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!


Reading: “The Truth of Material Culture: History or Fiction?”, Jules David Prown

April 2, 2013 § 9 Comments

This last week’s reading came from History from Things: Essays on Material Culture, edited by Steven Lubar and W. David Kingrey.  What challenges and opportunities does working with material culture present?

Monday section: after participating in Luke Habberstad’s  analysis of a Chinese vessel, what did you learn about working with material culture?  How does Prown’s notion of “material as reflection of culture” compare and contrast with what Luke’s idea of “material making culture”?


history from things

Guest Speakers for Visual Resources & Material Culture Week

April 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

This week we are fortunate to have two excellent graduate students introduce us to the opportunities and challenges presented by visual analysis. We spend much of our time working with textual sources and the power of language, but a vast wealth of visual sources are also available to us. Aside from resources that explicitly use visual mediums to communicate ideas and information, such as drawings, paintings, photographs, cartoons and maps, there are also material artifacts which subtly tell us about the people that made them and used them. How would you write a history if you only had visual materials to work with?

Monday: Luke Habberstad

Luke Habberstad is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History completing a dissertation on the development of imperial court institutions during the Western Han dynasty in China (206 BCE-9 CE). His interests are wide ranging, and he feels fortunate to be studying both a topic and a period that require asking big questions and employing a wide range of sources.

Wednesday: Sarah Gold McBride

Sarah Gold McBride is a third year PhD student in UC Berkeley’s Department of History. She also attended Berkeley for her undergraduate degree, where she wrote her senior thesis with Professor Waldo Martin. Her current research explores how nineteenth-century Americans used popular culture — including popular entertainment and scientific knowledge — to understand racial and gender difference.
An example of her work with visual resources can be found at US History Scene: “Power is on the Side of the Beard”: Masculinity and Facial Hair in Nineteenth Century America.

Students are welcome to attend both sections if they desire.  Please e-mail the other section’s facilitators if you will be attending.  

Reading: Exploring the Bancroft

February 19, 2013 § 14 Comments

Next week we’ll be making our first forays into the Bancroft Library, one of the great (but somewhat hidden) treasures here at Cal.  The Bancroft is especially notable for how accessible its collections are to undergraduates and the general public, so be sure to take advantage of it during your time at Berkeley.


We’ll be visiting the Bancroft in this week’s sections, but we thought it would be good to give you guys a head start.  Exploring the Bancroft is a wonderful book produced in celebration of the Bancroft Library’s centennial, highlighting the variety of books, papers, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials housed at the Bancroft.  While the excerpts we included cover  a pretty wide swath of the Bancroft’s collections (Western Americana, Latin Americana, the Pictorial Collection, Rare Books and Literary Manscripts, History of Science and Technology, University Archives, Center for the Tebtunis Papyri, the Mark Twain Papers, and the Regional Oral History Office), it’s important to know that these are only highlights and the list is not exhaustive.

To get more ideas of what’s available, you can browse the Bancroft’s website to find more collections, both physical and digital.  You can also do keyword searches at the Online Archive of California’s Bancroft page to try and find specific collection items related to your topic.

What items are you interested in at the Bancroft?


If you’re interested in perusing this book and its wonderful photographs, you can find copies of it at Main Stacks, Doe’s Reference section,  and at the Bancroft itself.

Reading: “From Topics to Questions” from The Craft of Research (2008)

February 10, 2013 § 1 Comment

This week we asked you to read an excerpt from The Craft of Research by William Booth, Gregory C. Colomb, and Joseph Williams. Booth, Colomb, and Williams were English Language at Literature at the University of Chicago and the University of Virginia and together developed The Little Red Schoolhouse , a curriculum for introducing undergrads to academic and professional writing.While The Craft of Research is not written specifically for the historical discipline, the book is a useful reference about the research process for undergraduates. The authors stress that they wrote the book with the assumption that “Despite the differences between beginners and experienced researchers…their challenges are pretty much the same.”

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, Joseph M. Williams. The Craft of Research. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008.

This particular chapter gives you several suggestions for ways to discover topics and turn them into research questions. One useful device is the topic-question-rationale statement.

1. topic: I am studying ______.

2. question: because I want to find out who/what/when/where/whether/why/how _______.

3. rationale: in order to help my reader understand how _______.

Here’s one of the examples the authors give us:

1. I am working on Lincoln’s beliefs about predestination in his early speeches

2. because I want to find out how his belief in destiny and God’s will influenced his understanding of the causes of the Civil War

3. in order to help my reader understand how his religious beliefs may have influenced his military decisions

Don’t get too hung up on crafting the perfect TQR statement right now. Instead of viewing the TQR as a guiding compass for your research, think of it as a tool you could use in your weekly research assignments. Writing these statements down each week is one way of watching how your research evolves over the course of the semester.

The authors remind us that the rationale is the hardest part of the statement to answer.  By working through the academic literature of your field through reading seminars, practicing new lenses of analysis in your courses, and staying in consultation with a professor (someone who is an expert in their field and is tuned in to the most pressing concerns of scholarly discourse at the moment), you’ll discover questions that remain unaddressed by academic literature or are deserving of more nuanced analysis.

I’ll leave you with some advice from the authors:

“Don’t fall in love with your first answer; always hope that you’ll find a better one.”

If you’re interested in consulting the rest of the book, you can access an electronic copy of it through UC Berkeley’s library.

Applications are now open!

January 23, 2013 § Leave a comment

To enroll in the class, please:

1. fill out the application by Thursday, February 8 at 11pm.

2. attend one of the enrollment classes. Monday 12 – 2 (108 Wheeler) or Wednesday 10 – 12 (204 Dwinelle). We will send out CCNS by Sunday, February 10.

Here’s the syllabus.

Spring 2013 Sections

January 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

We are so excited to announce there will be TWO sections of the Historical Research Workshop this semester!  Save the date for enrollment classes:

  • February 4, Monday 12:00 – 2:00
    108 Wheeler
  • February 6, Wednesday 10:00 – 12:00
    204 Dwinelle

Which one are you interested in attending?

While the course’s focus is on historical research,  this class is open to all majors and will provide an excellent introduction resources at UC Berkeley.  No research experience is required; this class will be useful to both undeclared freshmen and upperclassmen preparing to write their thesis.  By the end of this course you will be able to navigate both physical and electronic resources at UC Berkeley, strategically pursue resources, and speak and write confidently about your research process and strategy.  Scroll down to read some journal entries from last semester’s class.  If you have any questions about whether this class is the right fit for you, please contact us!