Luke Tomczuk- Final Update

Presenting research of the extent that was done for this course was something I had not had the pleasure of doing prior to last week. It could not have gone any better. The one thing was that my family could not be there to see it, but observing only one person brought acquaintances made me feel better about that. I just wish the recording had worked the way I intended. All that remains at this point is making my revisions and introducing the backdrop. I trust Dr. Lowe enough that the revisions she suggested two weeks ago will be enough to complete the project. I also trust that enough research exists, especially on sites such as Philly GeoHistory, to pinpoint the research I need for my backdrop.

It is hard to believe that the end is almost near for this class and for college as a whole. The twists and turns that this project took me on were something I did not anticipate. When I thought of this project one year ago, I had no idea what to expect. I thought that I would just do Monument Cemetery’s story, but I knew that was not the only location in Philadelphia to experience such issues. Special Collections visits were one of my favorite parts of this project. I got to know the staff well, and it was one of my favorite spots to complete my work this semester. I hope it can be of use sometime in the future depending on my career. As I have seen peers present research, I am leaning towards seeking to have this work published in some type of way. That goal may not come quickly on account of Paley Library’s closure this summer. This is my intent regardless of my future endeavors. I would like to conclude this last entry with a thank you for a few people. First, I would like to thank those who reviewed my paper in our class. Your insight was vital towards collecting my thoughts enough to complete the paper. Next I would like to thank those outside of the course, namely family members, other professors, and other students for their encouragement. Lastly I would like to thank Dr. Lowe. There are not enough kind words to say about our professor. When Dr. Bryant Simon suggested I take her last semester, I thought it to be sincere. I never would have imagined the benefits would be this great. It is so fitting that I found my favorite college professor in my last semester, especially for this class. Thank you for being my greatest resource and a source of inspiration for all of us, including your help in obtaining a Diamond Award this semester. Your kindness and appreciation will not soon be forgotten. It has been a pleasure being in this course. I wish everyone the best of luck in your future endeavors.

Luke Tomczuk Update #11- April 10th

As we approach these last two weeks, the pieces of my paper are seemingly falling into place. The most exciting development of the past week was finally turning in my first full draft. There still needs to be some brushing over with my sources and some grammar mistakes corrected, but I feel confident about where I am right now. One aspect I am concerned about is completing a second draft without some feedback on the first draft. I am not sure about how I should go about completing it in these next couple of days, especially whether Nathan’s review is enough. Speaking of Nathan, his paper is coming along nicely. Last week’s class was the first time in a while that I got to review a peer’s draft. I am glad that it was his. During the last time I reviewed his paper, I marked it far too much out of passion for his topic. This time it was much more subdued and it was to both our benefit. I feel like he will take my advice to heart and improve his paper for this week.

Unfortunately I still have no material for my backdrop as of this writing. My hope is that Dr. Nepa or Dr. Lowe will point me in the right direction in the next couple of days. It is not during my period of research but it is relevant to my topic. One aspect that is on my mind is what happens with my paper, research, and effort following our allotted class time. Dr. Urwin’s advice from earlier this semester is on my mind again, but I feel like I should pursue getting this paper published. I understand that this would require more research and perhaps delayed at that due to Paley’s closure. I feel strongly that my lack of non-“Bulletin” primary sources would be scrutinized by a publisher. This will persist as long as my uncertainty for post-graduation persists. In the coming week I hope to edit my paper to sufficient detail for the second rough draft. Later in the week I plan to begin work on my presentation. I plan on flowing my work in the following matter: title page, introduction, historiography, cemetery history synopsis, case studies, current events, conclusion, and citations. It is my hope that the presentation is an accurate representation of my research. When that day comes, it will start to hit me that my time at Temple is almost over. I am honored that this class was part of that journey.

