Northern Arizona University library exhibit will explore Route 66’s minorities

A forthcoming exhibit at Northern Arizona University’s Cline Library in Flagstaff will undertake a deeper dive into the minority communities that have populated and affected the highway.

“The Shades of Route 66 in Arizona: Celebrating Diversity along Arizona’s Historic Route 66” exhibit, according to a news release from the university, “will explore, document and share stories, voices and images of underrepresented people and communities who contributed to the diverse cultural and socioeconomic landscape along the road in Arizona.”

“The final product, a freely available “StoryMap” educational online exhibit, will provide a more well-rounded story of historic Route 66 in the state for educators and users from around the world.”

Shades of Route 66 in Arizona interns Ivan Pacheco (left) and Lazarus Melan visited the closed Joe and Aggie’s Café in Holbrook during a Nov. 5 research trip. (Sean Evans photo)

The principals behind the project will be Peter Runge, head of Special Collections and Archives at the library, and interns Lazarus Melan, a documentary filmmaker studying in NAU’s School of Communication, and Ivan Pacheco, a retired dentist now working on a fine arts degree at NAU.

Also involved in the project will be Cline Library archivist and project director Sean Evans; and subject experts Ricardo Guthrie, associate professor in the Department of Ethnic Studies at NAU, and Mark Manone, chairman of NAU’s Department of Geography and Planning

Primary source collections in Special Collections and Archives are the foundation for the interns’ research. Examples include the Los Recuerdos del Barrio en Flagstaff and the African American Pioneers of Flagstaff oral history projects; the Fronske Studio and John Running photograph collections; and the records of the Historic Route 66 Association of Arizona.
The interns will also use the Green Book, phone books and reverse directories and newspapers to identify businesses that were run by or served a diverse clientele on or near Route 66. 
Melan and Pacheco have already been on the road—literally—with Evans, a highly regarded Route 66 historian. A series of field trips for primary source collection will begin to fill in gaps in areas that have been traditionally underrepresented or undocumented. The field trips also will offer opportunities to develop relationships and trust with communities whose stories have not historically been actively collected and documented.  Along the way, the project team hopes to identify people along Route 66 whose stories are especially relevant to this project and conduct oral histories with them. […]
Later in the project, Manone will work with the interns on ArcGIS web mapping software, which they’ll use to develop the StoryMap. Both interns anticipate graduating in May 2022.

Anyone with questions or suggestions for the “Shades of Route 66” project team should email

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