I was introduced to Little Switzerland by way of the Clarkson family. Heriot Clarkson and his son Francis O. Clarkson opened their lives to me during my weekly visits to the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill through their correspondence, clippings of newspaper articles, speeches, and legal documents. Sitting in a reading room surrounded by fragile documents of the past, I flipped through a 3-inch stack of letters between Heriot and Francis and imagined Heriot, a North Carolina Supreme Court Justice, and thundering out his opinions in court before driving up to tranquil Little Switzerland for a weekend of hiking and apple picking.
The purpose of my weekly visits with the Clarksons was to gather documents about the conflict between the Clarkson family and the State Highway Commission over what they would be compensated for land taken for the Blue Ridge Parkway right-of-way. The Clarkson’s letters revealed a man passionate about maintaining justice and property rights in the midst of political and social change, and son, more temperate in his opinions, but just as firm in his beliefs about the righteousness of the Little Switzerland case. Together they mounted a crusade, both in the courts and the newspapers, against the State Highway Commission demanding, and receiving, more for the land taken for the Blue Ridge Parkway than any other private owner in Western North Carolina.
The documents relating to Little Switzerland and the Blue Ridge Parkway were in an unprocessed collection of Francis O. Clarkson’s papers. The boxes were piled with folders, which were not in any chronological order, but which were organized by the Clarkson family by topic. Piecing together the Clarkson’s Little Switzerland story involved reading a letter in one box and finding the reply or a related letter in a different box. So while I was able to get a sense of the characters and the general facts of the story, I was never able to see all the documents in chronological order or see related documents side-by-side.
Imagine my excitement when the documents were digitized and for the first time I could see them all together and arrange them in chronological order. In the digital context, unlike the archive, I could flip through the documents and see Heriot write to Francis about a newspaper article, Francis write to the newspaper editor, the newspaper send a telegram the letter would be printed, and then the newspaper clipping of Francis’s letter to the editor and Heriot’s congratulation to Francis on being firm with the newspaper. Being able to see the documents in this way allows the documents can speak for themselves as those who view the documents can see the story unfold as the Clarkson’s lived it.
My view of Little Switzerland and the Blue Ridge Parkway was seen through the Clarkson’s eyes. They were passionate about their story and wanted North Carolina to see their point of view. A few of their documents and their views are presented here. Visitors are invited to stop out look out from Little Switzerland, meet the Clarksons, and explore the development of Blue Ridge Parkway from Heriot and Francis O. Clarkson’s vantage point.
This nodemap, based on the Heriot Clarkson and Francis O. Clarkson Papers at the Southern Historical Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, presents the Clarkson’s view of the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland.
From their land in Little Switzerland, Heriot and Francis O. Clarkson could look out and see their neighbors and the Little Switzerland community, the Switzerland Company that managed the Little Switzerland community, the media and their portrayals of Little Switzerland’s conflict with the State Highway Commission, and, looming large, the State Highway Commission itself. The National Park Service, which held the deed to the land for the Parkway, did not figure into the Clarkson’s interpretation of the conflict and is notably absent from the nodemap.
The nodemap presents these entities along with some of the significant people and events associated with them. Judge Clarkson’s particular views are also present in each node. Documents relating to the people, events and Judge Clarkson’s views appear at the end of each string of nodes.
Click and drag anywhere within the nodemap to arrange the map. The “full screen” button enlarges the map and reveals all the nodes. Click on the plus sign to enlarge the text and press the white arrows to scroll down for image captions. The “zoom” and “focus” buttons arrange and enlarge the nodes. Click the “home” button to close the nodes and return to the original view.
According to Sarah, I might need to download newest version of TEI lite to get rid of validation errors. Where would download go? What would new doc type in front of header be?
The errors are the same on all 6 of the xml files I’ve done:
<tei header> may need to add xml:id=””
Otherwise the TEI is done.
I have about 17 more letters to enter as well as the newspaper clippings that Elise separated for me.
Started doing some markdown on the description fields to begin connecting the items to one another. This has been really fun and has made me miss my job at Historical Abstracts a bit.
I also need to go back and insert the location of documents at the SHC. This may involve another trip to verify some of the notes I made.
TEI keeps getting put off as this database entry has taken longer than I thought it would. Maybe I’m too persnickety about what gets described and indexed. I can thank the senior editors at ABC-Clio for that.
In other news, I’ve started to try to compile some literature on digital history and begin making some observations about my own work thus far. Maybe it will be included on the BRP site, maybe not. A talk by Ryan Shaw today about conceptualizing history – particularly how historians name events in discourse – reinforced my feelings about the merits and future of digital history. I wish I would have come to this conclusion last year so that I could have taken more IS courses….
This week I copied all of the jp2 images onto my computer, putting them into 1 folder so that I could view them chronologically. This is one of the benefits of naming the images by date. It was actually quite exciting to be able to scroll through the images and see the story unfold through postcards, clippings, typed letters, telegrams, etc. One of the disadvantages of archival research is that you can only look at things in the order that they are presented by the archivist. In the case of this collection, it meant looking at things out of chronological order and having to piece together what happened with one document in *this* box and its companion in *that* box. Being able to see all the documents in one place is a rare treat for a historian. Makes me wonder how hard it would be do apply something like the cooliris plugin to this collection (like the WWI postcard collection).
I’ve entered close to 50 items into the database, about 1/3 of the total. A few questions came up that I’ll go over with Elise during our Monday meeting.
