This is a picture of my binder. More specifically, this is THE BINDER, the one that holds every piece of information for HIST 499Y. It corresponds with a folder on my computer, but as they say in library sciences, lots of copies keep stuff safe! I've sectioned it off in the following ways:
- Forms: This has copies for the registration forms for CHC and the corresponding documents I handed in, just in case something were to go wrong in the registration process. I also keep my timeline here to make sure I'm on track, and a reminder of the goals of my thesis. In the future, this is the section where I plan to keep the first drafts of chapters, my bibliography, and list of people to include in my acknowledgements.
- Primary Sources & Secondary Sources: For each source I come across, I write a 1-2 page abstract with any key details or quotes. I've organized the primary sources by archives, while the secondary sources are alphabetized by author. At the top of the page is a citation for footnotes. This part of my binder has been a godsend for my literature review - I already have the main points of each article/book written right there!
- Unprocessed Primary Sources: Reading nineteenth-century handwriting is very difficult, especially with a time constraint. My initial notes from my archives visits are messy shorthand and transcriptions. In this section, I’ve kept all the notes I haven’t had time to re-type for an organized and readable format.
- Processed Sources: This includes all of the primary/secondary sources that I had printed out, random microfilm screenshots, email correspondence with leading and local historians, notes from my meetings with my advisor, and documents/articles that I picked up along the way but no longer need. At some point, I’ll clean out this section too.
This binder is my lifeline, and it’s also a physical reminder of what I’m working towards. One of the hardest things about the first semester of the honors thesis is that you don’t have a tangible product to show off to the world; it’s more about showing you have the foundation in place for next semester. In addition to helping you stay organized, I highly recommend a binder or some way of physically storing relevant information for your thesis.