(The removal of Route 66 signage after it was decommissioned)
For my third source, I used another book I checked out from Alderman Library, titled “Route 66 Still Kicks: Driving America’s Main Street,” by Rick Antonson. This has been the best source I’ve found so far, because it pertains most closely to my topic of Route 66 and the American Dream. The author switches off between using anecdotes and detailed historical facts as he writes about his experience driving all of Route 66, and the facts he includes cover almost all aspects of the history of the road. He includes the history of what Route 66 was before it came to be, how it was created, how it impacted pop culture, and what happened when it was decommissioned. Antonson also includes quotes from Will Rogers and Woody Guthrie, giving more of a perspective of how important Route 66 really was to so many people. The parts of the book that were most helpful to my research were the sections that discussed why Route 66 was so important to Americans, and why it had such a large impact. For my paper, I want to look more in-depth at how Route 66 shaped the American dream. The parts of this book that went into how Americans continued to drive on Route 66 after it was decommissioned were very interesting. The towns and sections of road that were left to decay after the interstate was built show how the American dream has changed along with the road, but the fact that many people still believe that “you haven’t seen America until you’ve driven all of Route 66” shows that it is still an integral part of America.
(Migrant Mother, Dorothea Lange)
My second source is a book checked out from Alderman Library titled “Dust Bowl Migrants in the American Imagination,” by Charles J. Shindo. This book is a helpful source because it looks more in depth at the dust bowl and a little bit into the time period of the Great Depression. One disadvantage to this source is that it is more specifically about people’s perception of the migrant workers of the dust bowl, and less about the dust bowl as a whole, but it will give me at least some helpful facts about the migration, which is important to my topic. The book spends a lot of time discussing and analyzing the hardworking small farm farmers who became “dust bowl refugees” after the larger landowners and corporations over plowed the land (p.38). These families were forced to pack up their belongings and migrate west in search of jobs. It also discusses the role of photographers and journalists who documented the journeys of these migrants, and how they helped to promote government resettlement and relief programs throughout the regions of the country that had been most affected by the disaster (p. 48). A large portion of this book is dedicated to analyzing how other people treated the migrants of the dust bowl, and how they were perceived by the nation. The author uses examples of authors, journalists, and photographers who helped to shift the public’s opinions of the refugees, and assist them as they transitioned into new jobs and ways of life.
The first source that I looked at for this research paper was an article from Time Magazine titled “A Brief History of Route 66.” This first source is beneficial to my research because it gives a good overview of the history and impact of Route 66 without getting too detailed. It will allow me to choose what subtopics to pursue in the rest of my research. It is relatively short and does not go into detail about most of the components and background of Route 66, which does not make it as helpful as other sources I may find.
The overview includes important basic facts about Route 66, including that it is 2,448 miles long, and goes from Chicago to Los Angeles. It was decommissioned in 1980, after having been the “main artery of America” for over 60 years. John Woodruff and Cyrus Avery were advocates of a road going from Chicago to Los Angeles, and Cyrus Avery has been called the “Father of Route 66” for his role in its creation.
The article speaks about the literary and pop culture impacts of Route 66, including Jack Kerouac’s “On the Road,” John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath,” and the multiple songs inspired by the road. It also mentions the history of the road as an escape route from Oklahoma during the dust bowl, which is something I want to research further. The quickly growing automobile industry also helped create Route 66, with 500,000 registered vehicles in 1910 to 10 million in 1920. These subtopics are all things I did not know much about before, and are all things I would like look at more in depth and include in my paper.