A couple of research projects we had to do this semester in AMH2020 were casefile investigations, one being pulled from a random file of criminals, slaves, etc. from earlier time periods, and the second being a choice of researching another random file, continuing the research from the first assignment, investigate my own family tree, or investigate someone else's casefile. In the middle of these two assignments we also had a ‘peer review’ project that was based off the first casefile, and every student was assigned 6 classmates casefiles to research and justify or deny their findings or investigate further to see if we found anything new, they did not pick up.
I was expecting a lot of research for this assignment to be honest, just because of the assignment description and professor Soldani’s expectations I was not expecting this to be an easy assignment, and it wasn’t. My first casefile was compiled of 6 criminals all arrested in California. We were advised to use Newspapers.com and ansestry.com to find our research and these are two very good resources. I first went onto ancestry, as I've used it in the past and was familiar with how it is set up and where I would most likely find my information. I spent hours looking through census's and trying to find more on these select criminal's family trees, and any information on their family members and relatives. I then went onto newspapers and typed in key words, years, names and anything else that could possibly help me find any information on why
these men got arrested. I spent a good 7 to 14 hours researching, taking breaks, and coming back to my computer before this research casefile was finished. The peer review assignment took an even longer amount of time because I had to individually look up each of my classmates' casefiles, and some of them had 6 people on their file like I did so it was very tedious. There were several questions with several parts we had to grade for the peer review and go back into ancestry to see if these people did the research correctly. Some students didn’t even find much information, so it was equally as hard to find info for myself when they hadn't done much of the work in the first place at all. I found this to be the hardest assignment of the year with each student peer review taking me about 3 hours each. The third assignment I chose to do casefile research on my dad’s side of the family, and this was so much more exciting as an assignment for me to do because it was my own roots. I was able to go back to the 1600’s finding information and i took my time on this assignment, it collectively took me about two days to complete.
During the peer review assignment I was able to learn so much about the people that were up for research that I thought I would, however most of the students were able to find the same amount of information that I did on the select files, yet it was still interesting to find out things about people from the past I would've never known about if I were to never get this assignment. Newspapers.com was a site id never really used before which I ended up finding super rich of things that had happened so long ago in the past, I had no idea there was an online archive of newspapers from all around just sitting on a database. Im sure if you were to browse all day on this site looking up different headlines you would be able to learn so many things and the way life was back in the day, or even 5 years ago.
The need for advanced research and analytical skills in the 21st century is so vital because technology is advancing so quickly every day, and soon things will all be digital. And even on a more surface level way of viewing things, advancing in college means there are so many research papers yet to come that will need to be in depth facts about whatever the topic is that you may be researching. Dr. Soldani is just getting us prepared for University level work which is a great way for us to not panic once we get there and give us some sort of foot hold in having knowledge on how to get assignments done correctly and succeed.