Working out the “About the Project” pages

Just spent a couple hours cleaning up the “About the Project” page. Wanted to give visitors a sense of our “thesis,” but to also include the acknowledgements on this page. I am thinking about adding the COPLAC logo or maybe pictures of maybe pictures of Lynn Tatum or Dr. Owen and Dr. Mathew. Not trying to get brownie points, just want to break up the wall of text. What do you guys think? Also got my section of the “About Us” subpage finished. Most importantly though, I got a link to the McDonald County Historical Society website on the footer of all of the pages. This took a long time to figure out the “coding” for. May work on organizing the front page now. Just wanted to get some thoughts on how to improve the “About the Project” page.

Back from Pineville

Monday turned out to be a great experience. Lynn Tatum showed me around the Historical Society’s museum, which was honestly of higher quality than some professional museums I have visited. While there she gave me what books and publications the museum keeps on hand on the county’s history and the secessionist movement. I then had the opportunity to go to the library and Lynn gave the documents that the Society keeps on the movement. It was very useful, but unfortunately a lot of it in the form of the articles compiled by Rose Hansen, who did some research on the movement. I was still able to access the primary sources that she used as well as the memories of some people who experienced the movement first hand. I was also able to go through the microfilms of county newspapers and found some stories on the movement that no one else has seemed to use. Most other researchers have focused on national St.Louis/KC papers. Although the sources came in a form that I wasn’t totally expecting, they did give me a lot of knowledge and insight into what was going on at the local level. Hopefully Kodey finds some really useful stuff from the state archives.

I also did not make the trip to Noel to take pictures of surviving resorts and motels. The weather was awful that day and according to Lynn most of them are not longer standing. However, she did give me the name of the current owner of the Ginger Blue Inn, the successor of the Ginger Blue Resort from the 60’s. I have tried to get into contact with her. If that doesn’t work, she has published a book on the resort. No I just need to send this info Kodey’s way so we can start analyzing it.

Gearing Up for a Day of Fun

Lynn wasn’t lying when she said that it would be next to impossible to find anyone willing to talk about the secessionist movement. It seems like the groups calling for secession wasn’t quite the majority and that their ranks have fallen as the next century rolled around. That being said, there are a couple of written family descriptions of the event that have been spread around by the children of the leaders of the movement and I hope to ask around for them tomorrow. Also, I have found official, albeit fuzzy, descriptions of the locations of a few of the larger “resorts” from the time period. Hopefully I can find their remains tomorrow on my way to or from visiting the archives. I will also be sure to ask for contemporary descriptions of them or documents straight from them. Lynn has been very helpful, but it seems like there just isn’t much left over from the time period, in terms of both oral and written history. That being said, I am functioning on the assumption that this is more a case of a lack of interest in the region and less a total lack of information. I’ll be sure to let you all know how tomorrow goes and if I need to plan another trip or continued close contact with Lynn and others that I meet tomorrow.

Playing with Parabola

I spent about half an hour tonight playing with the Parabola settings. I was finally able to de-clutter the front page by making it a presentation page. Hopefully this will allow us to introduce site visitors with an attractive visual display right off the bat. I think that we will be able to insert photographs on the top slider and timelines/maps in the row beneath it. Maybe these can then lead to other pages? My biggest concern right now is that this will look too unprofessional, but we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out. Worse comes to worse, we can just get rid of the presentation page and work with a standard home page.

Potential Secondary Sources

Most of the secondary sources we have found are going to give us a better understanding of the developing tourist industry in the Ozarks during the twentieth century. That being said, I hope to add a few more sources to this list after visiting the McDonald County Historical Society this coming week. Lynn Tatum, the head of the society, has told me about a few other researchers on the movement and I hope to speak with them and access a few of their works in the coming week.

Bradley, Larry C. McDonald County, Missouri: A Pictorial Interpretation. Pineville, Missouri: McDonald County Press, 1972.

Cox, Karen L. Destination Dixie: Tourism and Southern History. Gainesville, Florida: University Press of Florida, 2012.

Earngey, Bill. Missouri Roadsides: The Traveler’s Companion. Columbia, Missouri: University of Missouri Press, 1995.

Ketchell, Aaron A. Holy Hills of the Ozarks: Religion and Tourism in Branson, Missouri. Baltimore: John Hopkins University Press, 2007.

Tatum, James. OzarksWatch: McDonald County. Springfield, Missouri: Ozarks Public television, 2013.

Wallis, Michael. Route 66: The Mother Road. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1990.

How I Created the Timeline

Creating this timeline proved more time consuming than I had anticipated. It probably should not have taken as long to make as it did, but I found that I had some trouble finding the exact dates for events of the movement that I wanted to be exact. I’ll have to be sure to keep an eye out for these dates as I continue researching the movement to update the timeline. I also did not have access to some images that I want to include and will have to be sure to look out for photographs from the movement as I visit archives over spring break. All in all though, I am happy with how the timeline turned out and hope that it turns out even better in the future. It may also be moved to the front page of the website, but that is something that Kodey and I will discuss at a later date.

Thoughts on Wuthnow’s “Communities of Discourse”

Wuthnow brings up some interesting points that explore the role of the institution in fomenting or inhibiting a secessionist movement. Essentially, Wuthnow argues that when fissures develop in the ruling class, there is space for dissenting ideas to be voiced and spread. This lays the foundation for a secessionist or reforming movement to take place, its success then depends on whether or not a portion of the now fractured elite will give it the support, resources, and legitimacy that it needs to flourish. At this point, it only needs time and the survival of its patrons to affect social, political, and cultural change.

