Since my last blog post at the end of July, I’ve taken a few steps outlined in my previous plan before the start of the school year:
After two trips to the National Archives in College Park, I obtained some potentially useful background information from the National Prohibition era in Georgia. However, as this period is largely beyond my focus, the actual direct use of these documents is probably limited. Nonetheless, I found my experience at NARA quite instructive. Not only did I get a better sense of what it is like to work with governmental archives and collections, but I also got some helpful suggestions from archivists about the research process. In particular, I’ve realized that it’s key that I identify names (or case numbers) before I can truly begin these kinds of archival searches – although one might think that a general thematic sweep could yield more sources, it is the individual names of organizations and significant figures that are most useful in such a large archive. My number one priority therefore must be humanizing the narrative – not only will it make my final product more engaging and interesting for readers, but it is essential to even these early stages of the research process.
With this in mind, I’ve begun reaching out to archivists and researching the collections available in Atlanta in more detail – so far, I’ve had very helpful responses from the Woodruff Library, the Georgia State Archives, the National Archives in Atlanta and the Atlanta History Center– I’m also really excited about the collections at the American Baptist and Historical Archives, which has a particularly strong Black activist collection. I’ve started to plan the trip to Atlanta and am in the process of drafting the proposal for funding.
As the school year begins, I’ll begin delving more deeply into the secondary source literature through books available in the Waidner-Spahr library and with books ordered through the Interlibrary Loan system. I’ve also continued to search for primary sources available online, which I’m trying to organize with Zotero.