The Missouri State University Libraries, in partnership with local history blog Ozarks Alive, has received a grant through the National Park Service to document historic trucking along Route 66.
The $5,100 grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program will focus on the history of trucking along the Missouri section of the Mother Road from 1926 to 1985 through oral history interviews.
Audio and video recordings will be made available to the general public online and will complement other oral history collections held by MSU, other Research Route 66 member libraries, and the Route 66 Association of Missouri.
Tom Peters, Dean of Library Services at Missouri State, says the two organizations have 14 months to complete the project.
“The period of performance is actually running now- from August first through the end of September of 2018…to conduct at least twenty oral history interviews with people that know about the development of the trucking industry along Route 66 in Missouri,” says Peters.
Kaitlyn McConnell is the founder of Ozarks Alive and Media Relations Coordinator for Cox Health. She spoke of the importance of remembering the different roles Route 66 played before it was replaced by the Interstate Highway System.
In the 1930's the historic road supported the migrants traveling westward. Later on, it became the "Main Street of America" as people headed to the west coast for vacations. Truckers, meanwhile, used the road to go from point A to point B, and this helped bolster the economy, says McConnell.
“We want to make sure that this piece of our history is captured. You don’t think about the parts of Route 66 as much that aren’t the glamorous side but I think that’s why it’s especially both intriguing and crucial for us, we feel, to do this because this is a different side of the route.”
It's clear preserving the history of Route 66 is a passion for both Peters and McConnell.
Peters says the trucking project adds to the other unique accounts gathered about historic Route 66, citing the African American Experience project. He believes the challenge of oral history is capturing “those memories before people pass away”.
The “Trucking on Route 66” project is one way the Springfield community is working to preserve history. Trucking stories or memorabilia from Missouri’s Route 66 Corridor can be shared with Tom Peters at firstname.lastname@example.org or Kaitlyn McConnell at email@example.com.