Luke Tomczuk Update #11- April 3rd

I apologize in advance for this post being so tardy. This week was another productive week outside of the weekend, which I hoped would be more productive. On Monday, I followed up on my promise to review the last Evening Bulletin materials for Monument Cemetery at Special Collections. Now I have all that I need when I write down the paragraphs for my case studies. As a matter of fact, three of the four case studies are right where they need to be outside of tying loose ends. The only one that has yet to be completed is Union Burial Ground, but I have the necessary research I need to complete this research by the first Mini-Draft. Monday was the most productive day this week. Wednesday was the longest I spent at Special Collections thus far at three and a half hours. There were some more productive developments, including finding a student-run documentary about Monument Cemetery done last year. That was the inspiration behind this project, and it will be of great benefit to utilize it going forward. It also features Thomas Keels, the author of “Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries.” He makes great points about cemetery removal that will help me build onto my argument. I may reach out to him for assistance if time allows. The latter part of the week saw me work more secondary sources into my writing for the first time in a while. This happened because I focused on my primary research for the past few weeks. If I can find a way to combine primary and secondary materials I feel like I will be in good shape in that department.

In the week ahead I will be more limited with time, but it is not my intent to let this stop me. I would like to incorporate a current events section into the last portion of my paper. I know what I want to write, but it is about putting my thoughts into paragraphs at this point. The same can be said about my still not fully developed introduction and conclusion, but these areas are slightly foggier. I would like to open my paper on the Presbyterian Cemetery that was removed in the 1920s to make way for the Ben Franklin Bridge. Unfortunately I do not have enough information to include it in my first mini-draft. Now that I have more direction in my paper, though, I can more easily write a satisfactory conclusion. I plan to put more thoughts into words over the next three days and seek help if needed. Then I will prepare for the next draft later in the week. I hope it can be another productive week for this project.

Luke Tomczuk Update #10- March 27th

I did not turn in a 5000 word draft this week, but that is far from a representation of how this week has went. I consider this an accomplishment because this has been a turbulent week in news outside of this class. It started on Monday when I finally had a one-on-one with Dr. Nepa. He recommended that I narrow my scope to four cemeteries removed during the urban renewal period. He also stated Special Collections was the best place to obtain primary research. As far as other collections, HSP in his opinion would be more helpful than the City Archives. This advice was helpful because it allows me to narrow my scope to four case studies with limited primary research. My paper will therefore undergo a revision in structure. It will first highlight important aspects of cemetery culture in America in hopefully no more than two or three pages. Then it will dive into the case studies one by one in chronological order. I mentioned in last week’s entry that my paper was not in chronological order; I believe this will solve that problem. The case studies will proceed in the following manner: Ronaldson’s (1950), Odd Fellow’s (1951), Monument (1956), and Union Burial Ground (1970.) During the case studies section I plan to compare these removals since two took place in North Philadelphia and the others in South Philadelphia. I will also argue that burial relocation to the suburbs contributed to the suburbanization movement during the period of study. I plan to wrap up the paper by briefly discussing current events topics in cemetery removal and summarizing the case studies.

For this restructuring to be possible I had to obtain primary materials. Thankfully Special Collections had a great amount of material on all four cemeteries. I have transferred this content as photographs with their permission on all cemeteries but Monument. One issue could be that each of the primary sources come from the “Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.” I plan to consult about this further. On Wednesday I met with Dr. Lowe to discuss a road map towards turning in my 5000-word draft. I plan to stick by that agreement to the best of my ability. In the coming week I will execute the plan and obtain the final primary material for Monument. I will then refine my paper to aim closer to the upcoming first full draft due date. The processes should be aided by additional time that I do not normally have on Wednesday and Friday. I look forward to catching up and completing the draft.

Luke Tomczuk Update #9- March 20th

This week was another one filled with positives and negatives, but the negatives were fewer and further between compared to previous weeks. I finally resolved something on Thursday that I have been worried about for weeks now: how I am going to meet with Dr. Nepa. I am happy to report that I will meet with him tomorrow morning at 11 am. This is a significant development because as I said in class, I am not confident in my ability to find primary sources without his help. If all goes well, the meeting should cover how he conducted his research for his article “Cemeteries,” which I mentioned in a few previous entries, and then obtain his thoughts on cemetery removal. I plan to send him my secondary sources obtained to this point and the progress of my paper up to that point. After the meeting, I will send the Historical Society a request for material from their Woodlands Cemetery Company Papers. Exactly which boxes and catalogs I will request is not determined at this time. It is my hope that the meeting with Dr. Nepa will clear up the discrepancies between myself and the primary sources needed to complete the project. I am open to any follow-ups as well. In other news, it was refreshing to once again review someone else’s work. I felt that I provided the feedback Stephen White needed to complete his next draft. His paper, in my opinion, needs a clear road map to explain his intentions. His lack of information on his main topic until page six confused me, but a road map should resolve this issue. It also felt good to be back at Special Collections on Monday and Friday after a two-week absence. The two books that are held there have been the two best secondary sources I have to this point.

