A Needle in a Haystack

As part of the interpretive StoryMaps website about Hispanic heritage on Route 66 that I am creating, I have had to locate and include as many images as possible, which are interspersed throughout the text. These images are all important. They attract users and offer a break from reading text, provide greater context, and, perhaps most importantly, can feature the people behind these stories and show that the history of Hispanics on and along the Mother Road was a lived experience.

This image, from the Center for Southwest Research archives, is a great example of advertising Hispanic stereotypes to attract visitors. In this image, Coronado and conquistadors are romanticized and are meant to represent the Hispanic population in New Mexico. To use this image in the StoryMap, I had to locate it in the archives first before I could ask permission.

One collection of images I have been utilizing comes from previous research with the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program in conjunction with the University of New Mexico Spanish Colonial Research Center. These images are largely a collection of postcards, magazines, and marketing material, and provide a great example for how Hispanic and Native American culture as commodified and stereotyped to attract visitors to drive through New Mexico. The one caveat of using these collections is that when they were collected, they were not properly cited. I have to ask permission to use all images utilized on the website, and this requires an exact location and description of each item. The process of finding these images has been pretty tedious, but not fruitless. Luckily, the archives are next door to the office I am at, and the staff and archivists are wonderful and extremely helpful. I’ve actually managed to locate most of the images and obtain permission, which is great. There is some excitement in actually finding something you’re looking for, a sense of accomplishment for being able to fill out all of the information needed and know exactly where it is among a plethora of collections.

This postcard is used on a section about the railroad in New Mexico and how Route 66 followed some of its tracks. This image is also from the Center for Southwest Research, and had to be located within its New Mexico Pamphlet Collections.

For the images I can’t locate, I have gotten very good at going back through other collections and images that I know I have permission to use or have the exact location for. There are a surprising number of collections that are open to allowing the use of their images and resources for educational purposes, even if it is *technically* counted as being published as a website. This entire process of emailing different archives and people and asking them permission to use their collections has been an extremely positive experience, and one that will surely come in handy as I move on to other projects and continue to work with digital media and interpretation.

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