FSEM Workshop

Next Tuesday

No need to post a blog entry for next Tuesday’s class since your paper rewrites are due that day.

However, since we’re going to be discussing everyone’s interviews, be prepared to talk about what you learned from your discussions with an American veteran.

If you have trouble watching the video or listening to the audio of women veterans from the VHP, make sure you have Real Player installed on your computer.  If not you can download it for free from here.  Or you can go to one of the computer labs on campus and watch/listen to the there.

Again, you only need to watch/listen to the interview of one more woman veteran before Thursday’s discussion.

Make sure your paper has:

  • A thesis about the experiences of American veterans (including postwar experiences)
  • A title page with a real title
  • Page numbers (starting with the first page of text as page 1)
  • A bibliography of works cited in the notes
  • One-inch margins
  • Properly cited footnotes
  • Quotations from your interview

Select at least 2 veterans from the Women at War page of the Veterans History Project to read/listen to.

Also check out the NPR Story on Female Iraq Veterans

Peer Review Form

You can fill this out and email it to the person you’re peer reviewing OR write on a printed copy. Either way it needs to be given or emailed to me by classtime next Tuesday (Nov. 27). [If you’re emailing an electronic version, send it to me and the author.]

Constructing the Paper

Several of you seem to be struggling with the paper assignment so this post is an attempt to emphasize what we discussed in class and clarify those parts that seem to be confusing people.

Your paper should not just be a summary of your interviewee’s experiences, nor just what he or she thought.  The paper should be an attempt to set your veteran’s postwar experiences within the larger experiences of American returning veterans.  How typical were his/her experiences compared to other veterans returning from that war? Compared to soldiers returning from other wars?  How was he perceived?  Use the lectures as well as the primary and secondary source readings for this semester to help provide that context for your veteran’s experiences.  As you integrate your interviewee’s experiences into the larger context of US veterans’ experiences, it is appropriate to consider whether or not you think that he/she believed that her experiences were typical.  [Remember too, that although discussing wartime experiences are important, that the main focus of this class and of the paper is about the postwar experiences of these men and women.]

Keep in mind that you need to cite all information (including the interview) with footnotes or endnotes and you should certainly use quotations from the interview and other primary sources (as well as material from secondary sources) to support your argument.

[For more general writing and citation advice, see also the writing guidelines mentioned before, as well as the history department’s resource page.]

Interview with a Veteran

1) Finding a veteran

  • The guidelines for who the Library of Congress’s Veterans History Project is interested in are located here. [Note that for the purpose of this class, I’d prefer a focus on a veteran from one of the wars we cover in class.]
  • The easiest choice may be a relative or a friend of your family. Ask around. If you can’t find anyone, come see me.

2) The Interview process

  • You should tape (or video-record) the interview. Trying to take notes during the interview will likely result in a bad interview and/or poor notes.
  • You may need to be able to have two meetings with your veteran (initial and follow-up).
    • If you don’t know your subject or his/her life, you should consider an initial interview to get straight the basic biography
  • Plan on as much as a couple of hours (if needed). Try to set aside uninterrupted blocks to conduct the interview.
  • The specific questions or issues you discuss depends on the particular veteran and their service. Some topics that may get you started thinking can be found on page 3 of the VHP Field Kit. Given the focus of this class, make sure to emphasize the topics emphasized in “War’s End, Coming Home” on page 3.
    • A more specific set of questions can be found here. [For these, emphasize parts 5 & 6.]
  • While you can ask specific questions, make sure that you also ask broader questions eliciting longer responses. If the interview goes in ways you didn’t expect, that’s fine. Be ready for it; don’t be afraid follow up on those asides.
    • Remember that some of these topics may be emotionally powerful for your interviewee.  Understand that some questions might not be answered.

3) Tips to remember — See this essential list of guidelines from the LOC.

For extra credit, you can also prepare your interview for submission to the Veterans History Project, something I encourage each of you to do. To do that, you must follow the guidelines described in the VHP Field Kit (which you will want to print out). At a minimum you’ll need to record the interview and complete all the waiver forms (with the veteran). All materials (including waiver forms and the recording) must be turned in by the start of class on the day the paper is due to receive the extra credit.

Use the following links to begin research

Simpson Library

Online databases for historical research

Note-Taking Options

  1. Note Cards
  2. Post-It Notes
  3. Word Processor (with or without templates)
    1. Outlines or free-form notes
  4. Citation (or other pay note-taking software like Nota Bene)
  5. Microsoft OneNote
  6. Excel/Access–For information in larger quantities that is consistent in its form (e.g., the census).
  7. Scribe – GMU’s CHNM free note-taking software
  8. Zotero — CHNM’s free Internet research tool [See Demo] [Read a review of the tool and its limitations at Inside Higher Ed]

The following list came from suggestions from my HIST299 section. This students in this course, a methods class for all history majors, blogged about their methods of note-taking.

  1. Start with the bibliographic info — Jessica & others
  2. Keep track of location of all information and note useful quotes — Justin
  3. Use hanging indents to separate information in early stages — Jessica
  4. Begin to organize materials by argument early on — Jessica & Cheryl
  5. Use a preliminary outline to help organize — Ellen
  6. Use a table to keep track of themes or arguments — Amanda
  7. Color Coding — Kari

Other Digital Tools

Google Reader


[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/xkmo4ygPTjc" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]

This is from a documentary made in the 1990s.

The second clip is from a 1933 movie, Heroes for Sale. Do the two clips differ in their portrayal of veterans of the Great War? Why or why not?

[kml_flashembed movie="http://www.youtube.com/v/Gocdp6Nis5g" width="425" height="350" wmode="transparent" /]