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Corroborating Information: Integrating Multimedia Sources

Overview

In this lesson, you will use advanced research skills to find, evaluate, and use multimedia sources that explain the spread of the Civil Rights Movement.

In particular, you will learn to:

  • Use advanced search effectively
  • Narrow or broaden your inquiry when needed
  • Use various multimedia sources in order to answer a question​

Searching for Information

Historical knowledge can come from a variety of sources – books, magazines, maps, films and videos, preserved information such as letters or journals, objects left behind, or conservations with people you know.

Today, you will learn how to use the Internet to find sources that answer a specific question.

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Because the question involves geography and history, maps and other visual information can be useful digital resources.

This search will be a model of how to search in other mediums.

Searching: A Review

There are a variety of places to look for information: Internet search engines, databases, library shelves, textbooks, and other people are all helpful sources.

This lesson will focus on web-based (Internet) searches for examples.

In general, searches start very generally with a broad topic, which is then narrowed by creating a more specific search term or question. Often, you can perform a simple search by typing a word or phrase into the search box of a search engine. This may or may not produce the best results for academic research.

There is a better way: the advanced search.

Advanced searches make it possible to streamline your search process. They are the standard in academic databases, online card catalogs, etc.

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“Advanced Search” allows you to combine several types of things in your search – terms, types of resources, specific phrases, etc. Each of these is possible with a general search, but the advanced search functionality makes it much easier to create a specific search.

Advanced Search – How To​

Advanced Search – An Example

For example, you want to find sources that specifically mention the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom’s economic goals. You can try an advanced search.

 

Searching “March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom” AND speeches AND “economic goals” produces more specific results. Note the use of quotes and delimits (“AND”).

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Searching for particular types of sources or changing the terms can narrow the search further. Removing these limits will broaden the search.

Understanding this type of search will become more important as you work with more academic resources, such as JSTOR.

For more tips on conducting an advanced search using Boolean parameters look at the University of California- Berkeley’s Li​brary Guide.

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Searching to Answer a Question – Know Your Goals

As this is a geography lesson, consider the following question:

How did the Civil Rights Movement spread throughout regions in the US and throughout groups?

Look at the question. What is it asking you to produce as evidence? The question requires discussion of how the Civil Rights Movement spread. This could be done by mapping locations of events and participants or by connecting sources that discuss how the Civil Rights Movement — in general or through specific events — served as inspiration for others.

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You need to search to find a variety of sources that trace the spread of the Civil Rights Movement from its beginning after World War II to a stopping point you choose.

How did the Civil Rights Movement spread throughout regions in the US and throughout groups?

“Throughout regions” implies geographic space. Think about the type of sources that would answer this question.

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These would be:

  • Maps
  • Timelines
  • Informational
  • Graphics

These are all visual. These sources would provide information about the locations of people and events related to African-American civil rights over time, i.e. the “spread.”

Adjusting Search Terms – An Example

Using the search term — “where did the civil rights movement spread” — did not produce many results. Thinking about your task and what evidence it requires will shape your search.

Change the search terms and the parameters of the search to a more general term: ‘“Civil Rights locations” AND “Maps”’

For example:

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Adjusting Search Terms – an Example

Examine this result from the ​National Park Service.

Read the text and look at the map.

Even though this source is the right format (a map) and addresses the general question, it does not answer the question of where the Civil Rights Movement spread. Therefore, more research is needed.

Adjusting Search Terms, Think about Evidence Needed

In order to adjust and refine your search, think again about what types of evidence you need to answer the question. The maps did not display events, the order these events occurred, or how they were related.

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Getting Information from a Search Result Description

Pay attention to the information contained within a source, as this will help you find the evidence you need. Searching for “civil rights movement” AND “timeline” produced a result from Civil Rights Chronology.

Click he​re for the website.

Read the description to see if the information on this website would answer the question.

Search Results – Examples

Searching for “civil rights movement” AND “timeline” produced results from two other sources:

1. Washington Post “Timeline: The Civil Rights Era”

2. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (Greensboro, NC) “America’s Civil Rights Timeline”

Read the descriptions of these sites to see if the information would answer your question.

Evaluating Results – Comparison

You have a lot of information that discusses the location of Civil Rights Movement events over time.

Decide what is useful to you.

Do this by looking at the format and the information contained within each source. See if there are commonalities or differences between the sources. Take notes on what you find and then prepare to organize the information you have gathered through your research.

Evaluating Results – Comparison Example

You now have three different sources of information on the same topic:

  1. Civil Rights Chronology
  2. The Washington Post “Timeline of the Civil Rights Era
  3. The International Civil Rights Center and Museum (Greensboro, NC) “America’s Civil Rights Timeline”

A graphic organizer, like a chart or a Venn diagram, will help you sort the information into the categories, to help you discuss the locations of different events in the Civil Rights Movement.

Evaluating Results- Comparison Example

A graphic organizer to compare the three sources of information makes it easy to see when and where Civil Rights events occurred.

For example, all three websites list the same event in 1954: Brown v. School Board of Topeka, KS. They differ on the next event and then agree on the third.

Event Location Source
1954—Brown v. School Board Topeka, KS Civil Rights Chronology
PBS
ICRCM
1955—Emmett Till’s murder Money, MS Civil Rights Chronology
ICRCM
1955—Rosa Parks/Bus Boycott Montgomery, AL Civil Rights Chronology
PBS
ICRCM

Combining Results

Although there was not one source with the exact information to answer the question, using several together can help you find an answer.

The graphic organizer makes it easier not only to compare, but also combine the information the sources provided into your own historical argument that answers the question about the spread of the Civil Rights Movement.

Combining Results- Example

The timelines show that Civil Rights Movement events began with the 1954 Brown v. School Board case in Kansas. By 1965, there were riots in Los Angeles, California (Watts). In 1966, there riots and protests had spread to many Northern and Southern locations.

With this information, you decide what evidence is significant and how to explain it in answer to the question:

“How did the Civil Rights Movement spread throughout regions in the US and throughout groups?”

This is how historians, and readers of history, work.

Conclusion

In this lesson you have learned how to conduct an advanced search by searching for sources showing information about the spread of the Civil Rights Movement.

Then, you integrated and evaluated multiple sources in different media and formats in order to answer a question.