Welcome to Fall 2013!

August 28, 2013 § Leave a comment

We are happy to announce there will once again be two sections offered this semester!

Section 1: Wednesday 10 – 12 AM, 204 Dwinelle

Camille Villa, History 2014
Office Hours: TBA

Pedro Hernandez, History 2014
Office Hours: TBA

Section 2: Monday 2 – 4 PM, 80 Barrows

Jonathan Scott, History 2015
Office Hours: TBA

Michelle Min, History 2014
Office Hours: TBA

To Apply :

1. Submit an online application here.
2. Attend one of the enrollment classes, 9/9 or 9/11.

We will send out CCNs on a rolling basis after enrollment classes.  You will be notified if the class is full.

This 2 unit class is a supportive community open to all levels of research experience.  Furthermore, the class is open to all majors, though do keep in mind that research topics must be historical in scope.  If you have any questions, about the class or would like to begin discussing your research topic, you can reach all the facilitators at historicalresearchworkshop@gmail.com.


You can also talk to us in person this Friday at the DeCal Expo on Upper Sproul from 5:00 – 7:00 PM!

Reflections of a Transfer turned Teacher

September 3, 2013 § Leave a comment

Well to be honest I don’t think I had too much experience in researching before I transferred. I mean, we’ve all had to do research papers in history class but I never really did anything more than a few books or internet sources. Now that I think of it, there was quite often a very loose focus but I still got by.

In retrospect, it’s kinda funny too because when a few of us were having our history department orientation with our absolutely wonderful Leah, I had the surprise of learning that Cal is one of the few schools left that still requires a senior thesis as a capstone to the undergraduate experience. Quite frankly, I think it’s really cool that we still have to do that but when I heard this the first thing that popped into my head was something to the effect of “Shit, how much do I actually know about researching?” Not much really.

Upon this sobering realization I floated around asked around with some of my professors about the research process and they were enlightening as much as they were critical. I dipped my proverbial toes in the proverbial waters of research and inquiry, proverbially. I familiarized myself. However, I still haven’t had an opportunity or space to pursue this in actuality.

So in my second semester and with a need for 2 extra units and an opening on Monday from 12-2,  I decided to take this curious DeCal.  Katie and Jonathan were super cool and through the semester I was able to actually make some progress. Of course, not without difficulty and changing my research question like four times. But then again, that’s kind of what it’s all about.

I initially began this semester with a question somewhere to the effect of: To what degree were the Declarations of Independence in Mexico and the United States shaped by Enlightenment thought? In my time at UC Berkeley I’ve refined my interests in the United States and Latin America and have utilized this interest to shape the direction of my research but I must admit I initially bit off a little more that I could proverbially chew. Limited by lack of accessible resources and a complex topic with limited sources, I decide to keep the United States-Mexico dynamic but switched to their 200 years of shared history.

I then switched to studying how the Central Valley Project had affected immigration to the San Joaquin Valley. I found some luck in this endeavor being that the CVP is a federally-funded and operated infrastructure and as I tracked the progression of Mexican immigration to the United States I rediscovered Proposition 187 and its passage in 1994 California. Given this as a foundation for my research, I then switched my question to : To what degree has government been molded to shape the Californian/American Identity?

The freedom to change my topic was a big plus -though I must admit one must do so with caution pertaining to time constraints and relative position in the semester. I also really liked the fact that it is open to more than just the historian in-training. As per usual, the diversity in interests and opinions exposed me to approaches I would have never considered myself and in a lot of ways allowed breathing room for construction and critique of my own work. In addition, just by reflecting on our progress or problems I was able to see that a lot of us had some of the same issues but also that we could help solve them too. I could go on but in the end we all did our thing and at the end of the semester we all got to present our work and it was real cool.

I also was digging the new themes every week. To not move away from the document in the research process but to question its primacy with other mediums will always be part of my own work now and I really think this is a good thing.

Mind you, this is only a bit of my experience and some of what I found enticing. I can’t promise that any of you will have the same. But then again, this uncertainty about the future is kinda what this curious life is about, right? What I can say is that if anything, this class will be engaging if you let it.

So then why do we research? My favorite answer would be to live with the past, live in the present, and live for the future. In other words, history/research as Historian William Appleman Williams writes in The Contours of American History:

  . . .is neither to by-pass and dismiss nor to pick and choose according to        preconceived notions; [but] rather is a study of the past so that we can come back into our own time of troubles having shared with the men of the past their dilemmas, having learned from their experiences, having been buoyed up by their courage and creativeness and sobered be their shortsightedness and failures. We shall then be better equipped to redefine our own dilemmas and problems as opportunities and possibilities and to proceed with positive rather than negative programs and policies. This enrichment and improvement through research and reflection in the essence of being human, and it is the heart of the historical method.

