Readings, Part III: The Second Three Articles

Note: This is part three of the readings. Click here for part one. Click here for part two.

Rutner and Schonfeld, Supporting the Changing Research Practices

This article looks at different facets of the historical profession, how the do their work, and recommendations for change. A personal interest describes ;]p..the lack of training in actual archives for graduate students. They feel similarly unprepared to organize research or handle non-document sources. Is this a sink or swim experience being offered by academia?

Have we spent sufficient time in this class looking at tools for research? Especially tools that might help organize the abundant research required by historical writing?

Does this graduate program facilitate learning how to access information?

Does this program facilitate collaboration and cooperation between students? With faculty?

Guidelines for Professional Evaluation

This post by the American Historical Association sets guidelines and recommends best practices for digital historians, and history departments looking to update to or work with digital scholarship or employing and evaluating digital scholars. The relationship depicted requires communication between the two, and encourages collaborating with technically minded institutions, like the friendly neighborhood/campus library.

What responsibilities does the AHA place on digital historians? On universities? Is this enough to foster a productive relationship between traditional departments and digital historians?

To what extent do the AHA guidelines respond to and work with this week’s other readings?

Rebecca Conrad, Historians in Public

Here Rebecca Conrad reviews Ian Tyrell’s Historians in Public. This work looks at the changes in the historical profession in the twentieth century, including the New History movement, the effect of the World Wars, and the genesis of public history. Tyrell’s work is largely a critique of these movements. He also makes the claim that public history is “an extension of academic history.” While a useful retrospective on developments in academia, Tyrell’s work has several problematic blindspots.

Are historians specializing to find audiences? Or are they specializing to stay relevant and employable?

Is all history public history? Is it the same as doing history in public?

How does Tyrell’s work show his biases?

Does academic historian maintain any fruitful connection to K-12?

What relationship does history have to activism and social change?



Congratulations y’all. That’s the last of the readings for this class. You did it, fam.

4 Replies to “Readings, Part III: The Second Three Articles”

  1. The AHA’s guidelines for evaluating digital history was an interesting read that left me with questions about if universities and historians actually turn to the AHA for guidance or instruction. To me (and this may be a product of my liberal education), it seemed like it made very obvious blanket recommendations for university departments, like if you want to incorporate digital history into your department, hire more digital historians and make sure you take their scholarship seriously. I did find the AHA’s guidelines for digital historians more helpful though. It nicely outlined some of the ways that digital history projects differ from traditional history and how you can have conversations with the department you work in to avoid confusion over the process of writing and spreading the finished product. It does seem to privilege digital historians working within universities, however. How might these guidelines be applied to digital historians working outside of a university?

  2. I found Conrad’s review of Tyrell’s book to hold fruitful and important information for such a short review. I think your questions bring up interesting topics of discussion about the evolution of the field itself. Academic historians can certainly do a better job of maintaining a relationship with K-12, as they should. Those formative years are the ones that create future academics and future historians, so it would be advantageous of the field to focus on not only the importance of the demographic itself, but the importance of the K-12 educators. In the recent conferences I’ve attended, it seems that there’s a new wave of creating K-12 specific panels/discussions/round tables, which is helpful in that they are being acknowledged on such a grand level, but it also has drawbacks. Separating K-12 further alienates both academics and educators, as opposed to structuring conference sessions around topics that are applicable to both. A daunting task, and I’m sure old school Ivory Tower-types would be adamantly against it, but it should be something to think about. With the recent focus on STEM programs (not saying that these are not relevant or “less than” the social sciences) it seems that interest in history within K-12 has already declined significantly. Therefore, academics should strive to continue a more fruitful connection with K-12, and perhaps cast aside professional ego for the greater good of the field.

  3. “Supporting the Changing Research Practices of Historians” was of particular interest to me. It certainly touches on issues I have had with academia and its preparation of students to actually do historical work. In a lot of ways I have been lucky to actually get a chance to do a lot of historical work outside of academia. The classes I have taken have not necessarily provided the right type of training to practice history. I certainly agree with your comment about “a lack of training in archives for graduate students.” Sometimes I think that because things have shifted to be online so much these days, the skills to actually plan a research day, go to an archive, engage with the archivists, and pull the necessary materials are lacking. A lot of these skills are not properly taught and are instead assumed by more experienced historians. Even with an increasingly online world, I think these components should still be properly covered with aspiring historians.

    So much time has been spent so far in my graduate career unpacking the components of what makes a good history or how to use a wide variety of sources. Unfortunately, not a lot of time has been spent thinking about how historians got theirsources or organized them conceptually in order to write a monograph. I think this is largely a self taught sink or swim moment.

  4. I think the hardest part of being a historian is knowing how much history has been lost because for thousands of years it was the history of the people history didn’t care about. The Great Men fallacy, especially the Great White Men fallacy, has left its mark on just about every aspect of history as a practice. I think the important thing about being a historian is finding those cultural teachable moments and uncovering the things that social and political change have opened our eyes to. After all, this isn’t the nineteenth century and we’re no longer debating “The woman question.” Nor are we placing black men in cages and calling it a zoo.

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