This semester has truly been a new experience for me and I feel a little sad being almost finished. I have written many research papers throughout my college career but this has been an entirely different experience. Over the last semester I have gotten closer to my city and explored topics that I would have never expected to. While spending time in Temple’s Special Collections and General Collections, reading the vast wealth of knowledge of life in Philadelphia, I have found myself truly inspired to voice to issues that many Philadelphians have faced. These issues do not stop with the implementation of urban highways at the expense of well established peoples and are by no means confined to Philadelphia. In order to tackle the issues of private property seizures and eminent domain policy we must first explore and analyze the first steps of the long standing process. By choosing the topic that I have I think I’ve made a good contribution.
I have found myself many times this semester explaining my topic to friends and family and often times people really don’t even know or recognize the issue. It has been proven vital that conversation and dialogue about an issue is the only way to spur change and I feel that I have done this in my paper. I am happy to stand behind the product of my hard work and plan on continuing the dialogue well into the years to come. I want to thank everyone that I’ve worked with this semester and all my years at Temple, it has truly been a special and memorable experience.
Throughout the previous week I was able to complete my second full draft of my project in accordance with the coarse’s due date. Following the suggestions given to me by Luke I was able to condense my historiography and bulked up one of my primary sources. Although there are still some grammatical and sentence structure issues in my paper it is clear that at this point in the semester that my paper is coming together quite well. I have spent some time this weekend revising and re-reading my paper to catch said issues and plan on continuing into the week. Having spoken with Luke I was able to take all of his suggestions, which were extremely helpful, into consideration, changing most if not all that he pointed out. Revising and working with Luke has proven to be extremely fruitful throughout the process due to our topic similarities. These similarities have also aided in obtaining new sources and expanding on my existing ones. He was able to tell me how well my sources and quotes were incorporated and he was also able to point me towards news sources, that although late in my paper’s productions, truly help when added to my argument. I have also taken the time this week to develop my presentation and choose some pictures that I will use throughout. Taking the time to develop my presentation has proven to be much easier as I have explored my sources to significant extent. Because of my well-rounded understanding of the topic and my sources I have been able to figure out what points I will highlight in my presentation. I will be utilizing multiple maps from pre, post and intermittent development of the Schuylkill Expressway as well as some pictures of the most prominent people involved in the decision making and development process of the roads implementation. I am truly excited to be presenting my topic due to the significant investment that I’ve made over the last semester.
This week I dedicated most of my time to developing my primary sources. I spent a significant amount of time in the special collections section of the library sorting through pamphlets and newspaper articles. I also dedicated a lot of my time this week to refining my topic and completing my first full draft.
In order to refine the scope of my project I decided, along with Professor Lowe, to focus my topic on the development of the Schuylkill Expressway in and around the Philadelphia area. The choice to focus on one particular road and its effects on the neighboring residents led me to many significant sources dealing with the roads development and its effects.
One of the many sources I unearthed was a first hand account of the eminent domain practices that the city, state and federal governments used to gain the ownership of the private lands needed for the Schuylkill Expressway. The article came from the Philadelphia Tribune in which a Mrs. Elizabeth Berry speaks to the city planning mentality, based in racist tendency, that was prominent in politics during the planning and development of the expressway.
I will also draw from articles in the Philadelphia Inquirer that show the mentality of the urban planners when they were drawing the plans for the expressway. The historical newspapers database of ProQuest was what helped me in finding some of the sources that I was having trouble finding in special collections. Both methods have proven very helpful in turning up primary source material and it will continue to help me polish up my draft before its due on Wednesday.
This week was obviously a huge development point for the entire class with regards to pulling our projects together into coherent pieces of work. Hitting the 5000 word mark was truly the most eye opening moment from the beginning of the project. I was able to step back to see what my project is lacking in and what it is most strong in. Having done this I realized that I am a bit weak in regard to the voices of property owners affected by eminent domain policy brought on by highway development. Because I was lacking in such primary sources I started doing more research on Temple’s Special collections/ library website where I was able to find great information including newspaper articles with interviews that really give voice to the individuals negatively affected by urban highway development.
