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History 642

Proseminar in American History
Race and Law

Professor Waldrep
Spring 2011
Tuesday and Thursday, 9:35-10:50
Jules Tygiel Memorial Seminar Room, Science 268

History 642 uses the seminar format to cover selected topics in American history. Students will prepare short papers, participate in class discussions, and complete research papers on a topic related to race and law.

In this seminar students will engage primary sources in the same way as professional historians. I know this may be very different from other history classes you have taken. Here you will work with the raw material of history. The amounts of source material you have to interpret may be daunting, but there are three good reasons to do the work. First, you should have at least one class where you are fully exposed to the historical method. This means digesting and summarizing blocks of data and not just working with individual documents someone else has already selected and edited for you. This is important even if you never take another history class. We assume you will continue to read history even after you graduate and primary source work will make you a better consumer of history, better qualified to understand what the author you happen to be reading has done than if you have never done that work yourself. Second, the skills of digesting and analyzing data will be transferable to many careers and occupations beyond history. So, even if you are not a consumer of history, the skills we develop here should be valuable. You should learn something here about the enterprise of finding truth that will be useful in life generally. Finally, digging through original sources is just fun. I learned to love history not by listening to our high school football coach and history teacher, but by going to the courthouse and confronting masses of detailed records, filled with exciting finds buried amidst the trivia. Remember, you cannot read these primary sources as you would a book. Here you have to skim and hunt, reading carefully only what you have identified as important.

Three books are required:  Thomas P. Slaughter, Bloody Dawn; James Patterson, Brown v. Board of Education; Charles Lamb, Housing Segregation in Suburban America. I strongly recommend that you supplement the Slaughter volume with Paul Finkelman, Imperfect Union.

Instead of writing one long paper, in this seminar we will prepare three shorter research papers.

Office Hours:
            8:30-9:30 on Tuesdays and Thursdays in Science 225 and by appointment. Make appointments after class or via e-mail,  cwaldrep@sfsu.edu. I am happy to meet with students; do not hesitate to come see me.

Three research Papers: 60%
All other assignments: 40%

Schedule of Classes

January 25 and 27: Introduction to course; discussion of class requirements.

Part 1: The Christiana Riot
February 1 & 3: Read Slaughter. Bring a five-page report on the book. For instructions on how to write a report, go to http://www.indiana.edu/~wts/pamphlets/book_reviews.pdf


February 11 & 13:  Bring notes you have made from the primary sources available online at my website.

Primary Sources:
James J. Robbins, Report of the Trial of Castner Hanway for Treason  (1852). This is in two parts. Part 1 and Part 2.
W. U. Hensel, The Christiana Riot and the Treason Trials of 1851 (1911).
David R. Forbes, A True Story of the Christiana Riot (1898). You can get this one through Google books.

Students sometimes need guidance on taking notes. I found these instructions on the web, perhaps they will help.  http://www.bowdoin.edu/writing-guides/research%20papers.htm

Your research paper is based on your reading from different sources, so your notes must be sufficiently complete to be meaningful after the source has been read. Since you have to document (foot- or end-note) your paper, your notes must contain adequate resource information. Notecard method (using 3"x5" or 4"x6" index cards) is a convenient and flexible method of organizing your research. When you take notes, write only one note on each card. In addition to the note itself, write:

a. in the upper left hand corner of the card, the appropriate category or topic/subtopic to which the note refers.

b. in the upper right hand corner, the name of the source.

c. the page number(s) of that part (or those parts) of the source that you have used in taking the note. If you have used more than one page, indicate your page numbers in such a way as that when you start to write your paper, you can tell from what page each part of your note comes, for you may not choose to include the whole note.

This separate card method will make organizing your information much easier. When you come to outline and to organize your paper, you will be able to sort your notes in any way you please--by subtopic for example--and to arrange them in any order you please. You may even find that you want to recategorize some of your notes. Such flexibility is impossible if you take notes in a notebook. You will also be able to footnote your paper without having to refer to the sources themselves again.

In taking the note itself, paraphrase or quote your source or do both; but do only one at a time. Paraphrases and quotations require special care. Anything between paraphrase and quotation is not acceptable: you either paraphrase or quote, but do nothing in between. To paraphrase a source (or part of a source) is to reproduce it in words and word orders substantially different from the original. When you paraphrase well, you keep the sense of the original but change the language, retaining some key words, of course, but otherwise using your own words and your own sentence patterns. As a rough guide, if you copy more than three words in a row from a source, these words should be in quotation marks.

To quote a source (or part of a source) is to reproduce it exactly. When you quote well, you keep both the sense and language of the original, retaining its punctuation, its capitalization, its type face (roman or italic), and its spelling (indeed, even its misspelling).

I will collect and grade your notecards. You can do this on your computers.  Yes, I know that after the first assignment, you have a massive amount of material to explore, an abundance of riches.  The job of the historian is to compress and summarize large blocks of data. 

February 18 & 20: Meet with Prof. Waldrep as needed for individual instruction.

February 25 and 27: Student oral presentations and critiques.
March 1 and 3: Final papers due.


Part 2: Brown v. Board of Education


March 8 and 10:  Read Patterson. Bring a five-page report on the book.

March 15: Bring typed notes you have made from the justices’ papers available online at my website.  No class March 17.

Primary Sources:
Warren Papers.
Jackson Papers.
Clark Papers.
Burton Papers, Part 1 and Part 2.
Douglas Papers.

March 22 and 24: Student oral presentations and critiques.

March 29 and 31: Spring Break.

April 5 and 17:  Final Papers due.


Part 3: Housing Discrimination

April 12 and 14: Bring five-page report on Charles Lamb to class.  

April 19 and 21: Bring notes on primary source documents to class.

April 26 and 28: Further discussion of housing discrimination in Atlanta. Bring your oral history questions to class April 28. These should be typed and double-spaced.

May 3: Oral history

May 5 and 10: Student oral presentations and critiques.

May 12: Final papers due.