Historical methods essay

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Historical methods essay

Source criticism Source criticism or information evaluation is the process of evaluating the qualities of an information sourcesuch as its validity, reliability, and relevance to the subject under investigation.

Gilbert J Garraghan divides source criticism into six inquiries: Where was it produced localization? By whom was it produced authorship? From what pre-existing material was it produced analysis?

In what original form was it produced integrity? What is the evidential value of its contents credibility? The first four are known as higher criticism ; the fifth, lower criticism ; and, together, external criticism.

Historical methods essay

The sixth and final inquiry about a source is called internal criticism. Together, this inquiry is known as source criticism.

Shafer on external criticism: However, majority does not rule; even if most sources relate events in one way, that version will not prevail unless it passes the test of critical textual analysis.

The source whose account can be confirmed by reference to outside authorities in some of its parts can be trusted in its entirety if it is impossible similarly to confirm the entire text. When two sources disagree on a particular point, the historian will prefer the source with most "authority"—that is the source created by the expert or by the eyewitness.

Eyewitnesses are, in general, to be preferred especially in circumstances where the ordinary observer could have accurately reported what transpired and, more specifically, when they deal with facts known by most contemporaries. If two independently created sources agree on a matter, the reliability of each is measurably enhanced.

Historical methods essay

When two sources disagree and there is no other means of evaluation, then historians take the source which seems to accord best with common sense. Subsequent descriptions of historical method, outlined below, have attempted to overcome the credulity built into the first step formulated by the nineteenth century historiographers by stating principles not merely by which different reports can be harmonized but instead by which a statement found in a source may be considered to be unreliable or reliable as it stands on its own.

Relics are more credible sources than narratives. Any given source may be forged or corrupted. Strong indications of the originality of the source increase its reliability. The closer a source is to the event which it purports to describe, the more one can trust it to give an accurate historical description of what actually happened.

An eyewitness is more reliable than testimony at second handwhich is more reliable than hearsay at further removeand so on. If a number of independent sources contain the same message, the credibility of the message is strongly increased. The tendency of a source is its motivation for providing some kind of bias.

Tendencies should be minimized or supplemented with opposite motivations. If it can be demonstrated that the witness or source has no direct interest in creating bias then the credibility of the message is increased.

Eyewitness evidence[ edit ] R. Shafer offers this checklist for evaluating eyewitness testimony: Are words used in senses not employed today?

Is the statement meant to be ironic i. How well could the author observe the thing he reports? Were his senses equal to the observation?

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Was his physical location suitable to sight, hearing, touch? Did he have the proper social ability to observe: How did the author report?

Regarding his ability to report, was he biased? Did he have proper time for reporting?

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Proper place for reporting? When did he report in relation to his observation? Fifty years is much later as most eyewitnesses are dead and those who remain may have forgotten relevant material.

For whom did he report? Would that audience be likely to require or suggest distortion to the author? Are there additional clues to intended veracity?Professor Scott Waugh and the UCLA Department of History for their Guide to Writing Historical Essays; The goal—and the goal of university education in general—is for you to develop your own methods, strategies, and style.

In writing, follow the guidelines, but do not be formulaic. Originality, creativity, and personal style are not. Analyzing an Historical Document A document may be of various types: a written document, a painting, a monument, a map, a photograph, a statistical table, a film or video, etc.

Anything from the past that helps us learn what happened, and why, is a document.


"Methods" is a class about how historians think about and do history. As an introductory class "methods" serves several functions. It is intended to introduce students to the basics of historical research, the process of writing history, the theoretical perspectives used by historians today, and the implications of the digital turn in the.

History is a comprehensive online course that examines the fundamentals of historiography and historical methods. You can use the course for. Free Essay: The New Testament is now well over years old and for nearly the same period of time people have struggled for the right interpretation of.

begins by explaining some common criticisms of the historical cost method, including the argument that this method ignores the fact that the current market value of an asset may be higher or lower than historical cost makes it appear.

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