I'm researching The Farm, a commune founded in Summertown, Tennessee in the early 1970s. How do I get started?
A quick check of the database America: History and Life using the terms "farm" and "commune" yielded no articles, but did locate two dissertations, "The History of a Hippie Commune: The Farm" (1992) and "Manhood in the Age of Aquarius: Masculinity in Two Countercultural Communities, 1965-1983” (2002). Both dissertations are available full-text in the Dissertations and Theses Full Text database. While in this database, a search also was conducted on the The Farm as well as its founder, Stephen Gaskin. One additional dissertation, "Negotiating the Way: A Spiritual Journey" (1998), was located. A search in the UCF catalog for monographs authored by Gaskin resulted in the following autobiographies, Rendered Infamous: A Book of Political Reality (1981) and The Caravan (1972). A search in WorldCat on the terms "farm" and "Summertown, Tenn." located other books, recordings, primary documents from The Farm, and a Vanderbilt University master’s thesis in anthropology, "'Technicolor Amish': History and World View of the Farm, A Communal Society in Tennessee" (1983). This thesis is not indexed in the Dissertations and Theses Full Text database, nor is it available online via Vanderbilt. An additional article, "The Great 'Changeover' at The Farm" (1997), was located through the Sociological Abstracts database.
In addition to mining the bibliographies of all the secondary sources listed above for primary sources, a search of The [Nashville] Tennessean newspaper database (2002-current) and The Index to The Tennessean and the Nashville Banner (microfiche, 1978-1992) should yield numerous citations to or full-text articles about The Farm. Since indexing of the Tennessean and the Nashville Banner did not commence until 1978, microfilm of these two newspapers, particularly reels from the 1971-1978 period, will need to be consulted. These reels may be available via interlibrary loan. Also, as The Farm is located in Lawrence County, Tennessee, the microfilm of the Lawrence News from the 1970s will need to be consulted at the Tennessee State Library and Archives in Nashville. Finally, a search of the New York Times Historical database will provide a number of articles on The Farm and its founding.