While this is an interesting idea that does a great job of looking into the institutional aspect of secession, it seems to fall short of acknowledging how the people, those who allow the movement to occur and seek a political or social change, fit into things. Yes, it’s important to understand that a political party needs to direct a political or social break. However, Wuthnnow goes so far as to argue that any social or cultural change comes from the social elite (political and religious leaders, the intelligentsia, artists, printers, etc.), who put forth potential changes that the masses eventually latch on to, allowing the elite to eventually direct them into a cultural reformation. This seems a little to close to “Great (White) Man History) to me. While Wuthnow does briefly acknowledge that other things, such as trade and population change, may affect culture, he isn’t invested enough in these aspects of culture to seriously discuss them.

I did appreciate the exploration of the institutional aspect of secession, but when exploring this topic we can’t forget that normal, everyday people are the ones causing change.

Thoughts on Barksdale’s “The State of Franklin”

I was immediately impressed with Barksdale’s way of discussing the history of violence in western North Carolina. All too often I hear or read historians and social scientist’s attributing characteristics and personality types to entire social groups without seriously thinking about what they are claiming or the implications that their words can have. It brings me physical pain every time I see an academic using this unfortunate part of “social psychology” to claim that “citizens of the American South was more prone to acts of violence because of their herder heritage,” a claim that falls apart to the slightest investigation and thought. So, thank you Barksdale for addressing this claim, efficiently refuting it, and offering a very interesting insight into the causes of Appalachian violence in the post-Revolutionary period.

I am always interested in learning about early American secessionist movements. The early Confederacy/Republic was nowhere near as cohesive and functional as many people think it was and it is fun to learn why. In the case of the State of Franklin and North Carolina, it was the same tensions that plagued Virginia for centuries (and itself contributed to the outbreak of the Revolution): the interests and needs of the coastal communities weren’t the same as the western communities. Barksdale does an especially good job explaining how Native American policies played into the tensions. It was a really messy time on the American frontiers, especially when settlers, state governments, and the federal government were all making treaties and deals with the Cherokee; a native group that was trying very hard to work with Colonial/American entities in a way that they understood.

Barksdale also did a very good job explaining how two separate governments were able to function in the same region of western North Carolina for four years. I think that this is a very important aspect of this article that everyone in the class needs to remember. Because so many of our topics are dealing with state secessionist movements in a relatively stable nation, it is important to remember that people have the ability to choose which arbitrary government they want to pay taxes to and vote for, as long as the system does not start to fail. Also, the secessionists are also part of the larger or older government until they are recognized, meaning that secessionists are often members of two states for a while. We see this happen during the existence of the State of Franklin. Both the State of Franklin and North Carolina were functioning administratively in the same counties for four years. And although the leaders of the State of Franklin did not recognize themselves as North Carolinians during this time, they were still benefiting from state infrastructure, trade, and diplomacy until they ran out of local support and had to return to the status quo or were arrested for violating the laws of the larger state.

Thoughts on Imagined Communities by Benedict Anderson

Anderson offers an interesting view into the formation of communities and the role that the nature of this formation had in the development of nationalism. The foundation of his explanation is his statement that all communities are to be distinguished “by the style in which they are imagined.” He goes on to claim that throughout much of history the dominant styles of imagining have been based on the sacred languages of universal religions (Latin, Arabic, etc.) and dynastic realms, which forced one’s identity into a hierarchical structure. To an extent I agree with this assertion, but I wonder if this view of identity and community formation is too grand and limited. If we look at the Chinese pictographs, which Anderson himself groups into a sacred language, we see its use across a large swath of Eastern Asia. However, this did not bring Japanese literati, let alone Japanese peasants, to adopt a Chinese identity or culture. This idea also ignores cultures that were outside of the “traditional” civilizations, such as the Mongols or Aztecs, which certainly had a strong identity. In fact, the Mongols were largely egalitarian and had their own script before their expansion and subsequently adopted many new cultural attributes throughout their expansion without ever losing their Mongolian identity. I only mention these topics because I wonder if this view of pre-nationalist identity is too focused on the elite and if identity was something more nuanced. Why would a Bedouin identify themselves as a Muslim  rather than by their kin network? Why would an Estonian peasant whose grandparents were forced into Christianity and knew no Latin identify themselves as a Christian tied to the Christian world through Latin rather than by their place of origin or their own kin network?

That being said, his argument that standardized vernacular following the printing boom of the seventeenth century was very well supported. Having a small familiarity with socio-linguistics, I wholly agree that standardized language is a powerful tool that can be used to unite a people and discriminate against outsiders. A “horizontally” unifying tool such as this can easily give rise to a common identity, one that is stronger than religion or a political system. And, if a political system can harness a standardized language and dub it the “national” language, then it is in a very powerful and stable position. One need only look at the amazing and drastic reforms to Turkish that were carried out by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. If you have any interest in seeing a region make the major change from an earlier polyglot and open imperial system to a centralized, mono-ethnic state, I highly suggest you read up on Ataturk and the formation of Turkey and the modern Turkish language.

Anyway, this reading has given me a better understanding of the discussion surrounding community identity. I’m still having a hard time identifying what topic I want to cover, but I am confident that Kodey and I can figure it out in the coming week. Hope your guys’ weekend went well and I look forward to seeing you tomorrow!