Cities 06-306, Advanced Fieldwork Techniques
-- project ideas
For the first of the two research/website projects, it will best to have a fairly concrete focus, such as a site or a specific collection of documents, while the second may be more thematic. We may coordinate these around one set of places. But generally, your
goal will be to be resourceful in discovering and contextualizing the history of the
site or document set depicted and effective in presenting it in a way that directly
engages both the evidence and the visitor to you website.
Here are some ideas broached in the past and links to specific student projects, but most topics really aren't exhausted, whether that might mean different collections, places, framing the topic differently, or moving further within the same frame:
- A. "Corridors of Light": mapping subsets of early
photography, watercolors, or other image types in the area, and exploring reasons
for patterns of coverage, absences, specifc history of those sites, etc.
- B. Nailing down and illustrating an architect's work, starting
from the PAB refs. Off-hand examples: Kling, Weise, Stonorov,
Pearson, Kenneth Day, ...
[http://www.brynmawr.edu/cities/archx/gtp/] (prof w/ student help)
- C. Documenting, understanding the work of developer historically.
Off-hand examples: Matchett, Budd, Wendell & Smith, ...
- D. Digging into the history of a neighborhood:
- E. Exploring and surveying a document type, contextualizing it fully, probing its research utility for
architectual, urban history, and making them easier for others to use for historical purposes.Off-hand examples: US Direct tax,
1798, other taxes, post-war or pre-index bldg permits, Dodge
reports, newspaper reports or adverts over a decade, ...
- F. Annotating and illustrating period writings or architecture
and building, collecting images and data from an old architectural journal.
Off-hand examples: B&D, Archtl Era, Phila buildings in national
journals like AABN for a certain period, ...
- G. "Homes in a Range": looking at varieties of
domestic architecture in or beyond the city, exploring issues
of type, distribution, agency, and the landscapes they define,
as well as explicitly exploring the evidentiary resources for
constructing that knowledge.
- g1. Housing for the poor, at center: fire ins plans
for typical; locs; values, rental, owners
- g2. Poor at periphery: evid of shantytowns
- g3. Fashionable rows: annotate and illustrate
Westcott chapters, find plans, images
- Westcott chapters [http://www.brynmawr.edu/cities/courses/05-306/wstct819.jpg]
- H. "Tracks in Space, Voices in Time": examining
the way people moved though and characterized urban/suburban
space over time. Tracing everyday trajectories of work, residence,
etc., and of familes over time through directories or other sources,
illustrated buildings and patterns; finding, contextualizing,
and sorting period testimony about places from diaries, letters,
memoirs, or other period accounts that help place them in lives.
How did different kinds of people use urban/non-urban space in
regular routines and over generations, and how did they view
them? Use directories, genealogies, census tracks for different
social sectors; find 19th c. voices, pub, unpub area diaries,
journals; characterize locs; annotate pieces, illustrate.
- I. "Perpetual landscapes": looking at burial grounds,
mapping distribution in space, patterns of evolution over time,
exploring social/ethnic/economic characterizations, sizes, current
- J. Buildings and money in history: rental / purchase; building
costs rel to income at various points; new/ old; spec/ custom;
rel advertisements, assessments, ins values; geographical distrib
- K. 1950s docs and dialogues: designs discussed vs.
built; post-BG sources of info on 50s buildings (bps?); locations
of modernism, traditionalism; Docomomo initiatives; find, talk
to folks active then
- L. Digital Denominational Series: dig or model onWhite, Presby Church in Philadelphia, 1890s; PE, Presby, ME,
etc. for suburbs
- White cite [http://www.philadelphiabuildings.org/pab/app/pj_display_citations_holdings.cfm/13618]
- M. Building permits: a year in the life (1889-1905);
numbers, concentrations, sizes over time
- N. Social geography: approaches to mapping of rich/poor,
urban functions, elite clubs, other social groups, size, nature
of housing, over time
- O. Scrapbook series made accessible: creating topical
access; motive in retrospection, patterns; Ashmead 10/40 done,
take next 10?, Westcott, others
- P. Architects' scraps, tear sheet, travel sketch collections:
identify, characterize, nationally.
- Q. Suburban evolution: track the 19th-20th c. evolution
of some suburban areas, defined by clusters of grand Victorian
estates from PSH (c. 1889), and looking ahead and back, finding
other docs and trying to account for the changes re larger tides.
- R. "Succession in the commercial core": for students
who might have easy continual access to NYC, Baltimore, or even
Boston archives, their project 1 or perhaps 2 would involve examination
of some specified blockfronts of the commerical downtowns to
find documentation on the blocks depicted in commerical panoramas
and observe their evolution, its bases, and plan types.
- Rease's commerical broadsheets [http://www.lcpgraphics.org/wainwright/W356.htm]
- S. "Mining the Papers": period newspapers are at
different times both an incredibly rich resource of contemporary
documentation and an enormous frustation for what they don't
discuss or what we can't find in them. But most have a pattern
of what will appear regularly and what might appear occasionally,
and where. Look at newspapers on mfilm from periods a few decades
apart, and for each, survey them for runs of a few weeks and
report on what one finds as regular or occasional features that
are useful for our subject, their pattern of appearance, and
how they might offer new information or insights.
- T. Building Types: exploring evolution, distribution of a specific building type.
As we visit repositories,
we'll learn of particular projects they'd be interested in your
adopting. I'll continue to throw ideas into this section. You
may also propose others. As mentioned above, the second project will be more open to
student definition, and may be less tightly focused in geography
or a specific set of documents.
I'll add a few more as we get closer. But whatever you choose
as a topic, it should be a good learning exercise in historical
documentation with a good project achieveable within the time
for the assignment, it should go beyond just mechanical and scanning
tasks, have certain possibilities of public benefit and interest,
involve research challenges, offer some scope for interpretive
decision-making and analysis, and some scope for your conceptualization
prjideas.html; last rev.= 6 Sept. 06