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African American Studies: AAS300 Junior Paper Seminar

Guide to using library resources to prepare your Junior Paper in African American Studies

The problem in a nutshell

You need a topic

  • that you care about;
  • that addresses a scholarly question;
  • for which you can identify primary sources that are accessible to you; and
  • that's the right size for a 30-page paper due on Dean's Date.

Is your topic feasible?

Do not choose a topic for which there is no secondary literature and no primary sources that are accessible to you. Some questions to ask yourself, your advisor, and me:

  • Have other scholars found your topic worthwhile? It's better not to choose a topic on which there is no scholarly secondary literature whatsoever. (Possibly what you have is a good Ph.D. dissertation topic, but more likely it is not feasible for some other reason.)
  • Are the sources for your topic written in a language you can read?
  • Are the sources for your topic published, or unpublished? Are they available in print, on microfilm, or online?
  • Are the sources for your topic available at Princeton? If not, can you borrow them (through Borrow Direct or Interlibrary Loan) from another library?
  • Are the sources for your topic available somewhere else nearby? Can you travel (on a Friday, or over fall break) to another library or archive, or do you have other commitments that would make that impossible?
  • Bottom line: choose a topic that is both small enough to be manageable and substantial enough to interest you and your readers

Librarian for History and African American Studies