A little while back, I had a new post asking you what you wanted to see here on the blog. (Want to see something? Read about something? Comment here.) One of the comments I received was asking me to share what I am currently working on, researching, and now writing.
Well, I feel like should start with the big picture and then I’ll share the project I’m currently buried in. For me, narrowing down my focus for graduate school was the most difficult task. As an undergrad, all those years ago, I loved multiple periods of US history. But I’ve finally found my love in nineteenth-century US. I focus on gender and religion during that period. And I love what I study, I find both the development and reinforcement (and challenging of) gender roles and religions during this period fascinating. I also find that they work extremely well together. Women tended to outnumber men in Christian churches, and while this space tended to reinforce the male-dominated hierarchy, it also provided a safe space for women to act as leaders and pioneers. I also find them the most exciting topics to teach because early students to history tend to overlook the importance of both women and religion in American history.
In my current research, and really what I’ve been studying off and on for the past five years, I study Mormon women in the nineteenth century. This began with the thesis I wrote while pursuing my Masters degree. That thesis looked at how polygamy and missionary work intersected in the late nineteenth century, using the Hawaiian mission field as a case study. Now I have shifted to looking more specifically women in the Mormon benevolent organization, the Relief Society (also known as the Female Relief Society). I am looking at the period in the organization’s history before incorporated into the Church. I have been working on this specific project for just under a year. I consider the Relief Society in the same vein other historians have looked at other benevolent organizations of this period (Mary Ryan, Nancy Hewitt, Lori Ginzberg, Anne Boylan). I have my argument, but I’ll save that until after I have submitted the thesis and the thesis committee and approved it. So this might be a “to be continued” post…
At this point I both love and hate my project. I love the information I found and I love the research work. But I hate that place after writing first and second drafts of the paper. Now I’m working on my fourth draft, reading through again trying to fix the problem spots (there are many!) and make all the sections come together to form a whole. Oh the art of writing! Do you have any tips for writing that helps you construct your papers, essays, articles, or even books? Trust me, I could use the suggestions!!
And I want to know what you are currently researching! It could be a scholarly project or such a random search on the internet trying to understand something. It may be historical or not. Share your interests, your process, and what you plan to do with what you find here!