Updated Project Proposal

Since I posted my initial proposal, I have done more research into retirement community advertising geared towards William and Mary Alumni.  I also found the Williamsburg chapter of the Alumni Association has a Facebook page and just looking through the pictures has been informative.  Below I describe some of my findings. Towards the end of the entry, I discuss my plan for the next few weeks. I also describe some of the brainstorming I have done to try to narrow the focus of my project that will hopefully create a more in-depth study of alumni returning to Williamsburg.

Professor Glosson has been kind enough to forward the chapter’s upcoming events emails to me. The two events that have taken place this semester conflicted with prior commitments I made.  However, I plan to contact the chapter over break (I wanted to wait to schedule interviews until both assignment three and the peer interview projects were complete so I was sure I was prepared to use the equipment, etc.) and try to attend an event (if they’ll permit).  Based on the photos from recent events, there seems to be a core group of people who attend the monthly chapter events, though I was surprised by just how many people attend the events.  Most of the pictures I looked at are of alumni who appear to be over 60 years old.  If this is the case, one could guess they are retired and are able to commit more time to the chapter.  For larger events, like the Yule Log celebration, there seemed to be an even larger group of people and there was a big age range.  While most of the attendees appeared to be 60 years old or older, there were quite a few people who appeared to have graduated within the last 10-15 years.  I am pretty sure one of the people is a recent graduate since he looks very familiar.  I hope that by attending an event, or contacting a few of the members, I can have a better understanding of why alumni return to Williamsburg.  Moreover, I think it would be interesting to figure out why people feel such a connection or commitment to the alumni chapter in Williamsburg.  The reason why I ask this is because the interviews with both Clay Riley and Lance Pedigo made it clear that Williamsburg has a small town feel and is a place where one can go anywhere and see someone he or she knows.  Moreover, if people live in retirement communities, they are likely to make a group of friends or at least have social events within their communities.  If that is the case, then why would a William and Mary-specific group (the alumni chapter) be such a draw?  In other words, I want to figure out why an alumni chapter (a William and Mary community) has so much meaning in the lives of some of the alumni living in Williamsburg – Does a void exist? If so, how does the alumni chapter fill it?

I have also begun brainstorming possible interviewees (I do not want to put their information out on this blog since it is public) by going through recent Alumni magazine articles as well as thinking about professors I have gotten to know over the last four years here.  I realize one could say a professor’s decision of where to live is limited since it is dependent on where they find a job opening, but there are quite a few professors who graduated from William and Mary and became professors here (Was it just good timing? What was the process of getting a job here?).  Additionally, I think it would give a very different account than alumni who decided to come back to Williamsburg later in life, or decided to live in Williamsburg (i.e. had more job options available to them in Williamsburg).

The Alumni Magazine has also been a helpful resource.  It not only has articles about alumni (some of whom live in Williamsburg) but it also has many retirement community advertisements specifically targeting alumni.  I plan to continue to look through the magazines to see how the retirement community advertisements for alumni have evolved over time.

I have not changed any of the research questions that I posed in my initial proposal.  At this point, I feel like I need to do a little more research before narrowing my focus.  As I stated before, I plan to do more research over break and be ready to start revising them when we return. However, as you can see in my observations above, I have posed more questions.  I have considered limiting the scope of my project to a specific age group of alumni (recent graduates, middle-aged or retirees) in order to create a more focused project.  I have tried to think of other ways to narrow the focus of my project but have had some trouble.  Any suggestions would be appreciated.


About

The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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