Another meeting I will have in the coming week will be with Dr. Lowe. This was something she had suggested before the break but sadly never materialized. One aspect she pointed out to me was that my paper has no clear timeline and was not in chronological order. This means that I am orienting my paper to fit my argument instead of providing a timeline for the reader. Getting this project re-oriented will be challenging because it is not a task I have undertaken in quite sometime. At the same time, it should be a simpler fix once my timeline is squared away and I have reliable primary sources. Dr. Lowe also provided me with a simpler way to cite my sources through Word’s insert footnote function. This was a trick no one had shown me before, and it will prevent me from tediously citing them as I had done previously. I would like to thank her for this and also suggesting contacts for help with my Web Mapping course. This is another course which takes up significant time for me and which I have struggled all semester. It has been one of my greatest obstacles thus far in completing this project. It has been a blessing to see Dr. Lowe wanting us all to succeed in all of our endeavors this semester. In the coming week, with help from my two planned meetings, I would like to obtain the primary sources needed and get as far along in my next mini-draft as possible. Unfortunately I do not think I can get to 5000 words before the next class. That said, I will come prepared with whatever I have prepared for that next class.

Luke Tomczuk Update #8- March 13th

This week was presented with good news and some not so good news. It started on a very good note, as I worked very hard to complete the outline and two paragraphs on Sunday night, a deadline that I missed back on February 27th. It was a grueling process, but now I believe my paper has the flow it had not before. The guide that Dr. Lowe posted for us was very helpful as well. I learned through completing it that my paper does not need to have the same structure in every section. What I mean by this is that not every research concept equates to one paragraph, but some can. It really depends on where in the paper you refer to and is subject to change as anything else. That will surely be a positive aspect going forward. On Friday, I completed a substantial chunk of the upcoming 2500-word draft. I am currently at 1218 words as of the time of this blog post’s submission. That word count could definitely be lower, and it feels good to be this far along with a few days before submission. It is a point I did not reach before the last assignment, and it is a sigh of relief that it has happened.

I wrote in the last entry that this week would be considered a working vacation. For this class, it was to an extent. The biggest disappointment was not reaching out to Dr. Nepa and talking about my paper. That will be priority #1 before my next update. I fully understand that time is of the essence, and now that Spring Break is in the review mirror that will become even more of a factor. His expertise will certainly be appreciated and will kick my project into higher gear. That said, I am not panicking about this at all. We are at a point in which there is still time, but there is just less of it than before. I will not fully be confident in my sources until I meet with him, but that does not mean I failed to track down any material. My easiest class, Urban Geography, has helped me complete this project more than I ever anticipated. Recently I saw a PowerPoint which contained a slide about redlining. I believe this to be an underappreciated piece to my cemetery removal equation. Both University City and North Philadelphia were red-lined; I was so intrigued by this that I included it in my outline. I plan to ask my professor how she obtained the map so I could use it as a primary source. On Friday I ran into a high school friend who works at the Historical Society. She told me a little bit more about their cemetery collection and the hours that it is open. She was not an expert but any information is greatly appreciated. For the coming week, I plan to finish the 2500 word draft and reach out to more contacts. Once that happens I believe I will be able to move along further.

