I have always found that big research projects are generally more digestible and fun to do when you are interested in the topic which you are researching. As a history major and music minor, I have always been interested in the history of churches and, of course, music in general. As such, my topic is the history of church music in Winter Park. From what I have seen in the archives, while there is a lot of information on churches, there is very little on music, and even less on church music, so I have begun the process of learning about each individual church before I take it one step further and learn about their music programs.
As Winter Park was initially divided between the West side and the East side, the poor and the rich, and the black and the white, I anticipate discovering two very different musical histories, with one group's musical roots stemming from slave songs and field calls and the other group's more European and classical style. I have begun my research with the West side, and when I have completed both the West and the East, I hope to be able to write some interesting musical history comparisons based on the social and economic influences each group had throughout their respective histories.
The Rollins Library Archives has several boxes full of information on churches in Winter Park, and one folder dedicated to the Winter Park Symphonic Orchestra. I have gone through some of the information on churches and have found some interesting and useful documents, but found very little relevant to church music in the Symphonic Orchestra folder; the closest thing I have found so far is that the orchestra used to rehearse in one of the local churches. I hope to find more as I continue. Based on the fact that there is little to be found on my specific topic, I anticipate that my project will be somewhat if not greatly reliant upon oral history. I plan to begin this process by first studying all of the churches in the area, and perhaps while I do this (it will probably take a while) I will visit each church and try and make connections with people there, be them pastors, reverends, priests, etc., who can hopefully give me useful information or direct me to other useful people such as choir directors and longtime church members. From there, I will obtain interviews with all of them, transcribe them, and use them in my project. I did this once before in AP US History in high school when my class made a documentary on the 1968 riots in Washington DC, so I have some practice and I think that I know what I'm doing.
I visited the Winter Park Historical Museum today to see what I could find, and to be honest, I couldn't find anything. I did obtain the email address of the head of the museum, and I plan to email her to see if she can assist me in any way. That's pretty much where I am right now in terms of research. More next week....Ali