Mar. 30th, 2016

lizcommotion: A black-and-white photo of a Victorian woman (victorian lady)
I was talking to [community profile] altamira today about various and sundry historical things, including how peoples' descendants try to scrub the historical record of things that are considered offensive or scandalous. this got us talking about historical sources and sources in general, and so now you get a (minor) history-research-meta linkspam.

one of the reasons I feel people should hire more historians is that good historical methods training teaches you to find information and also teaches you to assess the inherent biases of all information and use the biases to your advantage. in the so-called Information Age, where we're hit with a firehose of social media and data, I would think having employees who could help sift through that data and/or locate some specific information for you would be invaluable. but, you know, maybe that's just me.

(what follows will be primarily US-centric, as despite my interest in global history, my experience actually studying history has been in the US)

unfortunately, mostly you don't get to the cool historical methods things until upper level history major courses, which means you had to enjoy the stuff enough to get there. social studies teachers are trying to change this, but with the focus on STEM and cuts to school funding social studies teachers are often the ones who don't actually have upper-level training in their field (sorry that I have lost my citation for this). so instead we teach students to memorize facts, as opposed to question facts that are presented and form their own opinions based on evaluating primary sources. the second would form a much more educated electorate, so...you know, perhaps there are other motivations for underfunding social sciences? or perhaps it's a fear of a challenge to American Exceptionalism. anyway, I digress.

if you are interested in learning how historians know what they know, here are some good sources:

Examples of Critical Reading
How to Read a Primary Source
How to Read a History Book
A Layperson's Reading List in American History

Some high school teachers are discussing sources and teaching methods on twitter under the hashtags #sschat and #hsgovchat

there are way more sources, but I am trying to not dive into a full fledged rabbit hole at the moment.

However, I will share a personal experience of my own morning's research rabbit hole, complete with internal meta analysis of sources, the order in which I found them, etc. You should know that it deals with white people I may be related to murdering Native Americans in the Ohio Valley, so. If you need to skip this, totally do that. I will try to post a different research rabbit hole that is an easier to read at another point.

racism, massacres, and problematic history be here )

tl;dr To get a more wholistic view on this, I would probably contact the resource room at the National Museum of the American Indian and ask about sources from the Iriquois perspective. (And also, what term is better than "Mingo" but more specific than Iriqois, which is a huge umbrella term.) Honestly, there may not be that many surviving records because historical whitewashing, but that is where I would go to make a start. Probably it is where I will go when I have email spoons.

final thoughts, includes some dealing with white guilt )

Anyway, that is what my historian internal thought process looks like, and in this case what it looks like when it's something related directly to me (and also hella gross historical racism that there is a "perspective" on but not an exoneration, iykwim).

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