Luke Tomczuk Update #7- Spring Break

This week I was fortunate to have my paper reviewed for the first time in class. Since this was a busy week for my other courses, I could not bring in my outline and first two paragraphs on Wednesday. Therefore, I brought in my historiography instead. I first reviewed Michael Trudeau’s paper about the Battle of Britain. His topic is intriguing because it makes an interesting argument, that Hugh Dowding was the hero of the Battle of Britain because of improved radar technology. Drawing from skills that I learned in my intermediate writing seminar class, I told him that his paper could be better served with a bolder claim. It would be interesting to see if he can prove that Dowding was the hero of the entire war instead of merely suggesting it. However, it is his decision with what he wants to do with his paper. The other paper I reviewed was Nathan Davis’s paper about the Interstate Highway System. This is a topic I am extremely passionate about because I have always been fascinated with highways on a personal level and more recently in academic study. I like the direction of his paper; it has great potential. I regret marking up his outline like a book, but I wanted to give the best feedback I could. I plan to connect him with a source detailing how the Manhattan Expressway was stopped by famous urban activist Jane Jacobs that I utilized in another course. It was a source I used for this class in an earlier assignment. As for my historiography, my two reviewers as well as Dr. Lowe liked what I had. I will take the advice they gave me, especially Dr. Lowe’s point about neatly combining two historiographies, to heart.

While reviewing other peoples’ projects was satisfying, it was disappointing not getting the outline done on time. I just would like to do the best I can on this capstone, and completing assignments on time goes a long way towards achieving that goal. I feel fortunate to have the support in this class that I do, which makes this less satisfying. That leads me to my next topic: what I hope to accomplish over Spring Break. I hope to complete the outline and two paragraphs by the end of the day today. Then, I will email Dr. Stephen Nepa to hopefully meet later this week. I thought a good idea might be to chat at a set location that works for him. Whenever it takes place, either this week or shortly thereafter, I look forward to informing him on my topic and my progress to this point. As necessary I might visit other special collections that I mentioned in previous entries. A mistake I made in my historiography was not using a source Dr. Lowe mentioned called “Penn’s Great Expansion.” Depending on what I get from that, I will pick up more primary and secondary material from new special collections. Lastly, I hope to complete my 2500 word draft by the end of the break. I know this is an ambitious agenda given where I am now, but it is nice to have those two extra days next week just in case. Late on Friday, I renewed my hold for the two books being held at Temple’s Special Collections for me. I did not visit there this week, but hopefully this renewal will ensure visits after the break, which I am calling a working vacation. Next week I hope to have more updates with the significant progress I plan to make.

Luke Tomczuk Update #6- 2/27

This week started out in a positive way. On Monday, I visited Special Collections for the fourth time. I completed some research for about an hour and a half in the afternoon towards the historiography assignment. I found some more secondary sources that might contribute towards narrowing my topic even further. For instance, I found an article from “The Daily Pennsylvanian,” the student newspaper for the University of Pennsylvania, that suggested Penn covered up a cemetery during its expansion process. The evidence they uncovered was a historical map that they obtained, and they claim that a new apartment building would sit on top of the cemetery. This is very similar to what Temple did regarding Monument Cemetery. More scholarly evidence is needed, but luckily it exists. One source that could describe what I am looking for is John L. Puckett and Mark Frazier Floyd’s article “Penn’s Great Expansion.” According to the footnotes on JSTOR, they cite a plethora of primary and secondary material, yet none of the end-notes mention a cemetery. I have not thoroughly examined this source yet but I plan to in the next two weeks.

The previous point highlighted briefly what my greatest weakness of the historiography was: I did not use the proper secondary material. I was more focused on finishing the assignment done rather than on the source material. Fortunately, the entire project does not rest on a rough draft of the historiography. There is more opportunity to improve on this and the other parts of the capstone before the end of the semester. The snow day aided significantly in the completion of the historiography. However, it did not help matters much beyond that. I feel as though a refresher on the requirements behind completing the outline, thesis, and two paragraphs portion would be helpful. A one or two-day extension of that due date may not be practical for logistical purposes but it still would be welcome. On Tuesday, Dr. Urwin, whom I have for US Civil War this semester, suggested I turn my capstone into a book somewhere down the road. That is a point I did not consider previously. It intrigues me greatly because my future after graduation is foggy, especially given my recent struggles with GIS. I will re-examine this possibility following the capstone’s completion. Spring Break will be a great opportunity in advancing my project significantly. I hope to connect with Dr. Nepa sometime that week and visit another Special Collection. A precursor to the break could come this week as my Monday and Friday mornings and early afternoons have opened up. It is my hope that upon our return my project will come along in an unprecedented way.

