We have a guest post from an NAU graduate student from the anthropology department, Olivia Charest.
What’s a socio-cultural anthropology student doing writing a blog for SCA, you might wonder. Well, here goes. I am a second year graduate student from the anthropology department working on a thesis about pilgrimage and travel on Route 66. The main goal is to figure out what draws tourists to the road—especially those tourists from, say, the Netherlands, Germany, France…I want to know how they understand America, and how traveling Route 66 preserves the memory of The Road.
My SCA journey has taken me in some interesting directions that I was definitely not expecting. I have had many great conversations with Sean Evans, archivist and perhaps Prince of Route 66 to the King, Angel Delgadillo. Sean has been instrumental in providing me with every resource he knows concerning Route 66. My sampling strategy would be nothing without Sean’s assistance—almost every Route 66 contact I have made has been through Sean. My thesis research and my interest in Route 66 spawned some additional research projects, though.
In my second year, I started a project for a Communications (COM) course on Two Guns, Arizona. Nearly every web page I looked at got the stories about this town twisted around and the facts wrong, often confusing Two Guns with Canyon Diablo three miles away. With Sean and SCA’s help, I had the idea to create a Two Guns web page—with the real story and links to photographs and oral histories held by SCA. The web page is still in its infancy (and currently not accessible), but after my thesis is done, I will be creating the web page and at the request of some friends in the Netherlands, I apparently will write a book about Two Guns. Sean and the SCA provided a plethora of materials for me to peruse, including access to the newspaper articles chronicling the interesting trial of Two Guns resident, Harry “Indian” Miller. I personally love the photographs that SCA holds of Two Guns and its zoos.
Another project came about when WestLand Resources, Inc. was hired by the Arizona Department of Transportation (ADOT) to create a visual roadbed survey of all accessible Route 66 segments in Arizona. I was hired as a researcher. I have spent a great deal of time accessing SCA materials—including Engineer Reports, Arizona Highways, and Arizona road maps. We have used the Fronske collection to verify segments of the road, as well as other collections. The ability to use SCA’s online resources has hugely helped us on this particular project!
The SCA has served my projects and me well!
Thank you, Olivia, for the update on your research in Special Collections and Archives and your research.!