Thoughts on the Completion of a MA in History: Thesis Track

I chose to write a thesis for my MA degree and that was one of the best choices I have ever made. It challenged me and also motivated me to write and to put into work the lifetime desire to write something bigger than a few pages or a blog post.

Writing and researching is always something that I have enjoyed, but this brought my skills to the next level and taught me that research is not just a skill, but a creative outlet. Research is one way that I am creative.

Choosing my topic was a lot easier than I anticipated. I chose one and stuck with it all the way through. My topic challenged me and motivated me to work harder and to look for research clues that might have been overlooked if I had given up early on.

Writing a thesis is more than just putting together words and ideas and opinions into a paper. Hours of research, googling, and looking for clues about my topic came before sometimes even one paragraph could be written. By my personal calculations I came to realize that to write one paragraph takes about one to two hours of research. That means that each page was about three to four hours of research and that for my thesis alone which was about one hundred pages over 400 hours of research. This calculates into nearly seven straight days of non stop research. If you add in the fact that not everything I researched went into my thesis., it complies nearly double the amount that was in the actual thesis.

I learned about the power of words and the importance of finding research and putting together the bigger story from the snap shots of information.

Piecing together an untold story takes more than hours of research, but creativity and a desire to keep going. Giving up is never an option with a story that has to be found. Finding a story takes a will power of determination and support from those around you.

The story that I told was one left to collect dust in the archives of history. The pieces and elements show the life of a man who lived an adventurous life, but was forgotten by history.

All of us want to be remembered or recognized. None of us want to be forgotten, forgetfulness happens. It is a part of life and time. When you are retelling a forgotten story there are more elements to the story than meets the eye. Digging for facts is more than one piece of information, but researching the times and the people around the forgotten story.

To understand the experience of someone who lived one hundred years ago, you have to look into the time period. What were people like? How did they live? What makes them different from the people we are today?

Answering these questions helps to broaden the research and allows the researcher and the readers to understand more than just who the person is that is being researched.

My thesis research spanned the course of a year from idea to completion. I spent the year looking for sources that contained information and seeing what all I could find.

Research began with the question of what information can I find today and then expanding into what ideas do I have to further the knowledge of this guy.

From there I jumped into archives and phone calls and went into the deep collections of information from over one hundred years ago. The adventure continued throughout my year and between all the research writing happened.

The pages and chapters that made up my thesis were what I found in my research. Snapshots of a life lived long ago. These snapshots were then expanded into the story of who Paul J. Rainey was. The story that became my thesis.

This story has long been veiled and it is now about to make its entrance into the world of research.