November 27, 2012 § Leave a comment

Originally, I took this class for fun, just to explore resources and to educate myself on a topic in history that sparked my interest. Unexpectedly, I had my first exposure to the “101”. I was totally clueless when everyone discussed their “101’s” or “103’s” in class. I now have a gist of what an extended research project may entail. Considering that this is my first semester at college, I consider the exploration of resources around campus to be potentially helpful for me in the future. The topic I decided to research I found was relatively obscure. There are few books written on Hessian involvement in the revolution. Most information I found on Hessians came from unusual places such as family genealogies. The two books I found in main stacks, however, illustrated Hessian involvement quite well. “A Hessian Diary of the American Revolution” and “The Hessians”  both gave interesting personal and purely academic perspectives on mercenary involvement during the American War of Independence. Overall, they dispelled my stereotypical notions about mercenaries; that they were disorganized and wandering bands of warriors with dubious social standing. Contrary to this point, by the American Revolution, mercenaries had attained a more official reputation. Governments created mercenary regiments to pay for military upkeep. Although mercenaries during the revolutionary war still held mostly rear echelon and support positions, their duty then may not have been so much different than that of a modern private security company such as “Executive Outcomes”. 

Actually, just the exposure to different resources on campus was more helpful in some of my other courses. I didn’t know that Cal even had a music library. The Media Resources Center had some of the more obscure films that I needed to view for my film course. Before coming to college, I hadn’t used a library legitimately. I had never checked out a book or used an online database such as oskicat. Most of the books I read I also own. Now that I’ve been exposed to such places, I realize their research value. Many of the articles that I might be looking for could not be bought from Barnes and Noble. Expanding on different research mediums, I found microfilm to be an informative source. Although most of the information that I sought was not on microfilm, the vast archive of microfilm was impressive enough to return. For example, I found a microfilm of newspaper dated 1870 from the Walnut Creek area (my hometown). To summarize, I am glad I took this course for the research opportunity and I hope to use the libraries and film archives on campus to propel my research later on.

Matt: Research Later On

November 13, 2012 § Leave a comment

Some of the research I might see myself doing later on might include histories of sorts. Perhaps background checks or analysis of certain situations through a strategic or tactical lens. In the situations meriting this outlook, I hope to have the ability to draw on several historical examples for additional reference in solving the particular dilemma. In other words I hope, one day, I will be able to use historical research as a reference to solve an urgent problem or security threat. In a less serious sense, I feel that referencing history would help me life a more present life, full of less anxiety and distress over what the future may bring. I could also see myself accessing libraries just as a general interest. A month or two ago, I hadn’t used a library legitimately in my life.

Matt Bikoff: Visual Resources

November 6, 2012 § Leave a comment

For this week, because I presented my film resources last week, I elaborated on some other visual resources. 

This image is the topographical map of locations of Hessian and British prisoners at Continental garrisons around Winchester, VA


I also found a list of Hessian prisoners of the Americans from after the revolutionary war: 



The last image I found shows the general situation of where Hessian prisoners were located after the Continental victory at the battle of Yorktown:


It is interesting to note that all of these images relate to the transportation and internment of Hessian prisoners. There are few documents revealing only Hessian positions. In fact, many articles have stated that the Hessians had quite a minor role in the war.

Matt: Film post

October 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

For this week, I attempted to find a film that went into some detail about Hessian mercenary involvement during the Revolutionary War. The most ideal film would be a documentary specifically on my topic. However, I couldn’t find anything in the way of a documentary on this subject. I decided to settle on any film resource, fiction-based or not just to see if I could get anything involving the Hessians. I found three films that either discuss or show hessians. The first one is The Crossing (2000) with Jeff Daniels. This film recounts the Battle of Trenton which involved the defeat of Hessian mercenaries. I also found a History Channel documentary on the Battle of Trenton. You are probably seeing a trend here. Most of the films that show Hessians at all during the Revolution have to do with the Battle of Trenton. I found this somewhat distressing because from what I’ve read, the Hessians were very competent soldiers, slandered by a famous victory by Washington in 1776 at Trenton. I guess this just makes the research more interesting. However, my last film source is a film from 1910 called 1776, Or the Hessian Renegades. This is really just overly dramatized historical fiction, but is interesting to watch none the less.

