Meet Social Science Scholar Will Dibbs

I spent this summer conducting research for my undergraduate honors thesis in History. For my thesis, I am examining the experience of Thomasville, Georgia, during the World Wars, asking how Thomasville contributed to the war effort in each conflict and what lasting effects this participation had on the town as a whole. I will be continuing work on this thesis during the fall and spring semesters.

            The research I conducted during the summer and am continuing to do is twofold. First, I have been making frequent trips up to Thomasville to examine primary sources. Thanks to the grant I received from the Social Science Scholars program, the cost of making these trips has been much easier. I have visited the Thomasville History Center countless times already, examining war correspondence, oral histories, and other documents. Primary sources are the foundation of historical scholarship, so making these trips has been essential to my thesis work. I have also visited the Thomasville Black History Museum, which helped me to broaden my perspective on the impact of war on the community and gain a better understanding of racial dynamics in the town. I plan on continuing to visit these as well as other places in Thomasville with historical collections that might be useful to my research.

            The second part of my research this summer and continuing into the present has been the work I am able to do at home. One major aspect of this work has been analyzing the Thomasville newspaper, the Thomasville Times-Enterprise, the issues of which dating back to the 19th century are available online. Analyzing newspapers has been critical to my work, as they are in many ways the first history written about the events with which I am concerned. Another important aspect of my work outside of Thomasville is analyzing the scholarship that has already been written on Thomasville. Relatively little has been written about the history of Thomasville, but the books, theses, and dissertations that have been written are helpful in understanding the context within which my thesis fits.

            If not for the Social Science Scholars Program, I likely would not have undertaken this thesis project. The opportunity to find a summer project with the financial support of the university helped motivate me to take on this challenge. As a senior still unsure of what he wants to do after graduating, my hope is that this project will help me in deciding whether I want to become a historian. I have already gained so much valuable experience as a researcher, and I look forward to completing my honors thesis and sharing it with the Social Science Scholars Program.

Will is a junior from Tampa pursuing a dual degree in history and international affairs. He is a member of the FSU Honors College. Since freshman year, Will has been involved with Amnesty International’s FSU chapter and has served on its board for two years. In the fall of his junior year, he accepted a volunteer position with Amnesty USA as a student activist coordinator for the state of Florida. Since spring 2020, Will has been volunteering with Darasa, an on-campus organization that pairs college students as English tutors with migrant and refugee students in Leon County. He now serves on Darasa’s board. During his freshman year, Will participated in the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and presented the results of his work at a university research symposium. Although he has not decided definitively on a career, following graduation Will plans to continue studying history at the graduate level.

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