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.

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.

My Part in the WWI Project

After ironing out some clarification issues with our group contract, I now have solid assignments for our project on Fredericksburg and the State Normal School. My main responsibility is to research the experience at the Fredericksburg SNS and focus on what we have termed the Academics (so, mainly classes) and Student Life (clubs, social events, etc.). I am really excited to do this because I love all of the academic catalogs and bulletins held in UMW’s special collections–they provide a great window into these topics. The Battlefield Yearbooks will also provide crucial information, especially for the Student Life page. Aside from conducting the research for these categories, I will determine what archival materials we would like to digitize (luckily the catalogs, bulletins, and yearbooks are already digitized) for these categories. I will also determine the general conclusions drawn from this primary source research and what particular narratives we will include on the website for our project.

Julia and I will create the homepage for the Fredericksburg SNS, which will provide a brief overview of homefront experiences at the school. This responsibility will include determining what we want to include in the brief overview. From this page, viewers will have the option of looking at the specific categories of Academics, Student Life, Administration, and Influenza to learn more about the homefront experience at SNS.

Another of my responsibilities includes the creation of our “Further Resources” page, available via the menu bar, that will list the main institutions/collections that we found most useful in our research. That way, visitors who are interested in our archival sources will know where they came from, and possibly conduct their own research, if they find the topic worthwhile. The “Further Resources” page will include links, wherever possible, to the institutions/collections.

Among other responsibilities, I must attend our weekly group meeting, assist with collective group efforts (such as the creation of timelines, deciding on site design, etc.), and to extensively tweet (and occasionally text) our group’s progress on the project. This tweeting will help part of our campaign to create an audience for our site and generate interest in our project. By the end of the semester, we plan to be using a variety of social media outlets (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr) to publicize our project. We also plan to publicize our project in newsprint outlets, such as the Free Lance-Star, The Bullet, and UMW newsletters. We will also create flyers and handouts to put around the Fredericksburg and UMW communities, like in libraries, museums, school buildings, and other places that receive steady visitor traffic. Perhaps even places that have community bulletin boards will be beneficial in simply spreading the word about our project.

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.

Storming the Archives

Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.
Image copyright Central Rappahannock Heritage Center.

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.”

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.

Special Collections and the Masonic Lodge

photo 2 It has been another exciting week for us at UMW! Our group found more items in the Special Collections here at UMW that will be really valuable for our project.  Jack, Julia, and I went back to Special Collections yesterday and spent 2.5 hours looking through President Russell’s papers.  I was hoping to find speeches given by President Russell that are mentioned in the October 1917 Normal School bulletin, but the papers held by UMW seem to deal more with administrative matters like reports to school boards and hiring teachers.  However, we did find other very valuable resources.  It seems that many teachers and employees who sought reappointment in 1918 asked for salaries, and several of them cited the much higher cost of goods and their inability to afford such on their current salaries.  Presumably, these high prices were a direct effect of the war in Europe, and these requests are great examples of not only how World War I affected the economy in general, but also how it affected daily life for people at the State Normal School in Fredericksburg.  We have all also been extremely eager to find documents that address the effect that the influenza epidemic had upon the school’s population.  Julia found a 1918 list of students who had missed a significant number of days, and many of them were listed as having had an “illness.”  Later I found what at the time appeared to be a gold mine of information on the influenza at the State Normal School…until I realized that it was a report for the State Normal School in Harrisonburg (there were four State Normal Schools at this time: Fredericksburg, Harrisonburg, Farmville, and Radford).  (It was very interesting to see, though, that the SNS in Harrisonburg was so afflicted with influenza that it turned one of its residence halls, Jackson Hall, into a temporary hospital because the infirmary was so overcrowded–it could only fit 12 patients.  The school suspended classes for at least two weeks!)  After some more digging and locating a seemingly lost folder of President Russell’s papers, we finally found the Fredericksburg school’s report that mentioned influenza!  Huzzah!  It seems that, comparatively, the SNS in Fredericksburg was not as severely affected by the epidemic as Harrisonburg was–we only closed for 8 days.  Still, a significant portion of the student body and faculty/staff came down with virus.  Unfortunately, Death came to Fredericksburg: Virginia Goolrick, the Head of the History Department, succumbed to the disease and died within a few days of contracting it.  While I was reading the influenza report, Jack was looking at financial records, and found that he could corroborate the dates of the epidemic, and from a monetary standpoint we could see how heavily the virus affected the school.  During the months of the epidemic (fall 1918), the spending of the infirmary shot through the roof, approaching $500!  We had a very productive day in the Special Collections, and marked down what we wanted to go back and digitize for the project.  At this point, I’m not quite sure how we will incorporate everything into the site, but I think at the very least a timeline would be a good feature for the site.  I would definitely like to work in document images as well.

