Off the Map wins the 2019 Award of Excellence for Community History from the East Tennessee Historical Society!
Dear Mr. Clowney,
Thank you for taking time to speak with us as part of the Off the Map education research project. From my conversation with you, I learned about your experience in the Negro Leagues prior to the integration of professional baseball and your courage in the face of hate and prejudice during the era of Jim Crow, particularly the act of terroristic arson that destroyed your grade school in West Tennessee. I hope to use this knowledge to preserve the memory of trailblazers like you who overcame all odds in the fight for civil rights. With hateful ideology on the move yet again in this country, stories such as yours are more valuable than ever in reminding us not just of potential dangers but of the possibility for resilience in the face of those dangers. Thank you for your time and your lifelong struggle for justice.
Dear Ms. Porter,
Thank you for taking time to speak with us as part of the Off the Map education research project. We really appreciated you coming and sharing your story. The courage and bravery it takes to not only survive such treatment but educate youth about the horrors of the past is inspiring.
From our conversation with you, I learned that….
Such horrific events that we usually associate with distant history are not so distant. It was eye-opening to think that my peers’ grandparents and all of our bosses and leaders were in high school during a time of such intense racism.
I hope to use this knowledge to….
Educate others about Maryville’s history of segregation.
Off the Map student
Dear Ms. Clowney,
Thank you for taking time to speak with me as part of the Off the Map education research project. From my conversation with you, I learned about the struggles of being an African American female student at a majority white and male institution during the 1950s as well as what life was like in general in Maryville and Alcoa at the time. Your courage and determination are absolutely invaluable to the struggle for justice in Tennessee and the nation as a whole, and I was humbled and honored to have the opportunity to hear you tell your story. I hope to help bring the heroic story of the Maryville Six to the light through this project, and your eager cooperation was integral to this process. Thank you again, immeasurably, for your time and most importantly your contribution to the betterment of this community.
Dear Mr. Morton,
Thank you for taking time to speak with us as part of the Off the Map education research project. We enjoyed talking to you and hearing about the history of Maryville and Founder’s Square.
From our conversation with you, I learned that the Founder’s Square area served as a hub of activity because of the businesses that were there. I also learned how the area changed over time when it became a parking lot and the reasons why many businesses shifted towards Midland Plaza. The pictures and records you shared with us were very helpful in getting an idea of how Founder’s Square actually looked and just how vibrant the area was at the time.
I hope to use this knowledge to accurately represent Founder’s Square so that others can imagine it how it was and understand how important it was for Maryville’s development. I also am excited to be able to tell family and friends about it anytime we are in the downtown area.
Student report, Kaleb Davenport, brought the Off the Map project to the Blount County Daily Times accompanied by some beautiful photos by Brianna Bivens. Please check us out and get involved in future work!
Katherine is a high school student thinking about learning local history as a way to be civically engaged.
When I was first introduced to the Off the Map project, all I knew was that we would be “creating app content” for a historical map. I have always loved history and felt a close connection to my community, so I thought it would be an amazing experience and something I could be proud to have contributed to. Other than that, I didn’t know much about what I was getting into.
My optimism about the future of the project was heightened after session one, when I picked Founders Square as my topic and was able to experience Maryville’s history in a more vivid way during our community walk. Based on the knowledge I gained of my area during the walk, however, I knew it would be a particular challenge to research. Founders Square, historically a bustling hub of town full of vibrant stories, was now a parking lot that I wouldn’t look twice at in passing!
If we were going to represent this area and tell its story, the app would have to do some pretty special things. After brainstorming with our app developer, Garrett, during session two, the other designers and I came up with some ideas for the app. I then began to see the reality of what this project could be.
The first thing we all agreed on was that it should be accessible to everyone and available for educational purposes. It should be intergenerational and dynamic. I picture this app used in classrooms; teachers could assign their students a project to learn about our town and its special history as they walk through it. Eventually, students could even contribute to the app’s historical content. I also think it is very important that the app include lots of visuals. It would be difficult, I believe, to picture Founders Square without historical documents and images, and the same is true for many other students’ topics. If the app is going to feel like an experience of significance to its users, it needs to be immersive, engaging, and visual, and I think images of our history can accomplish that.
These are only a few things that could be featured on the app, and the possibilities are really limitless: timelines, social groups, historian chats, guided audio tours, and the list goes on. They are, however, a place to start when thinking of how the app should reach across generations to achieve its storytelling purpose and to make historical Blount County come alive again.
Session 2 was a day of archival research in the morning; students worked with Blount County Public Library staff and Blount County Genealogical and Historical Society volunteers. We then moved to a working lunch where Garrett Smith led an app design feedback session. Students and teachers contributed ideas about who should use the mobile app and it's ultimate function. In the afternoon, pairs or individual students conducted oral history interviews with local experts. Finally, students summarized what they learned over the course of the day's work, how that place-story should be represented in the app (e.g., archival photos, audio of oral histories), and what missing pieces of information they needed to track down before the final session on March 23rd.