The Philadelphia Department of Records also seems like to very valuable place to look for source materials but I’ve realized over the weekend that access to the materials, at least online, costs money to get. This is a bit unfortunate but I plan on calling the number provided on the website tomorrow to ask some questions about how I could possibly gain access, because of my status as a student, without paying the fee. Tomorrow I will also be spending some time in Temple’s Special Collections section following my meeting with Professor Lowe. I am really looking forward to this opportunity because I was able to reserve a good deal of sources and exploring them in person will hopefully lead to huge developmental strides in my project. Next week I will be sure to include specifics about what sources, from what people, I have chosen to incorporate into my paper.
This week I was able to go to the Philadelphia archives to access primary source materials coming from inner-city families in the Philadelphia area that were affected first hand from the implementation of both the Schuylkill Expressway and I-95. I was able to obtain access to multiple boxes that has numerous newspaper cut outs from the Philadelphia Tribune, a traditionally African-American operated newspaper, that goes significant justice to my goal of hearing this group of people’s voices.
Black and lower income Philadelphians have traditionally been those most effected by the implementation of large highway systems and I feel as though the news, put out by the community most effected, will yield the most useful content. Although I have been able to obtain access to the materials, it has proven to be a bit difficult to sift through. There is such a large volume of materials that deal with my topic that the volume is truly becoming troubling. I know that this is far from the worst possible outcome when dealing with a research project but it is something that I have yet to encounter in my undergraduate career. In order to deal with this I have narrowed the topics which my primary sources will cover and I have begun to let my writing fill in the blanks around the primary sources rather than letting the words interpret what sources I will use. This strategy has proven to be extremely helpful in going through the document.
The documents themselves include accounts on the extension of the Schuylkill Expressway in 1972 and the role that the University of Pennsylvania had in preventing some cases of eminent domain. The source is very powerful and I plan on gathering more of the same when I return to the archive this upcoming Friday.
Over the last week I have continued reading over primary statistics and documents provided by the Department of Transportation and the American Society of Civil Engineers. I have chosen to focus on sources from these two organizations with the goal of understanding and linking the politics as well as the planning, actual development, and implementation. I think that this approach will allow me to develop a good portion of the second argument that I plan to make in my paper. In this argument I will try to infer that pressure by political and military agencies gave engineers the ability to leave out the interests of lower class Americans.
I was hoping find some sources from U.S. military branches regarding the rushed development of the Interstate Highway System in reaction to the beginning of the Cold War but this has proven to be a bit difficult when trying to access materials. I have found that more recent military documents have some sort of classifications. I have been able to find some very reliable military history databases through the TULibrary website and am trying the decipher what exactly to include with regards to documents.
I have also been able to delve into Federal Highway Administration documents that have proven extremely helpful in showing the demographics of highway building, in-turn developing the third claim that I will be taking on in this essay. With this claim I will be able to show that the elected Federal officials in charge of developing the IHS did not have the interest of lower income Americans in their implementation. Although there was significant protest, it was unheard from the majority of politicians at the time. I was also be looking to find accounts of politicians defending the rights of said lower income Americans.
This week there was significant development in the continuation of the research as well as the writing of my project. I was able to do a significant amount of secondary source analysis because of the historiography section of the project. After hearing the opinions of a hand full of notable authors and historians I was able to grasp the position of which my topic is situated in the historic conversation. The opinions of the authors I used in my historiography were truly helpful in the development of my arguments, thesis, and I think the overall outcome of the final project. Following the completion of my historiography and reading I did for the portion I decided to continue reading, dedicating most of my free time over the weekend reading primary sources. I plan on visiting the special collections portion of the library tomorrow to check in on a box that I’ve requested. If what I’ve been told about the particular box is true I should get a considerably larger amount of new primary source material accounting the social situations surrounding the development of urban highways in the Philadelphia area. Following this on Monday I plan on beginning the next portion of the project that is due on Wednesday, I’ve been brainstorming this portion of the project and I can tell that this is when the most development and structure of what my project will happen. I am definitely at a point in my research where I’m getting comfortable with the materials I’ll be using as well as the topic itself and therefore I’m very content with where my project is at this point in the semester.
