Route 66, 1926 to the present: The road as local history
This dissertation has three purposes. The first is to provide a history of roadbuilding and transportation in the United States and Illinois as well as the history of Route 66, focusing primarily on Illinois. The second is to suggest ways that high school and college teachers can employ local history to teach some broad, basic concepts in United States history. The topics of material culture, popular culture, oral history interviews, and images are discussed as ways to supplement written documents. The third purpose is to provide practical, concrete activities for classroom use, including assembling a guidebook to Route 66. The use of local history helps to personalize the road which is then studied within the larger context of American history. Application of traditional teaching methods allows students to learn research skills as they gather primary sources, and to hone these skills as they weigh the historical evidence associated with road culture. Students then make practical application of what they have learned to their immediate surroundings and to their everyday lives, as they add to their knowledge of American history. Chapter 6 presents a guidebook to Route 66 in McLean County, synthesizing the topics covered in Chapters 2–5, demonstrating the practical application of the knowledge gained by students.
Route 66 is important to understanding the evolution of American road building and transportation, but also the interconnectedness of the road with the American consciousness. Route 66 has become more than mere pavement and can tell us something about who we are as a society. This dissertation will help teachers adapt and implement Route 66 as a topic into their teaching schedules.
0323: American studies
0543: Civil engineering