Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture
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Nabb Research Center Student Resources - Non-History Students

Many students mistakenly believe that the resources at the Nabb Research Center are only useful to History students. Nothing could be further from the truth, however. One former SU graduate student and Nabb Center intern explains why...


The Nabb Research Center - What can it do for me?
By Mercedes Quesada-Embid

I have something to share with the Salisbury University community that may come as a surprise to you. It is the Nabb Research Center. It is an on-campus research center that has all sorts of information for any kind of area of study. Generally speaking, the Nabb Center has achieved fame within the discipline of history, due to its abundance of primary sources which encompass all fields of study. We have something here for everyone, no matter what it is you like to research.

Lots of people come to the Nabb Center to look up their family histories because it all started here on the Eastern Shore of Maryland and Virginia. People come from all over Delmarva (many have even come from as far as California) to do research. Delmarva is where first extensive contact with the Native Americans took place. Even if your interests do not particularly lie in tracing your ancestors and what role your great, great uncle's wife may have played in the Civil War, or whether your family was a key player in slavery, there is plenty you can discover here at the center.


Now you may be thinking, "Why am I reading this, what does it have to do with me?" Even if family history is not your forte you still have an untapped resource right on East campus. Why not spice up your research papers and give your teacher something to get excited about? Why not get yourself involved in some super cool project and present something really unique to your class? Let yourself stand out. Come and help us to help you find the best research project for your field. Here are some ideas for the more adventurous and curious students among you:




If focused on biology, environmental or ecological work: Locate land records that tell what types of trees existed in the area before the industrial boom, when old growth forests were decimated and turned into plantations and new young pines. From there you can infer the climatic and then, faunal and floral changes in populations that took place on these shores. John Smith wrote an incredible amount regarding his first visits to the peninsula and talks of his experiences with the Native Americans, describing the way they lived in comparison with the English way of life. The origins of many people's modern attitudes toward nature can be seen in these primary documents. The idea that the land is an exploitable resource with no limitations probably came over on the boats with these first settlers.

Other areas of the humanities open to rediscovery are women's rights and social status. The (death) inventories, the lists of things that people left behind at death, also tell a lot about a person's status in society. We have information on everyday people as well as those that went on to become rich and famous. Inventories and written wills tell if people were wealthy, whether they had servants or slaves and even if they were literate. A lot can be learned about daily activities and family relations. In some instances you can come across "scandals" in these old documents, for instance, women who marry various men to increase their personal property, men who give large portions of their estates to women who are not their wives, and people, even servants, having children out of wedlock. Servants could not even get married!

There is also research to be done on various kinds of abuse, master to servant or male to female, etc., and the lack of assistance the court gave in settling these matters. People were suing "left and right" back then. Psychology and religion in society can also be investigated and tied into these issues.

In the field of literature, linguistics and composition you could examine the linguistic differences of then and now and even how the handwriting has evolved. Understand, for example, why words like bog and swamp ("bogged down" and "swamped with work") have negative connotations in our modern language. This can be seen in the many transcribed court records here at the Nabb. You can also experience the full collection of native captive stories, where survivors of Indian capture share their saga with the world, and you can discern what is true and what is exaggerated. We have slave narratives, which help in the understanding of the very controversial issues surrounding slave culture. We have original diaries that have been donated to the center, such as Clara Gunby's journal from Fruitland, Maryland. She was a confederate messenger in the Civil War and quite a troublemaker in her youth as well. She witnessed the burning of Richmond and writes about it in her diary.

For the art students we have tons of "material culture" that you can duplicate through painting or sculpture. There are antique weapons, helmets from past wars, old photographs and portraits of people for projects to be interpreted with a modern touch.

The business field can be researched regarding currency: Wampum, tobacco and furs were sources of exchange between the English and the Natives. The evolution of the money-making timber industry and the iron industry helped in maintaining the colonies. Shipping records can also be examined to get all the details.

Here in the Nabb Center even health students can find information in their field researching diet and death rates due to lack of nutrition and starvation. Birth and death rates can give perspective, as well as census records noting population growth.

Finally, the main point in creating this information sheet is to help you- the student. The Nabb Research Center is here to help you get the most out of your experience at Salisbury University. We want our research center to be a place where you can feel that you are a part of your own research and really enjoy doing it. Get into it and show yourself and your professors the special touch you can give your work. With the Nabb Research Center's collected resources and your imagination you can create any project you want. Remember, that all research ultimately falls under the category of history because we are always looking to the past for answers and understanding. We study the past as a way to understand the present and the future. So, I urge you to come and visit the Nabb and make your project local...
...make it good...
...and make it unique.




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Edward H. Nabb Research Center for Delmarva History and Culture
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