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Module 1: Introduction to Local History

This module will introduce students to digital local history. Students will learn about the topics and practices of local history, and its relationship to genealogy and academic history. To begin to address the challenges of doing this form of history, they will learn to frame questions that unveil an inclusive picture of the past and to identify the sources that can offer answers to those questions.

Due date for Module 1 Assignments: Friday, June 5, 2020 by 11:59 p.m.

Deadline for Module 1 Assignments: Saturday, June 6, 2020 by 11:59 p.m.

What is Local History?

Local history shares a focus on place and individuals with genealogy and some fields of academic history, but also involves particular approaches, questions, and challenges. In this section, you’ll begin thinking about what local history is and how to develop a local history project.

READ: Stephen Robertson, “What is Local History?” (NOTE: Pay special attention to the chart!)

Assignment 1 (5 pts): Select the location (city, town, village, or neighborhood) you will concentrate on for this course. It can be your hometown, your current location, or a place you’ve visited. The only requirement is that the location be in the United States. Once you’ve selected your location, create a list of topics you’re interested in learning about. Post both your location and your list of topics in the #assignment1 channel on Slack. 

Developing a Historical Research Question

Research questions in history focus on past events, people, communities and locations, with particular attention to understanding how and why things change over time, or why they didn’t. Historical questions can be framed in different contexts and time periods. The work of answering a research question in history is a process: in this course, we will focus both on the process of research as well as its products.

READ: Do History, “Stages of a Historical Research Project”

The chart in the Robertson reading also presented a framework for developing a research question. For example, if the topic of your research was the arrival of a new group in the community, there are a variety of contexts in which the topic could be explored:

Assignment 2 (5 pts.): From your initial list of topics, select one and develop a working research question that will guide your work in the course. Post your topic and research question in the #assignment2 channel on Slack.