How to Label Old Family Photos

Hey friend! Welcome back to another article! Today, we’re talking about how to label old photographs. As someone who uses old family photographs in my research, it makes my job 100% easier when someone has previously labeled the photos! So today, I am going to teach you how to label photos, what kind of writing utensils to use, and what kind of information you should write on the back photos to make future historian’s jobs easier. Let’s get started! 🙂

How to Label Old Photos

  1. Handle the images along the edges. There is nothing worse than leaving fingerprints on old photographs…
  2. Use a #2 pencil for labeling on paper items. This is the best thing to use because it’s easily erasable if a mistake is made.
  3. Find a spot on the back of the photo to label it, or at the very least a discreet location.
  4. Include the names of people, date, and location on the photo. PLEASE. There is nothing worst than finding an unlabeled photo and not being able to figure out who the people are… It makes me so, so sad.
  5. Also, label the Digital files as well! Name, date, and location is a good place to start.

What Writing Utensils to Use

Please use a #1 or #2 pencil when labeling old photos. They are soft and likely won’t puncture the photo. Remember to write lightly so that the writing doesn’t show through on the front.

What Information Goes on the Back of Photos

Please include the following information on the photos you label.

NAME

DATE

LOCATION

These are just the basic things that a photo label needs! There’s no need to stress out on trying to include an entire story! But if you want to write more then feel free to do that as well. All future historians and archivists will be forever grateful to you for your labeling effort! 🙂

Concluding Thoughts

I hope this article gave you some useful tips on how to label old family photographs. Preserving family history is so, so important and I am glad that you are taking the steps to preserve yours! Keep up the great work!

I have a few other articles about family history! I’ve linked them below for you to check out!

How to Write Your Family History

How to Conduct an Oral History

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Where to Find Digitized Secondary Sources

Hey there, Friend! Welcome! Today we’re talking about where to find Digitized Secondary Sources for research papers, projects, and more. If you need primary sources for your project – I encourage you to check out this article next: The Best Places to Find Digitized Primary Sources.

Now you might be wondering what a secondary source is, well, it’s secondhand account of an event, person, movement, or thing. Secondary sources include articles, books, encyclopedias, etc. They are useful in summarizing events and for broad learning! Personally, I love reading secondary sources to see how other historians have written about certain topics. Let’s get started!

JSTOR

JSTOR is a great platform for research articles. You can make a free account and read 100 articles per month. If you are a college/university student or faculty member you will have access to more articles.

Bonus Tip: Make sure to check out what other databases your institution has access to! There are a lot of cool databases for all kinds of degrees!

Public Library Systems

The public library is one of the most under-utilized community assets in my opinion. Many public libraries now have digital and audio book platforms where you can rent books for FREE.

Seriously, go check out the public library! It’s also a great place to work on your project because they’re usually quiet.

Scribd or Audible

Scribd and Audible are both apps that you will have to pay for. Personally, I use Scribd and love it! There are hundreds of books, articles, audiobooks, PDFs, and more on a number of topics. I love listening to the audiobooks during workouts or while cleaning the house.

Archive.org

Archive.org is another one of those websites that is a treasure trove! There are primary and secondary sources here. All you have to do is create an account and you can access books for free! You have different options for how long you can rent the book, but if you run out of time and don’t get it all read then all you have to do is check the book out again (This can be done instantly).

Bonus Tip: I was able to find some of the books I needed for graduate seminars on this website which saved me $$$.

Google Play

Google Play has several books that you can read! You can read some of them for free, but there are also others that you have to pay for. It’s worth checking out!

Google Scholar

Google Scholar is a great place to find scholarly articles in hundreds of fields! Check it out!

Project Gutenberg

Project Gutenberg is a website full of public domain material. There are lots of books!

Hathi Trust – Digital Library

Hathi Trust is great for finding out of print and public domain books! Check it out!

Concluding Thoughts

Hey friend, thank you so much for reading. I hope you found a secondary source database that will help you complete that research paper or project. Good luck and happy reading/writing!

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

5 Fun Ways to Learn History!

Hey there friend! Today we’re going to talk about some of the fun ways to learn history that aren’t just reading a book… Now don’t get me wrong, I LOVE reading a good book, but sometimes I like to switch things up a little bit! 

We are going to talk about 5 unconventional resources you can use to learn history without ever cracking open a book. Let’s get started!

1. History Lectures / Public Talks

I love listening to history lectures and public talks. The great thing about attending university and graduate school is the sheer amount of free lectures you can attend. I was able to attend many lectures on different topics and learned something new every time. 

Bonus Tip: Always take a notebook with you to public talks and lectures. You can write down the things that you learned or you can draw inspiration from the talk for your own project. 

Many universities, libraries, and public institutions have shifted most of their talks to a virtual/digital format. I LOVE this because I have been able to attend talks from across the United States! It is so refreshing to hear new ideas and scholarship from someone I wouldn’t typically have been able to see before. I hope that the virtual format is something that continues in the future! 

