Reflection Two – Being A Historian

Being a historian means a number of things. It means to pick a specific area of interest – in this case, we will be studying the history of New York City. It means finding inspiration from the area that draws you, something that is historically accurate but gets you excited about your topic of study. Being a historian means to seek help from the resources around you. It means trips to the deep abyss of archives and seeking answers for specific questions. It means not just stopping at one book and one answer. Being a historian means to “fill in the gaps”, to try to become an expert in your field. It means making connections, like how we did in our “New York 50 Years Ago” assignment. Finally, to be a historian means to let others see your work, to pass on what you have learned. History is meant to be shared. Historical writing is difficult, because you can’t make it up as you go. Historical writing calls for primary sources and big, heavy books. It’s messy and detailed, but in the end, you really feel accomplished, because you have mastered the subject.

My expectations for the history project are that I have a better understanding of New York City, but more than that, I would love to better understand how to accomplish projects such as these. I will enjoy learning more about my city, but I will not like some assignments. I love words, but I don’t love having to post a new word a week. It will be difficult for me to go through everyone’s blogs and decide on which words can be used and what cannot, because it sounds like a lot of scrolling and a bit of a memory test (although I know this is a small aspect of the project). Another problem that I have with research papers is that I want to include EVERY bit of information that I find. However, when I attempt to do this, my papers become long-winded and a little confusing and irrelevant at points. I hate having to assess what kind of sources would be “better” for a project like this, because I would rank a very short primary source on the same field as a detailed secondary source, summarizing the primary source and analyzing it, as well. I manage to weed out this particular problem before turning a final draft in, but sometimes, when I become especially enthusiastic about a topic, I will add varying arguments of both sides to the paper. This may be more appropriate for a history paper, because history should be told from many sides, but it isn’t helpful when I am attempting to sway an audience. This will most likely be the hardest part for me. Even so, my greenhorn enthusiasm for learning more about the city will keep the topics fresh for me, so I am excited to start.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. jwclegg
    Feb 27, 2014 @ 16:52:00

    Don’t obsess too much about the key terms; just pick ones you like and go with them.


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