Christopher Bazil: Online Database Research

February 22, 2013 § 2 Comments

This week I began looking at online databases. First, I did something I have been meaning to do for a long time — set up my proxy server! It was super simple to set up, but I am slightly annoyed that Safari asks for my ID# and password each time I attempt to access something. Do other people have this problem?

To search for online content, I first go to U.C. Berkeley’s Library webpage, then click on the “Electronic Resources” under the “Find Information” tab. From there, I have found that searching by “Type” is really useful. It organizes resources into categories like “Maps” “Images” “News” or “Dissertations.” Looking at resources under “Subject” is also a great option. For example, using “Subject” I can easily find everything related to “Architecture” or “Building Science.”

Okay, here is where I have a question. I have been using the Avery Index to search through architectural periodicals. The search results usually always turns up a wealth of information, but often does not allow me to read the entire article. What is happening here? Is this data base used just to tell you that something exists, or is it for actually finding and reading the content? If the search engine is only for finding things but not having access to them, are there databases strictly for content that is available online?

Even though many search results were unreadable, when I searched all 46 databases within ProQuest, I found a ton of great old news articles about Sears Roebuck “Modern Homes.” Here is a link to an article from a 1939 Wall Street Journal about how the housing market was making a come back.

I am really excited about learning how to use these online databases in a more effective way. There is so much information and so many different ways to look for it. It is all to easy to become lost!


Christopher Bazil: Main Stacks Research

February 15, 2013 § 1 Comment

Hi Guys!

Okay, so this week I have given some more thought to my research topic. I will use Booth’s method to articulate my objectives.

1. I am studying the emergence of the modest middle-class single family home during the 1920’s

2. Because I want to better understand how the emergence of mail order catalogues helped spread uniform ideas about domesticity and home

3. In order to help my readers better understand and interpret their built environment and the forces that helped to create them.

Today I went to Main Stacks to look for sources. I used OskiCat and some of the tips we learned this Monday to help with the search. I found that searching for “subjects” rather than “keywords” is much more effective. I was able to locate the subject of “Architecture, Domestic — United States.” This was wonderful because it showed every resource under this category, and enabled me to browse a much larger catalogue of books than I would have using “keywords.”

Most of the books that are available for this subject are located at the Environmental Design Library, so a narrowed them down by selecting “Main Stacks” as a filter. Surprisingly, there is a ton of literature about architecture  in Main Stacks. I found two books that seemed relevent and went to check them out.

One of the books ended up being a bust, but the other was amazing! It’s titled The Refinement of America and has tones of relevent information on my research topic. I actually checked the book out and am going to look at it tonight.

This was a great homework assignment and I definitely learned how to use OskiCat in a much more effective way. Thanks Katie!

Introduction: Christopher R. Bazil

February 10, 2013 § 2 Comments


Well hello there fellow Historical Research Workshop decal members. My name is Chris and I am a third year history major. I am very excited about this decal and thankful that some of our fellow undergraduates have been gracious enough to put this course together. I hope to start doing some research this semester for possible 101 topics, and am looking forward to possibly discovering a more specific focus through  this class.

I am very interested in researching Bay Region architectural heritage and the built environment. For example, last semester I did a research project on Sears Kit Homes of the 1910’s and 20’s. It is a really fascinating topic and I enjoyed digging through old books at the Environmental Design Library. Did you know, in 1915 you could order a home through the mail? Well, let me tell you, you could! It would arrive by railroad boxcar to the nearest train station in approximately 30,000 pieces.

Did you think DIY (Do it yourself) culture was only for Oakland punks and urban gardeners? Well, lets just say that great grandpa and grandma could have probably taught us a thing or two about making things happen.

Aside from researching building culture, I am also a builder myself. I am really interested in the historical preservation field and am busy trying to find a summer internship working to fulfill that passion. If you click on my profile picture, you’ll see my 1890 Victorian house being renovated last summer (I’m the guy on the left). We scraped all the old paint off, restored and repaired any damage, and began putting a “Rococo” themed paint job on it (yes, there will be gold in there!). I have been working on this place since 2009 and it has come quite a long way. The project has given me a deep sense of context for Bay Area architectural history. If you ever want to get dirty and work on a historical house, just let me know and I will gladly teach you how to throw around a hammer this summer.

I look forward to getting to know you all and to see what we can dig out of those libraries!