2. History Videos / TV Shows / Movies

I think that history videos, tv shows, and movies are instrumental tools in beginning the conversation around certain historical topics. Many people will sit down and watch tv after school or work, but many won’t pick up a book. This is why it is important for historical interpretations to be as accurate as possible. 

Many streaming services have a history category on their platform! 

3. Talking with people who lived through historical events 

I am a big fan of oral history and have written about it before on my blog. Here’s the link in case you missed it!

I love talking with people who lived through historical events. Hearing the stories from someone who lived through them adds a special touch to history that you may not necessarily get when you are just reading a book. Representing many perspectives of a lived experience is crucial in telling accurate history! 

4. History Podcasts

So, history podcasts have been around for a few years, but I have really only gotten into them within the past year and half. There are so many good shows to listen to out there right now. I have actually had the privilege of being a guest speaker on three shows! They’re linked here, if you’re interested in giving them a listen. 

Podcasts are a great way to learn about new topics without having to commit to a 300-400 page book. Most podcasts give you enough information to decide whether or not you want to do research further on a topic. For example, I listened to a great episode about vikings because I had previously done a paper on another viking settlement. I learned something new and it only took 30 minutes. 

Bonus Tip: Podcasts are an easy way to digest a lot of history in a short amount of time. I love listening to them when I workout or go for a walk. I have friends who like to listen to them when they drive to work. The point is, there is time to listen to a podcast if you want to! 

5.  Board Games / Video Games

Board games and video games are another great way to engage with historical subjects. These games often allow you to assume a historical character’s role in the game and you play through the sequence of history. It’s a fun way to interact with the material. 

Concluding Thoughts

I hope this short list of resources gives you a few new ideas of ways to make history fun and engaging! If you have other ways that you like to make history fun and engaging please leave me a comment at the end of this post! I would love to hear your thoughts! 

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

How to Write a Good Story

Hey there friend! Today, we’re going to talk about some of the elements that make a good story. These principles can be applied to both fiction and nonfiction writing. 

As a historian and freelance writer, it is my job to tell stories – some stories have a happy ending and some just don’t. That’s just the reality that comes with writing about real people who lived complex lives. I consider writing the stories of people from the past one of my greatest privileges. Their lives can teach us something new every day. 

I’m going to break this into 7 steps! 

1. Start with something that grabs the reader’s attention. 

The first thing you want to do in any story is grab the reader’s attention. The reader has to want to know more about what is going on. 

2. Add some background to the story.

Context is very important to the progression of the story. You can start in the action, but then you’ll want to zoom out and give the reader the big picture. (i.e. family, local, national, or international scales) 

3. Show the reader around the scene.

Give the reader all of the details! You want to show the reader the scene not just summarize it. Transport the reader into the world that the story takes place in. 

4. Present the problem or conflict of the story.

After establishing the scene and the context, present the conflict of the story. What is the problem? Why is it a problem? How will the character solve the problem? 

5. Take the reader on a journey to solve the problem or conflict. 

After you’ve established the problem, it’s time to present the proposed solution to said problem. This is often where the majority of the story takes place. As the author, you get to decide what the mood for the proposed solution and journey is. 

Bonus Tip: Decide what point of view you are telling the story from, decide whether or not you need a third-party narrator. 

6. Resolve the problem or conflict of the story. 

After your character has completed the journey, it’s time to resolve the conflict or wrap up the story. Not all conflicts can or will be solved. So make sure that the ending suits the story being told. 

Bonus Tip: Decide if you need to reiterate a moral or lesson in your story. Was there a lesson to be learned? Did the character discover a hidden truth? 

7. Finally, end the story.

You get to decide whether or not your story has a happy ending. Always tell the story that needs to be told even if you receive push back.

Concluding Thoughts

Remember, you CAN tell this story and nobody else can. I believe in you! Happy writing, y’all! 

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

Where to Find Primary Sources for Women’s History

Hey there, friend! Today we’re talking about where to find primary sources for researching and teaching women’s history! 

Sometimes it can be hard to find primary sources that blatantly talk about women and women’s history. As historians and researchers, we are taught to look for certain voices in unique places and sources. This article will give you several ideas of places to look to find women’s voices. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but it can be used as a starting point for your next project! Remember, representation matters in your research and curriculum so make sure to include multiple points of view and experiences! 

Here are several places to look for women’s voices in the primary sources!

Letters

Letters are a great place to look for women in the historical record. Many women corresponded with their family which can give an insight in to family histories. 

Diaries

Diaries are personal and intimate records of the writer and should be treated with respect. Women often kept detailed records of their day, family, and towns. Diaries are such a good source! 

