This week I got a chance to visit the archives and begin sifting through primary source materials. The specific collection I looked at was the Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia Records, which I hope would help with piecing together the early history of the SPHAS. At first the experience was somewhat frustrating, as the documents were mostly athletic committee meeting minutes and made only sporadic references to basketball. The actual folder I was there to look at, “YMHA Basketball League Meeting Minutes,” only had 3 documents, which was pretty disappointing. However, I was able to glean a bit more from the overall athletic committee records, as a few valuable pieces of information did turn up.
Despite having difficulty with the archives, I was able to establish a better idea of where to look going forward. I’ve requested YMHA meeting minutes between the year 1915 and 1922 (around the time the SPHAS and YMHA parted ways), so I hope those are more informative. In terms of writing, I was able to complete my first draft of roughly 2,200 words over the weekend. For a while I was really confused about what direction to go in and felt completely overwhelmed by the differences between the secondary sources I chose. I’m still behind, but I think I’m off to a good start writing wise and hope that the next round of primary materials will give a lot more.
This week was the first I felt confident about the direction of my paper and really gained an understanding of the dynamics I want to study. For a while I struggled with how to address the entire four-decade history of the team without simply restating what other historians have already said. However, I decided to elaborate on a specific, underreported part of the team’s history (the split between the SPHAS and Philadelphia’s largest Jewish community organization, which occurred in the early 1920s). This allows me to analyze what I’ve learned from the secondary sources, while also being able to come up with something new via primary source research.
I did not turn in a 5000 word draft this week, but that is far from a representation of how this week has went. I consider this an accomplishment because this has been a turbulent week in news outside of this class. It started on Monday when I finally had a one-on-one with Dr. Nepa. He recommended that I narrow my scope to four cemeteries removed during the urban renewal period. He also stated Special Collections was the best place to obtain primary research. As far as other collections, HSP in his opinion would be more helpful than the City Archives. This advice was helpful because it allows me to narrow my scope to four case studies with limited primary research. My paper will therefore undergo a revision in structure. It will first highlight important aspects of cemetery culture in America in hopefully no more than two or three pages. Then it will dive into the case studies one by one in chronological order. I mentioned in last week’s entry that my paper was not in chronological order; I believe this will solve that problem. The case studies will proceed in the following manner: Ronaldson’s (1950), Odd Fellow’s (1951), Monument (1956), and Union Burial Ground (1970.) During the case studies section I plan to compare these removals since two took place in North Philadelphia and the others in South Philadelphia. I will also argue that burial relocation to the suburbs contributed to the suburbanization movement during the period of study. I plan to wrap up the paper by briefly discussing current events topics in cemetery removal and summarizing the case studies.
For this restructuring to be possible I had to obtain primary materials. Thankfully Special Collections had a great amount of material on all four cemeteries. I have transferred this content as photographs with their permission on all cemeteries but Monument. One issue could be that each of the primary sources come from the “Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.” I plan to consult about this further. On Wednesday I met with Dr. Lowe to discuss a road map towards turning in my 5000-word draft. I plan to stick by that agreement to the best of my ability. In the coming week I will execute the plan and obtain the final primary material for Monument. I will then refine my paper to aim closer to the upcoming first full draft due date. The processes should be aided by additional time that I do not normally have on Wednesday and Friday. I look forward to catching up and completing the draft.
This week I worked on my 5000-word draft. I decided to include my historiography to get some peer feedback ahead of our writing retreat next week, because I intend to spend most of that time working to overhaul that section of my paper. The version of the historiography which I included with this week’s draft contained the revisions and edits which were recommended to me after its original submission some weeks ago. I was genuinely looking forward to this week’s peer review session as an opportunity to receive comments about my historiography, and as a way of finding new formatting and transition ideas by reading others’ historiographies. I came away from this week’s class confident that I could create a historiography that I was pleased with; something I couldn’t say about the version I submitted previously.
In the lead up to our class this week, my time was spent writing and preparing my 5000-word draft. In the days after our class, my work schedule has only allowed me time to review the comments my draft received, rather than letting me jump back into writing and revising. I think that this time off from full-on writing will serve as a valuable reset before the self-editing process begins in earnest.
I realized before our class on Wednesday that I had never reached out to the historian recommended to me by our professor. I had intended to email her the week before our spring break, but I apparently never sent it. I realized my mistake when I was going through my inbox looking for any response, only to find my initial email sitting in the drafts folder. I will be sure to include any response I receive in next week’s update post.
