Primary Source vs. Secondary Source Research

Research Mechanics, Topic 3 Comments »

While I was doing my literature review, I noticed that the most useful sources used a lot of primary sources.  The less useful sources used mostly secondary sources.  As a matter of fact they usually had the same structure as the so-called research papers that I used to do in other classes.  I am not entirely sure how I will use secondary sources in my main research paper.  I am still somewhat afraid  to paraphrase anything because I am scared that I will still plagiarize the author’s diction and tone.  On the other hand, the only way to use a secondary source is to paraphrase; so what am I to do?  I am tempted to say that I shall go it alone and use only primary sources for my paper, and only use secondary sources when I am discussing the historiography of my topic.  Unfortunately, this reasoning sounds so manly that, well, only Theodore Roosevelt could pull it off.  And I don’t have a barrel chest.  And although being shot is still cool, I don’t want to be shot either.  But I digress.  How am I going to integrate secondary sources into my main research?  I still have this idea in my head that they are what has already been done, the mistaken attempts by previous historians to do what I am about to do.  At least in theory anyway.  Why would I want to use their ideas?  Sure one should know the history of history.  But actually use it to describe history?  What sense could that make?

A Much More Real Topic

Topic Comments Off on A Much More Real Topic

So, now after doing the first draft of my proposal and meeting with Prof. McClurken about it. My topic has grown to become: What effect did James Farmer’s involvement with the Civil Rights Movement during the years 1960 – 1963 have on the Civil Rights Movement during the aforementioned years? The topic appears to be labor intensive, but doable, so it should interesting to see what the end result will be.

A Bit Closer to a Real Topic

Topic 4 Comments »

I have talked to a number of people about my topic and done the preliminary research that it says should be done in the readings that we have done thus far. It is fairly interesting. Apparently, it could take some effort to find any UMW theses on James Farmer although theses on black history can apparently be easily found. Anyway, my research topic will be the first one or two years of James Farmer’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement. I am not entirely sure which years yet, but I believe that with the upcoming week’s research, I will be able to figure that out. It should be interesting to see how much I will have to rely on inter-library loan in order to do my research.

I am researching the first two years of Mr. Farmer’s involvement in the movement since I think it will be interesting to see and understand some of his first life changing experiences. The question that my research will answer is How did the first two years of James Farmer’s involvement in the Civil Rights Movement influence the rest of his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement? I plan to research his early thinking and experiences so, to me, it seems logical to pose a question such as the aforementioned. Nonetheless, my topic is still a work in progress. It still could change slightly, I am not entirely sure where it is going to go.

Priliminary Topic Choosing

Topic 4 Comments »

My first thoughts about the topic on which I want to do research are that it should be on James Farmer since he is a great civil rights leader that I do not know a whole lot about. I have read John Lewis’ autobiography, Walking With the Wind, but, other than the various secondary and tertiary sources about the civil rights movement that I have viewed or read, I have not done a lot of indepth study of the civil rights movement in general much less of James Farmer, who was actually a UMW professor for an extended period of time. Therefore that is my topic.

Unfortunately, after emailing Professor McClurken and doing the readings for class, that is not my topic, but an amateur’s imitation of a topic. As a result, my topic so far as been refined to being the question How and Why did James Farmer found the Congress of Racial Equality? My plan right now is to either wait until after the picking a topic class in order to refine further my topic or email Professor McClurken for further guidance or approval. I am not quite sure at the moment what to do.


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