This week was a very big week in regards to development of my research project. I was able to formulate the trajectory of my research in a way that situates my topic closer to the city of the Philadelphia. I found a large amount of new source material including a number of secondary sources that helped me to get a better understanding of the topic that I thought I wanted to do. The reformulation of my research scope is something that I did expect when I started my paper but I really didn’t expect it to change as much as it has. Although my topic has changed drastically I think that the change in my research and questions/arguments in general has been good for the end point of my project. I think it has allowed me to reach a point where my paper will no longer have “fluff” in it and will include solely practical claims with its respected backing.
At this point I am very satisfied with where I am in regards to my paper. As of re-doing the proposal for my research I have also began to write my historiography. For the portion of the paper my secondary sources are of the most upmost importance. Although the secondary sources are what I need to focus on for this portion I feel as though the lines between the two are somewhat blurred here. It is difficult to really determine where the primary and secondary sources lye because the time period for the development of urban highway systems in the Philadelphia area is far form over. Regardless of where my primary sources are I am very excited about where I am in regards to the development of my project.
Following my time in the special collections department of the library this week I was able to begin thinking more intensely on my primary sources. I was opened up to the immense amounts of possible materials that I had no idea were so accessible. The search guide on the special collections website has proven very helping in finding new primary source material including, but not limited to, government documents, news paper articles, and first hand accounts of construction and social/economic impacts. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to have access to such a wide variety of primary sources.
I have also chosen to search for more primary sources within the footnotes of my secondary sources. This has also proven to be a very successful way of gathering material to base my claims off of. Because I spent so much time this week focusing on gathering more source material I wasn’t able to write a great deal, but I was able to continue the development of my introduction and opening arguments with the help of the outline provided in this course. The outline has proven to be a very helpful tool in gauging the amount of depth that my paper will need to go into. It has allowed me to understand the quantity of arguments that I will need to make in order to fulfill the word requirement without loosing myself and my audience in rambling and page filling words. Although I was unable to get more than two pages written this week I feel as though I made great strides in the structure of my paper to be and I plan on picking up the stall in writing this upcoming week to stay on track with the word count.
This week I was able truly solidify my research question through the use of peer-review. The student who happened to review my project proposal suggested an approach that led to me having a well rounded and solidified question. My peer-reviewer suggested to me that I should make a more concrete choice regarding one side outweighing the other in benefit. I felt that this may have been a difficult thing to do because there are such strong, and valid, arguments on both sides of the dilemma. Due to the strong arguments for and against the implementation of the Interstate Highway System I was initially shying away from making a sided argument but then I realized the paper wouldn’t be nearly as strong without taking a side.
Very soon after I began to figure which side of the argument I felt was best warranted I was able to make my choice. I chose to follow a thesis statement that goes as follows: The U.S. economy of the 20th century can be linked to the development of large-scale infrastructure and public works projects like the Eisenhower National System of Interstate and Defense Highways. By analyzing data from the latter half to the century it becomes clear that the economic development brought about by the development and implementation of these infrastructure projects far outweigh the costs. I feel as though this is of sound course of action for the paper and I’m satisfied with where my argument is taking me.
I also initially wanted to choose two or three towns/cities to investigate but instead I think I’m going to focus on cities in general and rural towns in general. I’m doing this due to a lack in available resources on the topic. If I were to try and make an argument from the point of view of on city and one town I would loose the consensus that Americans have generally come to accept.
I think the developments of this week were large steps in the direction of completing this paper. Thanks to the peer-reviewed project proposal I have refined to bettered my argument significantly.