Divided Houses has been different than other classes I have taken during my undergraduate career because it felt more like a community than a classroom. The discussion was always thought provoking and collaborative, and I liked the focus on working together and helping each other out. Digital features like the group chat, class blog, and Facebook group really helped to make this class feel even more connected than some of my classes where everyone is physically in the same room.

The research for my and Maria’s project on Upstate New York secession presented some different challenges than most other pairs faced, because the movement is so new and still developing. Because of this, there were not many academic sources available to us, and we did not really use the archival research strategies that we talked about in class. However, this also made our project very exciting to work on, because we were putting together information from social media, interviews, Youtube, and news sources to tell a story that hadn’t been told in this way before. Interviewing Assemblyman Hawley and Senator Robach was a highlight of our research, because it got us information and perspective that we would not have gotten otherwise. After collecting sources, focusing and sharpening our analysis was a challenge, but our contrasting backgrounds and points of view worked to our advantage and helped us to produce a balanced project that still had a viewpoint.

Learning to use the digital tools needed to create our website took some getting used to and some experimentation, but it was a fun process for the most part. I liked getting to use and expand a skill set that most of my other classes do not utilize. While Maria and I were not 100% solid on the technology in the beginning, we started trying things out and experimenting with our website early on and seeing what stuck. Out initial skeleton, which I made early on, developed and evolved a lot over the course of the semester. Even though our website is different than we initially planned, it was really helpful to have that framework to go off of, so I am glad we got over our hesitation and just started trying things out. We actually ended up doing more with our website than we though we would. We did not originally plan to have the Voices from the Movement or Opposition Voices pages, but after adding them based on the very helpful suggestions of our classmates, we found that they really added to our website and to the story we were telling. Figuring out how to make our website interactive and visually appealing was a challenge, but we were able to incorporate a wealth of engaging images from social media, youtube videos from the movement, and the Timeline and StoryMap to make our project a true website rather than a digitized paper. Building the website was certainly different than writing an academic paper and presented its own set of challenges, but in a lot of ways it was more fun!

I am sure this class will stand out to me in the future as one of the more interesting and valuable classes I took in my undergraduate career. I enjoyed learning digital skills that I know will be useful to me in the future. I also enjoyed collaborating with everyone, whether it was during class, through our ridiculous group chat, or on the Facebook page. Working with Maria has been a joy as well, as always. Thank you, Dr. Mathews, Dr. Owen, and everyone else in Divided Houses for making this class fun, informative, and memorable!


This course has felt like, since the beginning, a very different course from anything I have ever taken. I have felt more connected to everyone involved in this course, and closer to everyone involved in this course since the very first day of class, and I think the fact that we have been encouraged to blog and interact with each other throughout it has been a significant part of that.

The research that I have done in this class, both on my own and with the help of Madeleine, has been truly fun. I have enjoyed looking at the idea of secession as not just an action but also as a concept, and this has provided me with the ability to think about how that relates to many of the other projects I am going to take on in the future.I have felt challenged throughout this entire course as well, not like I am not only working to get the project done, but also in the sense that my ability to conduct research is being tested. I love that every time we have a discussion in class, we are pushed to question each other and to question ourselves, in a way that we are working together in order to grow our understanding of the concepts we are looking at.

This course is one that I feel I will take the tools from to use through my graduate career beginning in the fall and into my professional life. I am very grateful to have been able to be a part of this course, and to have gotten to know everyone else involved.

Final Reflection

When I first heard about this class, I was both excited and intimidated. The idea of communicating with people from different universities, doing a semester-long research project, and building a website around it seemed challenging but worth it. I was interested in secession because of the current division in our political system and around the world. It seems likely that we will face the problem of secession with increasing regularity over the next few years, especially within the European Union, though of course it can be argued that a split from the EU does not constitute secession.

From the beginning I had had my heart set on the idea of studying an Appalachian secession movement, especially one that contradicted stereotypes about the region. I had heard rumors of resistance to the Confederacy in western North Carolina. Kendall was interested in the idea as well, so that is where we first concentrated our research. Unfortunately, on really diving into the research we struggled to find an organized secession movement within North Carolina. Perhaps if we had started researching during Winter Break we would have discovered this earlier, but by the time it came to decide we had not found a good candidate. West Virginia secession fit many of the criteria we had in mind so we decided to research that instead.

