Presentations

November 18th, 2012

Speaking in front of people has never been a strength of mine. I love to talk to people one on one, but when its a formal presentation in front of a large group and the focus is completely on me, I freeze up. Since being in college I’ve had to do more presentations and I think I’ve improved a little after each one. I think the worst part is being up in front of a class with all the focus on me and being graded on it. Usually when I’m in that position I’ll try to make a joke to ease the mood, but that doesn’t really work with formal presentations. In this class at least, I feel confident that I know what I’m talking about and what I want to present about my paper, and hopefully that will make my presentation go smoothly.

 

Primary and Secondary Sources

October 18th, 2012

Since my research is about the how the changing institution of slavery during the Civil War affected the lives of Confederate women who stayed home, most of my primary sources are diaries. I’ve been fortunate enough to have access to alot of diaries that vary from being written by extremely wealthy women to more rural women. As I make (slow) progress through them, many topics emerge that scholars have touched upon. However, because it’s someone’s experiences and ideas, it can be interpreted in countless ways. The secondary sources that I’ve found use alot of the same journals that I’m using in my project, and it is interesting to see how they support their argument form these diaries and which passages they choose. I can look at these same passages and use them in a different way, to support a different argument or analyze another aspect of their lives. It also helps to compare the different accounts of varying classes of women, which is often left out by my secondary sources.

Secondary Source

September 25th, 2012

One of the most valuable secondary sources that I’ve found thus far is a book written by Drew Gilpin Faust entitled “Mothers of Invention: Women of the Slaveholding South in the American Civil War”. This source stands above others because of the amount of detail and examples that Faust uses in his analysis of the women’s lives. One of the chapters that covers women’s relationship with slaves is of particular interest to me and gave me ideas for my project and led me to new sources, secondary and primary. Another aspect of this source that is really useful is that he tries to combine both factual history with details from diaries. It also helps that Faust is one of the top historians on the subject of women during the Civil War and his work is widely used and acclaimed by other historians.

 

Note-Taking

September 18th, 2012

My method of note-taking is pretty straightforward and could probably be improved to become more time-effective. When I’m reading a book or article, I usually skim and keep a lookout for dates, names of people or places and any words in italics. If I do come across something that could be significant, I write down the page number and a short blurb or keyword in a notebook so I can find it later. If I have a highlighter with me I’ll use it when reading and go over key phrases with it. So far this method has worked for me, and I usually follow the motto “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”, but for the project assigned in this class, I’m open to any suggestions.

 

Good and Bad Websites

September 12th, 2012

One bad website I found about my topic (Southern women during the Civil War) is

http://www.feminist.com/resources/artspeech/remember/rtl6.htm

On the other hand, a good website would be:

http://archive.org/details/confederatewomenunit

 

Choosing a Topic and Primary Sources

September 6th, 2012

The topic I’m focusing my research on is how the lives of Southern women during the Civil War were changed and how they adapted to the destruction of their homes. I want to see how women who were used to living a comfortable and privileged lifestyle dealt with their world being turned upside down. Since many of the battles were fought in the South, women who stayed at home saw lots of violence and destruction. My main primary source is the diary of Mary Boykin Chesnut, the wife of an aide to Jefferson Davis who wrote her about her experiences roughly from 1861-1865. During the war she stayed at her plantation in Charleston, South Carolina and records not only events that she witnessed, but social commentary. I think that this personal narrative will be extremely useful in putting together my research but also quite entertaining.  It will answer questions I have about how women personally felt about the war and what they did to deal with it.

Why Am I A History Major?

August 28th, 2012

Growing up in a family that takes its history and roots very seriously, signing up for being a history major seemed natural for me.Truthfully I never really thought too much into why I chose history as my major. I knew two things for sure: I liked history classes and I was pretty good at it (well, better at it than, say, math or science). These two things combined sold me on deciding on it as a major. Even though they may sound superficial, I think that they are the two most important aspects that I would want to find in whatever academic path I was considering. Why would I put myself through a major that I hated and was bad at? That just isn’t logical. Further into my study of history, I began to realize how important it was to know about our past and that we can connect past events to present ones. This just blew my mind and planted more seeds of interest. Even though we might not be discovering something new everyday in class, it somehow feels like it.

 

Hello world!

August 28th, 2012

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