This week, I continued to work on forming the part of my paper that focuses on the specific policies of the Reform and Opening Period. I’m going to keep working on it this upcoming week because I’m still missing a few aspects of it. I have also been looking up more primary sources to use. Once I began writing the first draft of my paper two weeks ago, I found holes in my paper where I wanted to include primary sources but did not have primary sources that would fit best. I have found more speeches given by Deng Xiaoping on the reforms and what he intended for them to do. I have also tried to find an archive in the area that has documents from this era, but I have not found one yet. I’m going to continue to look for more primary sources this week and hopefully find an archive that will have some. I also worked on the organization of my paper this week. When I first began writing it, I felt that it was very disorganized and difficult to follow. However, this week I focused on reorganizing a few things so it would be easier to follow. I have also been working on correcting the passive voice in my paper. I tried to go to the writing center this week, but I did not have enough time. Therefore, I plan to take what I have done so far to the writing center to see how I can improve it this upcoming week.
This week was spent mainly researching Italian politics. I wrote extensively about them in my second draft, and I believe they add the missing piece to my central argument. In preparation for my final drafts, I need to mesh together the claims of my paper better. I have the art history section, the political science section, and the modern section. I need to bring all of these sections together into one cohesive paper around my argument of the Mussolini obelisk allowing neo-fascism to thrive in Rome. Paragraph order and organization is something I find myself struggling with on this project, but I welcome this challenge, since I expected my challenges to lie in finding sources, and that has not been the case.
I also spent some time researching the role of women in Italian fascist propaganda. While the government emphasized the role of wife + mother that women needed to serve, women were also included in the balilla youth. I will add my new research to the paper to show the all encompassing nature of fascist propaganda, and really drive home how the propaganda was inescapable during 1930s and 40s Rome.
I still could not find any transcript or recordings of the Mussolini Ascension Day speech I was looking for, so that was disheartening. Still, I think I believe my paper will be strong without it.
Next week will be spent reworking my intro paragraphs to include the new material I decided to write about that wasn’t included in my outline. Perhaps reworking my outline will help in this process, too. I am looking forward making a ton of progress this week, and I am excited to see what my first full draft looks like.
This week I was able to go to the Philadelphia archives to access primary source materials coming from inner-city families in the Philadelphia area that were affected first hand from the implementation of both the Schuylkill Expressway and I-95. I was able to obtain access to multiple boxes that has numerous newspaper cut outs from the Philadelphia Tribune, a traditionally African-American operated newspaper, that goes significant justice to my goal of hearing this group of people’s voices.
Black and lower income Philadelphians have traditionally been those most effected by the implementation of large highway systems and I feel as though the news, put out by the community most effected, will yield the most useful content. Although I have been able to obtain access to the materials, it has proven to be a bit difficult to sift through. There is such a large volume of materials that deal with my topic that the volume is truly becoming troubling. I know that this is far from the worst possible outcome when dealing with a research project but it is something that I have yet to encounter in my undergraduate career. In order to deal with this I have narrowed the topics which my primary sources will cover and I have begun to let my writing fill in the blanks around the primary sources rather than letting the words interpret what sources I will use. This strategy has proven to be extremely helpful in going through the document.
The documents themselves include accounts on the extension of the Schuylkill Expressway in 1972 and the role that the University of Pennsylvania had in preventing some cases of eminent domain. The source is very powerful and I plan on gathering more of the same when I return to the archive this upcoming Friday.
The previous week was somewhat challenging for me in terms of organization. I have a decent amount of secondary sources (10 book titles, multiple journal articles) that provide important information on specific areas of my project, but I’ve had trouble combining them to produce coherent, interesting ideas. For example, Peter Levine’s Ellis Island to Ebbets Field contributes a lot about American Jews and sports in the early 20th century, while Stark’s The SPHAS traces the history of the SPHAS as a team. Although both works are illuminating on their own, I’ve had a hard time figuring out how to discuss the SPHAS within the context of the leading scholarship on sports and Jews in America.
In order to break through this roadblock, I intend to zero in on a particular time in Jewish basketball history. Inspired by Ari Sclar’s work on New York’s 92nd Street YMHA (Young Man’s Hebrew Association), I plan on spending more time looking into the SPHAS break from their neighborhood YMHA. As highlighted by Sclar, the New York YMHA became concerned with basketball’s role in facilitating “unsavory” activities, such as fighting and gambling, in the early 20th century. I’m interested in finding out whether a similar debate occurred within the Philadelphia basketball community, and, if so, how it impacted the SPHAS.
Hopefully Temple’s “Jewish Community Centers of Greater Philadelphia” records, within the Jewish Archives Collection, will be able to shed some light on the SPHAS split with their local YMHA. Specifically, Ill be looking at a collection titled “Basketball League Meeting Minutes,” which spans the years 1922 to 1936. I think the split, and its potential results, could act as a catalyst for pushing my paper in a new, more focused direction.
