Historical Research: Methods and Applications

1. Introduction: what is historical research?

Historical research is the study of the past through written sources. It is a discipline that uses primary sources, such as documents, artifacts, and eyewitness accounts, to reconstruct and interpret the past. Historical research can be conducted on a variety of topics, including political, social, economic, and cultural history.

2. Identifying the purpose of your historical research

The first step in conducting historical research is to identify the purpose of your research. Are you trying to find out how a particular event happened? Or are you interested in learning about the lives of people who lived in a certain time period? Once you have identified the purpose of your research, you can narrow your focus and develop a research question.

3. Developing a research question

A research question is a specific question that you want to answer through your research. For example, if you are interested in learning about the lives of entertainers in the early 1900s, you might ask: How did entertainers’ lives change after World War I?

4. Background research

Once you have developed a research question, it is important to conduct background research to learn about the context of your topic. This will help you understand the events that led up to your topic of interest and put them into perspective. One way to do this is by reading existing literature on your topic. The New York Times is a good source for background information on social and political issues in the United States and Europe during the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

5. Locating primary sources

Primary sources are firsthand accounts of an event or time period. They can include letters, diaries, interviews, photographs, newspapers, government records, and more. When conducting historical research, it is important to use primary sources to get an intimate view of the subject matter.

To find primary sources on your topic of interest, start by searching for keywords in library databases or online archives. For example, if you are interested in finding out more about entertainer/singer J.P Morgan, you could search for “J.P Morgan” in The New York Times archive (https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/). This will retrieve all articles that mention J.P Morgan in the Times from 1851-1922. You can then narrow down your search by adding additional keywords, such as “entertainer” or “Queen Alexandra.”

6. Using secondary sources

Secondary sources are interpretations of primary sources or analyses of data by somebody other than the original author or researcher. They can include books, articles, websites, etc. Secondary sources can be helpful in understanding primary sources or putting them into context. However, it is important to be critical of secondary sources and evaluate them for bias and reliability before using them in your research paper.

7. Evaluating sources for bias and reliability

When evaluating a source for bias, it is important to consider who created the source and why they may have had a vested interest in presenting information in a certain way. For example, was the author writing from their personal experiences or from secondhand accounts? Was the author’s goal to inform or persuade? Was the author part of a particular social or political group with its own biases? All of these factors can affect the way information is presented in a source and how reliable it is.

When evaluating a source for reliability, it is important to consider its sources. Does the author cite their sources? If so, are the sources reliable? It is also important to consider the date the source was published. Is the information in the source still relevant? Has new research been published that contradicts or adds to the information in the source?

8. Developing a thesis statement

Once you have evaluated your sources and identified your purpose, you can develop a thesis statement. A thesis statement is a one- or two-sentence summary of your main argument. For example, if your purpose is to argue that entertainers’ lives changed after World War I, your thesis statement might be: The experience of World War I had a profound effect on entertainers’ lives, both personally and professionally.

9. Constructing an argument

After you have developed a thesis statement, you need to construct an argument to support it. An argument is a series of claims backed by evidence. When constructing an argument, it is important to use both primary and secondary sources to support your claims. It is also important to anticipate counterarguments and refutations to your own argument. For example, someone might argue that entertainers’ lives did not change significantly after World War I. To counter this argument, you could point to specific examples of how entertainers’ lives were affected by the war, such as the rise of new entertainment genres like jazz and film.

10. Writing a research paper

Once you have developed a thesis statement and constructed an argument to support it, you are ready to write a research paper. A research paper is a formal piece of writing that presents your argument in detail. When writing a research paper, it is important to use evidence from both primary and secondary sources to support your claims. Be sure to cite all of your sources using proper citation style (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago).

11. Citing sources

It is important to cite all of the sources you use in your research paper, both primary and secondary. Citing sources allows you to avoid plagiarism and shows your readers where you got your information. When citing sources, be sure to use the proper citation style for your discipline (e.g., MLA, APA, Chicago).

12. Conclusion

Historical research is the study of the past through written sources. It is a discipline that uses primary sources, such as documents, artifacts, and eyewitness accounts, to reconstruct and interpret the past. Historical research can be conducted on a variety of topics, including political, social, economic, and cultural history.

FAQ

Historical research can be used to help understand the present by providing context for current events and trends.

Some methods for conducting historical research include studying primary sources, such as documents and artifacts from the time period being studied, and secondary sources, such as books and articles about the history of a particular subject.

It is important to study history because it helps us understand the world we live in today and how it came to be. Additionally, studying history can give us insights into human nature and help us make better decisions in the present.

Analyzing past newspaper articles can provide valuable information about a particular time period or event.

Our understanding of the past would be quite different if we only had access to newspaper articles from that time period. This is because newspapers often provide biased or one-sided accounts of events that may not paint an accurate picture of what actually happened. ["Historical research can be used to help understand the present by providing context for current events and trends.","Some methods for conducting historical research include studying primary sources, such as documents and artifacts from the time period being studied, and secondary sources, such as books and articles about the history of a particular subject.","It is important to study history because it helps us to understand the world we live in today and how it came to be. By understanding the past, we can better make decisions in the present.","Studying history can help us make better decisions in the present by giving us a greater understanding of cause and effect relationships. For example, if we know that a particular decision led to disastrous consequences in the past, we may be more hesitant to make that same decision again in the future.","Some benefits of analyzing past newspaper articles include gaining insights into what was happening in the world at that time and how people were reacting to events. Additionally, looking at old newspapers can give us a glimpse into social norms and attitudes from another era.","Our understanding of the past would be different if we only had access to newspaper articles from that time period because newspapers are biased sources of information that often only report on sensational or negative events."]