Newspapers

Newspapers often tell stories of the prominent women in a city or town. It also important to remember newspaper stories can be sensationalized and should be read in the context of the time. 

Church Records

Churches and preachers often kept detailed records of their congregations and members. Some women also acted as missionaries and kept their own detailed concerning their daily activities and the people they were working with. 

Court Records

Court records sometimes contain records for women. It really depends on the time period you’re studying for this source, but I definitely recommend checking them out if possible!

School Records

School records are so valuable for researching women! Women were often teachers and they kept the school records. You can also look for records at the district or county levels to find more information. 

Books

The inside cover of books or old family Bibles sometimes have names or important dates written inside the covers! So always make sure to look inside the old books you find in the archive or when going through old things!

Photos

Old photo albums and records are a treasure trove for researching women. Sometimes women are the focal point of the photo, but other times they are in the background and that can help give the researcher a clue as to what women were doing at the time. 

Bonus Tip: Some photos even have words written along the bottom or on the back of the image. These hints are invaluable when researching a person or family. 

Physical Objects & Artifacts

Physical objects and artifacts allow you to tell a person’s story visually. These objects are great for presentations, museum exhibits, and classroom demonstrations. 

Magazines & Advice Literature

Magazines and advice literature for women help you see what was considered “proper” for a woman in the time period that you are studying. This kind of literature was extremely popular in the nineteenth century. 

Autobiographies

Autobiographies are awesome because they were often written by the person you are studying or by someone close to them. This source allows you to understand how this person wanted to be remembered and what parts of their life that they considered important. 

Interviews

Interviews are a great primary source because you have words spoken by the person you are studying. How cool is that! You have to be careful with this type of source though. Make sure that you do adequate background research on the events the person is talking about. 

Speeches

Again, speeches are great because they are words that were actually spoken by the person you are researching. Women’s speeches are much more rare, especially depending on the time period that you are looking at. 

Bonus Tip: Modern speeches have often been photographed or recorded as well so make sure to look for a visual to match the audio or text that you found! 

Concluding Thoughts

The primary sources above are just a few of the places you can look to find women’s voices. Many of these sources can be scaled to the appropriate age for your classroom or project. I hope this list is helpful and that you add more women to the dialogue. 

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

4 Tips for Building Confidence in Public Speaking

Hey there, friend! Welcome! Today we’re discussing how to build confidence for public speaking events. If you’re like me, then public speaking doesn’t always come easy. It has taken me years of practice to feel comfortable talking in front of a crowd. So today, I am going to tell you my top 5 tips for public speaking, easing public speaking anxiety, and building confidence. 

For the tips in this article to work the best, I recommend having your presentation finished at least two weeks in advance. This isn’t to say that you can’t continue making changes, but it helps to have the main points set.

*You can still use these tips though if you have less than two weeks!

1. Finish the Presentation

Personally, I find that a lot of my stress comes from not having a presentation finished. So finishing the presentation is my first tip for public speaking success. After you finish the presentation rough draft, walk away for a few hours and come back to it. You’ll want to read through it again to make sure there are no spelling errors and that your slides are arranged how you want them. 

2. Read Your Presentation Aloud

Second, I want you to read your presentation out loud in your house or in your parked car if you have roommates or just want to be alone. Take the time to edit clunky words or sentences. After you do this, I want you to put it down for a day or two. 

3. Time Your Presentation

After a few days, I want you to time yourself giving the presentation. Set a timer on your phone or computer and make the screen go dark. I want you to read your presentation just like you would for the group you are going to be speaking to. Remember to not speak too fast. You’ll be nervous on the day of your presentation so practice speaking slowly and enunciating your words. 

BONUS TIP: NEVER go over your presentation time limit. It is always better to be under by a few minutes or right on time. 

4. Practice Giving Your Presentation to Someone

After you’ve got the timing down for your presentation, I want you to find someone to give your presentation to. They’ll be your practice audience. This can be in person or on the phone. The more people you can practice on, the better. Your confidence will grow each and every time you give your presentation and if you give it enough times you might even start to memorize your lines. 

Try to practice your presentation in the outfit that you want to wear. This can help you feel more comfortable. Personally, I practiced my presentation in one pair of shoes and realized that I couldn’t stand still and had to change to a different pair of shoes! 

BONUS TIP: If you can memorize parts of your presentation it allows you to make more eye contact with your audience which allows for a deeper connection. 

Concluding Thoughts

After you’ve practiced your presentation, I want you to put it aside for another few days. You just have to believe in yourself and your abilities now. You know your work, you know the research, and you know what kind of people will most likely be in the audience. You will speak what you know to be fact and there’s nothing else you can do. You’re going to do great! I believe in you! 

