This summer I had the privilege of conducting research with my mentor, Professor Melissa Wilde. Prior to PURM, I had little research experience and never worked with a Penn faculty member before. Participating in PURM this summer not only provided me with hands-on experience in learning what sociological research was, but it changed my entire concept of what research in the social sciences consists of.
My PURM experience with Professor Wilde consisted of two aspects: (1) conducting periodical research on American religious denominations and (2) writing a literature review to contribute to Professor Wilde’s upcoming paper. My project analyzes how the American press shaped the beliefs, opinions of the American public during the Holocaust. I examined large American newspapers (i.e., New York Times, New York Herald Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Philadelphia Inquirer, Christian Science Monitor, Washington Post, Miami Herald, etc.) and I also coded and transcribed articles from religious denominational periodicals to determine what information was readily available to the public during WWII. I found that America’s actions and inactions during WWII were largely a result of the coverage of the American press. Moreover, the way the press told the story of Nazi antisemitism– the space allocated for the news, the location of the news in the paper, and the editorial opinions—shaped the American reaction.
Participating in PURM this summer was an integral aspect of my undergraduate journey at Penn and it enhanced my overall education here. I learned how to utilize many of the resources and databases that Penn and other expansive libraries, such as the New York Public Library, provides to researchers. I realized how tedious it is to examine and use primary sources that are on microfilm, but how rewarding the process is when you find something that contributes to your research. I was also able to develop close relationships with librarians who oftentimes provided insightful advice and recommendations on how to find sources. Even though research requires much patience and diligence, it is a collaborative effort that leads to rewarding outcomes. I truly enjoyed this opportunity that PURM has given me and I thank Professor Wilde for patiently mentoring and guiding me through my first ever research experience at Penn.