Summary Post

The opportunity I’ve had to conduct independent research this summer has been incredible. I’ve loved searching though the archives of William and Mary and creating a resource that will hopefully be helpful to the greater college community. I’m excited that my research is relatively new, topical, and specifically interesting to my school. It’s been challenging to have the responsibility to manage my own time and conduct my research alone, but it has also helped me hone my skills. Despite the challenges, I’ve been thrilled to hear that several members of the William and Mary community are interested in reviewing and learning from my work. The next steps in the process include sharing my findings with others at William and Mary and refining my paper to submit it for possible publication. I cannot wait to share my work with William and Mary and see the further research that other William and Mary scholars choose to conduct on this topic. I’d like to thank the team at Special Collections at Swem Library for all their assistance. Most of all, I’d like to sincerely thank my project adviser, Professor Benes and the Charles Center for my amazing opportunity this summer.

Final Week: Update 7

This final week was dedicated to putting together my final essay. I’ve completed my primary research, and selected which pieces of primary evidence I’ll be focusing on in my essay. I’ve also compiled which pictures I’d like to include in order to present the best visual aides for my research. I gathered my secondary research in order to provide a historical overview of the history of minstrelsy as well as what other scholars have said on the subject. It’s certainly exciting to write on a subject that not many scholars have specifically tackled before. I also appreciate the opportunity to create a resource for the College. However, it is a bit stressful to know that my research will be read and reviewed by the larger William and Mary community. Despite the worry, I’ll continue to revise my paper in order to provide the best possible product. Hopefully, I’ll be able to have my paper published in one of William and Mary’s historical journals such as the James Blair Review.

Drafting Research: Week 6 Update

I dedicated this past week to planning and writing the beginning drafts of my final research paper. The final result of my research will be an essay that I hope will educate others on the history of blackface minstrelsy at William and Mary. I hope to also illustrate how William and Mary’s students have become more inclusive and progressive when assembling representations of student culture in the Colonial Echo. Though I cannot be certain that racism or racist ideas have been completely eradicated from our campus community, it’s clear that students have become more willing to have an open dialogue about race and racism at William and Mary.

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Week 5 Update

This week I’ve been wrapping up my secondary research. The largest challenge I face when formulating my final essay will be providing a concise yet comprehensive history of blackface in America. The history of minstrelsy in America is complex, and it is important that I examine every facet of minstrelsy’s past and legacy in order to provide proper context for my primary evidence. From the sources I’ve examined, I’ve seen how different factions of society produced and consumed minstrelsy with diverse goals and intentions. The authors of these sources also examine the legacies created by minstrelsy and how different groups over time have interpreted the practice.

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Narrowing Research: Research Update 4

This week I decided to narrow down my research to focus specifically on the history of blackface in the student culture of William and Mary. In the beginning, the discovery of the alleged photo of Governor Ralph Northam in the Eastern Virginia Medical School yearbook sparked my interest in studying William and Mary’s yearbooks. After looking through evidence in the Colonial Echo, I have begun to search The Flat Hat to find student opinions and reactions to the presence of blackface both in the yearbook and in student culture in general.

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