I’m currently teaching an historical methods seminar for several of our seniors, a course that will be repeated in the fall semester as we move it from senior year to sophomore year. I enjoy teaching the course because it allows me to help students understand how to practice history.

I assigned the following books for the course:

Conal Furay and Michael J. Salevouris, The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide, 3rd ed. (Harlan Davidson, 2010)

Mark T. Gilderhus, History and Historians: A Historiographical Introduction, 7th ed. (Prentice Hall, 2009)

Peter Charles Hoffer, Past Imperfect: Facts, Fictions, Frauds – American History From Bancroft And Parkman To Ambrose, Bellisles, Ellis, And Goodwin (PublicAffairs, 2007)

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 6th ed. (Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2010)

Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 7th ed. (University of Chicago Press, 2007)

I’ve used the Furay/Salevouris book several times and have been pleased with it overall. Students sometimes balk at the homework, but in my experience, they need to practice some of the fundamental steps of the historical process. The Gilderhus book is a great concise overview of historiography. I’m especially pleased with the most recent edition, which addresses some of the culture wars over history that have taken place in the United States in the past two decades. Hoffer’s book is the best treatment of academic dishonesty among historians that I’ve found. I don’t particularly care for the first part of the book, which focuses on the “new history,” but the chapters on Stephen Ambrose, Michael Bellesiles, Joseph E. Ellis, and Doris Kearns Goodwin offer excellent summaries of the issues. The Rampolla book is too elementary for this group of students, but would be appropriate for freshmen or sophomores.

And then there’s Miss Kate. Love her or hate her, history students can’t live without her.

Have you had success with other historiography/historical methods books? If so, let me know–our fall book orders will be due soon.

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