Beyond Invisibility: Project Update #2

What a weird semester. Not necessarily bad, but definitely weird. Okay, maybe a little bit bad, but only because so many people are refusing to wear masks and social distance so we can finally end this pandemic. I want to go to restaurants and museums again! I want to go see a movie! I want to go for a walk down the street and say hi to the people I see instead of veering around them like they have the plague (which they very well might)! But wishes and wants aside, while this unusual semester has certainly been a challenge, some good things have come out of it too, which I am looking forward to updating you on. If you are not Tara or Theo and have somehow stumbled upon my site and these blog posts, hello! You may want to go read the previous two to catch yourself up a little bit. But, if you are Tara or Theo (as I suspect you are), here is my update post for November! (Also, shout-out to Theo for helping me fix my blog and link it to my site. Thank you Theo! MVP of this blog!)

Question number one: what I have I learned in the last month? Well, it’s been a real doozy of a month, which means (among other things) that I have learned quite a bit. In terms of this fellowship, I’ve learned a lot about archives, sources, and what makes a good website. I’ll get more into this in my answer to question two, which will provide a more succinct update of the Beyond Invisibility project, but I have particularly learned that I take a really long time to research things. And that’s not a bad thing; I’m learning a lot about a topic I’m interested in, which is good! I’ve just found that I have a tendency to get sidetracked when I find something really interesting, and sometimes I’ll fall down a research rabbit hole and realize that I’ve spent forty-five minutes looking at turn-of-the-century soap advertisements (which, if you’ve read my two previous blog posts, you’ll know have nothing to do with my project). But I digress! In terms of class and life, I’ve also learned a lot. My grandfather passed away on October 12th, which feels like forever ago, but his funeral was held just last week. Because of the pandemic, it was held via Zoom, which felt really weird and dystopian and and in my head I was like am I really about to watch Grandpa Charlie be laid to eternal rest through my grainy computer screen? The answer was yes. Anyway, since his passing I’ve learned a lot more about that side of my family, which has certainly been interesting, to say the least.

This is the front of one of the turn-of-the-century soap ads that I found in a folder containing other documents which were actually relevant to my project.
This is the back of the aforementioned turn-of-the-century soap ad (front pictured above).

Question two: what have I been up to, project-wise? As I previously mentioned, I’ve spent a lot of time over the past few weeks in the archives at the Oklahoma History Center, researching the Oklahoma Historical Society’s materials on the all-black towns movement in Oklahoma from 1890-1930. While there are five subjects of research for this project (the all-black towns movement; Ft. Gibson, also in Oklahoma; Mexia, Texas; Nicodemus, Kansas; and the Canadian Great Plains), I decided to start with the all-black towns movement because 1. I’m already familiar with a lot of archival resources about Oklahoma and 2. I figured it would have the most content and sources to look through, since there’s somewhere around fifty all-black towns that existed from around 1890-1930. And I was right! There is a lot of content about these towns, which is great for me and my project, but also just a tad overwhelming. The good news is that when Dr. Eaton and I meet in January to curate the sources for the project website, we will have plenty of material to choose from!

I am now starting to research Ft. Gibson, Oklahoma as well as Nicodemus, Kansas so that Dr. Eaton and I will be able to curate materials for these subjects in January as well. The project team is also working on a website design, which I am very excited about! While I really do enjoy the research phase of projects, I’m eager to start putting everything I’ve learned and found together in a meaningful way.

Here’s an old post card about Fort Gibson, Oklahoma!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *