At this somewhat early stage in our archival research (that of my partner Mina Beeler and myself), we’ve made solid progress in establishing what resources are available to us in various locations — mainly the North Adams Historical Society, the North Adams Public Library, and MCLA’s Freel Library — and have been cultivating some ideas for our exhibit based upon what we’ve found thus far.
The Historical Society has a very large collection of artifacts, including a number of relevant photos, and they have provided to us some packets compiled by Historical Society volunteers on the history of the prominent mills throughout the era. These photographs have the potential to be wonderful pieces for the exhibit, though we may be limited by our ability to accurately date some of the photos (many of them are ambiguous). The Society’s Treasurer, Gene Carlson, showed us some of the maps of North Adams currently on display from our target era, and Mina and I discussed the idea of pinpointing locations of importance on the map/s in our digital exhibit if the digitization process permitted. We viewed 2 volumes of North Adams Sandborn maps from 1914 in the upstairs archives (there are more and earlier maps on microfiche at the Freel Library). While there, we were also shown a device called a stereoscope, and beautifully detailed photographs meant to be viewed using it. These photographs included many images of the construction of the Hoosac Tunnel, an event of great importance to the area during industrialization. One issue we have already encountered is the lack of an inventory of items at the Society — it is likely we will need to spend some time sorting through the uncatalogued materials.
We currently have leads on more Hoosac Tunnel images which have already been uploaded for public access by the North Adams Public Library’s archivist, and there will at least be Sandborn maps at the college’s library, if not more relevant materials. Our advising professor has provided us with recommendations of books to check out for background information, and some local authors and past faculty members who may have some information or guidance to aid us in our research.