Extra Credit: Talking History

I really enjoyed going to this to this talk. It was interesting to learn about a study being done by a student and a professor. Their research was about the oral history of the Rappahannock River. Their goal of the project was to create a scholarly program. That way the program could be used by other people in the community or outside the community. Woodie Walker said an important thing to do was to learn to speak the language. He took a course for a month to learn about the language. Dr. Stellers and Woodie Walker created an independent study to work on this project with the assistance of interns and other professors. They created a website or maybe a page on the website about the oral history. Their main focus of the study was the removal of the Embrey Dam. They looked at the different effects on the community. They currently have 5 interviews videos online for this project. They did a wide range of interviews from a Chief of the Native Americans who live near the river to a man who use to be the mayor of Fredericksburg.  It was important to get the different perspectives. The interviews Woodie Walker discussed the ins and outs of doing interviews. Sometimes people have their own agenda. You also have to take into account the health or age of the person you want to interview. It is also good to set up a good relationship with the person you are interviewing. One of the challenges with the interview is the transcripts. It is hard to get the timing and wording correct and done right. One of the most important things to the project was to connect the people to the river. I also learned for a fun fact that the Rappahannock River is the longest free flowing river on the east coast!


Food History

The author discovered this new moment of studying food. The field of history has been evolving over the past few decades with new lenses of history emerging like sexuality and gender. There is new scholarship emerging in the food world. The author described the study of food not just about flavor but also the culture behind it. There can be emotions attached with this study.  There is a significance of memory and culture of the food. How food is studied has changed over the years from a genealogy, but in the 20th century it has evolved into history of cuisine and taste not just the diet or standard of living (863). The author described 3 themes occur in this study. There is the social distinction industrial transformation, and food politics. Than is embodied though taste, purity, and hunger (863). The author describe how each of these could be broken down. Taste can be looked how it changes over time. The author argued that taste has been overlooked in history. It started out from an elite class in Europe. Taste can also take on different meanings to different cultures. Historians argued that taste has help divided different ethnic groups.  Each culture has a different idea of what flavor is. Purity can study how pure or clean the food is from industrialization. Historians argued draw on both cultural and material foundation (873). There has been an increasing distance between people and where their food comes from. This trend began to increase after the 19th century. There had been studies not just about the food but the labor it took to put the food on the table. There is also an importance of time when items now found in modern day food is found in older food.  Lastly hunger the effect from scientist to look at the health of the food. The author broke down from James Vernon’s Hunger: A Modern History about the 3 interpretations of hunger of the divine, the moral, and the social (881). The moral and divine standing has been around in history for a long time. The social aspect was more mobilizing labor and controlling subjects. These issues of social aren’t just medieval problems but is seen in America today with obesity. Overall the message to me was the study of food could contribute to many different fields of study and needs to be studied. I personally liked this article because I feel like food can bring people together and is a good way to learn about different cultures.

Howell and Prevenier: The Source and Source Criticism

This reading was very interesting because of where the author started off by saying historians put bits of history back together to create a story. Then each historian has a different perspective or explanation of how this story came to be. The author points out first one of the most important thing historians do is compare sources. Historians have to look at many sources to begin to put things together. The author stated, “the historians job in any case is to decide which accounts he or she will use, and why” (69). One of the main problems for historians is to decide what is a useful or non useful source. The author goes into how 19th century historians decide if a source was useful with 7 questions that look at the sources in many angles. One issue that can occur for historians is a stalemate in which sources contradict themselves. Sometimes they can be resolved. The author told of an example between Glaspie (American ambassador) and Hussein (Iraqi President). Both gave different reports of their meeting. Another problem that historians face is that some sources say something and another source does not say it. The author made a lot of empathize in this article to tell different problems historians face when studying sources. An interesting item is the article was to learn that historians used the scientific method. It is sorted to what history is. The hypothesis was a way to connect the facts. Historians use the method but sometimes that have to decide between explanations and sources. Another thing historians need to do is establish evidentiary satisfaction. An important question the author proposed was do they have enough evidence to support their evidence? 19th century historians focused on if things were true or false. Not everything will pass the true or false test. Another item to consider is how close in distance to the event the historian is. Another item that is important to historians the “facts” that matter (84). There are many factors to take into account is what the historians think is important.


