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Table of Contents
	Defining historiography
	Topics studied
	The history of written history
		Hellenic world
		Roman world
		Islamic world
		Modern era
			Germany and the scientific method
			French Annales School of social history
			Foundation of important historical journals
	Approaches to history
		Related fields
		Guides to scholarship
		Histories of historical writing
		Feminist historiography
		National and regional studies
			United States
			British Empire
			Asia and Africa
		Themes, organizations, and teaching
	External links
Document Text Contents
Page 1

Historiography 1

Historiography refers either to the study of the methodology and development of "history" (as a discipline), or to a
body of historical work on a specialized topic. Scholars discuss historiography topically – such as the
"historiography of Catholicism", the "historiography of early Islam", or the "historiography of China" – as well as
specific approaches and genres, such as political history and social history. Beginning in the nineteenth century, with
the ascent of academic history, a corpus of historiographic literature developed. How much are historians influenced
by their own groups and loyalties--such as to their nation state--is a much debated question.[1]

The research interests of historians change over time, and in recent decades there has been a shift away from
traditional diplomatic, economic and political history toward newer approaches, especially social and cultural
studies. From 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social
history rose from 31% to 41%, while the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%.[2] In the history
departments of British universities in 2007, of the 5,723 faculty members, 1,644 (29%) identified themselves with
social history while political history came next with 1,425 (25%).[3]

Allegory on writing history by
Jacob de Wit (1754). An almost
naked Truth keeps an eye on the
writer of history. Wisdom gives
advice; with Ptolemy I Soter, a

master in objectivity in his book on
Alexander the Great, below in



In the early modern period, the term historiography tended to be used in a more
basic sense, to mean simply "the writing of history". Historiographer therefore
meant "historian", and it is in this sense that certain official historians were given
the title "Historiographer Royal", in Sweden (from 1618), England (from 1660),
and Scotland (from 1681). The Scottish post is still in existence.

Defining historiography

Furay and Salevouris (1988) define historiography as "the study of the way
history has been and is written – the history of historical writing... When you
study 'historiography' you do not study the events of the past directly, but the
changing interpretations of those events in the works of individual historians."[4]


According to Lawrence Stone, narrative has traditionally been the main rhetorical
device used by historians. In 1979, at a time when the new Social History was
demanding a social-science model of analysis, Stone detected a move back toward
the narrative. Stone defined narrative as follows: it is organized chronologically; it
is focused on a single coherent story; it is descriptive rather than analytical; it is
concerned with people not abstract circumstances; and it deals with the particular
and specific rather than the collective and statistical. He reported that, "More and
more of the 'new historians' are now trying to discover what was going on inside
people's heads in the past, and what it was like to live in the past, questions which
inevitably lead back to the use of narrative."[5]

Historians committed to a social science approach, however, have criticized the
narrowness of narrative and its preference for anecdote over analysis, and its use
of clever examples rather than statistically verified empirical regularities.[6]

Page 2

Historiography 2

Topics studied
Some of the common topics in historiography are:
1. Reliability of the sources used, in terms of authorship, credibility of the author, and the authenticity or corruption

of the text. (See also source criticism).
2. Historiographical tradition or framework. Every historian uses one (or more) historiographical traditions, for

example Marxist, Annales School, "total history", or political history.
3. Moral issues, guilt assignment, and praise assignment
4. Revisionism versus orthodox interpretations
5. Historical metanarratives

The history of written history
Understanding the past appears to be a universal human need, and the telling of history has emerged independently
in civilisations around the world. What constitutes history is a philosophical question (see philosophy of history).
The earliest chronologies date back to Mesopotamia and ancient Egypt, though no historical writers in these early
civilizations were known by name. For the purposes of this article, history is taken to mean written history recorded
in a narrative format for the purpose of informing future generations about events. Some experts have advised
against the tendency to extrapolate trends for historical patterns that do not align with expectations about the

Hellenic world

Reproduction of part of a
tenth-century copy of Thucydides's
History of the Peloponnesian War.

