Historical Research Workshop

Syllabus, Fall 2013

Download as a .doc or .pdf (Current as of 8/27)

Historical Research Workshop DeCal – Fall 2013 

Section 1: Wednesday 10 – 12 AM, 204 Dwinelle

Camille Villa, History 2014
Office Hours: TBA
Pedro Hernandez, History 2014
Office Hours: TBA

Section 2: Monday 2 – 4 PM, 80 Barrows

Jonathan Scott, History 2015
Office Hours: TBA
Michelle Min, History 2014
Office Hours: TBA

Supervising Faculty:
Prof. Kerwin Klein, History

Prof. James Vernon, History
Welcome to Historical Research Workshop!  Research is an awesome and exciting part of any academic career. It can also be a foreign and overwhelming experience. This 2-unit workshop aims to give you the skills to navigate the rich variety of resources available at UC Berkeley. By the end of the course, you will be able to identify and utilize a multitude of campus resources, evaluate the relevance and limitations of certain types of resources and develop a keen appreciation for historical research. This course aims to help you build healthy research habits by writing weekly research journals posted to the course blog.  You will also hone your communication skills and your ability to convey findings in both written and oral form.  This course also features a variety of guest speakers and will introduce you to a variety of librarians, archivists, and academics.

Course Goals:

  • Access: able to find and access a variety of resources and properly document them according to the Chicago Manual of Style.
  • Analysis: able to evaluate a source’s relevance, biases, purpose, limitations
  • Communication: Discuss research process with colleagues, seek out information from experts, discuss difficulties, and participate in a community of research

Key competencies:

  • Access resources in the following collections: Doe Library/Gardner Stacks, Bancroft Library, Microfilm & Newspapers, Regional Oral History Office, Media Resources Center, Pacific Film Archive
  • Comfortable navigating online resources: UC Berkeley’s subscription databases, WorldCat, Online Archive of California, UC e-links
  • Chicago Manual of Style citation

This course will NOT focus on the writing, structuring and organization of a full length research paper.  However, the skills practiced here would be helpful for compiling a research prospectus and/or annotated bibliography.

Requirements / Policies:

Discussion/Attendance -  30%

The first portion of each class will consist of discussing the reading and reviewing findings from the previous week.  Some discussions will require the preparation of mini-presentations.  As an active member of a community of research, you can enhance and refine the research of your peers by making connections and asking probing questions.  The second portion of class will consist of modules prepared either by facilitators or guest speakers.

Research Journals – 30%

Students will post weekly research journals to the course blog. These journals will apply skills learned in class and should detail the research process for the week – what did you find? How did you find it? Was it relevant? Was it what you hoped to find?  Students are encouraged to discuss missteps and dead ends as well as their successes.  A good research journal also explains why an item might or might not be relevant to the research topic. Blogs should be posted by Tuesday 12:00 PM (Section 1) / Friday at 9:00 PM (Section 2)and must follow Category/Tag protocols provided in the syllabus.  Late journals will be given half credit.  Students may miss two journal assignments without any impact on their grade; any further missed assignments will result in a NP. 

Reading Responses- 15%

Please post a short response (a few sentences to a paragraph) to the blog’s weekly reading posts.  All readings will be available on bSpace.  Responses should be posted by Tuesday 12:00 PM (Section 1) / Friday at 9:00 PM (Section 2).  Late responses will be given half credit.

Annotated Bibliography & Presentation – 25%

A 10 minute presentation discussing your research experience.  The presentation should discuss your work with the sources: Which did you find helpful? Which did you not? What sources would you be interested in exploring further?  Although this class is not aimed at creating a polished final product, please include any conclusions or findings to which your research has led you.  You are free to use the medium which is most comfortable to you: powerpoints, posters, handouts etc.  Students must also submit a hard copy of their annotated bibliography with the presentation. Failure to give a final presentation will result in a NP.

