"Local history is the study of the everyday struggles and triumphs of ordinary people."
Ohio Local History Alliance
It can be difficult to pick a topic that is interesting, under-researched, isn't too broad or too narrow.
Not all topics are equally easy or equally hard. Some may turn out to be impossible due to a lack of sources.
If your family is from Smith County, see what sources you can pull out and use. Do you have a set of old letters? A great-grandmother's diary? Items from your grandfather's old business? These are things that nobody else in the class has, probably nobody else in Smith County has. Use them as a core, then build context around them. Take digital images for possible future presentations or publications. Then be sure to donate a copy of your final product to the Smith County Historical Society Archives.
Here are five key Smith County history sources to get you started:
1) If you are getting started and want an overview of Smith County, read the article in the Handbook of Texas Online.
It was written by a former faculty member here at UT Tyler and includes a short bibliography. Here's the one on Tyler.
2). If you want a short, predominantly photographic history of Smith County, see:
Reed, Robert E. Tyler. Charleston, SC: Arcadia Publishing Co., 2008. F394.T86 R44 2008. It is also available for purchase at the Carnegie History Center and Barnes and Noble for $22.00.
3) If you want the most thorough single source on Smith County, particularly for prior to World War II, see:
Smallwood, James. The History of Smith County, Texas. Austin: Eakin Press, 1999. 2 vols. F392.S55 S63 1999. It is also available for purchase at the Carnegie History Center for $60.00. This was also written by a former history faculty member at UT Tyler.
4) If you want a small chronology up to about 1980, see:
Whisenhunt, Donald W. A Chronological History of Smith County, Texas. Tyler: Jack T. Greer Memorial Fund of the Smith County Historical Society, 1983. F392.S55 W55. It is also available for purchase at the Carnegie History Center for $15.00. This one was written by a former vice-president of academic affairs of UT Tyler.
5) *THE* journal on Smith County history is Chronicles of Smith County, Texas. It was published between 1962 and 2004 by the Smith County Historical Society. It is not online. The UT Tyler Library has an almost complete set, along with four indexes, on the 2nd floor. Tyler Public Library and the Smith County Historical Archives in the Carnegie History Center have complete runs. Many of the back issues are also available for purchase at the Carnegie History Center. Chronicles articles were written by everyone from well-informed amateurs to faculty members at a variety of Texas universities, including Dr. Gajda.
The Library has a number of books on "doing local history."
See also the books on oral history listed under the People tab.