The earliest known systematic historical thought emerged in ancient Greece, a
development which would be an important influence on the writing of history
elsewhere around the Mediterranean region. Greek historians greatly contributed
to the development of historical methodology. The earliest known critical
historical works were The Histories, composed by Herodotus of Halicarnassus
(484 – c. 425 BCE) who later became known as the "father of history" (Cicero).
Herodotus attempted to distinguish between more and less reliable accounts, and
personally conducted research by travelling extensively, giving written accounts
of various Mediterranean cultures. Although Herodotus' overall emphasis lay on
the actions and characters of men, he also attributed an important role to divinity
in the determination of historical events.

The generation following Herodotus witnessed a spate of local histories of the
individual city-states (poleis), written by the first of the local historians who employed the written archives of city
and sanctuary. Dionysius of Halicarnassus characterized these historians as the forerunners of Thucydides,[8] and
these local histories continued to be written into Late Antiquity, as long as the city-states survived. Two early figures
stand out: Hippias of Elis, who produced the lists of winners in the Olympic Games that provided the basic
chronological framework as long as the pagan classical tradition lasted, and Hellanicus of Lesbos, who compiled
more than two dozen histories from civic records, all of them now lost.

Thucydides largely eliminated divine causality in his account of the war between Athens and Sparta, establishing a
rationalistic element which set a precedent for subsequent Western historical writings. He was also the first to
distinguish between cause and immediate origins of an event, while his successor Xenophon (c. 431 – 355 BCE)
introduced autobiographical elements and character studies in his Anabasis.
The proverbial Philippic attacks of the Athenian orator Demosthenes (384–322 BCE) on Philip II of Macedon marked
the height of ancient political agitation. The now lost history of Alexander's campaigns by the diadoch Ptolemy I
(367–283 BCE) may represent the first historical work composed by a ruler. Polybius (c. 203 – 120 BCE) wrote on the

Page 7

Historiography 7

as "microhistory," which attempted to understand the mentalities and decisions of individuals - mostly peasants -
within their limited milieu using contracts, court documents and oral histories.

Foundation of important historical journals

The historical journal, a forum where academic historians could exchange ideas and publish newly discovered
information, came into being in the 19th century. The early journals were similar to those for the physical sciences,
and were seen as a means for history to become more professional. Journals also helped historians to establish
various historiographical approaches, the most notable example of which was Annales. Économies. Sociétés.
Civilisations., a publication instrumental in establishing the Annales School.
Some historical journals are as follows:
• 1840 Historisk tidsskrift (Denmark)
• 1859 Historische Zeitschrift (Germany)
• 1866 Archivum historicum, later Historiallinen arkisto (Finland, published in Finnish)
• 1867 Századok (Hungary)
• 1869 Časopis Matice moravské (Czech republic - then part of Austria-Hungary)
• 1871 Historisk tidsskrift (Norway)
• 1876 Revue Historique (France)
• 1881 Historisk tidskrift (Sweden)
• 1886 English Historical Review (England)
• 1892 William and Mary Quarterly (USA)
• 1894 Ons Hémecht (Luxembourg)
• 1895 American Historical Review (USA)
• 1895 Český časopis historický (Czech republic - then part of Austria-Hungary)
• 1914 Mississippi Valley Historical Review (renamed in 1964 the Journal of American History) (USA)
• 1916 The Journal of Negro History
• 1916 Historisk Tidskrift för Finland (Finland, published in Swedish)
• 1918 Hispanic American historical review
• 1928 Scandia (Sweden)
• 1929 Annales d'histoire économique et sociale
• 1941 The Journal of Economic History
• 1952 Past & present: a journal of historical studies (Great Britain)
• 1953 Vierteljahrshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Germany)
• 1956 Journal of the Historical Society of Nigeria (Nigeria)
• 1960 Journal of African History (Cambridge)
• 1960 Technology and culture: the international quarterly of the Society for the History of Technology (USA)
• 1967 The Journal of Social History
• 1969 Journal of Interdisciplinary History
• 1975 Geschichte und Gesellschaft. Zeitschrift für historische Sozialwissenschaft (Germany)
• 1976 Journal of Family History
• 1978 The Public Historian
• 1982 Storia della Storiografia Ä History of Historiography Ä Histoire de l'Historiographie Ä Geschichte der


• 1982 Subaltern Studies (Oxford University Press)
• 1986 Zeitschrift für Sozialgeschichte des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts, new title since 2003: Sozial.Geschichte.

