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.
1.) In regards to my developments in research this week I have taken steps in the direction of narrowing my research question. Because the topic of Eisenhower’s Interstate Defense and Highway Systems economic ramifications sprawl across the entirety of the United States I felt the need to narrow what I will be exploring. Due to this need to narrow my scope I have decided to focus on the economic implifications of the interstate highway system on urban centers from 1974 to the turn of the century.
In order to focus more intensely on urban centers I have begun looking into which cities I will focus on. I plan on doing most of my research through the economic effects on Philadelphia, a mid-western city and a western city. In order to do this I am finding primary source material from the areas to compile a frame to base my argument.
2.) Through my experience this week I have began to truly form my research plan into a coherent roadmap, no pun intended. Before this week I had an idea of what I was going to do my project on but I hadn’t a clue about where my focus was going to be. After this weeks research I have figured that the most relatable content to focus on would have to be cities due to Temple University being situated five minutes from city hall and even closer to the Philadelphia bypass portion of I-95.
3.) In order to find more solid primary source material I have had to access much of it through the Library of Congress. I have been fortunate enough to find a large span of materials from all over the country of the development and results of the highway system with a good bit of digital accessing abilities. I feel as though I have not been able to find as much as I would like to have to create a solid understanding of the interstate system’s historiography, but continuing my research will only provide more and more material.
My name is Nathan Davis, I am a senior at Temple University and graduate in May. I have dual majors in both History and Economics. I am mostly interested in 20th century U.S. history as well as World War II history. I feel as though this is the most relative period of history with regards to our world’s current state of globalization and having an economics major has led me to an interest of the economic ramifications of the past and how they affect the future.
I went to high school in West Chester, PA, completed my first year of college at Delaware County Community College and have been at Temple University ever since. I have always been interested in reading history but it was not until I got to Temple University that I discovered my love for writing about history. Upon my graduation, in May I plan on entering the work field immediately. I have gotten a job in wealth management and insurance production at a small firm in Paoli, PA. I spent the entirety of my fall semester interviewing at numerous firms across the tri-state area and felt the firm I am going to was this best fit both for its smaller size and its compensation. I have always been interested in money and the protection of assets, this is what led me to this field.
As far as my capstone project goes I am planning to research President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s implementation/development of the interstate highway system and its national economic ramifications following its completion while focusing on rural and metropolitan hubs. The reason why I wish to research this topic can be accredited to Professor Stephen Nepa of Temple University. I took his 20th Century U.S. History course last semester and highly recommend it. Professor Nepa was very interested in Eisenhower’s presidency, so much so that he assigned a required book on his presidency. This book and the paper that went along with it helped me to become interested as well as immersed in the president. I have a feeling I will truly enjoy writing the paper on this topic and look forward to a long and fruitful semester.