While the readings focused on religion were not especially relevant to our project, some of the more political movements were. The State of Franklin in particular influenced how I thought about secession in Appalachia, particularly the fact that emphasizing certain facts could produce wildly differing interpretations. Whether the Franklinites were freedom-lovers avoiding government intervention or colonists focused on eradicating Cherokees depends entirely on which aspects you choose to highlight.

Our serious research began with scholarly articles on West Virginia secession. While this movement is familiar to many historians, it was largely new to us, and that necessitated some background knowledge before getting into the nuances. We used these scholarly articles to situate ourselves within the movement, and to gain some familiarity with the different interpretations of it. We learned fairly quickly that these interpretations were more complex than pro-Union counties seeking to rejoin the fatherland. There were deep divides between the western Virginia Appalachians and the eastern part of the state, just as there are in every state that intersects with these mountains. Many others have speculated on the causes of this divide, but we decided to confine ourselves to documenting the observable differences and concentrate on analysis of the movement itself.

Over Spring Break we had planned to visit the West Virginia and Regional History Center at the University of West Virginia. I had also been planning to visit Frederick, Maryland for some time to see my family but especially my grandfather, who has Parkinson’s and has been declining for some time. I intended to come back on Thursday evening, giving us time to visit the archives on Friday and come back on Saturday. Kendall also had to visit her grandfather, who was in the hospital, and this ended up preventing her from getting back in time to visit the archives.While this was a blow to our plans and we explored other options for visiting archives in person, we ultimately decided to conduct most of our research using digital archives.

The sites and the West Virginia and Regional History Center’s “West Virginia History On View” were both invaluable to me in this effort. provided comprehensive explanations of events, with aggregates of connected primary sources. Virginia Memory was also helpful for finding some primary sources. West Virginia History On View provided many of the photographs for the site. Lori Hostuttler from the West Virginia Regional and History Center also helped by sending us some of the resources we requested based on online descriptions of the archive’s contents.

Much of the research took place while we were constructing the website, and especially as we encountered gaps in our knowledge that we needed to fill in order to make a coherent narrative. We began by researching the Causes, Events, and Aftermath of the movement. While the singular event is a more common approach when using this model, West Virginia secession was drawn out over several years. It seemed limiting to define the secession as a single event such as Lincoln signing West Virginia statehood into law. The heart of the movement was the Wheeling Conventions, though these were entangled with the complicated legality of the secession and setting up the Restored Government of Virginia.

Our vision for the website when we started and what we ended up with were different, and this is probably for the better. I had envisioned a clean, minimalist website with three main pages covering the secession in a linear manner, and with black and white photographs of people, buildings and battles illustrating every page. As we moved through this project some of this vision had to be discarded. When we explored this movement we discovered complicating factors such as legality and border disputes that rendered a linear narrative incomplete. Having three main pages meant that they were far too long and inaccessible to readers unused to reading history texts. Another important change was discarding my commitment to using only photographs from the era. Tony mentioned that we could consider using images from Wikipedia, and this was a breakthrough. I had not previously considered using Wikipedia as a source, probably due to years of academic pressure and pride in avoiding it. However, images are images, and as long as they are properly cited using them is going to get you farther than academic snobbery. I want to thank Tony for his suggestion, as it pushed me out of my stubbornness and made for a better project.

In the end, I am proud of the project we have put together. Kendall has been a great research partner. I can’t say how thankful I am to have had someone who was always willing to do her portion of the work, give me feedback on my contributions, and help me out if I was having a bad day. Having a supportive friend to do research, commiserate, and laugh with has made this project so much better than it would have been otherwise. Thank you, Kendall.

Thank you also to everyone in the class who has given us feedback and made our discussions so enjoyable, and to our professors for your help. We couldn’t have done this without you.

Kodey’s Final Reflection

This class has been a wonderful experience for me as a history student. The online community that this class established was great and the inclusion of the chat feature in the video conferences eventually led me to feel as if I knew the other students better than all the other classmates I have had while going to Truman.

The research that Jonas and I performed was quite enlightening as we were learning about a piece of Missouri history that neither one of us had heard of before. The fact that the McDonald Territory secession is such a little known piece of history really motivated us to tell the story. Our research included newspaper articles, letters, pictures and personal writings found at Truman State, Jefferson City, and mainly the McDonald County Historical Society.

