Hi, my name is Christine Hicks and this summer I serve as the programs and exhibits intern. This summer, my primary job was to help renovate the Wilton’s Landing exhibit located on the 2nd floor. Previously Wilton’s Landing has already experienced two major renovations. The first one was that the truck was moved. The second one was the installation of the sound dome in the exhibit.
In effort to fill the shelves in Wilton’s Landing, my job consisted of researching gas stations between 1929 -1939 to ensure that items picked to “sell” on the shelves remained historically accurate. The main online site that I used to find pictures of both the inside and the outside of these 1930s gas stations was a website called American Memory. The website can be located at http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/index.html. Starting in 1990-1994 The American Memory Historical collections was placed in a pilot program designed to digitize all documents, sound recordings and pictures in The Library of Congress’s historical document collection so it can be accessed to the public. By 2000 the National Digital Library had over 5 million items available online. This website is a great source for both architectural history research but also just for fun. With a simple search, the viewer can see old buildings from the 1900 to Congressional reports. This website was useful to me when I trying to fill the exhibit cases with historically accurate items. American Memory provides pictures like below of, the inside of a grocery store in Chicago, Illinois, showing me how items should be displayed and what canisters they would have been held in.
Great American Gas Station by Tim Russell. This book is an easy read showing the evolution of the design of gas station and also the gas brands and services that they provide from 1913 to the present day. From this book I learned about all the duties that pump attendants performed from pumping your gas to repairing your car.
Another main part in renovating Wilton’s Landing is to provide historical context to the 1930s gas stations such as what items are priced for in the 1930s and what historical events are happening in the world between 1929 to 1939. When people think of 1930s they immediately think of the Great Depression or the beginning signs of World War II. My job was to find out facts and historical events that were not focused on the Great Depression and events leading up to World War II. Some of this information includes movies being released and books being published. This information can also include popular radio shows and famous people such as child actor Shirley Temple and aviator Amelia Earhart. I am also responsible to find information and facts that will attract kids to the exhibit such as Batman and Superman were introduced in the late 1930s and a large amount of candy brands such as Snickers and Hersey bars were produced.
Through this project not only am I helping bring life to the Wilton’s Landing exhibit but I have gained historical knowledge of the 1930s that is not plagued by the Great Depression. Through this research I got to learn about more positive things of the 1930s such as candy, inventions and influential people.