The University of Oklahoma Historical Journal
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Preface to the Second Issue of the OU Historical Journal by Jamie Hart, Chair, University of Oklahoma Department of HistoryMy name is James Hart and I am the new Chairman of the History Department. Welcome to the second annual edition of the University of Oklahoma Historical Journal. The Historical journal has been developed in the last two years as a product of the department’s long-standing commitment to excellence in undergraduate research and writing. In recent years, we have developed a three-step training program for undergraduate history majors designed to develop and enhance writing skills. The History Sleuth is our basic historical methods class, introducing students to the wide variety of issues surrounding the nature of historical evidence and instructing them in the use and presentation of that evidence in support of an historical argument. The Colloquium that follows is a writing intensive course challenging students to apply those skills to different kinds of writing assignments which deal with different kinds of historical problems. Both courses then lead to the Capstone which focuses attention on a single, major research project in a particular field of history. This course allows students to immerse themselves in the literature of a chosen field, to develop their own ideas about the ‘hows’ and ‘whys’ of a particular historical problem, and then to marshal and synthesize their evidence to support an original argument.The papers presented below are all products of that evolutionary process. This year, the Journal received twenty five submissions, all of which were considered carefully by the editorial board. The editorial board then selected six of those they considered outstanding to be published here. As you will see, the papers are notable not only for their intrinsic quality, but for the enormous range of topics undertaken by our student scholars.Next year, we hope to enhance this process further with another innovation. The department has this year undertaken a reform of our traditional American History survey courses, history 1483 and History 1493, which are required for all of OU’s undergraduates. We have redesigned our approach to make research and writing a central component of these courses as well. Instead of a three-day lecture format, students will have lectures two days a week and the third meeting will be given over to a small discussion sessions. The lectures will be offered only by senior history faculty who will bring to the classroom a wealth of experience in both teaching and research. The discussion sessions will then be guided by advanced graduate students who will be specially trained in writing and research pedagogy by members of OU’s expository writing faculty. It is our hope that this course will serve as a gateway course to many other classes at the University of Oklahoma. Like the above mentioned classes, it will introduce students to the means and methods of original research, but more important, will allow them to develop their own voice, to articulate their own ideas and arguments, both orally and in writing, in a way than enhances their educational experience and benefits us all. They will, we hope, eventually join the ranks of the prize-winning essayists below. We hope you will enjoy all of these endeavors.