Researcher Profiles: Erica Deschak

This is the second in a new series on researchers who use our collections. Meet Erica Deschak! Here are her thoughts on the research process and the special collections of George Mason University Libraries.

Please tell us a little about yourself:

My name is Erica Deschak. I turned 21 last week, I’m a junior at George Mason University majoring in History. I would like to minor in either linguistics or literature.

Describe your research project:

My research project is an archival paper about local history. I used George Mason’s Special Collections and Archives to research the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area, and their views on the local juvenile justice system.

How did you find the collections here at SC&A?

I took History 300 with Professor Laura Moore this past semester (Fall 2011). On our first day of class, she took us to Special Collections to meet
Leah [Richardson], and to get some basic exposure to archives; procedures, folders, boxes etc.

How did you learn to conduct primary source research?

As a student, I have been exposed to primary source research before, but this semester allowed me to further my research a lot more. English 302 with Professor Saunders, History 352 with Professor Ritterhouse… I had many opportunities to do “original” research.

Advice on primary source research for other undergraduates or first-time researchers?

When doing archival research for the first time, take your time, and write down EVERYTHING. Pay attention to details. Everything has meaning.

What are your impressions of GMU? The archives?

Mason has been a great experience so far.  Special Collections is not intimidating. It’s for students and scholars, and everyone I talked to was extremely helpful. It made my research paper a lot more enjoyable.