From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods

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Cornell University Press, 2001 - History - 207 pages
9 Reviews

From Reliable Sources is a lively introduction to historical methodology, an overview of the techniques historians must master in order to reconstruct the past. Its focus on the basics of source criticism, rather than on how to find references or on the process of writing, makes it an invaluable guide for all students of history and for anyone who must extract meaning from written and unwritten sources.

Martha Howell and Walter Prevenier explore the methods employed by historians to establish the reliability of materials; how they choose, authenticate, decode, compare, and, finally, interpret those sources. Illustrating their discussion with examples from the distant past as well as more contemporary events, they pay particular attention to recent information media, such as television, film, and videotape.

The authors do not subscribe to the positivist belief that the historian can attain objective and total knowledge of the past. Instead, they argue that each generation of historians develops its own perspective, and that our understanding of the past is constantly reshaped by the historian and the world he or she inhabits.

A substantially revised and updated edition of Prevenier's Uit goede bron, originally published in Belgium and now in its seventh edition, From Reliable Sources also provides a survey of western historiography and an extensive research bibliography.

  

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Review: From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methodology

User Review  - WE Linde - Goodreads

I see two very different sides to this book. On one side, where the authors described the nuts and bolts of history and historiography, the book is exceptional. Authors Martha Howell and Walter ... Read full review

Review: From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methodology

User Review  - Jessica - Goodreads

I read this book for a class on social studies methods. I finished it a long time ago, so I can't really remember the details, but I'd give it a solid, "It was okay." Read full review

Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
THE SOURCE THE BASIS OF OUR KNOWLEDGE ABOUT THE PAST
17
B Source Typologies Their Evolution and Complementarity
20
C The Impact of Communication and Information Technology on the Production of Sources
28
D Storing and Delivering Information
34
TECHNICAL ANALYSIS OF SOURCES
43
A Clios Laboratory
44
2 Diplomatics
46
B The Politics of History Writing
109
i The Annales
110
2 The New Left and New Histories
112
3 The New Cultural History
115
THE NATURE OF HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE
119
B Causality
127
1 Causal Factors
131
a Religious Ideology Clericalism and Anticlericalism
132

4 Statistics
50
5 Additional Technical Tools
56
The Great Tradition
60
1 The Genealogy of the Document
61
2 Genesis of a Document
62
3 The Originality of the Document
63
4 Interpretation of the Document
64
5 Authorial Authority
65
6 Competence of the Observer
66
7 The Trustworthiness of the Observer
68
HISTORICAL INTERPRETATION THE TRADITIONAL BASICS
69
B Establishing Evidentiary Satisfaction
79
C The Facts That Matter
84
NEW INTERPRETIVE APPROACHES
88
A Interdisciplinarity
89
2 The Humanities
99
c Biology and Race
135
d Environment
136
e Science Technology and Inventions
137
f Power
138
g Public Opinion and the Mass Media
139
2 The Role of the Individual
140
C History Today
143
1 The Problem of Objectivity
146
2 The Status of the Fact
148
Research Bibliography
151
I BIBLIOGRAPHIES GUIDES DICTIONARIES
155
II ADDITIONAL READINGS ON SELECTED TECHNICAL TOPICS
186
III BASIC READINGS ON HISTORIOGRAPHY AND THEORY
191
Index
197
Copyright

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About the author (2001)

Howell is professor of history at Columbia University.

Prevenier is Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Ghent, Belgium.

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