Comments on: Methodology: when “sideways” is the only way you can go http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 19:32:02 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Comrade PhysioProf http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-664090 Thu, 08 Jul 2010 19:46:06 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-664090 When people react to my musings on scientific directions to explore with “you can’t do that”, or “that’s silly”, or “that’ll never work”, I know I’m on the right track.

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By: Shane http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-664083 Thu, 08 Jul 2010 19:32:14 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-664083 I really like Indyanna’s idea about “really anything on archival practice;” I’d be interested in reading other people’s posts about the nitty-gritty of archival research in women’s history. (And maybe even writing one myself.)

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By: Jacob http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-664028 Thu, 08 Jul 2010 16:16:31 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-664028 Kathie – Thanks for the heads up on Contesting Archives. Studies like that are valuable to archivists as well as historians. Any time we archivists learn a new way that historians use sources, we can improve our service and guide researchers to collections that they might not find otherwise.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663782 Thu, 08 Jul 2010 03:53:46 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663782 I think a blogger mash-up on Contesting Archives, a la the Bennet event, or really anything on archival research practice, would be a valuable thing. It’s still pretty much one of the black holes of graduate training. My cohort years ago they dropped us at the corner bus stop and told us the address of the local historical society and that was about that. Of course, that was before the place was charging $500 a year for unlimited “free” visits by members in the gold key category. That kind of a number is a big bet on more theory and less data in the 4G scholarship space.

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By: Ignatz http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663670 Wed, 07 Jul 2010 23:19:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663670 Katie, thanks! And I might as well plug a good book which I have an essay in: “Local Histories,” from U. Pittsburgh Press. Each writer discusses the complexities of archival research in comp/rhet as well as the fruits of the research itself.

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By: QOTD (2010-07-07); or, Another Problem in Greek Ethics « Worthless Drivel http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663667 Wed, 07 Jul 2010 23:15:51 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663667 [...] Historiann wrote yesterday about the importance of using “sideways” methodologies in building the [...]

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By: Shane http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663483 Wed, 07 Jul 2010 17:00:07 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663483 I think one of the most important changes that’s happening in history, period, is the widespread use of digital cameras to capture reference-quality images of sources, which gives us the ability to do differently wide-ranging work in primary sources. Obviously, this varies depending on subfield and time period, but as I’ve written elsewhere, it’s a major unsolved methods problem for my approximate cohort of PhDs. I think it’s particularly important for women’s history, since the questions we like to ask lead us to sources that aren’t always in the big primary-source databases, or the subjects we’re interested aren’t always included in the official subject headings for physical collections.

My dissertation’s a history of birth certificates and compulsory birth registration in the US, roughly from 1840 to the present, and there’s just no way I could have done it without digital photography (and subsequently indexing the materials I found to help me answer my idiosyncratic research questions.) This strategy gives me the ability to answer a set of questions about ordinary women’s interactions with government identity-documentation systems, at a scale that wouldn’t have been possible on my limited research budget. I use the US Children’s Bureau papers, which is a huge and relatively unindexed collection (and that lack of proper archival processing isn’t likely to change soon.) Shooting and indexing my own images of women’s letters in that collection has been a major part of my methods (and a major organizational headache, but I digress).

Based on my experience working with the Children’s Bureau papers, I’m also beginning to believe that women’s-history scholars should build better tools for crowdsourcing publicly-available primary sources in digital form. (If I’ve shot images of one box and you’ve shot images of another box, and we’re both transcribing some percentage of those images into text for our own purposes, there’s no reason anyone else should ever have to do that again. We just need tools that’ll make that sharing and metadata-generation easy.) For collections that don’t have pesky intellectual-property concerns, I think this is the wave of the future. (Readers who are interested in such things should feel free to contact me at the email address listed on my website.)

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663453 Wed, 07 Jul 2010 15:56:11 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663453 Kathie–thanks for all of those helpful links–really great stuff for Ignatz and the rest of us, too.

Maybe some of us feminist history bloggers should do a round-robin discussion of Contesting Archives, a la our discussion of Judith Bennet’s book last year. . .

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By: Kathie http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663441 Wed, 07 Jul 2010 15:39:00 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663441 Also, for Ignatz and others, if you aren’t already, think about getting involved with the National Coalition of Independent Scholars – http://www.ncis.org. They have been doing some great work advocating for independent scholars, many of whom face exactly the problems of access that you describe. These issues come up frequently at their H-Net listserv, H-Scholar, http://www.h-net.org/~scholar/

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By: Kathie http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/06/methodology-when-sideways-is-the-only-way-you-can-go/comment-page-1/#comment-663438 Wed, 07 Jul 2010 15:34:58 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11624#comment-663438 I think the readers of this blog today will be interested in a book that is just coming out this month:
Contesting Archives: Finding Women in the Sources, edited by Nupur Chaudhuri, Sherry J. Katz, and Mary Elizabeth Perry (University of Illinois Press). Many of the contributors discuss exactly this approach in doing women’s history in a wide variety of times and places.
Some of you might have heard a selection of some of the contributions at the AHA or Western Association of Women Historians in previous years, so you know what an interesting and useful set of materials are found in this book.
A link to the publisher’s page (if I may do a bit of advertising! – I am not one of the editors, so I will have no monetary gain from the sales!):
http://www.press.uillinois.edu/books/catalog/74dqd4mf9780252035425.html

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