Mapping: A New Frontier and Exercise in Frustration

My first attempt at mapping  the National Register-listed hotels and inns in TN.

My first attempt at mapping the National Register-listed hotels and inns in TN.

Today’s adventure in Public History was trying to learn how to do online mapping. I am sure that this will be a great story one day but right now I am just frustrated. After numerous google searches for “create online maps”, I decided to try Mapquest’s version. It appeared to be cheap and cheerful — i.e. free and easy to use. How wrong I was. After two plus hours of pulling out my hair, I still have not gotten all of the points on the map. Why? Mapquest seemed to loose points at random. Then when I would log back on they would be there only to disappear like 10 minutes later. Mapquest also required an exact address – three of these sites do not have street numbers. I tried to get around this by pinning the town in which the property is located but to no avail. So, I decided I would post this partial map (28 of 31 sites) here on the blog. Notice how all but two of the sites have disappeared and there are no details provided about the properties. Sigh… I can see that I need to call an expert and use a more robust mapping program.

View from Gay Bridge (1897) built by Youngstown Bridge Company.

This is one of my favorite photos taken while doing fieldwork in Knoxville in the fall. View from Gay Bridge (1897) built by Youngstown Bridge Company.

It is days like these that I yearn to be back on the road doing fieldwork. Fieldwork for me is expansive and invigorating. But, I know that if I stick with the analysis and stay focused on how best to present my findings, research and writing is gratifying in a way like nothing else. As one professor put it, writing is thinking. I could not agree more. So, I sit here at my desk working through the frustration knowing that it will all be worth it when the final products come together. It is an exercise of faith. It is an exercise we have all gone through time and time again. I imagine the day in the not too distant future, fingers crossed May 2016, when there will be two Dr. Cannons in our household. This and visions of the graduation party I am already planning in my head keeps me going.

Documenting John P. Raines Hotel in Parsons, TN

Documenting John P. Raines Hotel in Parsons, TN

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