My dissertation project, which has the working title “Women in Rock and Roll’s First Wave,” focuses on the careers and music of women rock and roll performers active in the 1950s. While many male rockers like Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis are now legendary, their female contemporaries have not received much attention from critics and historians. I am in the process of collecting and preserving interviews and documents that will help to chronicle women’s experiences in the music industry during this era.
I received a Matthew and Ellen Feldman Digital Technology Grant from the Baker-Nord Center for the Humanities. This allowed me to purchase the equipment that I needed to produce content for this digital archive—like a digital audio recorder, scanner, and a camcorder—and I am now using these tools to record oral histories and to digitize images. The archive I am building is an important part of my PhD dissertation, which will be one of the first born-digital dissertations out of CWRU. I have built the prototype using an open source web publishing platform called Omeka, through which I am developing digital exhibits and media-rich articles that will link archival materials with historical context and scholarly analysis.
More information coming soon! I hope to launch this project publicly in early 2015. And in the meantime, if you or your mother/grandmother/aunt/friend rocked and rolled in the 1950s, I would love to hear from you (ltbranstetter [at] gmail [dot] com)!