I hope you found something helpful today! I know public speaking can be difficult, but if you practice these tips and tricks for public speaking then you should grow more and more confident each and every time! For more tips on how to give a great presentation check out this article next: 10 Tips to Nail Your Next Presentation

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

How to Conduct an Oral History

Hey there, friend! Today we are talking about oral history. What is oral history? How do I do oral history? Are oral histories valid sources? These are just a few of the topics we’ll cover! 

I didn’t actually study oral history while in school, I was fortunate to land an oral history internship position the fall after I completed my master’s degree. I got to work remotely with the oral historian at a museum and learned so much. 

The book that was most helpful for me to learn the oral history process was Donald A. Ritchie’s Doing Oral History: A Practical Guide. This book was loaded with lots of information and was an easy read. So check that book out if you need a more in depth explanation! I have done my best to sum up the main points and answer a few common questions that people ask me about oral histories. So… let’s get started! 

Topics Covered in this article:

  • What is an oral history?
  • Are oral histories important?
  • Are oral histories valid sources?
  • How do I conduct an oral history interview?
  • What kind of equipment/apps will I need?
  • Is there paperwork involved?
  • How do I record my family history?

What is oral history?

Oral history is the passing down of stories and events through telling stories. Oral history has been around for as long as anyone can remember. It was the original way to keep the past alive for future generations. 

Oral history involves a person telling their story and they are often referred to as the narrator. The narrator can talk about their own life, an event they lived through, or something they remember happening in their lifetime. Oral histories are unique because they place so much emphasis on a single person’s lived experience. 

Are oral histories important?

Yes. Oral histories are extremely important. Oral histories allow people to document their lived experience which adds a valuable point of view to the narrative of history. 

Oral histories can also be useful in documenting minority communities which have typically been left outside of traditional historical historic narratives. There are many amazing oral history projects across the United States which are capturing the voices of overlooked communities. These projects are crucial for telling an inclusive history that explains ALL sides of the story. 

Are oral histories valid sources?

Yes. I believe that oral histories are valid sources, but there are many other scholars out there who will say otherwise. Many people have issues with oral histories as primary sources because they argue that they’re told from only one person’s point of view. They argue that there could be subtle nuances between stories. 

I believe that oral histories are like any other source that you use for a project. The sources need to be double checked and cross-referenced. Oral histories are crucial in telling stories. 

How do I conduct an oral history interview?

There are a few steps to collecting an oral history and doing it the correct way. 

1). First, like any other project you want to start with a central question or gap in the collections. Which communities are not included in your collection? 

2). Second, you’ll want to conduct some background research on the community or area that you want to research in. See if you can find the names of prominent people (narrators) that were active in the community and write them down (even better if you can find their contact info at this time). After doing some initial research, you can start planning your project. 

3). You’ll want to reach out to two or three people (narrators) that you found contact information for. Explain to them what you are trying to do with your project and ask them if they would be interested in taking part. If they say no, thank them for their time and move on. Hopefully, some of the people you talk to will be interested in the project. 

BONUS TIP: Make sure that you know how to use your equipment before you try to interview a narrator. Practice with your family or friends! 

Next, send them your background paperwork to fill out. The legal documents for archive storing can also be in this packet. The background packet allows the narrator to tell you what they want to talk about and allows you to ask questions if needed. 

4). Set a date and time to interview your narrator. Make sure that they are comfortable – whether the interview is in their home, a museum, or other location. These interviews can also be done remotely via the phone or zoom. I will leave a list of apps that work good for this at the end of this article. 

BONUS TIP: Make sure that the narrator does not become fatigued while you are interviewing them. If necessary, you can schedule multiple recording sessions with the same narrator. 

5). Go over the legal paperwork again on the day of the interview and make sure that the narrator is comfortable. Ask the narrator to be in a quiet place so that their audio is clear. Complete the interview and thank the narrator for their time and being willing to share their stories. 

6). Process the interviews, create indexes in a document (key-word time stamps for the interview), and input the data into the database. You can contact your local archive or museum and ask if they would like to store the original tapes in their collections. 

What kind of equipment/apps will I need?

Oral histories can be recorded on a variety of devices. The following are all programs that I have personally used and were recommended by my mentor during my internship. 

  1. Garageband on a Mac computer collects great audio, but there are some time limits so you’ll need to take that into account. 
  2. The Voice Memos app on your phone also collects really good audio. 
  3. Rev call recorder is a great app that is free for your phone. You call someone through the app and it will say that the call is being recorded. 
  4. You can record an oral history using the Zoom or Skype apps on your computer. Just make sure to save the audio and video files separately. 

BONUS TIP: If you plan to record your narrator on video you will want to make sure that you have a tripod or something steady to sit the camera on. You can find tripods for cell phones and cameras relatively cheap online. Also, make sure that you have good lighting if you record your narrator. You can find ring lights online as well to help with the lighting situation. 

Is there paperwork involved?

Yes, there is paperwork involved in collecting an oral history. You will need to have the narrator sign legal documents. Then you will need to fill out any papers that a museum or archive might need for storage purposes. 

