By Alysha Page
Nearly three months into my time here in Skagway and every day I get a little closer to the deadline for submitting my Special History Study for KLGO. Researching and organizing materials are one thing, but organizing them in a way that helps you create a clear narrative, is a horse of a different color. The last few weeks have been spent finalizing supporting secondary texts, writing a timeline for the Historians/Second readers on the project, and transitioning to a new supervisor. I think one of the scariest challenges with a project this large is this sudden transition from one supervisor to another. One must not only adjust to a new management technique but also how you address topics like writing timelines to someone out of the historical field and is more aligned with resource management field . This means that you and your supervisor have to communicate clearly and honestly to set reasonable expectations that work for you as well as the project as a whole.
The first thing on my mind was, “How do I organize hundreds of files in a way that is clear to me and help make writing easier in the future?” To which I decided would be to create an excel spreadsheet detailing, the file names, the topic of document, date, any soldiers mentioned in the document, and link other related files. This way each file with a soldiers name mentioned is linked to every other file and subject he is connected to. Going through this process will give me a good idea of how much information/documentation I have on a particular soldier and who would be the best candidate to highlight in the Special History Study. Also, with this clear organization pattern, it illuminates holes in the research and places I may need to dig a little further. The goal is ease of use and clarity.
The second question and quite possibly the most important one is, “What are the expectations for this historic study?” I spent three weeks in meetings with the Head of Resource, the Visual Info Specialist, and other regional historians to help me better understand what comprised a Special Historic Study. We also worked as a group to create a tentative writing schedule. One aspect that I think is important to remind the people on your team is that although history is science through research, it is also an art. That means that as a historian I can only write as much as the sources give to me. I am at the whim of the materials and I think being top heavy on the research, at least for my long term writing, has always yielded better results.
Until Next Time, Farewell!