Friday, October 17, 2014

Getting my bearings

Well, now that I've familiarized myself with the Camden 28, it's time to really start digging into the nitty gritty of the project. There is much work to be done, and a good portion of what I'm researching is located in online databases - some of which I'm familiar with, some of which I'm not. I'm a bit lucky, because I actually have some experience using in the recent past, having looked for my father's birth mother and family and successfully tracking them down! I was happy to be informed by Dr. Nickerson that Loyola students have free access to, as well as numerous other similar databases. Tracking a "long lost" family member down was quite an experience in itself, but it also taught me how to dig around and sift through the VAST amount of information on the site and come out with what I was looking for...

...not that I'm an expert with it. I've found that just about anything I've ever gotten good at in life has come from completely stumbling my way through it long enough to realize what NOT to do, and slowly figuring out more subtle ways of navigating through whatever it is I'm trying to conquer. This is no different, and furthermore, that's really what this internship is about: learning through experience. Census records can be overwhelming, and making sure you have the right Paul Couming from Boston in the 1970 census record can easily take up an hour or so of your day!

By a stroke of luck, I happened to have a separate history course last week that met with Jane Currie, Loyola's own reference librarian who specializes in history research. After the class, we spoke briefly about Loyola's online databases and she gave me some insightful advice as to how to navigate some aspects of the library site that I've never utilized in the past. Chiefly, she showed me LewisNexus Academic, an online search tool for newspaper articles after 1980, which will be helpful in an obituary search I'm making for John Grady, who passed away in 2002. Other newspaper databases available on the site will aid me in any additional information I might chance upon for the biographies, and some preliminary searches have revealed some potentially promising results. I'm sure I'll be in contact with Ms. Curry throughout my research, as there's much to learn in regards to the online databases, and she really knows her stuff!

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Dipping my foot in the pool...

Two Thursdays ago, I met with Dr. Nickerson to have an orientation for my new duties as a research assistant for this semester as part of the History 298 internship program. Dr. Nickerson is currently working on a project for publication regarding the Camden 28, a group of Catholic-left activists who raided a federal draft board office in 1971, in order to disrupt the recruiting of soldiers during the late Vietnam War era. What is most intriguing about this subject to me is the motivation of these activists -- their faith. While Catholicism, with some exceptions, is often viewed as a conservative, right-leaning influence in American politics, these devout Catholics (and a few Protestants) were motivated by that same faith in order to both bring attention to their left-leaning cause of ending the war, and to directly tamper with the drafting process itself.

I'm very excited to be working with Dr. Nickerson on this project, as I find the material itself to be very engaging and I am eager to gain insight into the level of professionalism required on a project of such high caliber. My main duties for aiding Dr. Nickerson in her research will be to profile eight members of the Camden 28 for her by using primary sources such as census records, newspaper articles, obituaries, and even finding their contact information when possible.

Beyond my orientation, I've done some research to familiarize myself with the topic by watching a documentary on the Camden 28 (per Dr. Nickerson's suggestion), gathering some materials from Cudahy Library, and reading Dr. Nickerson's work on the group she has completed so far. Dr. Nickerson has also generously donated several folders to me in which I will soon be filling up with the profiles and copies of the primary sources!!!