Now I don’t really know who Micarah Tewers is, but based on her number of YouTube followers maybe I should? However, her video popped up as one of my suggested YouTube videos and I watched it.
The more I work as a reference librarian, the more convinced I am that most people don’t have a good idea in their head about what the process of research looks like. Also, people have trouble telling the difference between something well researched and something not. So from time to time, I like to highlight articles that I’ve come across that do a good job explaining the process the researcher went through to get as close as possible to the truth. I previously posted on a National Geographic Video about Easter Island. Today we look at another great example. I’m especially pleased with because it covers historic clothing which I’m interested in and that this is actually a story I’ve heard, so I’m glad to uncover its story.
I especially appreciated:
Since they were taking on what was a popular story they set out first to document the story. They searched out places it was mentioned and tried to see how far back the story went.
2. Showing Their Work
As far as the research process itself goes, I think it’s great that they don’t just assume you’ll take their word, but actually show what they found. They didn’t just say that the story existed or was popular, but share concrete examples. However, a jeer within a cheer (as TV Guide used to say pre-format swap) that while the entire thing is well within the original intent of fair use, my guess is that with so many different sources and no notice of reprinted with permission, I’m guessing they didn’t get permission from any of them and I don’t think they’re probably within current legal boundaries. So while seeing the stuff is neat, I’d take references (including article titles and pages) to where they were found the examples with quotes so you could look them up yourself if you wanted instead.
3. Expanding Research Looking for Patterns
So rather than just concentrate on the year It Happened One Night came out, it also looked at long term trends; the effect of the Great Depression on underwear sales and the effect of a garment workers strike (impressive digging there).
4. The Dog That Didn’t Bark
As Sherlock Holmes himself pointed out it was important to notice what didn’t happen as what did. The researcher here went looking for articles describing the sudden craze to go without undershirts, complaints or dire reports from the underwear industry, etc. There weren’t any uncovered in the search whose steps are detailed in the report.
5. Where Did It Come From
Even if origin stories are rarely true (in fact the better the story the less likely it is to be true), they usually aren’t created out of whole cloth. There is either a tiny bit of truth or at least a reason why someone would want that to be true. The researcher here tracked that down to the publicity department and documented how to seemingly authoritative sources made the legend take hold.
6. What To Do Next
A good researcher normally has to report before they are quite finished. In this case they give two sources that they want to have checked, but were unable to.
These things are all very nicely done in this post, I hope you can use some of these ideas in your own research.
P.S. If you haven’t seen It Happened One Night – do! Right now! Seriously! It’s my second favorite screwball comedy of all time.
Sarah S. Uthoff is main force behind Trundlebed Tales fighting to bring the History, Mystery, Magic and Imagination of Laura Ingalls Wilder and other greats of children’s literature and history to life for a new generation.Attend one of her programs, schedule one yourself, watch her videos, listen to her podcast, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, Google+,LinkedIn, and Academia.edu. She is currently acting President of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Legacy and Research Association. Professionally she is a reference librarian at Kirkwood Community College and director of the Oxford (Iowa) Public Library.
The current exhibit at the Herbert Hoover Presidential Library is Exploring Hoover’s Attic: Treasures, Keepsakes, and Surprises. It will be up until Oct. 31st. Take a look at their page about it here:
Those of you who have been to the Hoover Library before will know the high quality to expect. This is kind of an unusual
display because they’ve been able to get out things that normally are hard to fit in with their normal displays. Among them many things that the Hoover family collected over the years. Just think about tall the junk in your own attic and about how much more interesting stuff Presidents collect.
I absolutely love the opening of the exhibit which not only looks like attic stairs but has a wooden platform so it actually feels like you are going up into an attic. There are lots of different collections featured.
One actually stunning piece is a painted Dutch cupboard dated to the 1700s that Lou Henry Hoover (Mrs. Herbert) used in the White House.
The collections included:
Humble Beginnings – Paintings and images of the Birthplace Cottage. Also, some furniture borrowed from the National Park Service (which is charge of the birthplace cottage on the adjoining site.
Clothing – A wonderful collection of Hoover family wedding dresses and some flapper clothes.
Fishing – A lifelong avid fisherman, Hoover had plenty of fishing memorabilia.
World War I and World War II – There’s a real gas mask and a disarmed grenade. What’s truly fascinating is the trench art. Soldiers had plenty of time sitting around waiting in trench warfare. They didn’t have much to work with, but to fight off boredom and make a little money selling them to civilians, they used spent casings of all sorts and created everything from lighters to art. There is a lovely display of them.
Presidential Mementos – including his desk chair and a preserved voting machine instructor model (the kind with the levers where you actually feel like you accomplish something by voting) with Hoover as a candidate for President.
Gratitude – His work on flood relief and feeding war refugees highlighting more of the wonderful collection of American Flour Sacks embroidered and sent back to Hoover as well as other gifts he was sent.
Collections – Lou Henry Hoover collected blue and withe porcelain from the Min and Ch’ing dynasties and pewter.
Important events and places – There is a nice collection from the 1932 Olympic Games and Hoover/Boulder Dam.
Unique and unexpected – Herbert Hoover collected elephants of all types and a few rare signed books, including ones on display signed by George Washington and Izaak Walton.
Come and make the short drive to West Branch, Iowa and take a look.