by: Alysha Page
Obligatory tourist photo next to a telephone booth in London, UK.
After the “Women’s Spring Conference: Feminism, Nationalism, and Civil Disobedience” at University of Central Lancashire it was time to readjust to office work in Washington, D.C.. For the last two weeks the name of the game is organization and secondary source research. Unfortunately, folks, that doesn’t make for a very lively blog posting. I thought it may be useful to talk about the way I try and organize a long term project.
Firstly, perhaps the most important when working with a team is to request a clear definition of the project goals. This will be your “North Star” throughout the long process of researching and writing. Often research and sources will lead us down multiple paths, the project goals or guidelines should remain visible so that they can point your way to a successful final project. If you don’t know the goals of your project seek clarification.
In the office at the DOI. I decided to sport my ACE gear.
Secondly, it is imperative to have the proper stationary and research tools that you need. Oh, it seems like a joke now… just wait until you are deep into a source and realize you don’t have your favorite pen, notebooks, sticky notes, computer access, etc. . Creating an atmosphere for a successful project includes making sure that you have all the tools you need to complete your work. Even something as simple as a not having a notebook or binder to keep your research can inhibit the flow of a project. So, make your nearest stationary shop your best friend.
Going through General Records of the Department of the Navy 1804-1983 at NARA.
Thirdly, try and create a strong secondary source foundation before diving into primary source material. The more you know about the time period you are researching the better adept you will be at pinpointing what archival material you need to search through. This will cut back a bit on the random fruitless searches.
Lastly, and certainly, not least find the best environment to do research (that is if it isn’t archival research). I have found some nice places around the Department of the Interior (DOI) to study, like the library, other than staying in the office. Changing study locations can really break up the work week and keep things interesting during the secondary research portion of your project.
Going to the Interior Library is a nice way to break up a day in the office.
I wish I could write a more interesting post, but research work and organization is not the most glamorous but it is vital to a successful project.