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  • Laurence D. Schiller
    Jan 3, 2005
      Greetings Joseph:

      At 11:23 PM +0000 1/3/05, civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com wrote:
      >Dr. Schiller:
      >Off the top of my head, I would submit that a secondary source, such
      >as Mr. Foote's trilogy, should not generally be cited in support of
      >an author's factual assertion (although Herodotus and others of such
      >a time and place would probably be more appropriate exceptions), but
      >that Foote should be cited if his views on a particular issue are
      >being used by the author

      That is precisely my point.

      >. One caveat, however, is that there should
      >be sufficient reason to accept his views on that issue and it is not
      >merely an appeal to authority.

      Of course.

      >Even citations of primary sources can be problematic when that
      >source is unreliable.

      True - but now you are entering different territory. I'm talking
      about when to cite, not WHAT to cite. As we all know, just because
      something is a primary source doesn't mean it is particularly
      trustworthy - Ol Jube's post war writings come to mind =-). What you
      use as a source is your decision - but it you use it, you should cite

      > Byers' account of Sherman at Chattanooga
      >indicated that the Confederates charged out of the railroad tunnel
      >to outflank the Federals, as well as including the incorrect
      >description of heavy fighting on the 24th. This latter
      >misconception was picked up by other writers including Catton (who
      >seems to have picked it up secondhand). Other primary accounts have
      >been misread, so that the citation is correct, but the author's
      >statement is still wrong; Grant's supposed questioning of Granger on
      >Orchard Knob on the afternoon of 11/25/63 is a fine example of this
      >(also misused by Catton). Some errors, such as this last, get
      >handed down from author to author until it appears as part of

      No doubt.

      >Placement of citations is usually either done at the end of the
      >sentence or saved for the end of the paragraph. I can see where the
      >latter can be useful when the citation applies to the whole
      >paragraph, although the former method is more helpful. Are there
      >any hard and fast rules on this, and can the two types by used in
      >the same work?

      No hard and fast rules - clarity is the issue and you can note where
      you think appropriate. Again, the rule I go by is 'am I making what I
      am doing clear?'

      >I can also see where it would be unreasonable to use a citation in
      >places where a very large number of sources would be necessary to
      >back up a particular assertion, such as the feelings of soldiers
      >after a battle; one source wouldn't prove anything and fifty
      >accounts might be needed to provide a decent sampling of opinion.
      >Would you cite all or none of these sources, or let the footnote
      >give a summary of what the sources show? No footnote at all may
      >mislead the reader to believe that the original assertion is

      If I really needed to cite that many examples, I would cite a few
      specific good ones and say these are representative of many others.
      Depending on what you were trying to do here - you might be better
      off constructing a graph/chart of the sample thus showing the 'sample
      of opinion'. There are many ways to approach these depending what you
      are writing about and trying to argue.


      Laurie Schiller


      Dr. Laurence Dana Schiller Civil War First Person Impressions
      Maitre d'Armes William Bradshaw, Co. F 2nd WI
      Head Fencing Coach George Hammitt, Co. H 104th Ill
      Department of History
      Northwestern University
      Commissioner, Midwest Fencing Conference
      Midwest VP, US Fencing Coaches' Association
      Vice-Chair USFA Illinois Division
      847-491-4654 (Athletics)
      847-467-5344 (History)
      FAX 847-467-1406
      Official Sports site: http://nusports.ocsn.com/
      Student web site: http://groups.northwestern.edu/fencing/
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