Friday, December 6, 2013

New Collection at WCU to Focus on Great Smoky Mountains National Park history

Earlier this fall Western Carolina University announced that it's Hunter Library will be producing a new digital collection of 2,000 items focused on the history of Great Smoky Mountains National Park -  with support from a $93,000 grant from the North Carolina State Library.

This digital collection and interpretive website will include documents and photographs that relate to the initial idea and construction of a national park in the eastern United States, said Anna Fariello, associate professor of digital initiatives with Hunter Library. The materials will focus on a group of North Carolinians who promoted the idea of a park as early as 1899, the efforts of private individuals such as Horace Kephart, whose papers contain many never-before-seen materials that promote a park, and people involved in federal programs, such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, who actually built the park.

Highlights will include journals Horace Kephart assembled in preparation for his book, “Camping and Woodcraft,” images of the park’s construction and photographs of life in the Civilian Conservation Corps, and Appalachian National Park Association records.

Grant funding will support staff of the library’s digital production team and will enable the purchase of a new scanner that has the capacity to digitize items up to 2 feet by 3 feet and items currently too fragile to scan.

Fariello applied for the grant for the project after learning that a comprehensive history of the park had not been published online and that the park had historical items that are not exhibited.

“The park certainly has an amazing and well-cared-for archive, but it’s locked away,” said Fariello. “We will be digitally preserving and increasing access to material that is important, not only to the development of the park, but also to the region.”

Fariello said the library collaborated with the park on a recent digitization project, “Picturing Appalachia” and gained a better understanding of the park and its history.

For more information, please visit the Hunter Library website.

Hiking in the Smokies

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