With most of my research done already, I focused in on two areas this week. I wanted to research how to cite things such as images and statues in the Chicago style. I also wanted to find another primary source to use in my paper to emphasize how Mussolini used militaristic rhetoric when describing sports.
I found a great guide on how to cite paintings and images in Chicago on a website sponsored by Bates College. Those are the last things missing from my final bibliography, so I will be adding them into my bib in preparation for the final draft due in 2 weeks.
As for the primary source search, it has not gone well. I am looking for a certain speech given by Mussolini on Ascension Day in 1927 in Rome. According to some secondary sources, in this speech, Mussolini acknowledges Italy’s need for physical prowess and personal hygiene. If I cannot find this speech, I’ll just have to use the quotes from secondary sources that I find. I have found some other speeches that seem to be beneficial, however. I have found a 1941 Mussolini speech that speaks ill of the English, where Mussolini uses words like ‘victory’ and shows Mussolini discussing a certain superiority in culture and history over England. I could use this in my paper in relation with the England-Italy soccer rivalry that was occurring at the same time.
The last thing I am searching for is the Doctrine of Fascism, sort of Mussolini’s ‘Mein Kampf.’ Once I find this essay in its entirety, I want to search it to see if it mentions sport at all, with regards to physical health of the nation. I think that more primary sources would make my paper stronger, and would allow me to really drive home the point of how Mussolini made Fascism and sport inseparable in his society.
This week I had a set back with my research. I was sick most of the week so I unfortunately didn’t accomplish as much as I planned to. When working on the first mini draft this week, I had some organization and structuring issues that I was trying figure out. I also had some trouble writing the draft because I did not know where to start at first. Therefore, I think the first draft came out a little disorganized and had many holes in information. I plan to remedy that this week with the second draft. Besides working on the first mini draft this week, I found a few more secondary and primary sources I plan to use in my final paper. I have been able to find more sources that I hope will help to plug a few of the information holes the first draft had. I’ve also been going back to many of the sources I have used before in order to look over that information again to see if I could use it to plug any of the information holes.
For the second mini draft, I have been working on explaining the Reform and Opening Period economic policies better. The first draft I wrote did not include much about the policies, so it has been my goal for this week to go more in depth into these policies in my paper. I hope that by doing this it provides more background for understanding why the policies were enacted and what they were intended to do.
This week was another one filled with positives and negatives, but the negatives were fewer and further between compared to previous weeks. I finally resolved something on Thursday that I have been worried about for weeks now: how I am going to meet with Dr. Nepa. I am happy to report that I will meet with him tomorrow morning at 11 am. This is a significant development because as I said in class, I am not confident in my ability to find primary sources without his help. If all goes well, the meeting should cover how he conducted his research for his article “Cemeteries,” which I mentioned in a few previous entries, and then obtain his thoughts on cemetery removal. I plan to send him my secondary sources obtained to this point and the progress of my paper up to that point. After the meeting, I will send the Historical Society a request for material from their Woodlands Cemetery Company Papers. Exactly which boxes and catalogs I will request is not determined at this time. It is my hope that the meeting with Dr. Nepa will clear up the discrepancies between myself and the primary sources needed to complete the project. I am open to any follow-ups as well. In other news, it was refreshing to once again review someone else’s work. I felt that I provided the feedback Stephen White needed to complete his next draft. His paper, in my opinion, needs a clear road map to explain his intentions. His lack of information on his main topic until page six confused me, but a road map should resolve this issue. It also felt good to be back at Special Collections on Monday and Friday after a two-week absence. The two books that are held there have been the two best secondary sources I have to this point.
Another meeting I will have in the coming week will be with Dr. Lowe. This was something she had suggested before the break but sadly never materialized. One aspect she pointed out to me was that my paper has no clear timeline and was not in chronological order. This means that I am orienting my paper to fit my argument instead of providing a timeline for the reader. Getting this project re-oriented will be challenging because it is not a task I have undertaken in quite sometime. At the same time, it should be a simpler fix once my timeline is squared away and I have reliable primary sources. Dr. Lowe also provided me with a simpler way to cite my sources through Word’s insert footnote function. This was a trick no one had shown me before, and it will prevent me from tediously citing them as I had done previously. I would like to thank her for this and also suggesting contacts for help with my Web Mapping course. This is another course which takes up significant time for me and which I have struggled all semester. It has been one of my greatest obstacles thus far in completing this project. It has been a blessing to see Dr. Lowe wanting us all to succeed in all of our endeavors this semester. In the coming week, with help from my two planned meetings, I would like to obtain the primary sources needed and get as far along in my next mini-draft as possible. Unfortunately I do not think I can get to 5000 words before the next class. That said, I will come prepared with whatever I have prepared for that next class.