This class has been a wonderful experience. The website that Kodey and I produced is something that I am really proud of. On the whole, I think it meets core goals of our contract with little deviation. What did not make it to the website from the contract is largely cosmetic and did not inhibit the effectiveness of the finished project.
Our research made extensive use of newspaper articles and a few written memories from the time period under study due to a lack of scholarly work done on McDonald Territory. Scholarly works that were used largely focused on the nature of tourism in the United States and the Ozarks as a whole. While this could have been a major struggle for us, it instead turned out to be a great opportunity to delve into primary source research and provide an analysis of events that was truly our own. The deep understanding of Ozarks tourism and the unfolding of events in McDonald County allowed us to develop an interpretation that hadn’t really been explored before, particularly in regards to the nature of secession.
Unfortunately, our website is missing a few elements that we had hoped to add, as seen in our contract. I was really hoping to work with oral histories from the area. I’ve always been interested in how people who lived through a major event in history understand it, it’s a nice counter balance to the role of the objective observer-scholar. The inclusion of oral histories did not occur, however, due to the age of the people who lived through the creation of McDonald Territory and a local stigma attached to the event. Popular understanding of the movement (that it was a farce designed to pull attention to the region) has made it unpopular to discuss it, at least according to Lynn Tatum, a very helpful member of the McDonald County Historical Society.
Some design changes took place between the creation of our contract and the creation of our site as well. This was pretty minor and probably for the best. The current manifestation of our site I think really embraces the concept of digital humanities. The wealth of images that we were able to find gives readers a good understanding of the time period and importance of key institutions and events, such as the tourism industry in the county and the involvement of Jasper County citizens with McDonald Territory. The organization of the site I think provides a good understanding of the nature of secession and really encourages the visitor to think on it as they explore the website.
All in all, I would say that Kodey and I have produced a strong website with a deep background in both primary and secondary sources, providing a good blend of inside and outside perspectives of the events that unfolded. We’ve also added a lot to the conversation, both in terms of the secession itself (particularly in terms of the intent of the movement and the involvement of Jasper County) and of the nature of secession in general. Aside from content, I would also argue that the format and design of our website is very strong as well. We make it very clear from the homepage how the site should be used and every page has a clear indicator of what is to come next. This provides visitors with the ability to casually browse the site at their will or to follow the chronology of events and development of our argument as we intended if they want to. In this way, it is accommodating to curious travelers or invested scholars.
I would again like to say that this class was a wonderful experience. Aside from the invaluable experience that I had in independent research and website creation, the community was phenomenal. What a great group of people to go through this project with. The help and conversation that we gave each other was amazing and I really feel that I got a taste of what professional academic communities are like: constantly speaking to each other about our research and offering advice when someone needs it. Thank you again for accepting me into the course and I hope that the fruit of my and Kodey’s research and labor has been a success.
Decided to move the “Next…” links to the right and change them to Header 3 font. Hope that helps with recognition. Also went through and cleaned up the the citations and organized them in the bibliography. Still missing citation info for some of the newspaper articles and apparently the historical society doesn’t have them either. Trying to figure out how to deal with that right now.
I uploaded the better scan of the family vacationland map as well as some other tourism photographs that I found. I was hoping to get a close-up of McDonald County on the map, but the scan I have is of the full map, so zooming in too close results in a blur of greenish pixels. I think the “Photographs of tourism” page turned out pretty well. It has a nice spread of locations and time periods. After making edits on the timeline, I decided to go ahead and get rid of the pictures. I think it looks cleaner that way, but maybe it’s too empty now?
Just got the content for the “Formation” and “Land Rush” pages done. I wasn’t happy with the quality or content of any of the images that I had, so I contacted Lynn about what the Historical Society may have. Tomorrow I will get better quality scans of some more photos and of the map, format them, and get them up on the site. Also decided to bold the “Next…” buttons and make them bigger.
I got a lot done today. I finished the “Ozark Playgrounds,” “Tourism and McDonald County,” and “A New Age of Tourism” pages. I also created two more pages that focus on photographs. They will hold the extra tourism and secession pictures that we don’t have room to put on the main pages. The main pages will have a “See Also:….” link to lead to them if people are interested. I was also ran across a Vacationland Map in one of my books. I went to the library to scan it, but am not happy with the scan quality. I also didn’t have time to try a different type of scanner since Truman’s library closes at 6 on Saturday for some inexplicable reason. I think I’m going to bite the bullet and push through the “Formation” and “Noel Land Rush” pages tomorrow. And then I think I will be done for a bit. I have put a ton of time into these pages and need to shift focus to other class assignments coming up.
Spent today working on the content of the “Family Vacationland Crisis” page and the “Route 66” page. I think they read and look pretty good. Unfortunately, I seemed to have lost the dates of some of the newspaper articles I got while in Pineville. I’m going to email Lynn and see if she can help me locate the dates. We’re also still waiting for Kodey’s friend to send us a picture of the Family Vacationland map to place onto the “Crisis” page. Tomorrow I plan to finish up the tourism pages and start on the secession pages.
Just got the GIS map I made for The”Highway Changes’ page posted and changed the navigation links to “Next: So-and-So Page.” This was probably one of the more frustrating things I’ve done for the website. ArcGIS is notoriously buggy and it seems like last night it decided to not apply or save edits made to features. I had hoped to show a before and after map, but wasn’t able to break up the line representing today’s US 71 so that I could do so. My GIS professor wasn’t sure what was going on either, so I stopped fighting with the program after three hours and stuck with the current map. I hope it looks okay. If you guys have any suggestions, I’ll look into seeing how feasible implementing them would be. Of course, if you think the map looks fine and doesn’t need any changes, that would be fine to hear too. 😉
Progress this week was nowhere near last week’s. Unfortunately, I was super busy with a couple other research courses. I only got the text for one page, “Highway Changes in Missouri,” done. I’m happy with the text and plan to make a GIS map to visualize the changes, which shouldn’t take too long to do. Since I won’t have as much going on this week, I plan to completely finish the “Family Vacationland” and “Tourism” pages and start on the “Reconciliation” page. Hopefully Kodey can help me knock the last one out. That way we can push through “Secession” the next week. Then we can focus on editing and refining the website afterwards.
I was hoping to work more with site content this weekend, but ended up spending a lot of time working on the about page and the overall site layout. I’m not too upset because I was planning on doing this later, so I guess I just switched around my schedule. I decided to put the main navigation tool on the right sidebar of all of the main pages. This way visitors will select the main header tag, read the intro page, then select where they want to go after that. Will probably do the same on all of the subpages as well to help facilitate navigation. I think I will make the side bar pretty thin for aesthetic purposes, will see what Kodey thinks. I feel like there is too much empty space at the tip-right corner of the page though, will see what Kodey thinks about filling that in. I have the intro page for the tourist section done and may go ahead and do the intro page for the crisis page. I really should work on other homework now, but this is a lot more fun. Dr. Own and Dr. Mathews, you’re probably going to be scapegoats for my other history class tomorrow.
Alright, just decided to get rid of the “Story of the Secession” page. Instead inserted text underneath the three columns on the home page welcoming the visitor and encouraging them to click on the first two photos, which will link them to the story map and timeline, before they begin exploring the rest of the website. Unfortunately, this will make the storymap and timeline inaccessible from elsewhere on the website. What do you guys think? Will that be a problem?