Often the most difficult part of part of this assignment is determining what you would like to write about and narrowing it down to specifics. You are asking yourself "what in the history of Pittsburgh do I want to write about, and what exactly about it?" But, think of it this way, the hardest part may be completed before you begin writing or even before you set foot in the archives! Also formulating your thesis ahead of time allows for a more effective research visit. Instead of looking at every document in the collection (which is unrealistic) you can focus on the essential elements to answer your question. You will find that research is a process that begins with deciding what subject to write about, doing your own research, such determining if there is enough primary source primary to answer your question, and finally refining it into a thesis statement.
At the ASC we often hear "what kind of 'stuff' do you have?" In order to allow researchers to generally browse our collections we have divided our collections into 16 main categories. We have assigned each collection's finding aid one or more subject categories. Researchers can browse our collection holdings by clicking on the subject category to see all collections that relate to the subject.
The subject categories have been place in a word cloud. Did you notice that some of the subject names are larger and bolder than other subject names? That means that the ASC has more collections in that particular subject. You can filter by subject simply by clicking on the subject name in the word cloud.
These the subject categories found in ASC collections. In order to browse holdings in each subject, click on the particular subject that interests you. This will take you to all collections' finding aids that were categorized by that specific subject. For example, clicking on "Labor" will take you to all finding aids of collections relating to labor and working class issues.