For many History Day students, research will entail a few trips to the school library and multiple trips to the Internet. But the school library only has so many books on World War II and women’s suffrage, and the Internet certainly has its limitations. Encouraging students (or enticing them with extra credit) to move beyond school walls and the allure of Google will not only improve their research experience and skills, but it will also help them create more well-rounded projects.
- Conduct Interviews. Students who interview participants in historic events or experts on historical topics come away with a face-to-face connection to their topic. Try local community colleges, veterans’ groups or county historical societies for potential interviewees.
- Visit Local Repositories. County historical societies often have gems within their resource collections, including war letters, scrapbooks, local newspapers, church records and immigration resources. The Minnesota Historical Society has links to several state organizations.
- Take a Research Field Trip. Either as a class or individually, student research field trips can present excellent resources. Historic sites are fun and hands-on, but they can also be considered primary sources.
- Visit a Large University Library. University libraries can be intimidating, but if you get in contact with the librarians beforehand, they can often have resources, programs or staff prepared to help students navigate the floors upon floors of resources.
- Contact Long-Distance Repositories. If the resources a student needs are only available at a university or museum several states away, they might give up since they cannot travel to the repository itself. But students can contact the librarians or educators at that facility, and oftentimes negotiate interviews or photocopies of documents.
- Access Business Archives. Organizations like Wells Fargo and Mayo Clinic often have archives that relate to their business activities, or have accessioned their documents to another respository.