Final Project and Reflection: American Cold War Nuclear Sites

When I set out to accomplish this particular digital project, I was excited and a tad anxious about how the final would turn out. Having not been particularly “tech savvy”, I was excited to find that once I dove into my project, learning as I went came along with the process, and I was pleasantly surprised with my results. The idea of nuclear arms plants within the United States is a fascinating and relevant topic today. These plants were created as part of Cold War armament that dictated American policy for decades. They brought steady employment to the regions involved, built the nuclear arsenal of the United States, and were the precipice of many scientific breakthroughs in the field of nuclear physics. But they also brought countless environmental catastrophes, harmful environmental carcinogenic toxins in the air, cost billions of dollars to clean up and dispose of harmful materials, and continue to this day to have effects, both physical and on the environment, that are still unknown.

It is within this paradox that my digital project retains its relevancy. By highlighting the importance of these plants, this topic becomes educational and significant to future generations, who will in fact feel the effects that this generation does not even know about yet. Most of the plants that I have noted in my digital project are still in existence today. Although many are Superfund sites, their primary focus now is on environmental cleanup and studying the effects that the plants have on the environment and beyond. This begs the question, “is this too little, too late?” or is there serious research being done at these sites to try and find out just how much of an effect they had on the environment. As is shown through my project and poster, with only a small sampling of plants, it covers most of the continental United States. Having a digital component that places these sites in one location truly shows the extent that the Cold War created these plants that were initially designed to promote safety and security of Americans, while polluting the very world those Americans occupy. This was a fun and educational project for me, having had interest in Cold War history, specifically on nuclear arms policy. Although the interface of HistoryPin can be somewhat frustrating in what it allows me to see at once, I am pleased with the process of the project, and the final result.

Below is the link to my HistoryPin:

American Cold War Nuclear Sites

Digital History Project Draft – American Cold War Nuclear Sites

The HistoryPin I have entitled “American Cold War Nuclear Sites” is off to a productive start. I have five out of the seven sites that I want to include finished. I have chosen seven sites because these examples are particularly important to the nuclear production era in American history. However, the brilliance of the project is that I have not even scratched the surface yet of potential sites that the HistoryPin can include. That is why the project is also interactive. Schools can use this as an interactive teaching tool, while the students have a visual representation of just how expansive the United States’ nuclear arsenal was at one point the American history. Since these plants are either shut down or unable to tour in person, not to mention they span across the continental United States, creating a HistoryPin collection with map replaces a ‘Walking Tour’ of the plants.

 

For further study, there could be another section of the map that shows just how many have closed, and how many have been changed to different purposes. For example, the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina has switched from the production of nuclear fuels during the Cold War to now mostly environmental cleanup and non-defensive uses of these fuels, but remain in the same location as when it was first constructed which brings relevancy to the project. For the final draft of the digital project, I am looking to finish the other two sites on the map, including their historical information. I will also include outside links for each of the sites or their historical significance as another way of making the project interactive and educational. There have not many problems with this project so far. The only minor issue is that HistoryPin’s interface is sometimes not the easiest to navigate (this may be more of a personal problem considering my limited abilities regarding technology). Secondly, when I set out to create a “tour” within HistoryPin, I did not realize that it meant a “tour” of the Collections, not Pins within the Collections. I am also running into highly propagandized websites on these former plants, that downplay significantly the issues that these plants have caused. I am looking to include as much factual information as possible regarding concerns and issues that have been attributed to each plant, as well.

Here is the current map showing the location of the five plants I have included:

The current sites I have completed are:

Savannah River Plant (SRP)

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Oak Ridge Laboratory

Hanford Site

Pantex Plant in Amarillo, Texas

The two remaining sites I have yet to complete are:

Fernald Feed Materials Production Center

Rocky Flats Plant

Below is the link to my current project:

American Cold War Nuclear Sites

 

Practicum: Shelley-Godwin Archive and Rossetti Archives

The Shelley-Godwin Archive

The Shelley-Godwin Archive is a prime example of the collaborative work that can become a “digital archive”. As is stated on the site’s Homepage, this archive is a digital collection of manuscripts from the Shelley-Godwin family. The layout of the site is not only accessible but extraordinarily educational. As the visitor scrolls through the site, they can learn not only about the history of this “talented” family of writers, but of the history of the digital archive itself. This is the perfect example of the type of collaborative work that was discussed during our week on digital projects. Not only did many scholars work on this archive, but there are a number of technologists and cultural heritage professionals that have contributed and continue to contribute to this work that made it a reality over the years.

