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That’s a primary source? Yes, of course!

The best way to represent primary sources is by creating a tidy dataset with the document(s). That way, when analyzing the primary source, the raw data has been organized in a way that is both easier for computer softwares to understand and convert as well as having the individual input of each variable standardized in a way that allows for more practical analysis. When working with hand written, highly subjective primary sources, creating a tidy dataset out of the measurable information from that source will help to filter out some, but not all bias that exists within the document. 

The advantages of considering primary sources as data are that it enables the audience to develop a deeper and more personal understanding of the event in question. It also allows for a less biased analysis of the data, instead of multiple eras of bias, there is only one: when the data is from. Also, transcribing primary sources into a dataset creates a wider scope of accessibility for the potential audience of that data. By typing old-timey handwritten documents, it is now possible that those who may have trouble reading cursive will be able to comprehend the writing on the original source. While primary sources may not paint a complete picture of what the subject is, working with primary sources can provide an inside look at the unrefined reactions and opinions of the author. Also, referincing primary sources may uncover quantifiable raw data that may have been removed by the filters of every new analysis. Therefore, while primary sources may not always delineate the entire event, they are great references to have that cover thorough, specific aspects of an event or events. 

Wickham’s principles of tidy data are that each row has only one observation, every column has only one variable, and that each cell has only one value. This provides for an analysis of the data in a way that is both efficient and effective. In the tidy dataset that I had recently created, it was difficult to document the data in a way that met all of these requirements. While creating the dataset, I had to constantly reevaluate the variables and observations in a way that prioritized the efficiency and effectiveness that is appropriate in order to create the standardized version of a tidy dataset. However, looking at the dataset when it was finished, I was able to locate a specific value in a much faster time than when it was written on the original document. This made for much quicker analysis, as I was able to focus solely on analyzing similar values of observations rather than spending a lot of time trying to simply locate each individual piece of data.  

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General

Pocahontas High School

The highway marker that I am choosing for my Historical Marker Research Package is Pocahantas High School. I chose this historical marker because when it was mentioned in class, I was immediately intrigued and wanted to learn more about it. By focusing on a segregated black high school that was built right after World War Two and in the middle of the Great Depression, I am able to focus a lot on the stories that were not necessarily written down. I could also ask the question, why did the Virginia government decide to add this specific high school to the historical markers list? Why did they think it was a piece of functioning history that deserved a highway marker? I would like to examine why Pocahontas High School remains to be a relevant piece of history today. 

Using Trouillot’s methods from Silencing the Past, I am looking to try and find stories of Pocahontas High School that may not have been important then nor relevant to the narrative initially painted by those who recorded the school’s history. I would also like to find out if the date, 1937, is set because of particular biases, if any, regarding the school’s construction. Also, I would like to figure out why the government decided to change the dedication of the building from a training school to a high school. What was the significance of providing a high school in lieu of a training school at the time? Who benefited the most from the high school and who benefitted the most from the training school? Are those who benefitted from either the same group of people? These questions will enable me to explore the unwritten, forgotten, and silenced histories behind the construction and establishment of Pocahontas High School. 

Along with asking questions about the date the high school was built, I would like to explore the reasoning behind why the Federal Emergency Administration of Public Works provided funding for the school to be built. I would also like to find out why the Virginia Board of Education provided funds via their Literary Fund as well as the intentions behind why the Southern Education Foundation focused specifically on Pocahontas High School. In order to answer these questions, I will look into the demographics of the surrounding towns in order to identify just how many African American students would be zoned into this school. Also, is this the first public school for black students in the area? Or is it simply the most significant? All of these questions go back to the initial question: What are the stories that were not told about this school, and where can we find them?