By Sheila Fitzpatrick, Lynne Viola
The Stalin period has been much less obtainable to researchers than both the previous decade or the postwar period. the fundamental challenge is that in the Stalin years censorship constrained the gathering and dissemination of knowledge (and brought bias and distortion into the records that have been published), whereas within the post-Stalin years entry to information and libraries remained tightly managed. therefore it isn't dazzling that one of many major manifestations of glasnost has been the hassle to open up files of the Nineteen Thirties. during this quantity Western and Soviet experts aspect the untapped strength of assets in this interval of Soviet social background and likewise the hidden traps that abound. the whole variety of resources is roofed, from memoirs to legitimate files, from urban directories to automated information bases.
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Additional resources for A Researcher's Guide to Sources on Soviet Social History in the 1930s
How long did it take to make the object? What kind of person made this? Why did this particular person(s) make it and not another person? Material description—What is the object made of? Why was it made from that substance? What are its shape, color, size, and form? Is it decorated? How? Why is it decorated? Are other similar objects similarly decorated? If not, why not? Functional description—Who uses the object? What for? Is it used just for specific purposes? Is it used only by certain individuals?
Usually that culture also reflected the community in which the school was located. However, in one of the schools LeCompte studied, located deep in a very traditional area of the Navajo Nation, absolutely nothing relevant to Navajo culture was hung on the walls, portrayed in the artwork, exhibited in the language, or discussed in the curriculum. The material culture completely contradicted the stated educational priority given by the district to valuing and preserving the Navajo language and culture; in fact, in appearance and curriculum, the schools could have been anywhere in the United States—not in the unique, culturally rich Navajo homeland.
Most of the objects that researchers collect as artifacts are common, easily obtained, and generally in the public domain, especially if they are paid for. Artifacts are important, however, no matter how common, because they can be “read” as a way to determine what people think about themselves and their environment. They also can serve as data points that illuminate important research questions. Perhaps most important, artifacts can serve as “unobtrusive measures” (Webb et al. 1966) of phenomena that are otherwise difficult to observe.