chapter  4
12 Pages

“No Food, No Drinks, Pencil Only”: Checklists for Conducting and Interpreting Archival Research  . 

For the last four hours, you’ve been sitting inside the university’s archives reading through letters, notes, and diaries written by students in the 1920s. Your head is pounding, and your stomach growls, reminding you that you chose to skip lunch in order to continue working. Picking up a new folder, you begin to read another paragraph of barely legible hand-written text. Then you see it. There, scrawled in the margin of the letter, is the name “Sarah Marshall.” Campus rumors of Sarah’s involvement with the student government led you on this search, and you now have a piece of evidence that suggests that the rumors are true. The phrase “Ask Sarah Marshall about the meeting” implies that Sarah may have been, in fact, the first woman to sit on the traditionally all-male student governance board, and your thesis on the involvement of women in university student governance hinges on the truthfulness of this campus rumor. You realize you may have just found your historical “smoking gun.”