As we are beginning to piece together our project on H. T. Burleigh, our class has divided into a handful of different specializations in order to create a more polished, cohesive project. I am looking forward to taking on another week of researching with Jessie and Miles.
Jean Snyder, author of Harry T. Burleigh From the Spiritual to the Harlem Renaissance, graciously provided our class with some of her material on Burleigh, so Jessie and I are focused on following up on those leads. We are adding more performers, such as John McCormack and Kitty Cheatham, to get a more comprehensive look at who performed Burleigh works during his lifetime. The work has been similar to my research on Marian Anderson, which has helped to speed up the research process since I now know how to use the newspaper databases more effectively.
We are also solidifying the data we already have by tracking down information that remains unknown. The task is a daunting one, if others have struggled to find the information, how are we supposed to find it?
A piece of advice to future researchers in a similar situation is don’t give up. The data is out there somewhere (most likely), and you get to find it! It’s exciting, like a treasure hunt, following leads from database to database until you finally find the information you need. That’s one of the most satisfying feelings, but it takes determination and patience, which can be difficult with a fast approaching deadline. With that being said, a researcher must know when to move on. Not everything can be solved on the first go-around. If you search without any success after 15-30 minutes, take a break, research something else, and then go back to it later. An exhaustive, all-consuming search will only wear you out, so do your best to moderate.
It may seem intimidating at times, but there’s no right or wrong way of conducting research. Just trust in the process and keep trying. I haven’t always found everything I was looking for, but I can guarantee you how rewarding it feels to find the piece of information you’ve been searching for. After a couple weeks of constantly researching, I can’t wait to see how our project transforms from a mass of data-filled spreadsheets into an engaging and interactive page on this website.