Wednesday, May 8, 2013

URSP Student Nicole Dierkes Researches Women’s Impact on Desegregation in Fairfax County from the 1950s through the 1970s

I first became interested in my project while researching topics for my History 300 class. Throughout all of the classes that I have taken towards earning my bachelors degree, I have found that the ones that interest me the most have been about African Americans and about women. It was my quest to try to combine these two ideas into something that I could tangibly research for the semester.

At first my research was generally unsuccessful. I had found a few primary sources in the Special Collections and Archives, but none that I could relate. Finally, after months of research, I began to piece together primary documents and formulate a story. My research became centered upon the impact that women (both white and black) had on the desegregation of Fairfax County Public Schools.
I think that this research is related to my long term goals because it has taught me how to persevere when I felt that my findings were not going in the direction I wanted them too. It also taught me an appreciation of what it means to truly research and to dedicate oneself to research. My project has not been simply reading a book or articles and formatting them into a paper in my own words. I have taken primary documents, such as minutes from board meetings and memorandums, and created what I feel traces the unique story of how FCPS desegregated.
On a weekly basis, I continue to try and find primary sources that relate to what I have been researching and to sift through them and connect them to the mostly forgotten, but nonetheless influential women who helped bring an end to segregation in Fairfax. This week, I have focused on bringing a little more secondary research into my project. I have been looking at the ways other counties in Virginia are both similar to Fairfax and different. I found that Arlington was the first to desegregate and in many ways was the example which many counties, Fairfax included, chose to integrate their public schools.