Sarah Capps

OU Major: 
History and English
Research Mentor: 
Dr. Warren Metcalf
Describe your undergraduate research or creative project: 
My undergraduate research project was an Honors thesis about the history of mental healthcare in the state of Oklahoma. I felt like many people knew a fair amount about the history of Griffin Memorial Hospital during the early decades of the twentieth century but that awareness stopped somewhere around 1950. There was a whole process of deinstitutionalization which came afterward and I really wanted to explore how Oklahoma moved from a system of overcrowded psychiatric hospitals to an increasing reliance on outpatient care. In my almost 40-page thesis, I focused on understanding the origins and effects of deinstitutionalization and the way the Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center fit into this national process.
Explain what you learned or give advice to fellow students: 
I learned so much during the course of my research that it is impossible for me to summarize my discoveries here. Oklahoma's mental healthcare system underwent such extensive change during the years following World War II that the mental healthcare system that emerged during the 1960s is fundamentally different from the one which operated in Oklahoma during World War II. The fact that there was so much change actually posed the greatest struggle to me. I had stacks of sources from which to draw information. There were national and international processes affecting change in Oklahoma and I wanted to discuss as many as I could. However, there is still information that never made it into my paper. For this reason, my advice to my fellow students is to stay organized and start writing early. Also, make sure you have a clear, strong thesis and organize your argument around it. As you finish your paper and begin to edit, check to see if your final conclusions are in line with your original thesis. I had to strengthen and adjust my thesis several times as I sorted through all the information I found during my research.
Published Work: 
Capps, Sarah. OU Historical Journal 5 (Spring 2016). http://history.ou.edu/journal-2016