How to Organize Your Research

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What do historians do with all of the information they collect when they research?

How do they access their research in a way that allows them to find the information they need to write the books and articles we enjoy reading?

Billy Smith, a Professor of History at Montana State University, joins us as part of our “Doing History: How Historians Work” series to lead us on an exploration of how historians organize and access their research.

Episode Summary

In this episode, Billy Smith, a Professor of History at Montana State University, leads us on an exploration of how historians organize and access their research.

During our exploration, Billy reveals information about his research into the lives of 70,000 people, who lived in Philadelphia during the late 18th century; How he collected, organized, and accesses his research about those early Philadelphians; And, how historians’ research organizational methods have changed over the last 30 years.

What You’ll Discover

  • Quantitative history and historians
  • Different historical records where you can find women, the poor, and African Americans
  • Types of data Billy records when he examines tax lists, census reports, city directories
  • Types of information contained in early American city directories, censuses, & tax lists
  • What mapping the demographic details of 70,000 early Philadelphians reveals about early American history
  • How Billy organizes data for 70,000 early Philadelphians
  • How historians’ research organizational methods have changed over the last 30 years
  • Overview of Fleeing Slavery digital project and runaway slave ads
  • Runaway slave newspaper ads
  • Data management systems
  • The need to preserve and keep accessible the digital data we collect
  • MEAD: Magazine of Early American Datasets
  • How research organizational methods differ between book and digital projects
  • Verbal note-taking strategies for organizing your research

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Episode 9