I am a senior history major at the University of Montevallo, a small, liberal arts university in Montevallo, Alabama. Prior to my participation in the Century America Digital Liberal Arts Project, I was lucky enough to be involved in the Ronald E. McNair Post-baccalaureate Achievement Program, an experience that in many ways helped to prepare me for the rigorous primary source research involved in the Century America project. I first became familiar with the Century America project when my McNair mentor, Dr. Ruth Truss, forwarded me the project application and urged me to consider applying for the opportunity. Since this initial conversation, my involvement in the Century America project has been one of the most fulfilling and challenging experiences of my undergraduate career.
This project is in many ways an exploration of what is possible for a historian in the digital age. While I have had numerous opportunities to meaningfully engage primary source materials in my Tutwiler project, this was the first opportunity in which I used primary source materials as building blocks to synthesize a work of digital scholarship. As I learned, this is in some ways significantly more difficult than participating in traditional modes of historical discourse. While pen and paper have their inherent drawbacks, there are myriad problems inherent to the burgeoning field of digital history. The outstanding mentoring and feedback that I received from Dr. Jeff McClurken and Dr. Ellen Holmes Pearson were crucial in helping me to navigate the uncertain path of digital scholarship. My experiences with this project demonstrate the value of distance mentoring, peer interaction, and collaborative research, and I believe the Century America project serves as a model of the very best of historical pedagogy. But beyond these reasons, the project was special to me because of the way in which it facilitated a deeper appreciation of my undergraduate institution and my collegiate experience. Being able to explore the history of Montevallo and the Alabama Girls’ Technical Institute allowed me to reflect meaningfully on my time at Montevallo, and it was a wonderful way to spend my last semester at the institution where I have spent the last several years of my life. I am happy that this project and my time at Montevallo will help to add to the preservation of Montevallo’s unique history.
After graduating from the University of Montevallo in May, I will be continuing my education at the graduate level. Currently, I plan to pursue a master’s degree in library and information studies, followed by a Ph.D. program in history. Broadly speaking, my research interests include LGBT history, 20th century cultural history, and archival studies.
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