As I stated before, not only is the archive educational, but it is extremely user-friendly. There is a brief, introductory video that takes the visitor through the entire site, what its purpose is, and how it can be utilized. Not only that, but there are multiple subsequent videos that discuss specific aspects of using the site, including reading the manuscripts, using unique features, and accessing the material. The manuscripts of the Shelley-Godwin family have been transcribed within the archive and can be seen side-by-side with the actual manuscript page, allowing the reader to fully grasp the importance of the works while simultaneously understanding the importance of such a group of work. As stated in the Owens article, “What Do you Mean by Archive? Genres of Usage for Digital Preservers”, there are many ways in which to describe the word “archive”, and the Shelley-Godwin Archive is the perfect example of what defines a “digital archive”.

Rossetti Archive

The Rossetti Archive is another example of not only a digital archive, but a hypermedia archive, as referenced in the McGann article. As the article explains, it is more out of necessity that this was the case because of the nature of the Rossetti documents. In order to digitize certain computational images, one needs to take advantage of this hypertext and hypermedia. The Rossetti Archive is a seen as an extremely dedicated work, having been done in multiple installments, starting in 1993 until 2008. With Kirschenbaum’s “Done” article in mind, we see another example with the Rossetti archives of how these projects are never truly finished. The Rossetti Archive was continuing its projects with helping develop the NINES project. The NINES project is strengthening and expanding the use of digital tools within scholarship. Relatively simple to navigate, the archive’s homepage tells the tale of the project itself, as well as the fact that the Rosetti archive “facilitates the scholarly study of Dante Gabriel Rossetti”.

A long and collaborative project, this archive is not only informational, but relatively easy to use. Like the Shelley-Godwin archive, it has a search function with advanced options. A visitor to the site also has the ability to browse chronologically through Rossetti’s works. The Rossetti Archive is really an impressive picture of the “respect des fondes” discussed in Jefferson Bailey’s article, “Disrespect des Fondes”, and is indicative of how and where the digital field of history, archives, and scholarship are moving.

Digital Project Proposal – Mapping US Nuclear Cities

Shortly before the end of World War II, the United States began secretive construction a project that would alter the landscape – both literally and figuratively – of the country to this day. The creation of Nuclear Cities were seen as a necessary product of the burgeoning Cold War, and simultaneous nuclear arms policy, between the United States and former Soviet Union. Towns across the country were suddenly thrust into a total-war-like situation, where lives were uprooted, infrastructure destroyed and drastically altered. Starting with the creation of Hanford in Richland, Washington, this trend of uprooting existing cities to make way for what was becoming a “hot” Cold War, continued well into the 1950s. Once the Cold War had thawed however, many of these nuclear plants that had so engulfed normal, rural regions of the United States for so long were shut down or changed to fit the new needs of a world not determined by the Cold War nuclear doctrine. However, the significance of these plants should not be lost along with thoughts of the nuclear age, “duck and cover” drills, and the incessant anxiety of nuclear obliteration. It is the spirit of this memory that provides the backbone of my Digital Project.

 For the purposes of our class, I would like to create a collection entitled “Cold War Nuclear Cities”, and within the collection, contribute photographs, past and present, of these cities – therefore allowing the surprising size of each plant to be shown, visualizing what the land and cities had looked like before the plant, what they looked like during the “Atomic Age”*, and what the area looks like today. Within the collection, a visitor can click on each of the plants that will open a page to a synopsis of the plant, including what it was most commonly used for, years of operation, and the plant’s most notable contributions in the context of Cold War nuclear policy at the time. To begin, I will focus on the Hanford Site in Richland, WA and surrounding areas, Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee, and the Savannah River Plant in Aiken, SC and surrounding areas. I will set up a “tour” that takes the student or visitor on a trip through each of the plants to emphasize just how expansive the Cold War was, and how many lives it touched throughout the country.

