Historical Research Workshop

Syllabus, Spring 2013

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(Current as of: 2/11/2013)

Historical Research Workshop DeCal – Spring 2013

Monday 12 – 2, 108 Wheeler
Katie Fleeman, History 2013
Office Hours:
2 – 3 PM, Monday @ Cafe Milano
Jonathan Scott, History 2015
Office Hours:
9:30 – 11 AM, Monday @ Caffe Strada
Wednesday 10 – 12, 204 Wheeler
Camille Villa, History 2014
Office Hours:
9 – 10 AM, Wednesday @ Free Speech Movement Cafe
Christina Simpson, History 2013
Office Hours:
12 – 2 PM, Weds @ Caffe Strada

Supervising Faculty:

Prof. Kerwin Klein, History Department
Prof. James Vernon, History Department

Welcome to Undergraduate History Research Workshop! Research is an awesome and exciting part of any academic career. It can also be a foreign and overwhelming experience. This workshop aims to give you the skills to navigate many of the resources available at UC Berkeley, from libraries to archives to the world wide web. 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. You will also hone your communication skills and your ability to convey findings in both written and oral form.


Prerequisites & Enrollment Procedures

This is a 2-unit course is open to all grade levels and majors.  No prior research experience or coursework in the History department is necessary.  All applicants are required to attend the first class on 2/4 or 2/6 and submit an application describing your research interests.  Applications are due by 11:00 PM Friday, 2/8.  Facilitators will send out CCNs by 8:00 PM Sunday, 2/10.

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, etc.
  • Communication – Discuss your process with colleagues, seek out information from experts and human resources, discuss difficulties, share advice

By the end of this course, you will have the following basic competencies:

  • Access the following resources:
    • Doe Library
    • Bancroft Library, Online Archive of California, Calisphere
    • Microfiche & Newspapers Library
    • Media Resources Center
    • Online journal databases (i.e. JSTOR, EBSCO)
  • Chicago Manual of Style source citation
  • Critical evaluation of sources
  • rudimentary HTML and WordPress blogging protocols

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.

Course Expectations

This course’s focus is research methods and process.  Therefore, students will not be required to submit a formal paper. Instead, this class is geared at providing a wide overview of library resources. This is not meant to resemble the work required for a senior thesis. To this end, coursework will consist of discussion, a research journal, weekly readings, and a final presentation accompanied by an annotated bibliography.

Discussion (30%): The first portion of each class will consist of discussing the reading and reviewing findings from the previous week. Collaboration and discussion will enhance and refine both your own research and the research of your peers. Students will be expected to complete the weekly readings (which will be available on bSpace) and be prepared to  discuss the material. Students will also be expected to be able to report on their own research progress and actively engage in helping their peers develop their own projects. This can include suggesting sources for your classmates or providing additional questions to refine their research. Some discussions may take the form of mini presentations.  Courtesy and respect are expected.

Journal (30%): Students will document their progress on a weekly blog. These blogs should detail the research process for the week – what did you find? How did you find it? Was it relevant? Students are encouraged to discuss missteps and dead ends as well as finds.  A good research journal also explains why an item might or might not be relevant to the research topic. Blogs should be posted by Friday/ Tuesday at 8:00 pm.

Students are permitted to miss one journal assignment without any impact on their grade. If a student misses a second assignment, he or she may make it up with an extra credit journal entry during dead week. Any further missed assignments will result in a failing grade.

Readings (15%): All readings will be made available on bSpace. Please post two questions on the blog every week about the assigned reading. Questions may, but are not required to, include some reflection on the reading. We will draw from these for class discussion. Like reflections, questions should be posted by Friday / Tuesday at 8:00 PM.

Presentation & Annotated Bibliography (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, displaying objects from the Bancroft, posters, 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 fail in the class.

Attendance Policy
Attendance is mandatory; discussion is a crucial part of the course. Please let us know before the next class if you know you will have to miss any classes for extracurriculars, other classes, etc. In the case of illness or emergency, please let us know via email before the start of class or as soon as possible. More than one unexcused absence will result in a fail.

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.

Schedule & Reading Assignments:

Week 3, 2/4 & 2/6 – Introduction/Enrollment class

  • What is research?  Why are these skills valuable?
  • What is a historical research topic?
  • Fly-by survey of the variety of things that constitute a “source” & resources available at Berkeley.
  • Quick case-study: Picking the Appropriate Scope for Your Research Topic
  • Course goals & expectations
  • Discuss application process

HW: Submit an application with the general parameters of your research interest.
Reading: Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams. “From Topics to Questions”, The Craft of Research, (Chicago: U Chicago Press, 2008), 40-55.

Applications due by 11:00 PM Saturday, 2/9.  Facilitators will send out CCNs by 8:00 9/11.