To build – for better or for worse.

So here’s to a good semester.

Good health and good spirits to you all,



Research Update: Ariana

May 11, 2013 § Leave a comment


It’s been a great semester and I really enjoyed learning about everyone’s topics. I liked seeing the different takes that everyone had on historical research. I used to think that all historians chose similar academic pieces to work on. That they had to be academic and very “intellectual” sounding, but I’ve realized that to get to such a level one must start off with a topic. Any topic will do. It is the research that will make it grow into something worth reading. Everyone proved that historical research is not a straightforward thing, but rather that it depends on the topic and the person. Everyone had a different approach to research.

I have been looking more into the citizenship laws of the 1940’s and found a really interesting book about race and citizenship. I was very surprised to find out that it was actually written by a Boalt Law Professor. The book was already interesting, but I appreciated it even more after finding that out. I’ve been looking into the modern naturalization laws and seeing how those relate to the late 1940’s laws which affected Iva Toguri.

I like finding how research can take you in different directions. You can start with a set idea, but sometimes your findings take you in a different direction. There were points when I thought perhaps I should focus on something else, since I was finding information that was counter or different to what I had originally came up with. I liked this process of investigation. Lots of different resources provide varying levels of help. Some more than others, but I’m glad that I was able to check out a good deal of resources through this class. This is a very helpful course. Everyone have a great summer!

Maria Pizarro: What can you do with research?/ Reflection

May 8, 2013 § Leave a comment

As I searched for various resources to support my research topic, I came to realize that not all resources are going to have something that supports my topic. Though some database didn’t directly deal with my topic, I discovered that the information found can still be implemented in the research. I also discovered that when doing research, the individual has to take advantage of all the information found no matter if it does not directly tackle the subject. As you proceed with researching, new keywords and ideas arise. For me, as I played around with the keywords every time I looked into a new database, I learned that some databases result with information depending on the type of word used. For example, in one of the databases I got more results when I used Hispanics instead of Mexicans. There was even a couple of times where when I used Hispanics I would have zero results, but when I used Mexicans, at least one item came up. I had better results when I used the computer in the Chicano studies section in the Ethnic Studies Library. I had found dozens of books, articles, some videos, and special books in that library compared to when I used oskicat in my laptop. When I visited that library, I became more interested in Chicano studies and I just wanted to spend all day in that library looking through their collections. I was not able to find resources directly relating to my topic in the Bancroft library. I did, however, find things that can help me answer another question I had come up during my visit to the Ethnic Studies Library. This class helped me learn of all the different kinds of resources and database that is available on campus and online that I did not know about before.

In a non-academic setting, research can be used in various  ways. Research can help find more information on a business, learn the background on a city or park, it can even help map out the economic stability/instability of the United States through out history. Research can also be used to remind politicians or society of how history can repeat itself if forgotten. Research can even help understand the past of an individual as to where did their family come from, why did or didnt they migrate to the states, medical history, family ties and accomplishments/mishaps, etc. Historians are not the only ones that benefit from research. Social workers, politicians, businessmen, even military specifically the Coast Guard.

Final Update

May 6, 2013 § 3 Comments

Hello friends,

First of all, I’d like to congratulate you all on your exiting projects! They were all well presented and I learned a whole lot from all them. I hope you all enjoyed mine, or at least sparked some interest in my subject. As I mentioned many times before in the past, today we tend to overlook over music censorship. I find it peculiar that the 80’s was a time in which notable religious organizations and the PMRC lashed out at what they considered to be “morally deviant” music, but in retrospect, would you agree that today’s music is more grossly explicit? I cannot believe at how demeaning, sexually charged, and “morally deviant” music has gotten over the last two decades or so. Is there a connection is another of my questions, is this “informal cultural movement” just one of many to blame for today’s mainstream music biz? These are all questions I will be researching over the summer and could possibly use as a conclusion/analysis of my research. As a collector of music and historian, we are living in a time where no one is willing to talk about the music played on the radio-waves, many of which play tunes ranging from themes of sex to fostering our society’s rape culture (yeah, I said it). Where is the PMRC now? Were the repercussions so severe that no religious group is willing to lead the fight anymore?