This project should be digital because many of these sites are difficult to physically visit. This is a result of their environmental concerns, the fact that many have been torn down, and those still in operation are rarely willing to allow the public free access to tour them**. While there is significant literature on the Cold War and these nuclear cities in general, a visual representation of each city and all in one place will significantly increase the education of Cold War nuclear cities. Since Historypin is relatively open and interactive, there could also be additions to these “pins” or expansions of the existing ones.

The audience can span a broad range of interested parties, but specifically, this would be a good teaching tool for students in either middle or high school to help them learn about the United States’ nuclear role in the Cold War. This would be an interesting way for the students to learn about not only the environmental aspects of US nuclear policy, but just how extensive these plants became, and how they absolutely uprooted and changed their surrounding areas.

 Since there is not much outreach for Cold War histories and specifically nuclear histories, outreach would be best served through school programs, teachers, and local history museums. Hopefully, interest is generated enough to help us understand the greater impact of these plants, how they were such a significant part of American life, many having been secret and hidden, and now, with the help of Historypin, their stories can be told.

*For the purposes of this class I am defining the “Atomic Age” as 1945 through 1970 when many of these reactors began altering their production or shutting down completely.

**For example, the Savannah River Plant (now Savannah River Site) offers only two public tours a month, with a total of 1,100 visitors per year to board buses and take heavily supervised tours through the facility. The waitlist is gigantic. I am still waiting patiently for my turn…

Print Proposal: Speeches by Soviet Leaders: A Linguistic Analysis

For my print project, I will be analyzing the speeches from previous leaders of the Soviet Union to understand and develop a logical timeline of how language changed from Lenin in 1917 and the October Revolution, to what would become the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. This idea came to me in lieu of the recent 100th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution. With recent scholarship on the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the role of 1917, it would be advantageous to use a digital forum to analyze the language used in Soviet speeches to see any correlation between the historical context of the time and linguistic usage. The speeches I will be analyzing are from Vladimir Lenin, Josef Stalin, Nikita Khrushchev, and finally Mikhail Gorbachev. Specifically, I will be looking at Vladimir Lenin’s speech on November 5, 1917 entitled “To the Public” where he addresses Soviets after the October Revolution has successfully overthrown the sitting leadership. Next, I will look at Stalin’s speech at a Red Army parade on November 7, 1941, only a few short months after Operation Barbarossa during the Great Patriotic War. The next speech is by Nikita Khrushchev, and is one of the most famous speeches in Soviet history. This is what was known in the West as the “Secret Speech” at the 20th Party Congress of the CPSU in February of 1953, and was an attempt by Khrushchev to call to light the crimes of Stalin in order to move the Soviet Union forward on an international scale. Although this is substantially longer than the other speeches analyzed, it is important to have the entire transcript for a thoughtful and accurate analysis. Lastly, I will analyze a speech given by Gorbachev Christmas Day, 1991, effectively tendering his resignation and officially dissolving the Soviet Union on Christmas Day.

            There are a variety of issues that may arise from taking on this project, but I have adequate plans to address the concerns. First, there is the language issue. Since I am not fluent in Russian, I will be relying on translated texts of the speeches. While this poses a risk with translations, I will be relying on only two sources that have their translations cited to address validity. The next issue is figuring out which speech from each leader to choose. However, through the course of my research I have found that each of these leaders has at least one very popular speech that is supposed to garner or rally support for the Soviet cause. By limiting my speeches to just four leaders and on speech per leader,I offer a small sample of the environment that surrounded the Soviet Union, from its birth to eventual death.

            In order to analyze these texts, I will be using Voyant Tools. Since this is not a perfect system, I will have to individually input the translated texts into separate boxes on Voyant’s website. I will also find speeches that are similar in length, in order to get the closest as possible comparison when I manually compare them. The goal of this comparison is to see how Soviet language and propaganda evolved as the Soviet Union became strong and then eventually failed. I fully expect that strong Soviet language, emphasizing comrades, workers, and communism, to fade especially around Khrushchev. By using Voyant Tools, a digital component, I will easily be able to track any linguistic change that could be useful for further study.