Student Research Ignites a ‘Revolutionary’ Poster Exhibit

During winter quarter 2024, the UCR Library collaborated with Dr. Alejandra Dubcovsky and her History 197 students on a ‘revolutionary’ project.

From March 15 through March 28, 2024, a poster exhibit near the Information Desk in the Tomás Rivera Library was on display that offered different perspectives on the American Revolution.

Dr. Dubcovsky aimed to deepen students' understanding of the American Revolution by allowing students to explore it from diverse angles, with their research culminating in a poster exhibit.

“There are so many primary materials available and they cover all sorts of topics, from fashion to food, from warfare to everyday life, and from women's experiences to the role of political discourse,” Dr. Dubcovsky explained. “Students can always find something of interest in the American Revolution!”

Key to this exploration were the efforts of Social Sciences Teaching Librarian Michael Yonezawa and Arts and Humanities Teaching Librarian Robin M. Katz. They collaborated with Dr. Dubcovsky to design a library instruction session for the class that not only introduced students to valuable library resources but also helped them engage directly with primary sources.

Dr. Dubcovsky credited this collaboration as critical to the project's success, stating, "The library and librarians were instrumental in the success of the students' research projects. Michael and Robin then went above and beyond (as usual), and held individual meetings with each student; these one-on-one meetings allowed students to ask specific questions and resolve particular research queries."

Student Kasen Milhon-Martin appreciated the one-on-one session. “I met with Michael Yonezawa and he was incredibly helpful and walked me through using the databases…it was also really helpful to talk through my topic while looking for sources to use.”  

Another student in the class, Jacob Spencer, expressed how the library’s resources proved invaluable. "The library was the linchpin in my work…giving me free use of internet databases like Gale's Sabin Americana and JSTOR were immensely helpful."

Jacob was unaware of how easy library services like Interlibrary Loan were to use until this project, noting how smooth the process was.

“I needed a book that UCR didn't have, but through the interlibrary loan system, I was able to get it without any problems,” Jacob said. “It's such a wonderfully useful facet of the library that I most definitely will turn to should I need something that I can't pick right off the shelf at Rivera.”

Another History 197 student, Bailey Hellman, shared their enthusiasm for the accessible presentation of historical research through posters: "It's really nice to be able to see something that you have spent so much time working on being displayed. A lot of academic papers are difficult to read, so something like a poster makes historical work more digestible and accessible."

Bailey was surprised by all of the databases accessible to the UCR community for free through the UCR Library, "There are so many sources in those that don't come up with a simple Google search––and I couldn't have written my paper without them. It made everything so much easier," Bailey said.

Haydn Marshall, another student in the class, successfully tracked down the full original text of the Heritable Jurisdictions (Scotland) Act of 1746 in a book in the Rivera Library. There is a free online version from the UK Parliament’s website, but it only goes back to 1991 and not all of the original text is included. Haydn was able to leverage library resources to find the full original text version.

“I gave some advice, but I didn’t point out this specific title,” Robin M. Katz said. “This is just one example of the many students who had a chance to hone and demonstrate tremendous skill and initiative.”

Robin continued, “This story also shows how meaningful it is for us librarians to see students’ final projects – most of the time, we teach a session, or have a research consultation, or answer a question and we don’t know where the research leads. Getting to reconnect with Haydn and see his fantastic work and hear his insightful argument was a real highlight of the quarter for me.”

This exhibition not only showcased students' hard work but also underscored the library's vital role in fostering academic research and information literacy.

“Working with instructors to support students' information literacy development is one of our primary missions,” said Director of Teaching and Learning Britt Foster. “And being active creators of information, as with these posters, is the perfect example of this, as students are bringing together primary and secondary sources to tell these stories in new ways.”