Missouri State University received a grant to help gather oral histories for “The Women on the Mother Road in Missouri” project.
According to a news release from the university, the $2,500 grant will be used in conjunction with a similar project:
Anne Baker, interim head of special collections and archives at MSU, will work with filmmaker Katrina Parks. Her web-based project for the National Park Service’s Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program, route66women.com, began interest in the topic.
“Route 66 is an iconic piece of America’s history,” said Baker. “While some sections of Route 66 still exist, it is not the major route it once was. One of the ways we can help preserve its history is through the stories of the people who lived, worked or traveled on it. This project collects the stories of the Mother Road, helping us understand how it affected the people and communities along the way.”
The grant has been used to get oral histories from Marilyn Leistner, the last mayor of Times Beach, Missouri, and Diane Warhover, the first superintendent of Route 66 State Park, which sits at the long-gone Times Beach site. Time Beach was evacuated during the 1980s because of dioxin contamination.
The university also gathered stories from the family of African American businesswoman Alberta Ellis, and John Butte talked about the “Gypsy Coeds” and the Model T they drove on parts of Route 66 in the 1930s and early ’40s.
Parks, who is planning a “The Women on the Mother Road” documentary, will use excerpts from those oral histories. She also plans to visit Springfield, Missouri, this summer to talk to more women who were linked to Route 66.
You can read more about the documentary here.
(Image of Ramona Lehman, co-owner of the Munger Moss Motel in Lebanon, Missouri, in the Coral Court-themed room, by the Missouri Department of Tourism via Flickr)