This semester, in American History 2020, I conducted research in the most unique and fun way for the first time in my school career as a student. Rather than typing up boring essays about topics that we, the students, do not have an interest in; we received a casefile of either prison records, slaves, murders, records of deceased people etc, and were asked to conduct research on the person’s casefile. Since the assignment was so broad, there were no limits to the information we could collect. By using ancestry, I was able to do some deep and intense research for my casefile 1, peer review, and casefile 2. My first casefile was of a deceased woman who had passed away due to a “surgical procedure” so I searched her on ancestry and since it was hard to find quality information on her life, spouse, family, I decided to research the hospital she passed away in and based on the surgical procedures, I made assumptions of why she died. For my second casefile, I chose a prison record of a man that was convicted for obtaining money under false pretenses. Not only did I research on what the felony meant, but I was also able to find out about his family history that led me to make realistic assumptions of what caused him to commit such an act. As far as the peer review, I viewed it as an opportunity to revise another students work, as well as reading over my critiqued essays to see how other students viewed it. The peer review portion of the research made me realize that college students, myself included, need to work on writing essays that will engage the audience and make them want to continue reading. This is only possible by writing research papers about interesting parts of history.
From the two essays that I wrote in this class, I learned that history is not boring at all. Once you find a person, or a subject from the past that interests you, it becomes fun playing detective as you try and find out more about the person, or the case. Throughout my time researching I have valued websites such as ancestry because it is so easy to find out almost anything about the past through this resource. I have also gained much respect for the databases that I easily take for granted and have realized that both history, and the future, lays literally in our fingertips.
Students as myself have been trained to read from a history textbook and memorize names of important people who have shaped our world, dates, and events that have caused a revolution in our world. However, that method only causes students to hate the subject because not everyone finds that specific learning method impactful in their learning. The research that I conducted in this course opened me to a world of the unknown past that forced me to learn about different procedures that doctors practiced in the day, as well as giving me an insight of what a typical American citizen did for a living in the 1900s. Without realizing it, I was learning about American history while learning about different people including their cause of death and the reason they were put in jail.