When going through my paper to finish it up, I focused on making sure I used enough different quotes by Hugh Dowding himself about his strategy as well as comments about the battle. One of the sources I went through and added quotes from was an address that Dowding delivered at the RAF Staff College in 1937, three years before the battle. This is an interesting source because Dowding discusses plans for a defensive system in case of an invasion despite the fact that the war had not yet begun, demonstrating how he was able to foresee future issues. In addition to this, what he says he would implement in a defensive strategy is demonstrated in the battle three years later. This includes the idea that conserving planes would be key in a successful defense. He also says that he would look to be more defensive because that would surprise a potential enemy. Finally, he even mentions the possible dangers of terror bombing which does ultimately occur towards the end of the Battle of Britain. I also referred to a dispatch from Dowding from 1941, after the battle. In this dispatch he says that Britain was able to be successful because the RAF refused to “crack” against the Luftwaffe. He also gives a lot of credit to the Royal Observer Corps in this source, saying that they were the sole means of tracking raids once the Luftwaffe crossed the coast. Words from Hugh Dowding himself serve as great primary sources for the paper because they allow me to get an inside look of how he went about forming his defensive strategy.
The next factor of the Dowding System that I looked at was what was known as “Big Wing controversy.” This controversy was at the heart of the tension between Hugh Dowding and some other RAF commanders who did not agree with his methods during the battle. Big Wing strategy was the idea of meeting a large Luftwaffe force with a mass formation of fighter squadrons. John LaSaine describes this controversy in his book, mentioning Trafford Leigh-Mallory, commander of Fighter Group 12, as one of the main proponents of the Big Wing and a rival of Dowding as well as Keith Park. Park was the commander of Fighter Group 11 and an ally of Dowding when it came to his defensive strategy. Park preferred to break up Luftwaffe forces with quick counterattacks and accused Leigh-Mallory of taking too much time to concentrate a large force when trying to employ his Big Wing tactics. Niall Mackay and Christopher Price in their article “Safety in Numbers: Ideas of Concentration in Royal Air Force Fighter Defence from Lanchester to the Battle of Britain” dive into the Big Wing controversy and explain different reasons for why the tactics Dowding preferred were more successful than the Big Wing tactics employed by Leigh-Mallory and includes statistics from the battle demonstrating this.
My next research step was fully about going through John LaSaine’s Air Officer Commanding: Hugh Dowding, Architect of the Battle of Britain. This is a full book that covers how Dowding got to where he was and how he came up with his system for the German invasion. The book give all kinds of incite that is relevant to my paper for obvious reasons. Some of what I focused on was Dowding’s preference to use fighters as opposed to bombers and why this preference existed. The book details his career beginnings and talks about how he rose to the top of the Royal Air Force despite never being heavily involved with bombers which was a major factor of RAF strategy. He had always been a fan of fighters because they are much better suited for quick attacks as well as defense. The book details how Dowding actually had a large role in separating bombers and fighters, previously under a joint command, into Fighter Command and Bomber Command in 1936 while he was a member of the Air Counsel. He of course took over Fighter Command and led this command through the Battle of Britain where his strategy was extremely reliant on the heavy use of fighters.
My next research step examines the work of Barry Posen. Posen’s piece is interesting for my paper because it mentions a few more unique aspects of what was going on that is not mentioned in many of my other sources. For one, he talks about the development of the system but mentions how it affected the economy of Britain. Posen admits that military development was important for Britain during this time of war but goes into how this development damaged the economy of Britain following the war. He also talks about how Hugh Dowding was viewed within the public whereas most sources focus on his relations with his fellow commanders. Posen gives Dowding credit in this respect because the people wanted to be safe within their nation and therefore wanted a strong defensive system. While other Royal Air Force commanders wanted to focus on offensive bombing, the people wanted a strong defense and this is what Dowding gave them, making him a champion of the people, according to Posen. If the battle plan was more focused on offensive bombings, the country would have been more vulnerable to terror bombings that would affect the civilians. Although this did eventually happen, it was not until later in the battle once the Luftwaffe became frustrated that it could not break British forces.
Over the last few weeks I felt a little worried about the direction of my paper. I thought I had interesting, important information on the SPHAS as a team and movement, but wasn’t quite sure how to connect these seemingly disparate pieces. Most of all, I couldn’t shake the feeling of having not enough primary source/archival information to parallel the substantial secondary sources I drew from. Luckily, putting together my presentation really helped navigate around the problems I encountered. Throughout the presentation process, I realized not only that I had an adequate amount of primary sources, but that these sources meshed with the overall theme of the paper.
Additionally, assembling the final presentation gave me a better idea of how to sequence my writing. In a change from the isolated writing process, the verbal/visual format forced me to discuss my thesis and supporting points in a clear, organized manner. I kept in mind that the audience had virtually no experience with the topic, so I tried to find a way to relay both the basic historical framework of Jewish life/basketball in Philadelphia and the cultural impact of the SPHAS. Overall, I think I was able to find a decent balance between introducing the topic and addressing the core supporting arguments of my paper.
Although I was nervous to present, I tried to bind each part of my project together with references to my thesis. Staying focused was probably the biggest challenge, as it’s relatively easy to over-analyze a specific sub-topic (such as one player/coach/game). However, I hope I was able to engage my peers and interest them in the intersection of basketball, urban life, and Philadelphia’s Jewish population in the first half of the twentieth century.
