Monthly Archives: February 2014

Final Project Topic

For my final project I have chosen to focus on the area of race relations in Washington D.C.  My specific topic will be the riots that occurred in the city in 1968.  I will investigate the subject for the causes and factors leading up to the events, what actually happened, and what were the temporary and permanent effects on the city and the people in it.

When I research this topic further I will begin by going to Wikipedia for a general overview and then accessing the George Mason University Library database system.  I will use the sites that are indicated to specialize in history or at least have a section for history.  When I find a site that seems to allow access to a helpful and relevant amount of information I will begin taking notes and citing information on a word document.  If one site does not come through as a plethora of information I will extract materials from a number of databases to get what I need for the project.

Topics for Final Project

Topic No.1

The first topic possibility for my final project is slavery in Washington D.C.

Importance of Subject

This topic is important because it covers a subject that is inhuman and cruel and how it relates to a place that played such an important part in maintaining this nation.  D.C. is known for its buildings, museums, and a wide array of political activities, but very little is reported on the effect of slavery on the city.  Slavery existed for a significant amount of time in the United States during a period of a supposed growth.  It is important to remember these injustices happened even with intellectual and political development.

Search Steps

I would begin this investigation by logging onto JSTOR and searching for phrases and terms like slavery and Washington D.C., opinion of slavery in 19th century, and slavery and African-americans in D.C.  Afterwards I could move onto some primary sources such as journals of slaves at the time or some type of document of an D.C. resident acknowledging his or her treatment of slaves.  During my investigation I could narrow down the topic even further by closely examining a smaller aspect discovered in research.

Topic No.2

The second topic possibility is race relations in the city.


Race relations in Washington D.C. is important because the entire area is very diverse and how different groups of people react with each other is a necessary thing to understand.  There have always been problems between blacks and whites in the capitol and there will likely always be to some extent, but without understanding why these problems occur  they will probably get even worse and possibly increase.  By examining specific issues and incidents that led to disagreements and even violence and what methods were used to attempt to remedy these situations, it is possible to get a better understanding of what needs to be done.

Search Steps

Like the first topic I would begin researching by accessing JSTOR and trying out some phrases that would likely bring the best results.  As soon as I found any information, I could then narrow my focus.  I could chose to search for more resources that cover topics such as unfair laws, police involvement, and demonstrations or other major events.

Topic NO.3

The third topic that is a possibility for my final project is the Museums of Washington D.C.


The museums of D.C. are important because they gather knowledge and allow everyone, who is able, to take it in.  They are historical institutions that show the intellectual capabilities of a nation that wants to spread the potential to learn to everyone.  Because of this, it is necessary to understand why and how these irreplaceable establishments were created and the effect it has had on the city and the people in it.  By understanding the development of the museums we can truly appreciate their value to Washington D.C. and the nation.building_16

Search Steps

Like the previous two topics I would begin my research on JSTOR because it seems to be one of the better databases for studying history.  I would type in phrases like museum development in Washington D.C., Museum history in D.C., and possibly  Smithsonian history in D.C.  After browsing the results of these searches I could then look for individuals and primary sources from those individuals.  Hopefully, by this point I will have found enough information to fully develop my project.


Primary source assignment

The first primary source I examined was an 107 year old newspaper article from a publication called The Washington Bee, trying to preserve the home of the late Frederick Douglass.  The article expresses the importance of the man and why his home in D.C. needs to be saved because of the former fact.  The main point of the piece was to ask for donations so that the home could be made into a historical monument so that all can see his influence.


It is very clear that the article is written by an African-American individual, specifically because of a sentence early on that reads: “It is now twelve years since Frederick Douglass, to whom the Negro people owe more to any member of our race…”.  Upon further research I discovered that The Washington Bee was a weekly publication mostly written and read by African-Americans.  The publication was syndicated from 1882 to 1922 and focused heavily on the activities of local African-Americans.  The year 1907 was still a time of great discrimination and so the article becomes even more important because it expresses an admiration for a figure who is yet to reach higher acclaim by other communities.

The second primary source I examined was a map of the Confederate forces plan to attack Washington D.C. in 1864 stored in the Library of Congress.  The map was created by Robert Knox Sneden (1832-1918).  The document shows the locations and directions for several rebel units and the specific areas they are supposed to attack.  There are numerous drawings of forts listed along with sketches of new roads and areas of where there is blockage complete with small notes describing each as such. At the bottom of the document there are handwritten notes by the mapmaker listing the number of soldiers each side has and the number of casualties suffered.


Research indicates that Sneden was a Union mapmaker and painter who was captured by the South in 1863 and was held as a POW until the war ended.  During his imprisonment , he created many maps and diagrams, including this one. According to the LOC website, the attack the map shows was a plan that was eventually abandoned because there was too much Union reinforcement. This map is dated september 1864 while the attack was scheduled for July of the same year meaning this map is simply a document created afterward as a historical record by an observer.





Website Evaluation Assignment

Introduction to Historical Thinking Matters

The website Historical Thinking Matters is an archival and educational website containing primary resources of The Spanish-American War, The Scopes Trial, Social Security, and Rosa Parks.  The website is produced by Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media, George Mason University, and Stanford University.


The purpose as defined by the website is “(to create a) website focused on key topics in U.S. history, that is designed to teach students to critically read primary sources and how to critique and construct historical narratives.”


The content provided is four in-depth investigations of the topics listed above.  The site brings together such primary resources as original letters written by civil rights rally organizers, a speech by Martin Luther King, and a number of other documents.  Every subject begins with a short informative video followed by a selection of primary documents. For instance, the section on The Spanish-American War contains everything from a song published right after The Maine sank, to the State of the Union address delivered by president Mckinley.


The site is sponsored by George Mason University and Stanford University, which are both schools held in high regard.  Additionally the website won the American Historical Society’s James Harvey Robinson Prize for an outstanding teaching aid.  With both of these accolades, it would be hard to believe this site is not credible.

Introduction to Monticello Explorer


Monticello Explorer is an interactive educational website created by the Thomas Jefferson foundation.  The site allows users to take virtual tours through both the house itself and the plantation that is adjacent to it.


The purpose of the website is to give students an opportunity to see and learn about a famous historical landmark that they may never be able to see in person.


The site offers maps and diagrams of the location along with detailed and narrated video tours of the house and plantation that contain numerous historical facts about Jefferson as well as the house.


The site boasts a few strong sources for information including the Library Of Congress so it is likely the information provided is accurate.  However, the site is produced by the Thomas Jefferson Foundation so the positive bias of the president cannot go unnoticed.  There is an overall positive tone when describing the man.