Luke Tomczuk Update #5- February 17th

I have made more progress this week than in previous weeks for sure. Dr. Lowe being in the classroom once again really contributed to these changes. I am thankful she is feeling better. Wednesday’s visit to her office in class could not have went better. I learned that I will have a harder time than most in finding secondary sources because of the uniqueness behind my topic. Despite a lack of materials for cemeteries, there are some viable resources concerning Philadelphia, urban renewal, and especially blight. When Temple University purchased Monument Cemetery, the land was considered blight, or a severe detriment to the surrounding community. This distinction has been noted in other buildings such as the Comcast Center. Blight has given me a new angle on the project: Does blight status significantly contribute to cemetery removal? I believe the answer to this question will be yes but further research is needed. Dr. Lowe also reaffirmed that I should visit the Historical Society of Pennsylvania’s cemetery collection. Exactly when this would take place is up in the air because I heard this weekend that they are not open on weekends. I will create a plan to visit before Spring Break ends.

The recent visit to Special Collections has also played a significant factor in the progress I made this week. On Friday, I again visited the collection. This time I used the opportunity to review Allan M. Heller’s “Philadelphia Area Cemeteries.” Its contents led me to organize my thoughts regarding the upcoming historiography assignment. For instance, I plan to mention exactly who gets moved and why. Additionally I will examine Temple and Penn’s aggressive motives for expansion in the 1950s and see if Penn’s situation was similar with respect to cemetery removal. A sub-argument could be that the City of Philadelphia assisted these entities through certain policies that encouraged blight distinction. Once again more research is needed. I ran into one of my friends on Friday as well who is writing his Honors Thesis paper with Dr. Travis Glasson. He told me that he has some resources regarding Washington Square and the victims of Philadelphia’s Yellow Fever outbreaks. I am hoping to obtain these links as soon as possible, preferably before the historiography assignment is due. On Monday I plan to return to Special Collections to further examine my sources located there. By the end of the weekend I hope to email Jessica Baumert, a contact from the Woodlands Cemetery, about my project. It is my hope to meet with her and for her to provide the clarity I am still searching for. For the time being, though, I am happier with my progress than I have been in a while. I hope to have even more positive developments in the next update.

Luke Tomczuk Update #4- February 13th

This week was filled with ups and downs as far as my paper is concerned. New considerations and applications have refined the way I will go about my project. The most positive development of this week was visiting the Special Collections Research Center at Paley Library. There I met Jose Hurtado, the librarian who displayed the center to our class. He showed me how to register to request materials at the Research Center and provided me with two resources that I earlier could not find at the Stacks. Then I proceeded to have the Center hold them for two weeks. This will be beneficial because they were resources that I needed but could not find. However, I made more of an effort than just obtaining sources. I stayed after the presentation and gathered more sources, including additional web articles. I finally narrowed down my topic to vanished cemeteries, a term Thomas H. Keels uses in his book “Philadelphia Graveyards and Cemeteries.” Before they closed, I obtained a list of vanished cemeteries he lists in the index. This development will help me discover more about what I would like to discuss, possibly including a specific cemetery. It also led me to re-calibrate my project.

At Special Collections, I got the idea to perhaps map out all or some vanished cemeteries in a storyboard format. The storyboard map idea has re-emerged for this reason. If this is the route I choose to go in, I will visit Special Collections frequently. Dr. Stephen Nepa’s resource I discussed in my first update provided me with an additional special collection previously unknown to me. The Historical Society of Pennsylvania has a special collection on cemeteries at their museum. In addition to two contacts at cemeteries themselves, I believe I will use contacts there for primary source material. I still need to figure out the feasibility of such a project. Therefore, I look forward to discussing this possibility with Dr. Lowe. I wish I could have advanced even further along in the project this week. I missed the opportunity to discuss my project and my classmates’ this week due to the structure of the class. Hopefully we can get back to that interaction soon. Yet I still like the direction my project is moving towards. By the time we get to next Sunday, I hope to have more focus and direction towards my project and its execution. A meeting with Dr. Lowe should help.