Aboutness Statement

While analyzing my volume of patrol reports to construct an aboutness statement for the overall volume, I tried to concentrate as much as possible on the patrol report itself, rather than combining the research I conducted surrounding the context of the patrol report volume with my analysis of the patrol report volume. My working aboutness statement is the following: “This Yangoru, East Sepik district patrol report consists of a series of observations regarding the overall infrastructure of the Yangoru region in the East Sepik province of PNG from 1953 to 1956. Through the reports, the kiaps, or patrol officers, take note of the then current infrastructure, demographics, and environmental features, and how the infrastructure can be improved from a Eurocentric point of view, to lengthen life expectancies, accessibility to resources, etc. The kiaps observe the natural resources at hand, such as rice, and how these resources can be manipulated to create full-fledged industries, e.g., mills, that facilitate the ease with which goods can be exchanged, distributed and profited off of.”

I also identified other interesting pieces of information within my patrol report volume. Regions such as Yangoru and Maprik were identified as fruitful areas for rice growing. To facilitate inter-regional transportation and resource accessibility, potential areas for developing and constructing roads were identified. In particular, a road between Yangoru and Maprik proved useful in transporting and exchanging paddy rice. Roads were developed and constructed so that a variety of vehicles could tread them and meet the goals set by patrol officers to facilitate effective and efficient transportation methods between regions in the East Sepik. In addition, medical patrols were conducted throughout the East Sepik, with kiaps making efforts to identify illnesses, outbreaks, and prior calamities that contributed to high death rates in certain areas.

I was able to construct my aboutness statement and include pieces of information that support my statement by reading through the portions of my volume that had headings and reflected a note-taking style. For example, in my volume, the patrol reports that included clear headings, e.g., “Introduction,” “Native Affairs,” etc., helped me recognize what key features the kiaps were looking for in this particular region. When reflecting on the concept of transition of these pieces of information from being maintained via microfilm to online databases, I am able to note, as a researcher right now, that online databases help expedite the process of looking through these reports. When the reports have optical character recognition (OCR) enabled on them, it is of further benefit as we can search for certain key words and see the information that pertains to these key words. However, through this transition, we must take into account that most resources have not undergone this transition yet and are still only accessible via microfilm. Additionally, while searching for keywords using OCR, it is important to make sure that we do not narrow our searches so much to that point that we glance over important information – sometimes, painstakingly glossing over an entire report proves more fruitful results than searching for keywords and limiting the results we receive to just a few pieces of information.

PNG Patrol Report: East Sepik District, Yangoru, 1953-1955


  1. Hi Rukmini, Good analysis of the process you went through in writing your aboutness statement. In your aboutness statement, I noticed you have quotation marks around part of it. Is it that whole paragraph your aboutness statement or just the quoted part? If it is just the quoted part, great job narrowing down what you think is the most important. If it also includes the part of roads, can integrate that in while staying within 2-4 sentences? You can keep the details of your summary elsewhere, but also need to brief highlight. Overall, good work.


    1. Hi Rachel,

      Thank you so much for your feedback. Actually, your first assumption was right – the aboutness statement I wrote is only encompassed by the portion that has the quotation marks around it. I made this clearer in my post – I probably should have made an explicit distinction between the aboutness statement and the supplementary information I included (after the quotation marks) I included afterward. Sorry for the confusion and thank you for your feedback once again!


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