1. A few of the files were named differently than the others. For example, Letter_19381011_1 2 to differentiate from Letter19381011_1. This is strange because most of the others are named like this–Letter_1938122802_1–when there is a duplicate date. It seems like the former should be changed to the latter to avoid confusion, especially because of how we are entering the file name base into the database.
2. I’ve been titling the images as “letter from X to Y”. However, this makes for many duplications as there are multiple letters from Heriot to Francis Clarkson for example. Is it necessary to differentiate them? How could this be done when all are approximately the same subject? Date may be the only way to differentiate.
3. One thing that we did not think about in the file naming system was how to identify which items were from which collection – the Heriot Clarkson papers or the Francis O. Clarkson – and which box/folder they were in. As I recall, the SHC put them into 2 boxes and the folders from the DPC match the contents of those boxes. I have some notes about where some of the more important documents were, but not all.What to do when not sure exactly where a specific doc was found? Also, should this info be put in the database in the admin notes field as well as the TEI header?
4. How is the subject set going to be used? Will these be published and used to make connections between objects? How much overlap is there between the entities, locations and subjects? I’ve been adding the addressee of the letter as a subject.
5. This brings me to how to indicate connections between newspaper clippings and letters about the clippings. Would putting the article title in the database as a subject do that? Could I make that connection in the markup?
6. How to describe clippings when 2-3 are on same page? Make multiple entries or describe them all in 1?
7. Regardless of where the letter was written, I’ve been putting it under geographic location: Little Switzerland, since that is the subject. If a letter was written in Charlotte and addressed to Raleigh, do those cities need to be mentioned anywhere?
The plan for next week is to contact Sarah about the letter head issue in TEI (haven’t done that yet), start marking up a few letters to see how it goes, and continue entering the items in the database.
- who do I go to with TEI queries? who can look over a few of my first tries to see if I’m doing it right?
- what version of TEI are we working with?
- workflow? enter into database, then markup, then?
- text id=URI? name key=URI? go over what Cliff was saying again…
- some elements in header change according to material – collection, document, author, call #, revision date
- TEI form for sender letterhead and addressee info
Tally of material types
newspaper clippings (glued to pages): 13
carbon copies letter paper: 40 [box 10], 12 [box 11]
thick letter paper: 32 [box 10], 40 [box 11], 8 [HC, box 4]
pamphlet (stapeled): 4 pages
Made a chronology of articles and letters to the editor to see what we had and what we need to find on microfilm to have the full set of Clarkson/media interaction.
There is also correspondence between FOC and the newspaper editors that relate to each of these.
|transcript||8-Jul-38||Clarkson gives cliam of resort||N&O/Charolotte Observer||HC||published?|
|clipping||3-Aug-38||Clarksons reply in pkwy case||N&O|
|clipping||3-Aug-38||Little switz case heard by mitchell||N&O|
|clipping||25-Aug-38||board of appraisers appointed||Tri-County|
|microfilm?||30-Aug-38||[unknown title, by charles ross?]||Raleigh Times|
|transcript||31-Aug-38||To editor of Raleigh Times||Raleigh Times||FOC||published?|
|clipping||6-Sep-38||the political pinwheel||N&O||wade lucas|
|clipping||10-Sep-38||trial by pamplet||N&O|
|clipping||18-Sep-38||little switz again||N&O||FOC|
|clipping||22-Sep-38||the little switz case||Charlotte Observer|
|microfilm?||2-Oct-38||a plea for simple truth and justice||N&O||HC|
|clipping||20-Oct-38||parkway suit is dismissed||Charlotte Observer|
|clipping||21-Oct-38||Clarkson explains switz suit||Charlotte Observer|
|clipping||21-Oct-38||switz co wins in legal tilt||Charlotte Observer|
|mcirofilm?||12-Dec-38||Mountain Land values||High Point Enterprise|
|clipping||12-Dec-38||clarkson road damage 27,111||N&O|
|transcript||13-Dec-38||Dunlap terms award unusual||N&O||published?|
|clipping||15-Dec-38||Switz co awarded about $29,000||Tri-County|
|microfilm?||15-Dec-38||Note on the Mountains||Greensboro Daily News|
|transcript||12/26/38||Letter to editor of Greensboro Daily||Greensboro Daily News||published 27Dec38?|
|transcript||12/26/38||Letter to editor of High Point Enterprise||High Point Enterprise||FOC||published 1Feb39?|
|transcript||1/2/39||Letter to editor of N&O||N&O||published?|
|microfilm?||1/14/39||Road Claim to Reach High Court||Raleigh Times|
|transcript||1/17/39||Letter to editor of Raleigh Times||Raleigh Times||pubished?|
|clipping||9-Feb-39||park service policies||Tri-County|
|clipping||6-Apr-39||little switz land co suit for dames||Tri-County|
|clipping||13-Apr-39||Switz co gets $25,000||Tri-County|
|clipping||26-Apr-39||Columbus||Greensboro Daily News|
|clipping||26-May-39||funds requested, $25,000 is paid||N&O|
|clipping||under the dome|
|clipping||issue of ‘ethics’ raised|
|clipping||Judge Rousseau overrules motion||Tri-County|
|transcript||6-Jul-39||Resort asked state to pay||N&O||HC?||published?|
|microfilm?||15-Nov-39||State Parkway Spending||N&O|
|transcript||18-Nov-39||Letter to editor of N&O||N&O||HC||published 28Nov39|