How do I record my family history?

Oral history is a great way to collect your family history. You can sit down with your family members and allow them to tell you the stories that they want to pass down to the next generation. 

Personally, I have been able to sit down with my Nana and Papa and record several of their stories. This has been such a rewarding experience and now future generations of my family will be able to see and hear them tell their own stories. 

BONUS TIP: Recording family histories will most likely take multiple sessions so plan accordingly. 

Concluding Thoughts

For more information, you can check out the Oral History Association’s website. They have step-by-step guides on how to do oral history and where to find the paperwork. They also have a list of several repositories with significant oral history collections. 

Thank you for taking the time to learn about oral histories and how to conduct them properly. I hope that these sources will help you in your next project.

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

10 Tips for a Virtual Thesis Defense

Congratulations, you’re almost done with your degree! The only thing standing between you and that diploma is your thesis defense… *cue the dramatic music* 

You might be terrified, excited, overwhelmed, or a combination of all of these things! But don’t worry you’ll do great. Relax, read these tips, and get ready to rock your thesis defense presentation. 

1. Make sure you set a time that works for all of your committee members. 

It can be difficult trying to align three to four people’s schedules, but it is crucial that everyone be in attendance. Remember to take time zones into account if you have committee members from different universities or if they are traveling for research purposes. 

2. Ask your roommates or family to be quiet during the meeting. 

Most thesis defenses are scheduled in blocks of a few hours so make sure to ask your family or roommates to be quiet during this time. It’s even better if you could have the house or space to yourself, but I know that’s not always possible. 

Personally, my thesis defense was scheduled in a two hour block. This allowed me to give my thesis presentation and allowed my committee time to ask questions. Thesis defense questions will vary based on your subject and university’s requirements. 

3. Clean up your background!

Make sure that the background of your room is as clean as possible or use a screen filter. This is a professional meeting and you want the background to be neat!

4. Set up good lighting. 

Make sure that the lighting in the room or area you are in is good. You don’t want to have shadows on your face if you can help it.

The best place to sit is in front of a window. This provides great natural light! If you don’t have a window, try using a ring light or a lamp! Always make sure that the light is in front of you and not behind you. 

5. Make sure to dress professionally. 

You want to dress your best for your thesis defense. This is a professional occasion.

Ladies, if you want more tips on professional outfits see this article next: Business Outfit Ideas For Women

Bonus Tip: Make sure that you clothes don’t blend into your background. Also, try to avoid super crazy patterns if you can. 

You can set up your phone to test out different outfits or FaceTime a friend. They can give you an honest opinion on what looks best on the screen. This is important because on screen outfits and in-person outfits are two totally different things… 

6. Have your thesis defense presentation ready to go.

If you use slides or data, upload the presentation ahead of time and ensure it is ready to go Make sure you know how to turn on your video, audio, and how to share your screen with other people. This will help things go much more smoothly on thesis defense day. 

Your thesis defense powerpoint presentation is a way for you to showcase your work visually. Make it unique, but professional. Pictures and data charts are great examples of what work well! 

PowerPoint and Canva are great tools to make eye-catching presentations with! I love both of these programs. 

7. Keep a bottle of water next to you during your presentation just in case you need it!

It doesn’t have to be water, it could be coffee, tea, or juice. Just keep something next to you in case your mouth gets dry. 

8. Look at the camera when you are speaking and remember to speak slowly.

Look directly at the camera when talking during your thesis defense. The camera is essentially your committee members and if you were in the same room with them you would make eye contact – so look directly at the camera. 

Remember to speak slowly and enunciate your words. It’s easy to get nervous and start speaking faster than usual. But don’t worry if you catch yourself doing this, simply take a deep breath, smile, and slow down. Your thesis committee wants to hear what you have to say about your topic because you are the expert in the room. 

If you would like to read more tips on how to give a great presentation, check out this article next: 10 Tips to Nail Your Next Presentation 

9. Thank your committee for working with you on your thesis.

Please make sure to thank your thesis committee during your presentation. You couldn’t have done it without their help and guidance along the way. You can decide whether you want to thank them at the beginning or at the end – or you could do both! 🙂 

10. Remember to celebrate when you are done! 

You can celebrate alone or with some of your close friends and family. Researching, writing, and defending a thesis is a BIG DEAL. You deserve to celebrate all of the hard work you accomplished. 

BONUS TIP: Make sure to get some sleep as well! You’ll be tired 🙂 

Concluding Thoughts

I hope these tips for a thesis defense were helpful for you. Good luck! I know you’re going to do great! If this article was helpful – drop a comment below and let me know how your thesis defense went! 

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

10 Tips to Nail Your Next Presentation

Hey there! I’m assuming you have a presentation to give sometime soon! That’s awesome! Today, I am going to give you several tips to give an engaging presentation. 