We fulfilled just about every aspect of our project contract and I am pleased with the end result of our website. The format of the website is quite intuitive as we have set up the homepage to guide visitors through the different pages. Each of the tabs at the top of the page divide into sub pages that go further into detail on the events of the secession. From these pages, visitors will see links to the next page at the bottom, as well as a right hand menu of all of the pages and sub pages so that they can check out the other pieces of the website at their own pace. Many of our pages include pictures and documents that give visitors a feeling of what the secessionist movement would have felt like.

The most interesting aspect of this secession is the fact that the motivations for the movement were quite obscure. It’s not every day that a county secedes because a highway is rerouted and they are left off of a map. The main motivation for McDonald County was to gain recognition and repair their tourism industry, and they did just that. So while the secession was not a successful secession in the fact that they did not remain independent, it was successful because they were put back on the map and Jefferson City has not messed with the highways in the county since then.

Again, I’d like to emphasize just how much I enjoyed this class. It has been one of the most enjoyable history classes that I have taken, and it wasn’t even taught by Truman, which I find kind of funny. I found every part of this class intriguing, from the readings at the beginning of the semester, to the research me and Jonas performed, to the online community that was established as a result of the class. Thank you for accepting me into the class and I hope that the website that Jonas and I created helps people to better understand Missouri history and how secession is not always how we imagine it.

Final Reflection

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.

Kodey’s Final Update

So I finally was able to get a picture of myself into the about the authors page. I also finished up the Governor John Dalton Speaks and the Secession Loses Steam pages. I’m going through and making sure that each page looks presentable and it looks like our website is essentially complete. There is little left to do.

Final Presentation Guidelines

Hi everyone,

As promised, I’m writing up a little more information for you to be able to plan out your final presentations. We’re looking for the presentations to be about 10 minutes in length, so that we’ve got time for your classmates and other invited guests to ask any questions that they might have.

Your presentations should include:

  1. Why you were interested in the project in the first place! Why did you think that this made sense as the secession movement for you to study?
  2. What are the fruits of your research? What have you uncovered that wasn’t known before? If you’re telling a story that’s been told before, why is your interpretation different? What are your conclusions about the research project?
  3. How did you build the website? What design choices did you make; what difficulties were there in presenting your research in digital format?
  4. How should a visitor use the website? What do you want them to learn from your work?
  5. What could be done with this project in the future? Are there avenues for future research?

I realize there’s a lot of questions there, but I wanted to make sure that I piqued your inquisitiveness in explaining the project to others! Remember that things that become very familiar to you over the course of a few months will still be new to others. You’ve all done an excellent job so far, so make the most of the opportunity to get others excited about your projects (this shouldn’t be too hard!). You don’t need to answer the questions as if they are a checklist, but hopefully this gives you some guide for structure and content. Good luck!

Another Update

Over the past couple of days Kendall and I have drastically changed the format of the site. We have split each of the pages into smaller sections to become their own pages, and put each of these under their own menu headers. I’m pretty happy with how it looks now.

I also worked on finding a reason why counties who had voted for Virginia’s secession from the Union would become part of West Virginia. The justification based on Senator Carlile’s testimony – that they were part of Appalachia and therefore had a vested interest in separating from Virginia – seems to vindicate the argument we have been making all along. The separation between the Appalachian region and the rest of the state caused long-term, irreconcilable differences between its population and the rest of Virginia.

I also added some more images and am still working on photoshopping the header.

Progress Update!

Monday night, Abi and I worked on the format of our website. About three hours later, we have created what is up today. I’m feeling much more comfortable about the flow of the website and its overall look. I’m hoping it is less “jagged” than it was before. I know I have one page to put content on left, but otherwise I think the site is mainly done other than the feedback we get today, some photographs, and citations. All of which, I am confident will be completed before the beginning of next week. I’m now feeling a lot better about the site and I think Abi is too, which is a relief. I’ve had a lot of assignments due here at the beginning of the week, so I wasn’t able to do as much work on the site before today as I would have liked, but I think the time spent on the format of the website really was in our favor. After today, my involvement will be extremely heavy in this site. Like I said, I’ve just had many papers due this week and other various projects.

Work This Week

Working this week has been admittedly rather challenging. This week was Holy Week/Easter which means a lot of church-going, a lot of preparation to go home, a lot of preparation once you get home (the Easter Bunny requires a lot of help–the dude is stretched thin). Despite the craziness, I managed to fit in a great deal of content.

I edited/wrote/worked on:


-About this Project

-How to Use this Site


-About Us

-Who are the Quakers? section

-Secession and Are the Quakers Secessionists? pages

I hope you all had a good weekend! I will see you on Wednesday!