Here's some of what we covered in the library session on July 27.
Three kinds of topics || Three research strategies
1. The evolution of Stokely Carmichael
This is a kind of biographical topic, which is pretty easy to get started with because the search term is obvious, but the topic still needs to be narrowed to say something meaningful in a short [10 pp] paper
2. RFK and the Cuban Missile Crisis
This is a political history topic, with a specific event in mind, and a specific individual. This is an easy kind of topic to start researching because there are two very obvious search terms, and the time frame is self-defined. However it still needs to be narrowed to say something meaningful in a short paper.
3. Automobiles: Unions, Consumerism, and Social Change (1950s)
This is a social history topic, not associated with a single person, or a single event. This is a little harder to research because you need to specify what you mean, in order to narrow the topic. It helps to find the names of specific unions [in this case], and to consider what specific social changes you are interested in.
You need to think: what kind of primary sources would give evidence of this/these social change/s? How will you prove there really was an impact on society from this phenomenon?
What kind of topic do you have?
Where to search & what words to use [the fool and the street lamp]
What kinds of evidence [i.e., primary sources] do you want to find?
- Biographical topics: What kinds of primary sources will give evidence of the changes this person went through or their impact on society? Why should we care about this person?
- Event- based topics: You need to think: what kind of primary sources will give evidence of a relationship between the person and the event? Why should we care?
- Social history topics: You need to think: what kind of primary sources would give evidence of this/these social change/s? How will you prove there really was an impact on society from this phenomenon?
Do a brain dump: note down names, dates, organization, events—anything you know about your topic. Use Wikipedia if you need more information. Which words do you think will be the best search terms?
- Open up the course guide: http://www.lib.berkeley.edu/alacarte/course-guide/52-HIST124
- Click on the History Databases tab.
- Search for secondary sources in one of the recommended databases.
- The library has created a strategy guide to searching for primary sources in the catalog. Read it for advice on how to find the kinds of primary sources you want. Then try to find a primary source written by somebody involved in your topic.