As of yet, my proposed work on the Savannah River Site Website is nearly nil. I have acquired GIS data for statewide highways, roads and railroads, as well as the hydrography of South Carolina. But have yet to find pre-Savannah River Site project aerial photographs (I’ve found some that border the Savannah River Site from 1961, but don’t actually provide aerial coverage for the plant), or more recent current aerial photographs (the most current being from 1990). I’ve used both EarthExplorer and Glovis, yet they both lack the proper photographs to create a proper before/after map of the Savannah River Site.
I have been able to contact some individuals regarding the project, and are expecting responses from others. Dr. Jim Farmer at the University of South Carolina-Aiken has provided some materials to research for my thesis. As well as the name of two of his publications that can be used as source materials. Additionally, I have the e-mail addresses of some amateur historians of whom I need to contact for SRS information, as well as establishing contact with them in order to try and pull our materials together into one site. This however can be frustrating, I feel I can not give this project the proper time until I begin more in-depth thesis research, and so I can present them with materials and some sort of direction of the website rather than the vision I have. I have also been given the name of Dr. Keri Fredrickson of the University of Alabama, she is working on a book project for the Savannah River Site and as of right now is the leading expert on the subject. This also makes me feel a little weary of writing/creating a project on the same materials, especially with a department chair of a major university working on it.
At this time, I feel like this project could absorb more time than I can lend to it right now. While I can simultaneously build it and have a place to store primary and secondary source materials while writing my thesis: next year, I feel like right now it could be too much to handle. While I haven’t given up completely on the idea, with the lack of aerial photography to at least construct the GIS portion I am somewhat struggling to find a piece of this project that is feasible to be completed, or simply started on without doing a great amount of additional research or having to buy/begin learning how to use a website creator to piece this website together.
I am hoping to get work accomplished Spring Break, but with little ideas as to what else I can do now, I must admit is disheartening. The time will allow me to get some reading done in regards to the Savannah River Site, of which I hope will shed new light on the topic as well as help me find an even more defined perspective that I want to take in regards to the plant and the communities affected. With a better defined background to the SRS, I would like to contact Dr. Fredrickson, however, I still may feel a little uncomfortable doing so, because I suppose I feel that in a way I wouldn’t want her to think that I’m incapable of doing my own research, or that I’m “piggy-backing” onto what she has already done.
I have had a new idea in the last week however, that will prove to be more time consuming than the Savannah River Website: I would like to see a digital archive of historiographical lists of topics in American history, something intended for students to use. As broad and vague as that may be, it is a resource that I would find most helpful. Additionally, with Dr. Burton’s Southern Identity word clouds, we have found that the process that the computer science department is doing with the word clouds is exceedingly more difficult than counting the frequency that a word appears in a given document. As opposed to the generators we used last week, the CS dept, is a using a complex algorithm not only to measure frequency of word use but also where that word appears in the document, which is an interesting way to analyze the importance of words in different patterns.