I have presented my research at multiple conferences – winning prizes at four of them! I love public speaking and engaging with the audience. My public speaking career began when I spoke in front of my FCA club my freshman year of high school. So, I guess you could say that I have had some time to practice. Let’s go ahead and get started. 

1. Make sure that you are dressed for the occasion.

You want to look professional and put together – no sweat pants or hoodies. Make sure that you’re wearing comfortable shoes too! 

2. Organize your equipment.

Double check that you have all the equipment you need for your presentation. This can include a computer, pointer/clicker, adapter cables, flash drive, hard copy of your presentation, etc.

BONUS TIP: Make sure to take a water bottle with you! 

3. Try to stay relaxed as possible when you’re in front of the room. 

Some conferences have chairs for you to sit in while other places will have you stand behind a podium. Just keep your body relaxed! 

4. Make eye contact with people in the audience. 

Sweep your gaze around the room and make eye contact with people in the audience. If you make eye contact with someone – smile at them! They’ll most likely smile back at you and this will help you feel more relaxed. 

5. Speak with confidence. 

You are the expert in the room once you start talking. Everyone is there to hear what you have to say! You put the hours into this presentation and should feel proud of your work! 

6. Don’t worry if you stumble over your words! 

Nobody is judging you, I promise. Bonus points if you are able to laugh at yourself. This will show other people in the room that you are still human and comfortable with yourself! 

7. Speak slowly and enunciate your words. 

Sometimes it’s easy to get nervous and you might start speaking quicker than usual. This makes it really hard for people to understand you. Just remember to take a deep breath, speak slowly, and enunciate your words. 

8. Make sure that you are projecting your voice. 

This is especially if the room doesn’t have a microphone set up for you to use. You might even start your presentation by asking if the people in the back of the room can hear you. If they can, that’s great! If not, you’ll have to speak louder. 

9. Make sure to thank the audience for their time and attention. 

Depending on the presentation this would be the time to ask if the audience has any questions. Try to answer as many questions as possible. Don’t make up something if you don’t know the answer to an audience member’s question. Simply tell them that it was an excellent question and that you don’t know the answer to it. Make a mental note of the question or write it down quickly! Audience questions can make your presentations better over time. 

10. After the presentation and question time is over, you can ask any friends or colleagues in the audience if they have any critiques of your performance. 

These need to be trusted people that will give you good advice that will make you a better professional speaker. 

Concluding Thoughts

*At conferences or symposiums: Carry a pen and notebook in your bag. You will want to take notes during other talks. I have learned so much from other people’s research. You can also take note of how other people present their research/talks.

I hope these tips help you out on your next presentation. You’re going to do great! I just know it! 

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

(Left) 2nd place finish for American History Graduate Students. My cohort swept the prizes for US History that year!
(Right) 3rd place finish for American History Graduate Students. Shout out to my friend for snapping the picture of me speaking!

The Best Places to Find Digitized Primary Sources

Hello – welcome back to my blog! Today I am going to tell you about my favorite places to find digitized primary sources. This article will be helpful for professional researchers, historians, and students needing to find evidence for their projects. 

Finding primary sources can be hard to begin with, but now that most archives are either closed or restricted it has become even more difficult… I know this firsthand. I finished and defended my Master’s Thesis in Summer 2020 and couldn’t go anywhere. So these are some of the resources that I used and some that I have found working as a research assistant.

Feel free to email me with other sources that you use and I will add them to this list! 

*Disclaimer: There are no paid ads in this article. I am only talking about the sources I have personally used and/or paid to use myself. 

1. archive.org 

This website is free and has saved my life on multiple occasions. They have digitized hundreds of thousands of primary source documents that you can look at. All you have to do is sign up for a free account. Then you are able to look at documents or “check them out” for two weeks much like a public library. They have also digitized thousands of secondary sources that are great for literature reviews and historiographical essays.

2. JSTOR

JSTOR has a free version of their website – all you have to do is make an account. Then there’s a workspace where you can save articles in folders for different projects. Unfortunately, you can’t access JSTOR’s entire collection, but you can access a ton of stuff. Students or faculty at colleges/universities will have access to more articles than people with only the free account.

BONUS TIP: If you are a student or faculty member at a university and can’t find the article you need, email your library on campus. They will often have an interlibrary loan or request section where they can purchase the article for you and send it your way. Save yourself time and money by using the library resources! 

3. Research Library Databases

Library databases are so helpful. Many libraries have or are working on digitizing their primary sources which makes their special collections more readily available for research. If the collection itself hasn’t been digitized many libraries have at least made their Finding Aids available online. 

For example, the Newberry Library has digitized thousands of documents! (https://www.newberry.org)

4. Digital Archives

Digital archives were huge for me while I was finishing my thesis. Many state historical societies in the US have digitized their holdings or at least made the Finding Aids available online. 