Zeitschrift für historische Analyse des 20. und 21. Jahrhunderts [29] (Germany)
• 1990 Gender and history
• 1990 Journal of World History

Page 8

Historiography 8

• 1990 L'Homme. Zeitschrift für feministische Geschichtswissenschaft[30] (Austria)
• 1990 Österreichische Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaften (ÖZG)[31]

• 1992 Women's History Review
• 1993 Historische Anthropologie[32]

Approaches to history
How a historian approaches historical events is one of the most important decisions within historiography. It is
commonly recognised by historians that, in themselves, individual historical facts dealing with names, dates and
places are not particularly meaningful. Such facts will only become useful when assembled with other historical
evidence, and the process of assembling this evidence is understood as a particular historiographical approach.
The most influential historiographical approaches are:
•• Comparative history
•• Cultural history
•• Diplomatic history
•• Economic history
• Environmental history, a relatively new field
•• Ethnohistory
•• Family history
•• Feminist history
• History of Religion and Church History; the history of theology is usually handled under Theology
• Intellectual History and History of ideas
•• Labor history
•• Latin American History
• Local History and Microhistory
• Marxist historiography and Historical materialism
• Military history, including naval and air
•• Oral history
•• Political history
• Public history, especially museums and historic preservation
• Quantitative history, Cliometrics (in economic history); Prosopography using statistics to study biographies
•• Shared historical authority
• Social history and History from below; along with the French version the Annales School and the German

Bielefeld School
• Women's history and Gender history
• World history and Universal history
Scholars typically specialize in a particular theme and region. see:
•• Dark Ages (historiography)
•• Historical revisionism
•• Historiography of the British Empire
•• Historiography of the causes of World War I
•• Historiography of China

•• Chinese historiography
•• Historiography of the Cold War
•• Historiography of the Crusades
•• Historiography of early Christianity
•• Historiography of early Islam

Page 14

Historiography 14

• Cromohs — cyber review of modern historiography (http:/ / www. cromohs. unifi. it/ index. html)
•• History and Theory
• History of Historiography (http:/ / www. cisi. unito. it/ stor/ home. htm)

External links
• BBC Historiography Guide (http:/ / www-open2-net-vip2. open. ac. uk/ history/ natureofhistory/ index. html)
• International Commission for the History and Theory of Historiography (http:/ / www.

historiographyinternational. org/ )
• Philosophy of History (http:/ / www. galilean-library. org/ int18. html) introduced at The Galilean Library
• 'Postcolonial Historiographies' group at Cambridge University (http:/ / www. crassh. cam. ac. uk/ page/ 189/

postcolonial-empires. htm), Includes online reading & video archive
• Scientific Historiography (http:/ / www. galilean-library. org/ tucker. html), explained in an interview with

Aviezer Tucker at the Galilean Library
• Series of accessible, interactive online lectures (http:/ / www. activehistory. co. uk/ historiography/ index. htm)
• Summary of key historiographical schools (http:/ / www. cusd. chico. k12. ca. us/ ~bsilva/ ib/ histo. html)
• Web Portal on Historiography and Historical Culture (http:/ / www. culturahistorica. es/ welcome. html)