Respect Policy:
The goal of this course is to create a comfortable, respectful research community. Students are expected to be attentive and engaged during class discussion. The course will also feature a number of guest speakers, and students are expected to treat them with respect and courtesy. Laptops are allowed as they are necessary for certain class activities, but should only be open and used during said activities.

Office Hours:

Facilitators will hold regular office hours by appointment.  To contact all facilitators simultaneously, please e-mail historicalresearchworkshop@gmail.com.

Schedule & Assignments:

Week 3, 9/9, 9/11- Enrollment Class

  • Research Process vs. Research Product: What is a “community of research?” What is a historical research topic?
  • Quick case-study: Choosing an Appropriate Scope for Your Topic
  • Course Goals & Policies
  • Enrollment Process


  • Submit [this application] by 10 PM on Friday, September 13.  CCNs will be sent out on a rolling basis.
  • Complete WordPress tutorial and post a short introduction to the blog.  Categories: Fall 2013, Introductions, journals.  Required tags: fall2013_w03
  • Reading Response: The Craft of Research.  Post your first comment to this reading post. See video tutorial.

Week 4, 9/16, 9/18 – Topic / Keywords / Catalogs

  • Introductions: Who are you?  What are you interested in?
  • What is a source? Primary vs. secondary?
  • OskiCat & WorldCat
  • Keyword strategies: Subject mining, Google n-grams, keeping a keyword log / topic journal, the TQR statement


  • Journal: Practice the TQR statement.  Develop a list of research questions.  What are you interested in? Why?  Compile a list of keywords and use them to find one resource in the Stacks. Categories: Fall 2013, journals Required tags: research question, keyword search, fall2013_w04.  Recommended: keywords related to your research topic
  • Reading Response: Anthony Grafton, The Footnote (Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1997), 1-33.

Week 5, 9/23, 9/25 – Online Databases / Research Management

  • What online sources are available to me? How can I access them?
  • How can I evaluate a source’s legitimacy?
  • The G-word and the W-word, or: How to Use Google & Wikipedia Responsibly
  • What tools can I use to keep my research and bibliography organized?


  • Journal: browse the online databases under lib.berkeley.edu and write down some databases you’re interested in. Either browse databases or “hunt” footnotes from last week’s book to find an article related to your topic.What did this article reveal about your topic? What questions did it raise? Was it what you expected to find?
    Categories: Fall 2013, journals Required tags: online database, digital resources, fall2013_w05
  • Reading Response: Browse the collection highlights from Exploring the Bancroft [bSpace] or browse online.  Note one item you are interested in.

Week 6, 9/30, 10/2- Bancroft I
Meet in the lobby of the Bancroft Library.  Class will be held at the Stone seminar room.

  • What is the Bancroft library?  How do I access its collections? What is a finding aid?
  • How do I use archival sources?
  • How do I find other special collections, both on-campus and off-campus?


  • Journal: Submit a paging request for one item at the Bancroft and begin exploring.  What do you hope to find?  What are your initial impressions of the resource? Categories: Fall 2013, journals Required tags: fall2013_w06
  • Reading Response: Camille’s blog post on digitization
  • Start preparing for your Bancroft II presentation (10/21)

Week 7, 10/7, 10/9 – Newspapers / Microfilm
Meet in Newspapers/Microform, in the basement of Doe Library.  See [map]

  • Why isn’t everything digitized?! Discussion of “paths of preservation”, OCR, Google Books etc.
  • How do I use microfilm/fiche/cards?
  • How do I navigate newspaper databases & UC E-links?

○      sharpshooters vs. scavengers

  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of newspapers as historical sources?