I wanna give a special thanks to Camille for sparking my interest in the subject and encouraging me to dig deeper. You really helped and inspire me pursue this further. When I first brainstormed this topic I thought it would be met with criticism considering that it is a fairly contemporary topic, but after taking this class and sharing my thoughts and views with a lot of people, I am amazed at the good reception and constructive criticism. Thank you for that.  I am meeting, or will potentially be working with Felicia (per recommendation of Camille). She will help me on potential methodology so I get to work this summer on it. I want to make it perfect, my name will forever be attached to this work, and I want to make sure I do a good job. Whether or not it will be picked up as a possible guide for future researchers really isn’t something I know, but I will feel better, I will be satisfied with the fact that I am contributing back to “the scene” that watched me grow and be the person I am today. Unfortunately there aren’t a whole lot of Metalhead academics, I am one of the few, the better prepared I am, the better this project will be.

If you’d like to see future updates on my research project please follow my WordPress, I will be writing weekly findings, thoughts, reflections on Heavy Metal, the PMRC, Music Censorship and all of the above. It is a great way to practice my writing, too. Keep in touch everyone, god bless! cheers

Cordially yours,

Tilo Eduardo Lopez

Here is a profile of my band if you want to see what I’m all about..



Research Update: Tilo

April 26, 2013 § Leave a comment

Hello friends,

I spoke to my history professor of the Civil Rights movement to talk to her about my project and see if she could give me any leads. She said she would get to me on Monday. I am really glad I went to talk to her, she listened diligently, took notes, was impressed with my topic and was glad to see me enthusiastic about it. She told me not to get “too defensive” in my paper especially since I am writing about the PMRC, and it tends to gets pounded on by the mainstream today. I was advised to try to correlate other events to my case study, like court cases, or other contemporary events that may have helped influence the decision by the Senate to place censorship labels on music. I went over some of the books I picked up before I started researching about my topic and found the perfect case in one of them. Surprisingly it involved one of my favorite bands of ALL time, the world famous JUDAS PRIEST.

Amid the legal battles of whether or not to censor music deemed “harmful” and “immoral” to the general American public, two teenagers committed suicide while listening to a Judas Priest track, Better by You, Better Than Me (awesome song). The case was highly publicized, not only was the band sued for “reparations,” major record label CBS was brought to court with them. Their claim was that on top of the explicit lyrics, the plaintiffs claimed that the song noted had a subliminal message that said “do it” (suicide). The argument was that if you played the record backwards that you could hear the words. It led me to question, who listens to a record backwards???

Anyways, after several trials, which I will discuss further somehow in my paper, the case was adjourned. Priest was free and found NOT guilty. The two teenagers had an apparent trouble with drugs and long history of domestic violence. One of the two survived the shotgun blast to his face, lived through the trials and then committed suicide (again) a few years after.

I found the original article published by the New York Times if anyone is interesting in reading about it.

Judas Priest “Subliminal Messages” Trial

This is also a video from the actual Court Trial

Thank you

My Journey into IGS

April 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week I went to the Institute of Governmental Studies. I had been there briefly a few times previously because I’m also enrolled in a Poli Sci URAP meaning I at times have to use the resources there, but this trip better acquainted me with aspects of the institute that I never had to use before.

The library cover three main areas: Institution; which covers Congress and the presidency, the Claifornia state legislature and governorship, and the California local government, as well as concepts and problems of federalism and intergovernmental relations, as well as state and local government generally. I chiefly looked up problems with intergovernmental relations for my research, and I haven’t had to look for sources in another library because IGS is so extensive.
The library also holds material covering political processes and policymaking, as well as public policy issues, which has a growing section on health care reform. The overall focus of the public policy section is domestic policy, with a geographic emphasis on California!

The institute has a truly huge library, holding more than 400,000 volumes. It also acts as a depository for the California local government documents . the library services are linked in with Oskicat and Melvyl. The institute is one of the country’s premier libraries of nontrade and ephemeral materials on American and California public affairs and policy, so if you’re interested in political science, there are few better places to be than here! IGS also subscribes to several online journals and databases, so whatever you can’t find onsite, you will likely find online.

The institute is open from 9am until 5pm on weekdays for regular hours, and during the summer is open from 1pm until 5pm on weekdays. The institute is closed on weekend, and the reference service is open from 11am to 5pm, and by appointment. The reference service staff were really friendly and helpful when I asked them where to find some documents for my research.

The IGS is an active research unit, with topics ranging from electoral reform, national identity, immigration, and trust in political institutions. While it has material on many aspects of these topics, its focus has remained in California. IGS initiates and funds research by UC faculty and other experts, whilst also training undergrad and grad students, which luckily I have been taking part in this semester!