History majors usually experience their Introduction to Historical Methods course (HIST 300) with a mix of excitement and trepidation. Usually taken during a student’s sophomore or junior years, it is the course that introduces majors to the task in independent historical research. The course is typically organized around a broad theme (The Russian Revolution, Slavery and Memory, the Legacies of George Mason), and the professor guides the students as they attempt an in-depth research project on a topic related to the theme.
This semester Dr. Cynthia Kierner has mobilized the students in her section of HIST 300 (a course titled, “Washington’s World”) to contribute to a research project that is being conducted by the staff at Mount Vernon. The project is called, “ARGO: American Revolutionary Geographies Online.” The project is a digital repository of maps from the revolutionary era (1750-1800), hosted at the Fred W. Smith Library for the Study of George Washington at Mount Vernon. Kierner’s class chose a map to annotate, and each student is researching and writing an essay (a longer and a shorter condensed version) about a certain feature of that map or the information it conveys. Here is a digitized version of the map the students chose. Students are writing on a range of topics relating to the map, including the "State House" (a.k.a. Independence Hall), "Mrs. Powel," and the "New Theatre." The students’ work will be published for public use as part of the ARGO project.
Dr. Kierner says that she has collaborated with Mount Vernon in past sections of HIST 300. For example, in one section she had students write (and publish) entries for the Digital Encyclopedia of George Washington. But ARGO, which involves digitizing and annotating Mount Vernon's impressive collection of historic maps, is the library’s biggest priority at the moment, and the staff there suggested that Kierner’s students contribute to it. Kierner remarked, “It's a great opportunity for our students to produce research that will be published and also to engage with professionals working at one of the area's pre-eminent public history venues.”
November 01, 2022