Page 15

Article Sources and Contributors 15

Article Sources and Contributors
Historiography  Source:  Contributors: 100110100, 777sms, AFA pony, AaronAgassi, Adbarnhart, Adul, Aetheling, Alex S, Alex756,
Alfonso Márquez, Amandajm, Andrew Gray, Andycjp, Angel ivanov angelov, Angela, Antidiskriminator, Aphaia, Avraham, Barbatus, BarrowHill67, Bastante, Bcorr, Besednjak, BillMasen,
Birdoman, BirgerH, Blue-Haired Lawyer, Bobblehead, BrentS, Brian0918, Brosi, Browns2, Brunnock, Bryan Derksen, Byelf2007, CWH, Can't sleep, clown will eat me, Ceedjee, Cesium 133,
Cessator, Cethegus, Chalst, Charles Matthews, Cherubinirules, ChrisGualtieri, Chubbles, Codex Sinaiticus, Conversion script, Corto lu, Cropthorne24, Cruccone, D, DannyScL, Darklilac,
DarwinPeacock, Davidkazuhiro, Deb, Deeceevoice, Delfeye, Dialectric, DocWatson42, DonAByrd, Doric Loon, Dreftymac, Drmies, Dv82matt, Dweller, Edward, EdwardLane, Ehrenkater,
Eieio687, Ekotkie, El C, Ellywa, Enkyo2, Erianna, Eric Forste, Erujiu12, Escape Orbit, Fastfission, Finetooth, Flammingo, Flufybumblebee, FlyHigh, FocalPoint, Fokion, Fred Bauder, Gaius
Cornelius, Galaxander, Gallador, Gdr, Geni, Ginsengbomb, Golbez, Graham Lippiatt, Gregbard, Greyhood, GrindtXX, Guardian of the Rings, Gun Powder Ma, Haeinous, HaugenErik, Honaroog,
Howsa12, Hyacinth, IZAK, Iblardi, Igiffin, Ishmaelblues, Itsmejudith, Ivan Bajlo, IvanLanin, J a1, J04n, JHK, JaGa, Jagged 85, Jaruvl, Jdrice8, Jdubowsky, Jet66, Joel Bastedo, Johnbod, Jojit fb,
Joseph Solis in Australia, Jrb, Juggleandhope, Kaliz, Kaly99, Kanbun, Kansas Bear, Katherine Tredwell, Kazu89, Kdbuffalo, Khazar2, King of Corsairs, KnightRider, Korath, Kozuch, La
comadreja, Lampros, Lapaz, LibLord, Lightmouse, LilHelpa, Livia augsta, Livia augusta, LordGulliverofGalben, Loren Rosen, Lotje, Lubar, Lumos3, Macedonian, Macrakis, Madalibi,
Magioladitis, Mani1, Marek69, Mariposa740, Mark viking, Markeilz, Markus451, Matt Sheard UK, Matt28, Maurreen, Mav, Melizg, Memanni, Metabolome, Mhazard9, Michael Hardy,
Minority2005, Mistakefinder, Mootros, Msrasnw, NOLA504ever, NSR, Nectarflowed, Nescio, NewEnglandYankee, Noclevername, North Shoreman, Nug, Numbermaniac, Oda Mari,
OffiMcSpin, Olegwiki, Olivier, Omegatron, Ontoraul, Optimist on the run, Palaeovia, Paul A, Peregrine981, PericlesofAthens, Persian Poet Gal, Peter Kirby, Pollinosisss, Pstein128, Puffin,
R'n'B, RMCClassics, Rainbowflowerdoll, RashersTierney, Rd232, RekishiEJ, RexNL, Rjensen, Rjm at sleepers, Rjwilmsi, Rossami, SBaron, Saddhiyama, Sam Hocevar, Samsara,
SamuelTheGhost, Sandstein, Sannse, Scoo, Shleep, Skywriter, Spellmaster, Squiddy, StAnselm, Stbalbach, SteveMcCluskey, SteveStrummer, Storm Rider, SusikMkr, Synchronism, TAMilo,
Tabletop, Tacitus XIV, Taekwak, Taksen, TallulahBelle, Tamara O'brien, Tanár, TarseeRota, Tassedethe, Techfast50, The Wonky Gnome, The ed17, Thecheesykid, Themightyquill,
Thomasettaei, Tom harrison, Tony Sidaway, Tpbradbury, TyA, Unyoyega, Uppland, Valerius Tygart, Vapour, Vilniškis, Virago250, Vkyrt, Vssun, Wayiran, Wetman, Wgreason, Wittylama,
Wmahan, Woohookitty, Xanchester, Xavier Bell, Xiaphias, Yamara, Zetawoof, Zetowolf, Zoe, Zora, 392 anonymous edits

Image Sources, Licenses and Contributors
File:Jacob de Wit - Allegorie op het schrijven van de geschiedenis 1754.jpg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Bukk, Jan Arkesteijn, Léna,
Mattes, Picasdre, Vincent Steenberg
File:Thucydides Manuscript.jpg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: G.dallorto, Vercingetorix,
Ογκόλιθος, Алый Король
File:Shiji.jpg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: FreCha, Guss
Image:Beda Petersburgiensis f3v.jpg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: Dsmdgold, GDK, Warburg
Image:Ibn Khaldoun.jpg  Source:  License: Public Domain  Contributors: G.dallorto, Maksim, Moumou82, 1 anonymous edits

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