The goal of this course is to help students learn to research and contextualize the history of buildings and sites. In order to gain first-hand exposure to the actual materials of building histories, we will visit our neighborhood research sites and several key archival repositories.
Students will work directly with historical evidence, including maps, deeds, the census, city directories, insurance surveys, photographs, and many other kinds of archival materials. After discussing each type of document in terms of its nature and the motives for its creation, students will complete a series of projects that develop their facility for putting these materials to effective use.
Philadelphia is more our laboratory than a primary focus in terms of content, as the city is rich in institutions that hold over three centuries of such materials; students will find here both an exposure to primary documents of most of the types they might find elsewhere, as well as a sense of the culture of such institutions and of the kinds of research strategies that can be most effective. The final project is the completion of an historic register nomination.
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