Week 4, 2/11 & 2/13 – Research questions and Keyword Searches / OskiCat

  • Introductions: Who are you? What are you interested in?
  • OskiCat Strategies: What are good keywords?
  • Reference Room: Who can I talk to? What should I know going in? How do I articulate questions to the librarian?
  • What are some tools and strategies for note-taking?

HW: Develop your research questions. What are you interested in? Why? Use this to compile a list of keywords and use them to find one resource in Main Stacks.
Reading: Anthony Grafton, The Footnote (Cambridge:  Harvard University Press, 1997), 1-33.

Week 5, 2/18 & 2/20 – Online Databases and Citation Managers

  • What online sources are available to me? How can I access them?
  • How valid are online sources?
  • Uses for secondary sources?
  • How do I cite my sources and keep my bibliography organized?

HW: Find an article using an online database.
Reading: Collection Highlights from Charles B. Faulhaber, ed., Exploring the Bancroft (Salt Lake City: Signature Books, 2006).

Week 6, 2/25 & 2/27 – Bancroft I
Guest Speakers: 
Peter Hanff & Lee Anne Titangos

  • What is the Bancroft?
  • How do I use archival sources?
  • What are some other special collections on campus?

HW: Find an archive in the Bancroft, request an item and begin to read through
Reading: Selection from Robert Weiss, Learning from Strangers, (New York: Free Press. 1994)

Week 8, 3/4 & 3/6 Newspapers and Microfiche

  • How do I access the Microfiche library? Microfilm? Microcards?
  • How do I navigate newspaper databases?
  • What are the advantages & disadvantages of periodicals as sources?

HW: Find a newspaper or periodical relating to your topic, either in the microfiche collection or on an online database.
Reading: No reading. Focus on your own research.

Week 7, 3/11 & 3/13 Oral History

Guest Speaker: Sam Redman, Regional Oral History Office

  • How can I access oral histories?
  • How can I conduct my own oral histories?
  • How valid are oral histories as sources or evidence?

HW: Find an oral history. Evaluate its method. OR: conduct your own oral history.
Reading: N/A


Week 9, 3/18 & 3/20 Bancroft II

  • Presentation/Discussion of your Bancroft findings thus far
  • What difficulties have arisen?
  • How can you help out your fellow researchers?

HW: Update on your Bancroft findings. Find one article/resource relating to SOMEONE ELSE’S project
Reading: Excerpts from Stephen Lubar and David Kinger, ed., History from Things: Essays on Material Culture (Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1993).

Week 10, 3/25 & 3/27 – SPRING BREAK
Relax, have fun!

Week 11, 4/1 & 4/3 – Visual Resources/Material Artifacts

Guest Speakers: Luke Habberstad, Department of History (Monday) & Sarah Gold, Department of History (Wednesday)

  • What are material/visual resources?  How are they similar to/different from textual sources?
  • How can I access and use them?
  • Calisphere, BAM/PFA, photography collection
  • Tentative guest speaker: Sarah Gold, grad student History

HW: Find one visual or material source relating to your topict
Reading: 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).

Week 12, 4/8 & 4/10 – Film and Documentaries

Field Trip: BAM/ PFA

  • What is the Media Resource Center? What is the PFA Film Library?
  • How can I use films in my project?
  • Primary vs. Secondary Sources

HW: Find one film resource relating to your topic. Additionally, you will be assigned one special library on campus. Please look through its website and prepare 5 minute presentation on the library. Libraries may include, but are not limited to:

  • Ethnic Studies (http://eslibrary.berkeley.edu/),
  • Institute of Governmental Studies (http://igs.berkeley.edu/library/),
  • South/Southeast Asian Studies (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/SSEAL/)
  • Anthropology Library (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/ANTH/)
  • Earth Science and Maps Library (http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/EART/maps)

Reading: No outside reading. Focus on your short presentation.

Week 13, 4/15 & 4/17 – Specialized Libraries

  • Student presentations detailing specialized libraries
  • What are some of the special collections on campus?
  • How can I access/use them?
  • How do I approach off-campus archives?

HW: Research one of the special collections relating to your topic. How can you use it?
Reading: No reading.  Spend this time doing an extended research journal.

Week 14, 4/22 & 4/24 – What Can You Do with Research?

Panel: (as of 3/25)
Francesco Spagnolo, Curator, Magnes Collection of Jewish Art and Life
Stephanie Young, Associate Political Scientist, RAND Corporation

Karen McNeill, Historian. Julia Morgan: Building the California Women’s Movement (in review)
Jennifer Dorner, History Librarian at UC Berkeley

What are some applications of research?
How can I use research in a non-academic setting?
HW: How do you see yourself using research later on?

Week 15, 4/29 & 5/1 – Presentations

  • What have you learned this semester?
  • What were some successes? What were some failures?
  • Please bring to class a hard copy of your annotated bibliography

HW: Reflection

Week 16, 5/6 & 5/8 – RRR week
Extra Credit: If you miss a journal entry, you may make it up during RRR week.