Whitney Johnson – Historic Smyrna Brochure
Process Essay by Whitney Johnson
When we had to do our exhibit review, I decided to go to the Rutherford County Heritage Center. There, I looked around at their exhibits and completed the tour, but I noticed that most of the information was just about Murfreesboro. There are several other communities located in Rutherford County, yes, Murfreesboro is the biggest in Rutherford County, but I thought that there had to be other historical sites besides the ones in Murfreesboro and the Sam Davis Home. From there, I thought about it and decided to do my project on a brochure of the historical places and sites of Smyrna.
The project is a brochure on the historical sites of Smyrna. The brochure is going to be posted online for the entire internet to see. I also contacted the heritage center and they took my brochure to use for informational purposes, but they are not going to display it. I started the project and got an idea of some of the sites that I wanted to incorporate into the brochure. I found two or three, and then I could not find anymore. There I started to realize that maybe I did not find much information about Smyrna while I was at the heritage center was because there were not any historical sites there. I started researching and tried to find other places of historical meaning in the town.
The first things I found were the historical markers in Smyrna. The ones I found were Old Jefferson, Smyrna Railroad Depot, and Dewitt Smith Jobe. These markers provided some valuable information on the history of Smyrna, important people of the Civil War, and how the town has developed. I thought these were good sites and provided the public with some historic information, but I thought that the public would want to look at more interesting things besides the historic markers.
I decided to research more, and at first, I did not want to put the Sam Davis Home in my brochure, because that is the only place in Smyrna that was recognized at the heritage center. As I looked more into it, I decided it would be a good site to incorporate into the brochure. The Sam Davis Home does provide a lot of history of Smyrna, and that was my ultimate goal was to educate the public on Smyrna’s history using the brochure I created. At the end, I was glad I did put the Sam Davis Home into the brochure.
I started trying to find more sites to put into the brochure and I ran across the Smyrna history blog on wordpress. This actually helped me in finding other sites. I found the Mapleview cemetery using this site as well as some of the famous people buried there, and findagrave.com helped too. I was a little hesitant to put that cemetery in the brochure because it does have over 800 interments located inside the cemetery. However, I decided that it was worth people taking the time to look and find some of the people. The people who were buried there did provide historical significance to the town of Smyrna, like Civil War colonel, infantry members, and also people who fought during World War I.
I thought that I needed to incorporate at least one more site in the brochure. So as I was looking at the Smyrna history wordpress site, I ran across Idler’s Retreat, also known as the Dillon-Tucker-Cheney house. I did not know that this home was a part of the National Register of Historic Places, or that it even existed. I was very excited when I ran across this site and knew that I had to put it in the brochure. This site put an end to me researching historic sites that would be in the brochure.
I encountered a lot of problems when trying to complete my project. The first problem I had was trying to find historic places to put in the brochure. This took me about a month to complete and frustrated me at times. I wanted the brochure to be good and filled with interesting and educational sites, not just two or three places, with no places to go see. This is when I encountered that this brochure was actually going to be a travel brochure, which I had not anticipated at the beginning of the project.
Another problem I encountered was actually making the brochure. I used Microsoft Word to make the brochure and I used a design that was under the brochures tab. I got about half way into making the brochure when I started to have problems with it. When I would try to put the pictures from my computer on the brochure, it never went where I wanted it to go, so I had a hard time getting my pictures and textboxes to line up, which provided much frustration. Also, I had problems making the map of all of the historic places. I especially had problems determining where the markers were because they had no street address to put into Google maps, they just had what streets that intersected the markers. After I finished the map, I had problems getting the map onto the brochure from Google maps. I could not find a way to do it, but with some help I finally got the map on the brochure. Fortunately, I finally got it to look the way that I had envisioned that it would look.
I enjoyed actually finding out some of the historical places of Smyrna that I did not know existed. I also like to design things, and with all the frustration, I still enjoyed creating the brochure. The greatest success about making this project was actually creating a tangible object that I know I created, and another thing that made me feel successful was that I also created something that could potentially educate the public. However, I disliked that I did not have much direction and was given free-reign on what I wanted to do. I was not used to this and did not know how to handle it, but got through it.
This project contributes to the public’s understanding of history by showing them that history is still around them and that there is a lot of information out there to learn more about history, and brochures are one way of educating them as well. The historic preservation unit relates to this project because some of the sites listed in my brochure were preserved sites. I also think the museums, collection, and education readings relates to this project because education is used in the brochure to educate the public of these historic sites. These readings and other information obtained in class did provide as useful tools in creating my project.