Research Update: June in Review and Goals for July

Ever since I got back from England on June 8, things have been very hectic. After losing a week of focused research during a family vacation, I have spent the past few weeks scheduling research appointments, ordering more sources, and preparing to start a part time job on my local historical society’s new oral history project. I can honestly say that my research visit in England has been one of the best experiences of my life, as I not only grew personally, but also grew in confidence as a researcher. 

My research in England went smoothly for the most part. Luckily, I was able to digitize most of the Rhys Davids papers sources I needed.  These were the main focus of my research visit and as there were a lot of sources to get through, photographing the sources was extremely helpful to aid the viewing process. Also, this will make my writing process easier, as rather than relying solely on my notes, I can refer back to a copy of the original document. While in Cambridge, I decided to take advantage of the wealth of psychology and sociology sources around me and research more about social identity theories. As I was looking at sources in Cambridge and London, I realized I had not yet formed my definition of “social identity” as it pertained to my research on the Royal Flying Corps. With this in mind, I started researching more into social identity theory to gain an interdisciplinary perspective on the idea of social identity in order to have a stronger approach to applying it to my own research. Currently, I am still working through sources pertaining the social identity theory to gain perspective on the different definitions of the theory and how these evolved over time.


At the RAF Museum, I got to see a lot of cool artifacts, including one of the few remaining original S.E.5.as, flown by pilots like James McCudden and Arthur Rhys Davids.



It had been a dream of mine to visit the Imperial War Museum London…And I am happy to say that it lived up to all of my expectations!


For July, I have three main goals to focus on: Albert Ball papers, more archival visits. and memoirs/popular culture

  1. Albert Ball Papers: I am currently in the process of ordering additional letters and other personal papers pertaining to Captain Albert Ball from the Nottinghamshire Archives. Unfortunately, due to expenses, time constraints, and engineering work on the rail lines, I was unable to go to the Nottinghamshire Archives in person. Luckily, the sources I need can be reproduced. The process of obtaining the sources is taking longer than I expected, as I need to obtain copyright permission to quote the sources in my paper (especially if I publish any part of the final piece in the foreseeable future) from the copyright holder and Nottinghamshire Archives.  
  2. University of Virginia Archives: Last summer, I discovered that the University of Virginia holds a surprising amount of Royal Flying Corps sources. Living forty minutes from the University, this was a relief, as the archives holds copies of sources I thought were previously only held in far flung universities across the United States and Europe. These sources consist primarily of histories about the Royal Flying Corps published during or right after the war and memoirs.The amount of sources I have to view is split, with one half accessible online through UVa’s collections and the other half available to view in their Special Collections reading room. 
  3. Memoirs and Popular Culture: In addition to the memoirs at UVa, I will be reading memoirs I already have in my personal collection of sources. This month, I plan on writing a blog post showing the “template” I approach my readings with, i.e. the key questions I use to dissect each piece and see it both as an individual piece but also as a part of a large whole of a genre. Along with memoirs, I will also begin my study of popular culture representations of the Royal Flying Corps and identify the “formula” that these consist of. What common themes make these up? Are there common portrayals of pilots, NCOs, ground crew, etc.? How different are literary adaptations from the original piece and what do these changes mean? And so on.



Interesting World War One Aviation Fact: July 9 represents 100 years since the death of Major James McCudden VC (one of the pilots I am focusing on). McCudden, though an experienced pilot, ironically died in a flying accident heading to his new squadron in France after a posting in England. Although the official cause of his crash has never been proven, t is suspected that the his engine failed due to a faulty carburetor. One of the chief investigating officers of his crash was H.N. Charles, the former engineering officer of 56 Squadron (McCudden’s previous squadron). In one of the oral histories I viewed at the Imperial War Museum, Charles provided his recollection of the crash investigation and his opinion of why McCudden crashed.


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