During this semester, Fall 2018, I have had the pleasure of taking Dr. Soldani as my American History 1 professor. We have completed a lot of research assignments and papers, more than I have ever been assigned in any other class. We were given two “Casefile Investigations” and one “Peer Review” assignment. Throughout these papers, I have learned the value of good researching skills, and have gotten to improve my current researching abilities; which were not up to par, if we’re being honest here. Although I wrote my papers to the standard, I will admit that I used humor to relate to the subject, which was another thing she taught me! I can’t speak for everyone, but overall I spent at least two and a half weeks just diving into research and digging up new information on my research and the people it related to.
When I was assigned my first Casefile Investigation, I had no idea where to start. You know what that means; I just googled! I wasn’t sure that I was going to find anything upon my initial google search, but luckily for me, Dr. Soldani gave us all access to very reliable and information-dense resources, which we would have had to pay for access to, under other circumstances. She gave us the username and password to her ancestry.com account, and her newspapers.com account. Ancestry allowed us to trace back lineage, gave us census’ on pretty much any year they’ve been recorded, and even allowed us to find things about our research subjects that we would never have been able to find otherwise.
Another part of the research process for our assignments, was placing our research subject in historical context. Having access to newspapers.com gave us exactly what we needed to understand what she meant by that. She wanted us to go back through history and figure out what was going on during that time period, that made crimes, census’ and deaths, so important in today’s foundation of America and American Government. That is something I never knew could be so informational and full of fun facts. That alone gave me plenty of starting points for my papers.
I started out all of my research, pretty much the same way. I googled the person I was trying to dig up information on. This led me to my fair share of websites, conspiracy theories (even though I had my own) and biographies on my casefile. My first investigation was a woman named Bertha Talkington, who had been convicted of manslaughter after killing her husband. Upon my initial search, I found that she got remarried after she got out of prison. But wait, if she was sentenced to life in prison, and then got married and got out, what happened during those years that led the court to believe she was no longer a threat to anyone’s personal safety? As I dug more and more, I uncovered the story of how she killed her husband on newspapers.com, how she originally lied about what happened to him, and I also discovered that she also had deceased children on ancestry, whom the public believed she killed.
For the next assignments I followed the same protocol; google, ancestry, newspapers, more google, repeat; mostly in that order. It was hard to find information if I didn’t have the sources I was given. Overall, the amount of research I composed was time consuming, for sure, but it also gave me a sense of why access to all of these resources are so important. In today’s society, we rely on research more than anything else. All of us are hardwired to ask questions, to want to dig deeper, to find out all of the information we can about anything and everything we know. Here, in the 21st century, if you don’t ask too many questions, get suspicious about anything and everything, you’re behind. Even getting your haircut requires us to do research. You aren’t just going to see a barber shop and go ‘yep, they look like they would do a great job, I certainly trust them with my hair, something in which my appearance relies so much on.’ You look up all the barber shops around you, read reviews, look at photos of how they did others haircuts, and then decide which one you think will best suit your hair’s needs. That’s the kind of world we live in today, one who’s sole responsibility is to MAKE you wonder. That is why Dr. Soldani pushes these assignments so much. She knows what’s going on around us, and she knows how each and every human being is evolving to fit the questions and the technology that comes with the new minds and ideas that come from- wait for it- asking questions.