1. How important are Unique Collections in your teaching, learning or research?
The Portal is an invaluable resource for my research. In researching the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) at Big Bend National Park, part of my project is trying to show how invested the public was in the creation of the park. Understanding what went on in the CCC camp is only part of the story, the rest of it is comprised of the overall impact of the CCC, the legacy of the program, their projects, and Big Bend itself. In order to see this part of the story, I rely heavily on the newspapers found in the Portal. The Portal contains local newspapers from across the state and discuss the progress happening in Big Bend throughout the time that the CCC had a camp there. These newspapers help to show how the public viewed the developments in Big Bend and the larger significance of the CCC’s work there.
2. How have Unique Collections changed the way you approach your research, teaching or learning?
The Portal has helped me to expand the scope of my research. While it might be easy to think that the sources for Big Bend would be found only around the park. However, through the use of the Portal, I have been able to see the far-reaching impact that Big Bend had across Texas. This has helped to show the importance of Big Bend beyond the park’s borders, and it has forced me to look beyond the seemingly clear-cut borders of my own project.
3. What do you want others to know about your research, teaching or learning?
My research is filling a serious gap in the research of Big Bend, but even more so, it reaches beyond the park, to Texas and the nation. If it were not for the CCC’s involvement in Big Bend, the park would not exist as we know it today. Big Bend affected more than just the enrollees that worked in the camp who received invaluable training and employment during the midst of the Great Depression, it reached people across the United States. FDR found it to be so important that he paused his other duties to accept the deed to Big Bend officially placing it in Federal hands on an especially busy day, June 6, 1944 – commonly known as D-Day. Eleanor Roosevelt, his wife, stepped in on behalf of the enrollees of the camp to call an investigation of an overbearing camp officer. While these are only two examples of the reach of Big Bend, the fact that it crossed the desks of two of the most important political figures and they gave their time to it, shows not only the significance of Big Bend but the impact that it had.
Kimberly Jackson is a master’s student and Teaching Assistant in the History Department at the University of North Texas. She earned a bachelor’s degree in history and mathematics at the University of North Texas. In the 2018-2019 academic school year, Kimberly will complete her thesis on the Civilian Conservation Corps in Big Bend National Park. Her larger academic interests include borderlands and environmental history and hopes to apply her research to larger studies of the U.S.-Mexico Border.