Historic Marker Research Package
All documentation and evidence will be submitted on your blog. This is 30% of the final grade for the class.
Step 1: Identify a historic marker
Using the Virginia Department of Historic Resources Historical Highway Marker’s database, or other approved site, select a historical highway marker you think needs revision and updating. Describe why you chose the marker you did. What stood out to you? Why do you find this subject interesting as a scholar?
- VA DHR Historical Highway Marker’s website
- Historical Markers in Prince William County
- Fairfax County History Commission Historical Roadside Markers
Step 2: Analyze historic marker
Analyze your selected historical highway marker. Consider the following questions: When was the marker created, and by whom? Who was the marker created for—who was the primary audience? What trends were prevalent in the historical profession at that time that might have influenced the original research and writing of the marker? What part of the story is missing from the narrative?
Step 3: Find evidence
Locate primary sources to use to research a more comprehensive and holistic narrative of the historical highway marker. Local historical societies, the Library of Virginia, Virginia newspapers, and the databases available via George Mason University Libraries will be particularly helpful. While you will primarily rely on primary sources to revise the historical highway marker, you will also need to be fluent in the secondary literature on your selected topic.
- Virginia Room, Fairfax County Public Library
- Thomas Balch Library
- Virginia Chronicle
- Chronicling America
- Library of Virginia
- GMU Libraries
Step 4: Create a content packet
Create a content packet for your historical highway marker. In real-world scenarios, historians are consulted for their expertise in the discipline and for creating factually accurate chronicles of historical events. In your packet, you will include the following:
- The text of the original marker.
- The evidence—both primary and secondary sources—you consulted. Your sources must be listed in a bibliography adhering to the rules set out by the Chicago Manual of Style.
- Your audience. Identify who the primary and secondary audiences are for your historical highway marker. (~300 words)
- A storymap or a timeline to tell the narrative of your historical highway marker. You can use any of the following tools or softwares:
- Full draft of revised text. (1,000 words minimum)
- Statement of significance. Consider the following questions: Why is this important? Why do people need to know this? What are the most important aspects of this story? (400 words minimum)
Step 5: Draft revised marker
Distill your full draft of revised text to 100 words. This skill is a highly valued one in the historical profession, particularly in the fields of digital humanities and public history. You need to think about how best to clearly communicate to your identified audiences the most important pieces of your historical topic succinctly and effectively.