In the second reading of the Source Criticism talked about the genealogy of the document. A big part of looking at sources is to see if your looking at an original document or not. Historians have to wary of copies. Sometimes copies can be exact, but others can be false. Especially when these texts were copied by hand. Historians can also go the length for the original copy (I would too 🙂 ). Historians can search through genealogies of the text to find the best source. Than they can make edits. The next point the author goes into is the genesis of the document. Historians try to see where the source was produced or who wrote it. The next point the author made the “originality” of the document. Sometimes historians have to take other documents from the time to compare. The next point the author made was about interaptation of the document. A hard task for historians is to try to understand the meaning of a text. As pointed out for the other reading there can be many interpretations of the text. Another point was the authorial authority of a source. What is the authority of the author of the source. Historians cannot just assume each interpretation was correct or fully true. Another point was the competence of the observe. An important item was not all sources are completely reliable. Historians try to decide a source’s competence. The last point was the trustworthiness of the observer. It was interesting because Dr. Moon addressed this in class the problem that people lie. It is something that we are aware of as humans but for some reasons we just trust sources. So after reading this it helped me to understand how to look through sources.

The Source

This was an interesting chapter because it went over what a source is. I really enjoyed this reading because we use the source a lot as history majors, but don’t always go into what a source is. The author starts off with how a source is a reminder of the past. There are also many types of sources the author pointed out from wooden columns to written down stories. The two main categories the author focused on is relics and testimonies.  The author described the relics as items being left behind that were used in daily life. Than testimonies were either written or oral that were created for a purpose and kept. The author pointed out a historian cannot just use a source. They have to study why the source was created and how reliable the source was while looking into the sources historical context. The author explained the many different sources from direct sources like a letter to an indirect source like listing of the letters. It is a historians job to take all these factors into account. The author than describes the different categories these written sources can be broken down into. 1. narrative 2. diplomatic, and 3. social. The narrative source was described to be written for to impact an important message. Diplomatic were used in the legal context. Than social sources kept track of different areas of organizations or ministries.  While written sources are super important to historians the author reminds us that unwritten sources are crucial. Oral records can provide insight to areas of history where there was no written history. Also historians cannot rely on just written and oral sources but also the material sources. Like old photographs, paintings, and music. Many of the sources work well together. The author pointed that historians cannot just take oral history but need evidence to back it up. The author also describes what an archive is. There is the literally meaning which is a collection of documents (34). There was a shift in how archives were kept. Most of the archives were kept by their owners until the 18th century until the French Revolution where many of these archives went to the state. Many which became public. I found this point where interesting. With the time we live in today we have access to many items of the internet it is interesting to reflect back to where that was not an option. Usually the sources historians use today were created by states or large business. Unless it was a dairy or a letter not many regular people had archives or many sources. At least that were maintained and kept. That is due to many reasons. Many times documents are not seen as important and get tossed out. Some of the sources could have been destroyed on purpose or accident. Historians must always be cautious because archives are not always reliable like sources I overall really enjoyed this article. I feel like many times I would just try to find sources without always looking how reliable they are. Since I have gotten to college and majored in history I have learned a lot about how to look through sources.

Presnell: Historians and the Research Process

What I took away from this article was the process a historian goes through to tell  the story of an event or person or many other things from the past. The way historians are telling the stories are changing with technology. Historians tell the stories through journals, books, and now with different multimedia formats with videos, live maps, 3d printing, and many other sources. For historians there are benefits to new technology. It gave the public better access to their material and for historians to access material. it opened up a way for everyone to get chance to add something to history. In the reading there were pluses but also negative parts of tech. Not all sources are good sources. Each historian brings something new to the story. This can include our class as well. We all are going to do research and add our own items (with research). Reconstructing history is not just lining facts together for a book or a class. The reconstructing of history is more to make connections and put in interpretations. The study of history is not just through one lense. There are many lenses to look through history pointed out in the reading like women’s history. One important note for any historian is to CITE your sources!  A important note to anyone writing about history from the article was quality over quantitative. In the article it said how history attempts to be unbiased so everyone can have a different read. I took an important note from this reading not to lead your audience to your conclusion, but allow them to make their own. The reading told it is good to have a research question to answer.  Not just an idea or a keyword.Through the process of research the writer should be questioning themselves and the actions they are taking to stay on the right track. Once there is an idea and a question the reading suggest to make out like a blueprint of your research. There was listed many ways to do that but mapping it out and using a website. It is also important to take notes of your sources (all the primary and secondary sources). A good way to keep track what is your idea and not yours! Always cite so there is no copyrighting! In conclusion the way to research history is always changing especially with new technology. This article gives me a new perspective about picking a topic for research and how to properly do the research. There  were many layers to researching instead of typing a key word into google to see what came up!