As I reflect on my work this summer, I stand amazed by how much is required to feel a finished project pull through. When I first started, I expected to create a complete archive of the aspects of the Great Migration that would make a holistic understanding of the period’s impact, reach, and legacies. However, my project could not be accomplished over eight weeks because of the expansive impact and irreplaceable legacy. So far, I have created an intense archive of Blues Artists and their reach/ impact within the 1900s following their birthplace, the residential area where they performed/ made a name for themselves, and their death place. Most of the artists, following the migration patterns of the Great Migration, took their music along the “Jim Crow Cars,” as Isabel Wilkerson would say. I reflect on the skills I learned using ArcGIS story mapping to create this new archive of work. To digitally map data is to bring these amazing artists’ stories to life. The story maps should spill out the pure essence of these artists’ reach and influence. However, their impact is erased by their predecessors that took similar sounds into the music industry mainstream.
I am recognizing that there is so much work to be done on this project as I plan to continue the work throughout this upcoming year at Iowa. With the help of the Studio and its amazing staff, I will continue to add new layers to this map. One storymap layer will include documenting the greater Iowa area by visiting the African American Museum in Cedar Rapids and conducting oral interviews with families to hear their migration stories. I plan to create a historic and intimate archive with these oral histories incorporated into the digital map. Another essential piece of the Great Migration is the Negro Motorist Greenbook which was another archival piece that provided information for families leaving the south and traveling to the North, North-East, Mid-West, and West sides of the country. The Book included safe towns, restaurants, and hotels to stop by and had an ever-growing list of “sundown towns” that were dangerous for African American families to visit after dark. Finally, I will be developing original pieces of poetry that map and connect a poetic story called lost pages of Green Book. This small poetry collection will follow a family as they travel through the Mid-West for safety after leaving the South to escape the harsh reality of Jim Crow laws. Thank you, Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio, for working with me this summer to develop my project.