This evening (Thursday, January 29) we continued our archival work, this time venturing to the Masonic Lodge in Historic Downtown Fredericksburg.  We were very excited to visit the Lodge because the Freemasons have a rich and complex history, and we hoped that they would have some good materials for us to look at.  The Masons were delighted that we sought them out for help and are eager to help us with our research–they want a copy of the site/research once everything is completed!  The historian at the Lodge is fairly new (he took on the position in December), and the archivist was not at the Lodge to assist us.  However, as we talked with the historian and the Grand Master, we got some great preliminary information about the Freemasons and their involvement in society, prominent Masons of Fredericksburg at the time.  The Grand Master graciously gave us a copy of their history, written by a Brother, which has a page discussing the Masons’ activities during WWI.  They didn’t have many archival resources for us to look at tonight, but it was more of a preliminary meeting, so that we could meet with them and explain our project in-depth, to give them a better idea of what kind of resources we are searching for.  The Lodge is in the midst of cataloging and digitizing its archives, which will be beneficial to our project.  Once the secretary and archivist are apprised of our project, I am sure they will have some interesting resources for us to look at, like photographs and meeting minutes.  I’m very excited to see what they can find for us!

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Archival Survey–Great Finds!

My colleagues and I at UMW have compiled a (lengthy) list of archival resources that will be valuable for this project.  Jack and I went to UMW’s Special Collections this past week and found some great items!  One is a student scrapbook, which contains pictures that show us what the State Normal School was like during WWI.  In addition, several of these pictures show female students posing with males dressed in uniform.  Our initial thought for this scrapbook is to create a digital image gallery or scrapbook.

Another excellent resource at our Special Collections is the collection of academic catalogs and bulletins.  (As luck would have it, almost all of the catalogs and bulletins from the WWI era have been digitized and are searchable!)  These bulletins are excellent windows into what the State Normal School experienced during WWI.  For example, from these bulletins we know that SNS offered a special class during the war on food conservation, and we also know that two faculty members served in the military during the war.  (I am particularly excited about these bulletins–I think it’s so amazing to be able to see in such detail what the school was doing during WWI and how it adapted to new and different demands!)  We can also look through the President’s Papers of SNS and the school’s yearbooks, both of which should give us a further view of the school’s homefront experience.

The Central Rappahannock Heritage Center is another place that holds promising resources.  Using its online catalog, Candice located oral histories from the WWI era, two diaries that recount the homefront experience in Fredericksburg, and photographs and documents of Fredericksburg’s Washington Guard.  We are heading to CRHC this week to get a personal look at these resources–I’m excited to see what they have for us!

The Central Rappahannock Regional Library contains promising collections of postcards and oral histories.  The Virginiana Room contains special collections, several items of which pertain to the WWI era.  We are hoping to visit the Virginiana Room within the next week or so, in order to get a clearer picture of what resources it has to offer.

Although not necessarily local to Fredericksburg, the Virginia Historical Society is local to my home location and hold the Goolrick Family Papers, spanning from 1896-1927.  The Goolrick family was a very prominent family in Fredericksburg, so this collection may contain some valuable documents relative to our interests. I am hoping to visit the VHS soon to see some sections of the Goolrick Papers.  Other potential resources in Fredericksburg and Virginia exist, and we are in contact with people at these places, but for this post I have just highlighted what seem to be our most promising resources thus far.

First Progress Report…Only Just the Beginning!

I am very excited to be a part of this digital history experiment, and so far it is going very well for my colleagues and I! Julia, Candice, Jack, and I have found some great resources to start looking at.

Jack and I went to UMW’s University Archives on Tuesday to take a look at the collections that the archivist thought would be good places to start. Our University Archives have several items pertaining to WWI, but only a couple of them will be good sources for the homefront experience. One is a student’s scrapbook, and it contains pictures of female students with males dresses in military attire. Another resource that I think will be very helpful in elucidating the homefront experience is the academic catalogs and bulletins of the school (at that time it was called the State Normal School). The first one that we found that made a mention of the war was the October 1917 Bulletin. It is entitled “Patriotism Through Local History Conservation in War Time Reorganization of English School Activities”–we struck gold!

Luckily, many of the school’s academic catalogs and bulletins have been digitized and are available on the Internet Archive, and we can search these digitized sources for key terms like “war” and “crisis,” in order to assist our research. We are going to look through these sources more, as they seem to hold promising information about the homefront experience of the State Normal School during WWI.

We also have a list of other local resources and organizations that we are contacting in order to find more research materials. This upcoming Thursday we are taking a trip to the Central Rappahannock Heritage Center to look at the WWI resources they hold. I can’t wait to see what is in store for us–this is only just the beginning!