  • Journal: Find a newspaper article relating to your topic, either in the microfilm collection or on an online database.   Categories: Fall 2013, journals Required tags: newspapers, fall2013_w07.  Recommended tags: microfilm, microfiche, online databases
  • Reading Response: skim Learning from Strangers and/or prepare questions for guest speaker
  • Submit your Bancroft Show and Tell item’s call number

Week 8, 10/14, 10/16 – Oral History

Guest speaker from the Regional Oral History Office

  • How do I conduct oral histories?
  • Where can I find oral histories others have conducted?
  • How is oral history different from journalism?
  • What are the advantages and limitations of oral history as a historical source?


  • Journal:

○       Option 1: Conduct an oral history and discuss your experience.

○      Option 2: Find an oral history and evaluate its method.

○      Categories: Fall 2013, Journals.  Required Tags: oral history, ROHO, fall2013_w08

  • Prepare your 5 – 10 minute show and tell presentation. See criteria [here].

Week 9, 10/21, 10/23 – Bancroft II

  • Return to the Bancroft and deliver presentations.  Pick an item and discuss its historical significance.  The item may either be related to either your research interests or personal interests.


  • Reading Response: Excerpts from Stephen Lubar and David Kinger, ed., History from Things: Essays on Material Culture (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1993).  – tentative
  • Journal: Free topic – suggestions: extended research update, summarize bancroft presentation, analysis of a source of your choice, etc.  Categories: Fall 2013, Journals.  Required Tags: fall2013_w09

Week 10, 10/28, 10/30 – Visual Resources; Material Culture
Guest Speakers: TBA

  • How do I analyze non-textual sources?  How do they differ from textual sources?
  • What are some strategies for finding visual resources?


  • Reading Response: Jeffrey Richards, “Film and Television: the moving image” in History Beyond the Text: A Student’s Guide to Approaching Alternative Sources, ed. by Sarah Barber and Corinna M. Peniston-Bird (New York: Routledge, 2009).
  • Journal: Find one visual resource and analyze it. Categories: Fall 2013, Journals. Required Tags: visual resources and/or material culture, fall2013_w10

Week 11, 11/4, 11/6 – Film & Sound

  • Field trip to the BAM / PFA
  • What is the Media Resources Center?  What resources are available at the Pacific Film Archive?
  • What the advantages / limitations of recorded media?
  • How do I find online collections of film or music?


  • Journal: Discuss our visit to BAM/PFA. Locate a recorded media object (i.e. documentary, film, newsreel, radio program, song, etc.) and discuss its potential relevance to your topic.  If you’re having trouble finding things related to your topic, discuss that as well. Categories: Fall 2013, Journals. Required Tags: fall2013_w11
  • Prepare presentation on specialize library.  Please consult [this list] to sign up for an archive or collection.

Week 12, 11/11, 11/13 – Specialized Libraries  / Collections

  • Mini presentations: At Berkeley we have a rich variety of resources to take advantage of.  Half the battle of conducting research is figuring out what’s out there.  You will visit one of these libraries and learn about the kinds of things in their collections and who might be interested in using these resources.
  • Journal: summarize your presentation and findings.  Categories: Fall 2013, Journals Required Tags: resource map, fall2013_w12

Week 13, 11/18, 11/20 – What Can You Do with Research?

  • Guest panel on applications of research in academic and non-academic careers.  Past speakers worked in fields such as: policy research, historic preservation, librarianship, archival & curatorial work


  • Journal free topic. suggestions: discuss one of the guest speakers, analysis of a source of your choice, topic recap (how has your TQR statement changed since Week 4?) Categories: Fall 2013, Journals.  Required Tags: fall2013_w13
  • Begin preparing your presentation and annotated bibliography!

Week 14, 11/25, 11/27 – Thanksgiving Week
No class! Enjoy life!

Week 15, 12/2, 12/4 – Final Presentations

  • What have you learned this semester?
  • What were some successes? What were some failures?
  • Please e-mail Powerpoints to facilitators before class begins and bring to class a hard copy of your annotated bibliography.


  • Journal: Reflection. i.e. What did you learn this semester?  How have your research skills changed?  How did your topic evolve?  What would you like to do with the research you conducted?.