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First World War

Internship Week #12: Going Down the List

There are a number of loose ends that need to be tied up before the end of the semester and beginning of the summer for the Florida in World War I project. This week I have been jumping from one component of the project to another, trying to get done what I can.

First and foremost, the website design itself, I think, is fairly complete (though there will always be room for change and improvement). If you look at the images in the gallery below, you can see the way the website is setup (or feel free to click here to go directly to the website). Essentially, the homepage has a slider on it that rotates various posts and pages we want to highlight. When you go on an individual page or post, it will show you (as seen in the second screencapture) rotating promo boxes. This was a great solution to the lack of color issue that was a concern when the website first began (which you can see in the third photo in the gallery below).

The next item I worked on was the Resources page. The project’s advisor, Dr. Barbara Gannon, presented today at the Society for Military History Annual Meeting on the project. In preperation for that, I sat down with Dr. Gannon and another project coordinator, Tyler Campbell, to get some materials together in anticipation for Dr. Gannon’s presentation, which included getting some resources up. I put up several sources (online resources and books) in order to have something up while I still continue to organize and sort. I think though, whether I figure out a way to sort the sources and organize them where they are easily searchable, I may put up more in the simple format I already have. At least this way there are sources up for those that visit the website.

In addition to the work I mentioned above, I have been working on three research and writing components to the project. The first is my historiography for my internship. The second research and writing component is my encyclopedia entry for the website. The entry is in the form of a fleshed out outline, but should be a fully composed entry by next week. I have decided to use some of the research I presented at the conference I attended in London, specifically how the United States viewed and handled those with shell shock. And thirdly, I am working on an academic journal article that is in the works on the project for publication. I am working with my fellow project coordinators to write about the creation and history of the project, as well as a myriad of components that have sprung from the project including the Soldiers of Florida databases, the website, conference papers and posters (see below for screenshot of the poster that the project presented at the 2016 Graduate Research Forum at UCF), and more.

There is definitely a great deal to work on this upcoming week. Let’s hope for a productive one!


Internship Week #11: A Long To-Do List

I meant for spring break a time of getting ahead on a bunch of tasks that I had been working on since I returned; however, I did not accomplish as much as I would have liked during spring break. This week has been about trying to play catch up so to speak and getting as much done as possible so I can move forward with other tasks for the project. The design of the website has taken a back seat and I am trying to work on formatting the current content so it is uniform. In that process I have also been editing, which has taken more time than I anticipated. In addition, the resources page is taking a lot longer than I had hoped. I have been going through a number of sources, trying to see which are relevant to the project and finding ways to organize them. I think that has been the biggest challenge with the resources. Having a simple long list, while more than nothing, does not help when looking for something specific. So trying to find a way to organize everything, how to categorize the resources, is a challenge. I think another issue is that I find myself so captivated by the sources we have collected since the project began that a lot of my time is spent on simply exploring these resources out of my own interest and curiosity. This coming week I have to be a little more mindful of time so my to-do list shortens.

In this coming week I plan to finish everything I have been working on listed up above. My next steps include working on an encyclopedia entry of my own for the website. The conference paper I presented in London has a lot of research that I think I can use for an encyclopedia entry. It centers on my own personal research, specifically the American perspective on shell shock. I am going to go through my conference paper and sift through the research and see what I can use. Once I have that done, I am going to outline the entry. Hopefully I can complete a draft of the entry in the coming week and have something to present the week after next. In that time as well, I need to also work on the historiography.

I am definitely feeling the time crunch as the end of the semester is rapidly approaching. I have to keep reminding myself though, that just because the internship ends the first week of May, that does not mean that the work on the project ends- or my work on the project ends. I will be continuing to work on the project and anything that needs to be completed can be completed after the internship is over as well; however, I do want my time with this project in an intern role to have a lot to show for it, and a lot to work with once it has come to an end.


Internship Week #9: Resources and a Historiography

It has been a while since I last posted on my internship. After a few weeks away from the project, I am back at work and am actively working on multiple components of the Florida in World War I project. As with all my previous weeks, the website has been the priority, but I have taken a step back from the design in favor of working more closely on the content. I am centering my attention on the Resources section of the website, expanding upon a bibliography an undergraduate student put together last fall. The bibliography the student put together has a number of works that have small pockets of information on Florida in the First World War, but the works need to be combed through and organized. In addition to the few sources on Florida in World War I, my fellow project coordinators and I want the Resources section to go beyond just the focus of Florida. We have slowly been gathering various resources, which I have been putting together. I have also been adding books from my own research. The trick is trying to organize them in a way that helps those that visit the website to go through and find exactly what they are looking for. Or, if they are just browsing, it makes it easy to go through the resources without jumping from one topic/theme to the next.

