Just a black and white photo and an inmate registry from 1920 is how my research journey begins. The directions were, no directions, just to research and find out what you could on this random person that was alive in the 1920’s. Everyone in the class had a choice of three different types of files. Each one containing a unique point of view on a time long passed. I went with the criminal honestly thinking that information would be easier to obtain on this type of file.
Armed with the internet and access to databases provided by Dr. Soldani, I went to work. Attempting a google search and finding nothing, I moved to the newspaper database searching until I came across a story containing the very person I was researching. The newspaper article was from 1920 and went into detail about the charges and arrest of the man I was trying to learn about. The story provided some insight on what the man was arrested for but not much information about the person himself. So, I decided my next move was to search out the type of charge he had. His offense was violation of the Mann Act which is also known as white slavery.
After, spending some time researching this offense, I unfortunately hit a road block and my journey with this black and white photo and a name had to come to an end.
During, the time working on these projects I learned that research doesn’t have to have a specific end goal. That sometimes things will not play out as expected and you just roll with the punches of dead ends. At times it can be exciting, coming across a tiny bit of information that may possibly lead you down another path. Other times it can be boring and in these times, you usually learn that maybe your taking your research in the wrong direction and it’s time to change directions. This type of project can really give you a better view on the types of lives people lived during times long gone. Going through old documents and looking through a census report can paint a picture that sometimes is easier to process than just learning about the big major events in history.
The peer reviews were another way we were able to venture into the past. Going through other student’s casefiles and reading the information they found was an interesting process. We were assigned anonymous random student research projects to review and were able to cross check their references to see if we came up with the same information. This allowed us to get a view on the other types of files people had chosen. Leading us to census reports and other databases to reference their research. At times these assignments had you feeling like a detective trying to uncover more truths than the first person came across. Seeing the different approaches and paths students take during these projects helps to develop confidence that there is no right or wrong way to research a topic.
The skills developed by these types of projects are very important in the 21st century as they can give confidence to a person that they can do anything they want. Thinking about it now, there probably isn’t a job a person couldn’t take on if they were confident in their ability to do research. If I wanted to write code for computer programs I could just research how it is done. My boss could ask me to complete a project I might be unfamiliar with and I could just research how it could or has been accomplished before. There is so much information just out there in the world waiting on someone to come upon it and share it with others. The process of searching out information and analyzing what is important and what is not is something that will always help you in life whether it’s for personal growth or providing value to someone in need. I learned that research is a skill that I will most likely continue to use for the rest of my life and for that I am thankful I took this class.