Thursday, October 7, 2010

The Historian's Code

On H-Net (the Public History listserv), this Historian's Code was posted courtesy of historian Glenn Williams of the National Museum of the U.S. Army, and I thought it was useful to all of us who are involved in history in any such way. The code was written by Dr. Richard Stewart. May it guide you and inspire you.

A Historian's Code (1)

1.     I will footnote (or endnote) all my sources (none of this MLA or social science parenthetical business).

2.      If I do not reference my sources accurately, I will surely perish in the fires of various real or metaphorical infernal regions and I will completely deserve it.  I have been warned.

3.      I will respect the hard-won historical gains of those historians in whose steps I walk and will share such knowledge as is mine with all other historians (as they doubtless will cheerfully share it with me).

4.      I will not be ashamed to say "I do not know" or to change my narrative of historical events when new sources point to my errors.

5.      I will never leave a fallen book behind.

6.      I will acknowledge that history is created by people and not by impersonal cosmic forces or "isms."  An "ism" by itself never harmed or helped anyone without human agency.

7.      I am not a sociologist, political scientist, international relations-ist, or any other such "ist."  I am a historian and deal in facts, not models.

8.      I know I have a special responsibility to the truth and will seek, as fully as I can, to be thorough, objective, careful, and balanced in my judgments, relying on primary source documents whenever possible.

9.      Life may be short, but history is forever.  I am a servant of forever.

(1)     Stewart, Richard, Ph.D., "Historians and a Historian's Code," ARMY HISTORY, No. 77 (Fall 2010), p. 46.

No comments:

Post a Comment