Outline of Procedure
OK, but how does one start?
History is difficult; no question about it. The current attack on history exaggerates the difficulties as impossibilities, but we should take the real difficulties into account. Some of them are personal, and some have to do with the subject itself. We give below a few thoughts on both aspects, for what they may be worth to someone getting started.
In these notes, we often emphasize the continuity of historical method with scientific method. It is in the sciences that the art of finding out is most valued, and the experience of the sciences is thus a rich resource for the humanist. We caution against a too hasty importation of "science" into the understanding of the human realm, but some of the methodological experience of the sciences has been tapped here, to demonstrate that all systematic modes of inquiry are ultimately the same.
- Approaching History
- Seeing History
- Understanding History
- Presenting History
- Langlois et Seignobos. Introduction to the Study of History. 1894; Holt 1898
- Reprinted with a new preface, Editions Kimé 1992
- John Martin Vincent. Historical Research. Holt 1911
- Reprinted in facsimile, Ben Franklin 1974
- Julien Benda. La Trahison des Clercs. Grasset 1927
- Alain Finkielkraut. La Défaite de la Pensée. Gallimard 1988; compare previous
- Marc Bloch. Apologie Pour l'Histoire, ou Métier d'Historien (The Historian's Craft, Knopf 1953)
- New edition by Bloch's son Étienne, Armand Colin 1993
- W I B Beveridge. The Art of Scientific Investigation. Norton 1950
- 2ed Norton 1957; later reprints
We are grateful to Carol Thomas for thinking, years ago, that it might be helpful to collect these methodological notions. We were flabbergasted, more recently, to find that several people around the world actually found them helpful. We thank all who have contributed criticisms and suggestions, and invite further criticisms and suggestions. They may be made via the link at the bottom of each of these pages.
6 Feb 2006 / Contact The Project / Exit to History Page