Fall 2018 was a research-packed semester for me – and I loved every moment of it. I was already exposed to research in my Spring 2018 semester, but this go-around pushed me outside my comfort zone, both research and analytics wise.
The first casefile I was assigned was in the form of a 1922 death certificate of a young man with the cue to find the story behind it. This casefile pushed me because in the previous semester I was given a semester to research before I had to report my findings, but this assignment was maybe a month. The other way this casefile pushed me was I had to dig to find the story, whereas my previous research I had the stories pop out at me in the form of my family tree. With this death certificate I had to become detail-oriented in order to not miss any information. These details helped explain the cause of death for this young man, which resulted from the Spanish Flu.
The next assignment given at glance seemed like it was going to be a break, but it in fact was not. We were given five other essays from our class to peer review and report back what they found. Seems easy right? The tidbit that would take the most time, and slightly irritate me, was essentially fact-checking two data points in each paper. The reason it irritated me was because as soon as I got the ball rolling fact-checking two data points, I wanted to do more research behind the anonymous person’s essay – especially because some essays could have gone much farther than what they had.
The last casefile was given was a bit of a surprise for me because it was extremely close to the end of the semester. This casefile pushed me in the same way the first one did, primarily on the time aspect. This essay ended up focusing back on my family ancestry where I had got stuck on researching a baby accused of witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. During this research process, I had realized how I had honed my previous research skills and this essay came much more easily.
One of the major things I learned about research this semester was to be very, very detail oriented. I believe this is one of the most important things I learned because each casefile I researched, I found the hidden story in the details. The next important thing I learned this semester was the research the geographic locations behind each detail and the history behind said locations. Knowing the history behind geographic locations helped from a researcher’s view to help understand the big picture of the person and could explain otherwise boring details.
Both being detail-oriented and studying geographical location’s history were tools that aided in understanding historical documents, such as censuses and death certificates. At this point in my academic career I have already taken AMH2010 and AMH2020, giving me the foundation to help understand American history. This knowledge benefited me in understanding censuses and noticing the small changes over the decades made to them and how they correlated with the corresponding time period. In addition to combining these tools to research, I also greatly enhanced my skills at depicting some rather unreadable cursive handwriting on older documents.
After this semester, I believe with a passion that every person should be able research and analyze information given to them – especially in the 21st century. Not to be political, but in this day and age I know plenty of people who just take the information told to them by the media without looking further into it to make sure it is correct and unbiased. Aside from that, I believe research skills can help in nearly any field of business. Researching and analyzing data can help a person or a company why the data is the way it is and/or unveil the unknown story that must be explained.