Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing

Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing

Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing

Going to the Sources: A Guide to Historical Research and Writing

Synopsis

Anthony Brundage has revised his popular book to render an even more detailed, practical and 'user friendly' tool for students faced with what can be a daunting task: the researching and writing of a research paper or historiographical essay. After an introductory chapter that describes the different schools of historical thought, Going to the Sources becomes a handy manual, helping the reader to identify and access the many sources -- both old and new -- available to historical researchers. Accordingly, this new edition includes a detailed discussion of electronic databases and a list of World Wide Web sites devoted to history.

Excerpt

This book developed out of a course on History Methods that I have taught to upper-division history majors for many years. As anyone who has taught a methodology course can attest, it can be an either uniquely rewarding or deeply frustrating experience; usually it is both. Typically, students approach the course with some apprehension. Up to this point, their academic encounters with history have been chiefly in the form of lecture-discussion courses, a format with which they feel relatively secure. Suddenly, in the History Methods class they find themselves on unfamiliar terrain, confronted with new, sometimes perplexing challenges. Fortunately, often mingled with this feeling of apprehension is a sense of excitement about the prospect of achieving new levels of understanding of their chosen discipline as well as acquiring a new set of research and writing skills. It was in the hope of fostering the excitement, allaying the apprehension, and developing the skills that I undertook the writing of this book.

Central to my own sense of the excitement of history is an appreciation of it as open-ended and dynamic. Developing that awareness in others is an important source of satisfaction for me as a teacher of history. I have therefore structured my course and this book around the concept of history as a dynamic process. The common tendency to view history as fixed and static is best overcome by exploring the ways in which historians actually go about examining the past, constantly searching for fresh patterns and meanings, and developing new methodologies to achieve them. Accordingly, an introductory chapter on the history of history writing sets the stage for a discussion of the types of historical sources and the organization of the historical profession in Chapter Two.

Chapter Three, on how to locate your sources, is the central chapter as far as research methods are concerned. It is a detailed, practical guide through the various resources that enable you to identify and obtain the essential books, articles, essays, and other materials relating to your topic. Once this knowledge is acquired, the essential bibliography on any his-

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