In addition to working on content for the website I have also had my focus on the historiography paper that my internship requires. As I study World War I outside of my internship, I want to do something that will not only satisfy the requirement, but will help with my research in the future. After speaking with my internship supervisor, Dr. Barbara Gannon, we agreed that centering my historiography on memory and the First World War will prove beneficial. I have read a number of books on memory of the First World War and I am looking forward to creating a historiography around that. I think having the books together in one historiography paper will really be an advantage in the future, understanding the historical arguments and trends that I hope to fit my own work in. One of the books I am including in the historiography I am currently rereading. The book is called Bodies of War: World War I and the Politics of Commemoration in America, 1919-1933 by Lisa M. Budreau. Budreau argues there are three stages of the American response: repatriation, remembrance and return. Outside of the Florida and World War I project, my own research has primarily been centered in Europe, but this book opened me up to American aspects of memory and remembrance. It is interesting to see the parallels between the American perspective and the European perspective, including the politics of the physical act of burial.

As for this coming week, even though it is spring break, that does not mean the work stops! I am going to continue working on the project throughout the week with hopes of catching up from my time away.


London Day 7: Research at the Imperial War Museum

Yesterday I spent some time in the Research Room at the Imperial War Museum. They were kind enough to pull some items from their archives for me. Let me say that if you are ever going to do research at the Imperial War Museum, they make it an incredibly easy and smooth process. All I had to do was search their collections online and fill out a form online with the catalogue information of the items I wanted. I cannot remember how long they say to wait for a response as to whether or not they can accommodate your request, but I heard back in less than 24 hours. In reserving a time, they have two time slots- 10am-1pm and 2pm-5pm. Once they have approved your request, you receive an email with all of the instructions on how to prepare, as well as what you can and cannot bring.

I was a little nervous yesterday morning as I was not entirely sure of what to expect, but when I arrived at my designated time of 10am everything I requested was already pulled and ready to go. The woman who was there (I wish I could remember her name!) was friendly and great in explaining what I could and could not do. Their rules are extremely straightforward. I was allowed a pencil, paper and my laptop if I so chose. I was also allowed a camera, but three things: no flash, no shutter noise and it cost £10 for a camera pass for the day. I was going to purchase the pass before I sat down with the materials, but the woman who helped me gave great advice- look at what I have first and then get the pass if necessary as they do not offer refunds on the pass. After looking at the things they pulled for me, I ran and grabbed a pass right away. I wish I could share the photos of the amazing things I looked at, but per the agreement with the Imperial War Museum, I cannot digitally share the photos online. If I ever decide I would like to use the materials in a publication, the woman also gave me information on how I could go about it; however, this is not the case, so I cannot share the photographs.

You are allowed three items at a time at the desk space. I had three war nurse personal papers pulled. The first set of papers I opened ended up being more so focused on the Second World War. I scanned through the papers to see if I could find anything of interest for my research, but it was out of my date range and there really was not reference pertaining to my research. The other two items I had pulled are gold for my research. The first one is a sort of hybrid scrapbook-diary from a nurse in World War I. I think a lot of the written portions of the book were extracts from her diaries and personal letters and then she had so many newspaper clippings, photos, ration books, medical papers, pamphlets- it was everything any historian could ever dream of, and it was right there in my hands. The book contains about a 100 pages (maybe more), so for the sake of time, I followed the advice of my professors and snapped photos of everything before sitting and reading. That process took some time, but it was well worth it. Now I have the pages to go back to and look at more in depth. After photographing for my research, I sat and just took in the book itself, slowly scanning the pages and looking at each item this nurse chose to include.

The other item I had pulled was a set of three journals from another nurse. These journals are difficult to read due to the handwriting, but I lucked out- there was a partial transcription of the journals with the physical journals. I am excited to utilize these in my research as well.

I am set to return to the Research Room at the IWM before I leave London. I was originally scheduled for one more session, but the staff at the IWM helped me get another. It really has been an absolute privilege to have not only visited the IWM’s exhibits, but to research there has been a dream come true. I am eternally grateful for the opportunities I have been given.