Presenting research of the extent that was done for this course was something I had not had the pleasure of doing prior to last week. It could not have gone any better. The one thing was that my family could not be there to see it, but observing only one person brought acquaintances made me feel better about that. I just wish the recording had worked the way I intended. All that remains at this point is making my revisions and introducing the backdrop. I trust Dr. Lowe enough that the revisions she suggested two weeks ago will be enough to complete the project. I also trust that enough research exists, especially on sites such as Philly GeoHistory, to pinpoint the research I need for my backdrop.
It is hard to believe that the end is almost near for this class and for college as a whole. The twists and turns that this project took me on were something I did not anticipate. When I thought of this project one year ago, I had no idea what to expect. I thought that I would just do Monument Cemetery’s story, but I knew that was not the only location in Philadelphia to experience such issues. Special Collections visits were one of my favorite parts of this project. I got to know the staff well, and it was one of my favorite spots to complete my work this semester. I hope it can be of use sometime in the future depending on my career. As I have seen peers present research, I am leaning towards seeking to have this work published in some type of way. That goal may not come quickly on account of Paley Library’s closure this summer. This is my intent regardless of my future endeavors. I would like to conclude this last entry with a thank you for a few people. First, I would like to thank those who reviewed my paper in our class. Your insight was vital towards collecting my thoughts enough to complete the paper. Next I would like to thank those outside of the course, namely family members, other professors, and other students for their encouragement. Lastly I would like to thank Dr. Lowe. There are not enough kind words to say about our professor. When Dr. Bryant Simon suggested I take her last semester, I thought it to be sincere. I never would have imagined the benefits would be this great. It is so fitting that I found my favorite college professor in my last semester, especially for this class. Thank you for being my greatest resource and a source of inspiration for all of us, including your help in obtaining a Diamond Award this semester. Your kindness and appreciation will not soon be forgotten. It has been a pleasure being in this course. I wish everyone the best of luck in your future endeavors.
This semester has truly been a new experience for me and I feel a little sad being almost finished. I have written many research papers throughout my college career but this has been an entirely different experience. Over the last semester I have gotten closer to my city and explored topics that I would have never expected to. While spending time in Temple’s Special Collections and General Collections, reading the vast wealth of knowledge of life in Philadelphia, I have found myself truly inspired to voice to issues that many Philadelphians have faced. These issues do not stop with the implementation of urban highways at the expense of well established peoples and are by no means confined to Philadelphia. In order to tackle the issues of private property seizures and eminent domain policy we must first explore and analyze the first steps of the long standing process. By choosing the topic that I have I think I’ve made a good contribution.
I have found myself many times this semester explaining my topic to friends and family and often times people really don’t even know or recognize the issue. It has been proven vital that conversation and dialogue about an issue is the only way to spur change and I feel that I have done this in my paper. I am happy to stand behind the product of my hard work and plan on continuing the dialogue well into the years to come. I want to thank everyone that I’ve worked with this semester and all my years at Temple, it has truly been a special and memorable experience.
Wrapping up this semester has felt bittersweet. After working on this paper for so long, it feels weird to almost be finished with it. I am happy with the content and length of my paper, and spent this week doing some heavy proofreading.
At the end of my presentation, Dr. Lowe said “Basically, Fascism never really died in Italy.” I really enjoyed this phrase and have decided to begin my conclusion with it.
Throughout this entire process, I have found explaining my topic to those who know nothing about it to help me organize my thoughts. I did this with my roommate and my family at Easter lunch today, and I think it helped me create clearer claims, and also helped me to rework my thesis. My theses on the presentation and paper were different, and I think my thesis was much clearer on the presentation. The presentation helped me with word choice. The time limit helped me keep my thoughts concise, and I spent this week transferring these concise thoughts back into my paper.
This semester really flew by, and I can’t believe I’m turning in my final draft on Wednesday. I thought that this class really challenged me and made me a better writer. I wish everyone the best going forward!
This week I prepared my presentation and worked on completing the final draft of my paper. I have been adding more personal accounts and other primary sources to better support my thesis. The presentation really helped with the structure of my paper. When I was making my presentation, I realized that certain parts of my paper should be reorganized in a different way so it would flow better. I think it really helped, and my paper is more understandable and flows better now. I am still working on it though, and I plan to take it to the Writing Center one more time before I hand in the final draft of my capstone.
I have also continued to work on revising my title. Originally, it was very basic, so I wanted to make it more clear and interesting. However, I have still not been able to figure out a new title. I have never been very good with titles, so I have been going through a few different ones trying to decide on the best one. The title on my presentation was what I had come up with so far, but it is still quite basic and boring. I am hoping that going through all my research and paper again will help me come up with a better title.
This week I prepared for my presentation. Although I had started to work on the material I was planning to present last week, I had not yet began formatting it into an actual presentation. As I developed my presentation, I was able to identify several areas of my paper that I would like to adjust moving forward, such as my decision to omit any meaningful inclusion of Susan Branson’s These Fiery Frenchified Dames: Women and Political Culture in Early National Philadelphia. Another example would be my title, which is both accurately descriptive, and long and cumbersome.
I have also continued to integrate the comments I received on the last two drafts of my paper. One of the big suggestions which came out of the last two peer-review sessions was that I consider including the specific reactions of Jefferson, Adams, and Madison to the ratification of the Twelfth Amendment. Although I was initially going to do this, I have been unable to locate definitive statements from any of them concerning their opinions on the Amendment.
Beyond the comments which I received, I have also been working to reformat many of my citations to better conform to the Chicago Manual of Style. Because of the nature of several of my sources, this has required a decent amount of research in and of itself. Additionally, I have continued to research the topics introduced to me during my recent meeting with Dr. Roney, most notably how the Yellow Fever outbreak in the 1790s illustrated the partisanship which was growing in the U.S. at the time.