20 December 2006

The Research Queue

343 words into my 500 for today's work on my new Brooklyn story and I realized I knew very few details regarding my protag's goal.

It's 1916. My protag, Anna, has her sights set on Columbia University. She plans to finish her last term of secondary school and head to Morningside Heights in Manhattan for a few years thereafter, where she may just get the notion to study law.

I know that Columbia's women's college, Bayard, opened in 1889.

And that's all I know offhand.

So today, after I complete my 500, I'm studying Bayard's history. All that information is copied into my Moleskine.

I also need to really study American upper-class in the WWI-era, because I need to know what will be good to use as conflict and what wouldn't have mattered so much. I'm dealing with old Manhattan Dutch money (think Vanderbilts, Roosevelts, Stuyvesants and Cortlandts) and I need to know my English-bred girl would fare among them (not well, I don't imagine). I also suspect that despite past grievances, upperclass America tried to mirror Edwardian and Belle Epoque England's culture.

If anyone knows of good books or Web references to this time, please please please post them here! I'm new to the era and I want to explore it fully. Oh the fun of historicals!

My questions for all of you out there:

  1. What's on your research queue?
  2. What are your tried-and-true research methods?
  3. Do your organize your research? If so, how do you do it? (or, inspire me!)