Many state archives might be wiling to scan the pieces of the collection you need for a small fee. Check out their website to see the rate or email the archivist to ask! I’ve communicated with many kind archivists and they are so helpful! ALWAYS BE NICE to the archivist!!!

5. Museum Collections

Digital museum collections are another great place to find primary sources. You can look at the items in their collections or you can check out their online exhibits. Most museums only have enough space to display 10% of their physical collection so digital catalogs allow them to display more items!

Many museums have digitized more and more of their collections due to the pandemic. This has made museum exhibits more widely available to larger audiences which means more people can view and love the collections. How cool is that!

6. Public Library Databases

Public libraries are another great place to find primary sources. Public libraries often have subscriptions to online databases which allow you to do primary source research. You can also do interlibrary loans through the public library – this is where they order books from other library systems for you. 

ALWAYS BE KIND to the librarians you communicate with online or over the phone. They might find extra materials and send them your way. I remember one librarian doing this for me and it made a huge difference in my research paper. Thank your librarian today!

7. SCRIBD

SCRIBD is a paid subscription service that I personally use for my research. They have digitized several primary source documents that you can view after paying a monthly fee. SCRIBD also has digitized secondary sources as well. Some are PDFS, some are digitized books, and others are audiobooks. Listening to secondary sources while running or doing chores has saved me so much time 🙂

8. ancestry.com or other genealogical sites

Personally, I use ancestry.com for my research. This is another source that you have to pay to access, but they have different prices depending on what kind of sources you need. I always find cool things when I look on Ancestry. For example, there are census records, military records, pictures, draft cards, directories, yearbooks and more! Check it out!

9. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov

This database is run by the Library of Congress (another awesome database) and provides free access to newspaper across the United States. There are local, regional, and national newspapers in this databases. You can clip articles or see whole pages as PDFs. 

10. newspapers.com

This is another newspaper database, but it is a paid subscription. Personally, I think this is the easiest newspaper database to navigate. So it use this one the most! Most of my newspaper clippings on my instagram posts come from this website. 

Concluding Thoughts

This list will be updated as I find new databases! So I hope this becomes a resource that is really helpful for you! Thanks for reading!

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

How to Make an A+ on History Exams

Hey there friend! Today we are discussing how to make an A+ on a History Exam. As a former student and Graduate Teaching Assistant I have got a few tips and tricks to help you out! Make sure that you read all the way to the end! 

First, I am going to tell you what I did as a student to prepare for exams. Second, I will tell you some of the things that I was required to grade for as a Graduate Teaching Assistant. I hope that having both of these perspectives will help you to make a great grade on your next test! 

Tips from my time as a student

  • Always take notes in class.
    • Underline the headings so that things are easier to read. 
  • Take notes during discussion groups too! 
    • The readings and points talked about in discussion groups can and will appear on exams. 
  • Take notes when you do the readings for class. 
    • This makes it easier for you to remember what each one was about! 
  • Utilize the glossary in the back of the book for definitions! 
    • Who?
    • What? 
    • When?
    • Where?
    • Why it was significant? (Historical Significance)
  • Always read the directions on the exam. Make sure that you answer all parts of the question. 

Tips from my time as a Graduate Teaching Assistant 

  • ALWAYS! ALWAYS! ALWAYS! Answer these 5 questions. 
    • Who?
    • What? 
    • When?
    • Where?
    • Why it was significant? (Historical Significance. This one is the most important and often worth the most points.)
  • Go to your GTA’s office hours to ask questions about your study guide and materials. I loved it when students brought their study guides in early and asked questions. It gave me a chance to clarify things and they often earned better grades because they fixed their study materials and filled in that gaps they were missing! 
  • Go to study sessions hosted by the GTA or other sources on campus. My first semester as a GTA we held review sessions before the exams and gave students an opportunity to ask us questions. 
  • Read the exam questions carefully and make sure that you answer all parts of the question.
  • If you don’t know the answer give it your best educated guess. Most professors/GTAs will give you at least a point or two for trying. If you leave it blank then you get zero points. The couple of points you get for guessing can sometimes make the difference between letter grades! 

Concluding Thoughts

There you have it! My best tips for passing history test. I hope this helps you with regular exams, midterm exams, and your final exam for history class.

Happy studying! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂

How to Write A Research Paper In 8 Easy Steps

So you’ve been assigned a research paper for class… When I received the prompt for my first research paper I was so lost and didn’t know what to do. I began looking for resources (kind of like how you found this article!) and was hoping for some guidance. By the end of this article you will be ready to tackle that research paper with confidence! Grab your pencil and get ready to jot down a few notes! 

8 Steps to Writing a Great Research Paper

1). Read the prompt and pick out a topic that addresses all of the key points in the directions. 

