the American course is so triumphalist.  (The parallel between American heroes and Greek and Roman heroes should also not go unnoticed–heroes in the birthplace of democracy and republicanism, and heroes of the world’s best example of democracy.)  I find this hero-worship interesting, because it seems to contradict what we read about in Kennedy and what we have discussed in previous class sessions.

In the Foreign Languages Department, the 1918 catalog places a new emphasis on the importance of French: “In the last year our country has been brought into such close relationship with our ally, France, that it is almost a misfortune not to have some knowledge of the French language.  Hardly a day passes that we do not find French phrases in our daily papers.  For this reason one of the most practical subjects that the students of to-day can take is French.”  Wow!  This paragraph is great for 2 reasons: it speaks to the foreign relations and America’s escalated involvement in the war (especially compared to the 1917 catalog, which has no justification for taking French and simply lists the courses), and it reflects opinions about the universal utility of French.  I particularly like that the catalog doesn’t specify who the “students of to-day” are to whom it refers.  The Fredericksburg State Normal School was for women, primarily those interested in teaching, but it specifies neither gender nor profession–it just says “students of to-day.”  (This lack of distinction is even more apparent when compared to the above description of the American Hero Stories history course.)  I’m not quite sure of what to make of this lack of distinction, but I find it interesting nevertheless.  Perhaps it speaks to how the war effort and Wilson’s “mobilization of emotion” tried to capitalize on a singular “American” identity, rather than an American identity with many different facets.

June 1918 Academic Catalogue, Fredericksburg State Normal School, page 93. Photo copyright Leah Tams.

UMW Special Collections, June 1918 Academic Catalogue, Fredericksburg State Normal School, page 93. Photo copyright Leah Tams.

The 1918 and 1919 catalogs also list “Home and School Gardening” courses, which seem to be similar to their “Agriculture and School Gardening” predecessor, but with a new emphasis on conservation and preservation.  We have also seen this new emphasis in a special course on Food Conservation for the war, listed in the April 1918 school bulletin.  The January 1919 bulletin (also previously examined by our group) has a special section devoted to “war gardens” and its galvanization of the popularity of school gardens.  It seems that even small facets of life were touched by the war!

I asked Mrs. Parsons about club records in Special Collections, especially the YWCA and Red Cross Club.  She very graciously let me peruse the archival holdings on my own, and I was able to find a folder with information and documents from the YWCA.  Sadly, they date back only to the 1940s.  We were not able to find any folder on the Red Cross Club, but I did find one with general information about clubs, and the very first item in the folder is actually really helpful: it is a list (almost an inventory, if you will) of clubs at the Fredericksburg State Normal School from 1913 to 1919.  The list bases its count on the clubs that appeared in each Battlefield Yearbook, and it includes clubs added each year after 1913 with a category “Clubs Added in [Year].”  It is a useful source for gaining general insight into an aspect of student life.

One of my other favorite finds, besides the academic catalogs, was the “viewbooks” that Mrs. Parsons brought me.  Special Collections only holds two viewbooks: one ca. 1919 and one ca. 1921.  The school produced the viewbooks, and they are essentially short photo albums for students–each page has a singular image and a caption underneath it.  The 1919 viewbook had two images in it that I would love to use for the website.  The first one shows a group of students knitting, with the caption “Knitting for the Soldiers.”  I think this image is so cool because I myself am a knitter, so it’s really awesome to see that 100 years ago, my predecessors at this school were also knitting, and they were doing it for a great cause (I like to think I knit for good causes, too).

UMW Special Collections, Viewbook, Fredericksburg State Normal School, ca. 1919.  Photo copyright Leah Tams.

UMW Special Collections, Viewbook, Fredericksburg State Normal School, ca. 1919. Photo copyright Leah Tams.

As cool as the above image is, another one was even cooler: it is a collage of war propaganda posters, created by the students!  The caption beneath the images says, “A Few of the War Posters: Students’ Work.”  Wow!  So not only were our ladies knitting for soldiers, planting war gardens, and doing many other activities to help the war effort, but they were also creating their own propaganda posters to help war efforts!  I’d like to know where these posters ended up being displayed.  Campus?  Fredericksburg?  Both.  I’ll probably never know.  I asked Mrs. Parsons if any of these posters were in Special Collections, and she said no, unless they were hiding in some obscure place that she had never seen.  Either way, I definitely want to get that page of the viewbook digitized so that we can include it on the site.  UMW does have a collection of WWI posters, donated by someone who wanted them to be in a safe place, and many of them are French.  I think it would be interesting to maybe compare the students’ posters with UMW’s collection and see what sort of similarities and differences there are!

UMW Special Collections, Fredericksburg State Normal School Viewbook, ca. 1919.  Photo copyright Leah Tams.

UMW Special Collections, Viewbook, Fredericksburg State Normal School, ca. 1919. Photo copyright Leah Tams.

