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While our bloggers enjoy a hard-earned spring break (also known as a chance to complete some of the work you never have time for during the semester), we’re revisiting a few favorites from our archives. Last week we collected a few posts with advice and thoughts about conducting research. Since spring break is an excellent time for uninterrupted writing, here are a few posts that explore different methodologies. Enjoy!
My dissertation explores the role of historical memory in the perpetuation of collective violence through July 12 commemorations in Ireland and Canada between 1796 and 1852. Because my primary source of choice, court records, are not available for this project (due to being lost, scattered, or blown up), I’m focusing on newspapers. Fortunately, it seems that during the nineteenth century, newspapers reported select court proceedings almost verbatim. Newspapers are also a great place to find editorial and local commentary on current events, and so seem to be a good fit for my project. Read More.
Relatively little information about Emma and her life are available to the researcher: a christening record, a couple English Census accounts, and a marriage announcement. The description of the Schreiber Family Papers mentions Weymouth George Schreiber, the first of the family to immigrate to Upper Canada, his wife and accomplished artist, Charlotte Schreiber, and Adelaide Harriet Schreiber, who married lawyer, financier, and politician George William Allan. Several of her brothers and her sister, Harriet, appear in newspaper accounts, but the record, at this stage in research, for Emma is nearly silent. The most significant record of Emma’s life available is her cookbook. Read More.
Using the conceptual tool of borderlands history, I am researching the exercise and limitations of geopolitical power at the everyday level in the eastern Lake Ontario region. I am particularly interested in the permeability of borders as a wide variety of historical actors deserted, spied, bargained, attacked, traded, and otherwise traveled between French, British, and Iroquois places. My research has come across many instances where the borderland has come to life; more than just a geographic construct, the human factor often proves to be pivotal. Read More.
The records of Customs Houses in the United States have been consistently used in material-grounded social histories and are a staple of maritime history. They have a great deal of potential for cultural histories of foodways and consumer economies because they not only catalogue the products imported to a city but often do so in very local context. The registers of major Custom Houses like in Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Charleston can capture a more general sense of imports into the United States while the two registers of the Castine Customs House in Fogler Library Special Collections provided a much more local context for products in Maine. Scholars in social and maritime history have employed these registers as an important part of their research methodologies. Ignoring this already established used for custom house records, this post will focus on how a biographer, one specifically concerned veterans’ issues and disability studies, can use the registers as the sole record of an individuals life, using a similar methodology as the one described in a previous post, Manuscript Cookbooks as Autobiographies. Read More.