2). Do a basic google search and see if there is information on this topic already out there. You can also search in the your school library’s databases. Make a list of the sources that you want to use to write your paper. Make sure to cite the information in the correct citation style for your class. Always include a bibliography at the end of the paper. 

DO NOT PLAGIARIZE EVER! You will get caught and you will be in big trouble. Please don’t ever take someone’s ideas and try to submit them as your own. ALWAYS include citations from where you got your materials. 

3). Create a thesis statement for your paper. What will you argue in the paper? A good thesis statement will be included in the introduction and conclusion of your research paper. 

4). Create an outline for your paper. I like to separate research papers into the following categories: introduction, body paragraph 1, body paragraph 2, body paragraph 3, and conclusion. This is the most basic outline you can create. There can be more body paragraphs or additional literature reviews if needed. Always write your thesis statement at the top of your outline. Connect all supporting paragraphs back to the thesis statement. 

5). Write a rough draft of your paper. Take all of the ideas you wrote in the outline and develop them into sentences. You can move the ideas and paragraphs around to make your argument stronger. 

Make sure that each paragraph has a topic sentence. The topic sentence will help organize the paper and give it structure. 

6). After writing a rough draft of your paper you can ask your professor or TA to look at it. You can then incorporate their feedback into your paper to make it stronger and get a better grade! 

BONUS TIP: Many universities have writing centers that you can visit as well. You schedule an appointment and they help you fix grammar, style, and clarity issues. The writing center at my university was so helpful – I took several papers there. 

7). Write a final draft of your paper incorporating all of the feedback you received from the professor and writing center. Read and reread the paper before submitting it! 

8). Upload your paper to the dropbox or turn it in to your professor! 

Concluding Thoughts

I hope these research writing paper tips were helpful! Stay tuned for more helpful tips!

Happy Writing! I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂 

13 Tips for Passing History Class

History class… Boring, right? WRONG! I can’t tell you how many times students would come to office hours and complain about how dry the subject was. Many of the students were freshmen and didn’t know how to engage the materials. College courses are different from high school courses and the students would become overwhelmed. As a GTA, it was my job to teach the students how to engage the materials given to them by the professor. As a GTA, I created a list of helpful tools and gave it to my students to help make college less daunting. This blog post is a summation of that list!

*Disclaimer: These are tips that I utilized and observed as a Graduate Teaching Assistant (GTA). Check with your GTA to see how the class will work at your school! 

Kaitlyn’s Helpful Tips For Passing College Courses

1). Download and read the syllabus before going to your first class. The professor will most likely go over the syllabus, but you want to be able to ask questions when they are done. 

2). Make a friend or two in class on the first day. Swap emails or phone numbers so that way if you miss class you can get notes from them. You can also study together for exams or work on writing assignments.

3). Buy a planner, download a free calendar app, or set reminders on your phone for important assignment dates during the first week of class. You don’t want to turn things in late because you’ll either get a point deduction or the professor might not accept it at all. 

4). Use different colored folders, spirals, highlighters, and pens to keep your thoughts, notes, and classes organized. 

5). Ask your professor or GTA if they have any tips to be successful in the class (i.e. note taking strategies, library resources, study sessions, etc.). 

6). Figure out when your professor’s and your GTA’s office hours are. You will want to visit office hours as frequently as you can. You can ask questions, discuss the material, and learn more about the topic. (Bonus: Some professors even offer bonus points for bringing in early assignment drafts to office hours.) 

7). Do the readings for class! You will learn so much and some professors require class participation in discussions as a part of your grade. 

8). Engage with the materials for class. Look for other sources online that compliment the topic if you aren’t understanding it. There are hundreds of YouTube videos, podcasts, social media accounts, and online resources that make history easy to understand! 

9). Always go to lecture (unless you are sick or have extreme circumstances). Some classes have attendance grades! Don’t skip class for fun or because you think you know all of the material already.

10). Always take notes in class. It doesn’t matter if you use a spiral or a laptop. Write down what the professor is saying because not all of the information will be on the slides – if they even use slides – you will want to reference this material when studying. (Bonus: Always write down the name of a slide because those words could wind up being the vocab words on the test. 

11). When completing a writing assignment start with an outline and then write a rough draft. Have your professor or GTA give you feedback on the rough draft. Incorporate the feedback into the final drafts of your paper! 

12). History exams are typically an essay test. Make sure to answer the following questions for every ID term: 

Who?

What?

When?

Where?

Why is this ID term significant

Giving the significance of a term is the most important thing you can do in a history class. The professor will tell you why it is significant in the lecture so make sure to write it down! 

13). Spend time in the library. There are so many amazing free resources in university libraries! They have free computers to rent, books on every topic you can imagine, archive collections, digital databases, workshops, and more. 

Concluding Thoughts

These are my 13 tips for passing history class! Thank you for reading! Here’s another helpful article on How to Write a Research Paper!  

I’ll talk to ya soon! 🙂