“Driving through Time” project funded

Exciting news! A new two-year digital publishing initiative called Driving through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina has been approved for funding by the Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). Work on the new collection begins July 1, and will be heavily based on findings and experimentation from other GIS (Geographic Information Systems)-based projects developed by UNC Libraries and their partners: Going to the Show and North Carolina Maps. (By the way, if you haven’t yet explored these collections, you simply must).

We’re especially thrilled because Driving through Time will include some of Hugh Morton’s Parkway photographs. Here’s a summary of the project provided by the Carolina Digital Library & Archives:

Driving through Time: The Digital Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina will present an innovative, visually- and spatially-based model for documenting the twentieth-century history of a seventeen-county section of the North Carolina mountains. The project will feature historic maps, photographs, postcards, government documents, and newspaper clippings, each of which will be assigned geographic coordinates so that it can be viewed on a map, enabling users to visualize and analyze the impact of the Blue Ridge Parkway on the people and landscape in western North Carolina.

Primary sources will be drawn from the collections of the UNC-Chapel Hill University Library, the Blue Ridge Parkway Headquarters, and the North Carolina State Archives. These materials are especially significant in that they document one of North Carolina’s most popular tourist attractions, but also in the way that they help to illuminate the way that the Blue Ridge Parkway transformed the communities through which it passed.  In addition to the digitized primary sources, the project will include scholarly analyses of aspects of the development of the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina, and an educational component designed for K-12 teachers and students.

Using digital technologies to open a new window on the history of the Parkway and its region is especially timely considering the approach of the Parkway’s 75th anniversary in 2010 and the National Park Service’s 100th anniversary in 2016.  This project is certain to be a valuable and popular resource for millions of tourists as well as for teachers, students, and historians, both within North Carolina and beyond.

6 thoughts on ““Driving through Time” project funded

  1. Congrats! “Going to the Show” and the “North Carolina Maps” projects will provide quite the launching pad for this and any other geocodable projects. I’m definitely excited to see the results since such a project should go a long way in adding a historical perspective to the current online landscape, which is so heavily dominated by the most recent of perspectives (for instance, a search for “Blue Ridge Parkway” on Flickr returns over 40k beautiful results, but the same search on Flickr Commons nets nothing… as of today, at least).

    Also, if anyone’s interested, we previously digitized a handful of items of Blue Ridge Parkway history (all of which, I believe, are from August 1936, shortly after construction began in both N.C. and Virginia) You can see those here:

    http://digital.lib.ecu.edu/search.aspx?q=blue+ridge+parkway

  2. Glad to hear that Hugh Morton photographs will be a part of “Driving Through Time…”

  3. Here would be an awesome idea: to be able to “drive” down the parkway, with photos organized by location along the road as sorts of “billboards”: they should be oriented as the view is: if you would be looking perpendicular to the road, then the photo billboard would be parallel to the road – when you get next to it you could turn to look at the picture. if the view would be in the direction you’re going, the billboard could be placed perpendicular to the road (wow, that’s hard to describe in text!).

  4. @Mark: Thanks for pointing us to those Parkway photos that ECU digitized. I had discovered them recently, and was thrilled with the one picturing R. Getty Browning and the others leaning against the truck! Browning was so important to the Parkway and very hard to find photographs of.

    You might be interested in the growing website for the Blue Ridge Parkway’s 75th anniversary, to be celebrated in 2010: http://www.blueridgeparkway75.org/. They have posted some BRP historic photographs on a Flickr site, but as yet, the photos are not identified. I’ll ask them to rectify that.

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