eBio Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowships 2009


History and Sociology

#1. Behind the Sheets. The Ku Klux Klan was founded in 1865 with chapters that ultimately spanned the entire country.

The primary research objective is to identify the members of each chapter and attach them to a meaningful record. A name means little unless it is reliably attached to some record...a birth record, a death record, a marriage announcement, a newspaper article, an alumni record...anything beyond a name – although we would still want the names in cases where no record match was found. How would you approach this? We can give you guidance on ways that we have successfully accomplished this, but we want to hear your approaches first. Also, we place a premium on newspaper references for this particular project – as well as photographs.

The second objective is to identify their descendants today. In an ideal world, we would want a complete family tree of descendants with each link documented with a physical record (e.g. birth record, marriage announcement, obituary, etc.) and any biographical details discovered. Most importantly, we want a meaningful piece of data on any living descendant. Any of the following would be “meaningful”: Address, Schools attended, etc. – something that would allow us to track them down with further resources applied. When possible, we would like to know their biographical details. To what organizations do their descendants belong, for example?

#2. The Activist Gene? The Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) was active on nearly every college campus at some point during the period from 1960 to 1971.

The primary research objective is to identify the members of each chapter and attach them to a meaningful record. In this case, it is usually easy as a school and year will put them in an alumni directory. Some chapters had non-student members in the local community. They should be included.

The secondary research objective is to identify their descendants and two generations of ancestors (parents and grandparents) with documentation of each link and gathering any biographical information along the way. If the member is still alive, we want a last known address.

The third research objective is to attempt to answer the question: Did they stay true to the cause? Are they more likely to be a Long Island dermatologist today or an active member of “Get out of Iraq Now?”. What about their children? Did they inherit the “activist gene”?

Regarding the SDS membership lists, we have one specific request of applicants who are interested in this topic. Spend five minutes on a search engine and tell us the first source that you would seek out to find this data. Please note it in the comments section of the application. Also, we have little interest in the leadership of the SDS. Their stories are known and well-documented. Our primary interest is in the balance of the members.

#3. Your own Topic. Pick an area of your own interest that illustrates some of the issues described above, including:

  • Picking a movement that existed at some point in American History.

  • Identifying archival sources that relates to its participants.

  • Remotely gather the archival material.

  • Making the archival material more accessible through digitization at the lowest cost.

  • Making digitized archival material more accessible with better metadata.

  • Track the genealogy of the movement.


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