Here are the links:

The Crossing:

History Channel film:

Renegade Hessians:

Christina’s Topic

October 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

For this week, I decided to research Christina’s topic. From my understanding, it focuses on Richmond, California around the time of World War Two. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting there to be much interesting information on Richmond in the first place. This was probably because I held stereotypes of Richmond as a place where people are shot, doors are locked, and windows are barred. This point made research more interesting. I found a documentary on the early history of North Richmond. This documentarian also happens to have filmed other documentaries on the early history of Bay Area California. These documentaries were also interesting because they feature many people on the Richmond city council. One of the interesting facts I learned was that the population of North Richmond was 23,000 before the war and jumped to 108,000 after the war. Most of the migrants to North Richmond came from the South to work in shipyards. Most of the work migrants (black and white, but both low on the social ladder) found at the shipyards paid so much more than equivalent work in the South that the workers went and brought their families after the war. This situation explains the huge population boom. New housing projects were undertaken and Richmond was one of the first towns in California to offer new housing exclusively for blacks. 

Here is the link to the user page:


In addition to this interesting information, I also found a photographic history of Richmond at the Online Archive of California. Some photos can be found on the website but for all of them, one could probably sequester them from the Richmond Public library.

Here is the link:

The last source on Richmond that I found was in microfilm/microfiche. It is a microfilm of Richmond’s history assembled by the Richmond Chamber of Commerce in 1944.

Here is the link:

Matt: Newspaper Day

October 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

For my research this week, I took a trip down to the microfilm and microfiche area. After a search on Oskicat, I was only able to find one resource by a lady named Mary Bates who assembled a compilation of poems from the “revolutionary war” period. At first, I was excited, but after looking at the microfilm (which had some goo on it), I found that the time period covered was 1783-1799. This wasn’t entirely helpful, but I still printed out a page for reference. The microfilm was from 1954 and was really a secondary source. I REALLY would like to find some real newspapers from the time period, even if they don’t specifically mention the Hessians. Can anyone help?

On another note, the material I reserved in the Bancroft is  unrelated to my project and for personal interest. I held a box of photographs of California from the late 19th century by a man named Charles Vischer. The description said that the box included some work by Edwaerd Muybridge (a pioneer in stop motion photography). 

Matt Bikoff: Oral History

October 10, 2012 § Leave a comment

Most of the information regarding Hessians that I found doesn’t involve much oral history. I couldn’t find much information on ROHO because I think my topic lies outside the resources of the Bancroft. This lack of information to proceed with an interview was slightly discouraging. This fact was not made much easier by the specificity of my topic. Eventually, I narrowed an oral history approach down to two options. I knew I would need someone very knowledgeable on Hessian involvement during the Revolutionary War. I surmised that either authors of books on the subject or military re-enactors would be the best interviewees. I found that most of the people who had written books specifically on the Hessians (and there were not many) were either dead or way too famous. I settled on interviewing a re-enactor. Due to the famous involvement of Hessians at the Battle of Trenton (NJ), I suspected that most Hessian re-enactors would be located on the east Coast. This part is mostly true. I found a group of re-enactors called the “Infanterie Regiment von Donop”. They dress up specifically as Hessians and come from around Philadelphia. Despite the difficulties that might be involved in interviewing a Hessian re-enactor from Philadelphia, I still prepared a list of preliminary questions:

How did your group first become interested in Hessian re-enactments as opposed to other topics in the Revolutionary War?

Were the Hessians actually paid extra as mercenaries?

How would the modus operandi of a typical Hessian regiment differ from that of a typical British or Colonial regiment?

Do you speak in German?

How often do you stage battles?

Are the re-enactments only battles that took place during the Revolutionary War, or any “mock” battle

What kind of physical fitness is involved to participate as a “Hessian”?

How do your members vote on their roles in the regiment?

How does one acquire historically accurate regalia of a Hessian soldier?

Is it expensive?

Do you collaborate with the opposing force, or are their strict encampments before battle?

How does one regulate the rules of a re-enactment?