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  • Laurence D. Schiller
    Jan 3, 2005
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      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
      it.

      > 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
      >history.

      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
      >unsupported.

      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.

      Best,

      Laurie Schiller

      >
      >Joseph
      >

      --
      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
      Lds307@...
      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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