The Summer Studio Fellowship created an experience centered on exploration. The combination of being introduced to new tools, campus resources, and being given time created a space with which to examine the role data plays in my scholarship and how I communicate my work. In studying the New Deal, agency reports start to tell part of the story of addressing the youth problem made worse by the Great Depression, but with the bureaucratic nature of the reports, they are not the most interesting things, especially for the general public. But therein lay the opportunity to create a resource that connects the public with history in a way that engages them. After discussing this with my advisors and museum partners, we decided that a map which showed the widespread nature of the New Deal programs like the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) and National Youth Administration (NYA) would best connect people to my work. Mapping allows for people to see how much their communities may have been changed and show them sites like lakes, schools, and campsites that were newly created in the New Deal. I was able to highlight communities that received disproportionate amounts of federal government support and am working on compiling period newspaper clippings to understand local Iowans experience of the Great Depression. Thus at the same time, visualizations are connecting the public to their history, they are advancing my own academic inquiry.
The public focused nature of this project definitely developed throughout the summer. I used my time this summer to have the discussions about what a lasting project looks like and took time to lay the groundwork of a lasting project. I think this studio experience was a great opportunity to develop skills and confidence for undertaking digital projects in the future. I now have a much better understanding of what it takes to set up a project and how to go about initiating it.