Research Proposal

When I first learned of this semester’s theme of youth, I was overwhelmed because there are so many topics of research one could pursue that include the theme.  Originally, I wanted to interview people about their experiences in college and how they believe their experiences from decades ago compare to their perception of the college experience today.  While pondering how to incorporate Williamsburg in this research, I remembered our conversation in class about how some William and Mary students plan to move away after graduation but find their way back.  As a result, I have decided to investigate why some William and Mary alumni make Williamsburg their home.

By conducting interviews with local alumni in addition to looking at the Williamsburg Regional Library’s collection of profiles of Williamsburg residents, I hope to gain a better understanding of what draws William and Mary alumni back to Williamsburg (or what keeps them here) and what particular college experiences were influential in the decision to return to (or stay in) Williamsburg.  Looking at old news articles on town-gown relations may also shed light on what influenced students to remain in Williamsburg after graduation.  I will also monitor local media to see if there are any articles on alumni-specific events as well as articles on current town-gown relations.  Moreover, I believe the William and Mary Alumni Association and its Williamsburg chapter will be very helpful resources.

I look forward to beginning the research process.  My hope is that my final project will provide readers and me with a better understanding of the college experience’s lifelong influence on individuals.  Specifically, I hope this will provide accounts of the strong ties that remain long after graduation between William and Mary alumni, the College and the City of Williamsburg.

Sample questions the paper will address:

What similarities exist between the various individuals who have remained in Williamsburg?

What similarities exist between the various individuals who decided to return to Williamsburg later in life?

What drew alumni to Williamsburg? Are they active in the alumni community?

What were their college experiences like? Similarities? Differences?

What, if anything, about their college experiences influenced them to stay or return to Williamsburg?

What resources are available to alumni who live in Williamsburg?  What types of events and meetings does the local alumni chapter plan?

How do local alumni feel about their relationship to and with the College today?

1 Response to “Research Proposal”

  1. 1 sgglos February 6, 2013 at 9:10 pm

    I’m glad you’re aware of the Wmbg Alumni chapter. I sometimes get emails from them and will forward them to you as they come in. They’d welcome you to an event, I suspect! I have a few more ideas of folks you can chat with. I urge you to think about this topic through the lens of “youth” – what time of life comprises youth? What qualities are we talking about when we talk about youthfulness? What associations do alumni/residents have with Williamsburg and youth? What can we learn about how we understand youth (and how that understanding likely shifts over time)from the experiences and perspectives of the people you interview? So, in other words, your project (perhaps more than any other) has the potential to help us understand this nebulous concept of “youth”.

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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