The "American Memory" collection at the Smithsonian may be especially useful if youre doing work that crosses disciplinary boundaries.
Many nineteenth-century periodicals are available on microfilm, in a collection called the American Periodical Series.
The committee will then meet collectively with the candidate to discuss the project and its implementation.
There is no single recipe for a good dissertation prospectus.
The outline should be as precise as possible, even if it is very likely to be modified in the course of writing the dissertation.
Finding, defining, and communicating a topic that is at once significant and of realistic scope are tasks that require discussion and cooperation between the dissertation writer and faculty members.
Once you have drafted your prospectus under the guidance of your dissertation committee, you might want to have it read by someone who knows nothing about your topic, to see whether you have clearly set out your problem and defined a workable method.
Seeking out a general reader right at the start is a good reminder that although you may be writing on a specialized topic, your dissertation should be written in clear, intelligible prose.
A dissertation prospectus is a paradoxical piece of writing.
It is not an abstract (which is to say, a summary of a completed dissertation) or an introductory chapter of a dissertation, but rather an attempt to describe what is planned before it has actually been done.