I’m hoping to make one last trip to Special Collections soon, to see if there are any other sources I need to look at that will be valuable for our narrative and in creating the website.

Progress Reports and Contracts

This week Jack posted our group project report, which can be found here. We found some great archival materials at the Library of Virginia that really help fill in a lot of gaps about the Fredericksburg community during WWI! These materials came from the Virginia War History Commission–I would suggest that everyone else look to see if their state/community has anything similar to what we found, because it really is a gold mine of resources!

We have also been working extensively on creating our group contract (which was due February 13 for our Adventures in Digital History class), and so far Dr. McClurken is very pleased with what we have planned for the website and how we have split up our duties for the project. We still have a few details to iron out–for example, what we will do if the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center will not let us digitize some of their archival materials. And, as we make more progress and being to create the website, we may find that there are certain parts of the contract that we need to alter a bit before turning it in for the February 23 COPLAC class deadline.

Overall, within the past week we have made excellent progress and I’m really excited to see what happens next for our group, and for everyone else!

Some Thoughts on Memory

In preparation for my thesis, I am reading Brian Danielson’s Master’s thesis from 2008: “(Re)membering Dissent: Framing Anti-War Sentiment in Public Memory and Popular Culture through M*A*S*H” (California State University, Long Beach). The second chapter of his thesis strikes me as particularly relevant to what we discussed today in class about American memory of World War I and some of the parallels we drew to the Vietnam War. I wanted to share a short section from Danielson’s thesis as some food for thought for us all as we move forward in our research:

“Collective memory doesn’t exist alone inside the head of an individual; rather it exists in the circulation of memories in the public sphere through a variety of institutions and individuals.”1

“The rhetorical situation facing society in the post-Vietnam era was one characterized by polarization and alienation.  Individuals struggled with reconciling their memories of the conflict with the mythical collective identity, and marginalized groups worked to find a place for their ideological perspectives to co-exist without the dominant discourse. These struggles often required a narrative framing that allowed for the remembrance of obfuscated or forgotten marginalized perspectives in dominant discourse.”2

I think that these 2 quotes really highlight what we discussed as the problems and tensions within American memory–because collective memory draws from so many sources, it is likely to embody some of the tensions between the different sources. Furthermore, Americans who have an individual memory of the war that significantly differs from the collective memory, it creates more conflict. I would guess that the tensions that exist between individual and collective memory, as well as those within collective memory, are part of what cause so much chaos and disillusionment for Americans after the end of World War I. I would also suggest that expectations are part of memory, so the disparity between expectation and reality that we talked about only fueled the tensions evident in different memories of the war.

Just some food for thought–I really liked these quotes and think that they give us some more angles/interpretations to consider in our work.


1. Brian Danielson, “(Re)membering Dissent: Framing Anti-War Sentiment in Public Memory and Popular Culture through M*A*S*H” (Master’s thesis, California State University, Long Beach, 2008), 28.

2. Ibid., 24.

State Normal School and WWI: Outline

After a long 2 hours of brainstorming, Julia, Jack, Candice, and I finally came up with a rough outline of our site that we are pleased with! It was much more difficult than I had anticipated, but I think that was a good thing, because it gave us a lot of time to consider potential problems with our future site. One of the most difficult aspects of the planning was to decide how we wanted to split up the content of the site–originally we thought of splitting it into War, School, and Flu. However, “War” is much too broad and really crosses over into the School category. We went through several other permutations of categories before settling on spatial separations: Fredericksburg and SNS. What we struggled with the most in creating the categories was what to do with the Influenza Epidemic. We wanted to make it a third category, but it doesn’t fit the spatial theme, and in fact crosses the spatial boundaries since the epidemic hit SNS and Fredericksburg. But, for readers interested solely in the flu epidemic, we worried that they wouldn’t want to look on two separate pages for information regarding one topic. However, we ultimately decided that because the experience of the epidemic was different enough in both places, it would be logically acceptable to have it on separate pages.

The following is the rough outline of our website: 

Landing Page/Home Page: Brief introduction to project/site; “About” link for more information; Search bar, etc.

∙    General timeline for WWI and Fredericksburg/SNS

∙    2 large image links: one to Fredericksburg main page and one to SNS main page

Fredericksburg Main Page: Brief overview of WWI homefront experience in the city; Image links to focused categories/resources

∙    Eastburn War Diaries Page: Detail parts of the homefront experience as evidenced by the diaries, in a larger narrative about the city; accounts for international events as well as local issues like prices and material shortages

  • § Bring in other Fredericksburg sources like singular photos and military records to flesh out media and experience, MW Hospital records
  • § Possible timeline

∙    Knox Family Page: Tell part of the homefront narrative through the Knox family’s experience; one son went to Europe and died over there; husband died in flu epidemic

  • § General timeline
  • § Narrative with images from collection
  • § Link to Fredericksburg influenza page

