Research Process

Steps to researching your exhibit:

  1. Develop a topic of interest
  2. Locate secondary sources - what arguments or problems do they discuss?
  3. Locate primary sources - what questions do they raise?
  4. Select primary sources that address the topic and argument
  5. Take notes and build research notebook
  6. Develop an argument or hypothesis
  7. Structure your argument

Framing your topic in terms of creating a historical question:

  • Try to do more than providing a narrative history of a topic, theme, or person
  • Try to relate your topic to the history of Greenwich Village, New York City, or the United States
  • Try to link your topic to larger movements in American history: immigration, urban development, industrialization, etc.
  • Look to the specifics— why did the thing you are looking at happen at the specific time or place that it did? What else was going on? Was it unique, or path-breaking, or was it part of a larger trend?
  • The exhibit is your opportunity to interpret the sources and offer your take on the history and what it means.
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