You may well want to dig in a little deeper by seeking out statistics or maps or even by doing your own field work. Stop by the reference desk to talk about your options.
you want to do research using actual historical documents? The College and Church Archives located on the upper level of the library is a place to get your hands on the raw materials of Gustavus history. But since these materials are one-of-a-kind, you have to handle them carefully, and you'll need assistance from the archives staff. This means planning ahead and making an appointment.
You can get a sense of what's available by browsing the digital collections.
Numbers may look like pure facts and are often presented as irrefutable proof, but they are shaped by the methods used to gather them. Whenever you use statistics, pay critical attention to who gathered them, how, when, and for what purpose.
The federal government provides a vast amount of data, summarized in the handy little book The Statistical Abstract of the United States (shelved behind the reference desk). This is often a good place to start.
The following Websites are good sources for demographic and social statistics.
Federal agencies often track information and have their own statistical bureaus. Examples are the National Center for Education Statistics, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and the National Center for Health Statistics.
Gallup Polls annual summaries are in the reference collection (Ref HN 90 .G29). Another source for raw opinion poll data is the Harris Vault, particularly useful for comparing public opinion on issues over time.
For maps you can pore over, check out the atlas case behind the Hasselquist room where you can find world, national, and historical maps. Online, map software and global positioning technology are being fused with data in interesting ways.
Easy to use map sites
Google Maps - for road maps, satelite images, and both. Google Street Views lets you visualize streets, block by block.
More sophisticated mapping tools
maps that show data
localized public map sites
Collections of maps online
You may have the opportunity to conduct original research by interviewing subjects, conducting a survey, holding focus groups, or recording systematic observations at a study site.
This may require approval from the Institutional Review Board, a committee that ensures the college complies with rules for research with human or animal subjects. Check with your teacher about this step before distrubing a survey or conducting other research involving people.
It can be time-consuming to recruit subjects and devise a means of gathering and interpreting your results. See The Everyday Writer for more informaiton about conducting fieldwork.