Due Date

  • Friday, September 16, 2016 by 5pm (via course website)


Students in History 204 should create a short entry in their research journal (about 600-800 words, or 3-4 pages) that documents how they used Ancestry.com and other reference sources to help launch their investigation of their assigned Dickinson College class of students (1840-1880).


  • Entries will NOT be graded on prose or design elements (though both will factor into whether or not the journal entry will ultimately get published).  Instead, the focal point of grading will be on research effort and historical analysis.  Try to focus on communicating a deliberate and effective protocol for historical research.


  • DATA OVERVIEW. Begin by organizing the information about your class from the 1905 Alumni Record into some kind of useful datasets.  In other words: try to provide your readers with a general overview of the subject –how many students total, how many graduates, non-graduates, providing some breakdown of their origins, affiliations, and career choices, etc.  You may do this basic statistical analysis in sentence form, or through bullet points, or with some kind of table, chart or infographic.  It just depends.  But keep in mind that this overview might help uncover possible fruitful avenues for teaching and presentation in your later essays and projects.
  • OTHER REFERENCE. Then select some of your subjects for further investigation in reference sources beyond the 1905.  These reference sources might include:  Wikipedia, American National Biography Online (via Library databases), or nineteenth-century publications, such as county histories, regimental histories (for Civil War veterans), or various professional directories (like bench and bar guides, cyclopedias, or annual proceedings from Methodist conferences).  Typically, you will be able to research these published nineteenth-century sources most easily by advanced searching in Google Books.  Please note that you do not have to research ALL of your subjects in this manner, and certainly should not expect to have the space to report on all of these efforts in your post regardless, but look for opportunities to describe a few or several of them in your initial research journal entry.
  • ANCESTRY.COM.  Please conclude this initial journal entry by documenting with one or two good examples, how you can trace the lives of your subjects over time using Census records from Ancestry.com (via Library databases).  Make sure to include cropped page images from the relevant Census records and try to show some creativity with your interpretation.  Here is where, for example, you might look for opportunities to begin identifying the women important in the lives of your Dickinson subjects.


  • Prose is not graded here, but writing with clarity and vigor should always be your objective.  Poorly written posts will not hurt your grade at this stage, but they will prevent you from getting your work published.  Quick note –these entries may contain first person pronouns, but try to keep the focus on “I” to a minimum nonetheless.
  • Design is not graded here either, but use this initial entry as a way to test out your WordPress skills.  Include images (with proper captions and credits) that have text neatly wrapped around, and provide occasional hypertext links to freely accessible outside sources.  Footnotes are not required in research journal entries, but you want to experiment with providing ways for readers to visualize and access your sources.