∙    Rowe Family Page: Tell part of the homefront narrative through the experience of Josiah P. Rowe, Jr. (an aviator); mentions meeting “Fredericksburgers” in Europe during war and receiving a care package; can’t wait to come home at the end of the war

  • § General timeline
  • § Narrative with images from collection

∙    Influenza Page: Describe how the 1918 influenza epidemic affected the city of Fredericksburg, not including SNS

  • § Sources: Fredericksburg Daily Star newspaper articles
  • § Link to SNS influenza page

State Normal School Main Page: Brief overview of WWI homefront experience at the State Normal School; Image links to focused categories/resources

∙    Administration Page: Describe administrative issues and changes made during the war; worker shortages, requests for salary increases

  • § Sources: President Russell Papers, other administrative collections

∙    Academics Page: Describe changes and adaptations made to curriculum during the war; ex. Food Conservation class

  • § Sources: Academic catalogs and bulletins

∙    Student Life Page: Discuss student life during the war and how it was/was not affected; especially focus on Clubs

  • § Sources: Battlefield Yearbooks, Academic catalogs and bulletins
  • § Photo galleries with photos from Battlefield Yearbooks and student scrapbooks

∙    Influenza Page: Describe the impact of the 1918 flu epidemic on the school; ex. Number of students ill, closing of school, death of Virginia Goolrick

  • § Sources: President Russell Papers, Accounting records

Storming the Archives

After agonizing weeks of waiting, we finally made it to the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center! All four of us made it, and we found some excellent resources–as we had hoped we would. We looked through many items, some of them useful, and some of them not. We started with Battlefield yearbooks, because they were the easiest items for the volunteers to pull. The CRHC has a very strict policy about copies and photos, but luckily the Battlefield yearbooks are digitized and available on the Internet Archive. The yearbooks had cool tidbits of information here and there that we can hopefully incorporate into the project about the homefront experience, and the ones before US entry into the war give us a good picture of how SNS was relatively unaffected by the war until 1917. I got to look through the 1915 Battlefield yearbook, and the Alumnae Pages had an interesting (and amusing) quote from an SNS graduate, Kathleen White: “She is much excited over the European War, and being a patriotic Canadian, she expresses a desire to enlist if worst comes to worst.”

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Candice got to look at some postcards, and one of them is amazing! It depicts soldiers lying on the ground, holding their weapons and says “On The Firing Line.”  It is from a man named Emmett to his Grandma. He writes: “Dear Grandma. Am at Fort Oglethorpe, Ga. Saw Dr. Pratt today. I don’t know where I’ll go from here. Love to all. Emmett.”

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

Candice also went through a collection of items from the Knox family and put together an awesome Google doc for us with lots of information about them! It contained personal letters, newspaper articles, a family history, photographs, recipes, and more. Another item that we were looking forward to getting our hands on was the homefront diary of Mary Eastburn–Jack got to look at these diaries and they are absolutely amazing! They are an excellent source of information about the homefront, like prices for goods and material shortages. We definitely want to construct a homefront timeline, and these diaries will most likely form the crux of it. Jack has already set to work entering the information into the Timeline tool that we learned about earlier this week. I’m so excited to see how everything turns out in the end! We would like to get digital images of the diary, but unfortunately that will have to wait for a little while, due to the CRHC’s policies and the expense of actually getting the digital images ($2.00 per image). Candice and I looked through several letters from the Stearns sisters, but they didn’t seem to be relevant to WWI. They made no mention of the war, but it is possible that other letters in the collection do–the collection is quite large and has not been cataloged yet. However, unless we end up with ample amounts of time to go through this collection, it doesn’t seem like the letters will be useful to us.

The last item I looked at before I left the CRHC was a book of minutes from the Mary Washington Hospital Association. It ran from 1913 to 1919, so I actually started at the back of the book first, thinking that I would come across mentions of the war sooner from that direction. The January 21, 1919 entry mentioned Liberty Bonds that the association purchased, and several entries from 1918 mention the “question of coal,” which may have been related to war shortages. Interestingly enough, the books of minutes skips almost an entire year–it goes from October 6, 1918 to October 15, 1919. This jump in time startled me, especially because the fall of 1918 was when the influenza epidemic hit Fredericksburg in full force, so I was expecting to find some entries making mention of the virus. It is a very conspicuous absence of information, and Jack and I are wondering if the association kept a separate book of minutes during the time period that is missing. We shall see! We didn’t finish looking through the book, so when we return to the CRHC I would like to skim over the rest of it.

I’m very pleased with our progress and really looking forward to seeing what more we can find!

Interesting Finds in the Archives:
“The time has come” the Walrus said, “to talk of many things.” (1915 Battlefield Yearbook)
A woman at the Mary Washington Hospital caused a large controversy when she gave birth to a child and then put it into the hospital’s furnace, unbeknownst to hospital staff.