Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method

Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method

Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method

Understanding History: A Primer of Historical Method

Excerpt

Since 1933 I have collaborated with various colleagues in the teaching of a "Laboratory Course in Historical Method." The word "laboratory" in the title of that course is taken seriously. Each student is expected to do as much of his work as possible in the presence of the others and of the professor. Since little serious historical research can be done without an adequate library, much of the actual note-taking and writing has to take place before the work is submitted for the criticism of the class, but in class, subjects, methods, tools, and the theoretical problems of the students are discussed as the occasions arise. Neither questions regarding causality, frames of reference, and the philosophy of history nor analyses of the major controversies of historical interpretation are avoided, but a conscious effort is made to subordinate them to concrete ones such as how to choose a subject, how to use a library, how to take notes, when to quote, when to use a footnote, how to evaluate evidence, how to tell a good work of history from a bad one, how to prepare a manuscript, and how to write a historical composition.

The available textbooks on historical method, despite their sometimes obvious merit, rarely meet the needs of students in a course of this nature. With some notable exceptions, they are not laboratory manuals. They deal too abstractly with the practical questions to which the beginning student wants answers. Instead of attempting to tell him what sort of notes are worth taking or when not to use a footnote or how to avoid irrelevance in his-

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.