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Re: Historians, etc.

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  • civilwarlady@yahoo.com
    Thank you, Dr. Schiller....I think we are basically on the same page! Anne ... is ... have ... because ... want ... and heritage ... are ... is ... anyone ...
    Message 1 of 2 , Jan 1, 2005
      Thank you, Dr. Schiller....I think we are basically on the same page!


      --- In civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com, "Laurence D. Schiller"
      <LDS307@n...> wrote:
      > Greetings Anne:
      > At 11:30 PM +0000 1/1/05, civilwarwest@yahoogroups.com wrote:
      > >Thank you Dr. Schiller. You are the first professional historian I
      > >have encountered who is willing to concede that there are
      > >competent "amatuers"!
      > I think you will find there are plenty of others - although there
      > also plenty of snobbery, etc. in the field. On the other hand, I
      > met quite a few amateurs who dismiss professional historians
      > our work doesn't come up to the standards of the mythology they
      > to believe about the ACW. I'm sure you know what I mean.
      > > Believe me, I do not underestimate the work of
      > >a professional historian. I still believe, however, that historial
      > >evidence is not the equivalent of scientific evidence. It is still
      > >subject to interpretation and still susceptible to bias, and
      > >therefore no matter how exacting the research is, it is still the
      > >possibility of error, and I am ok with that.
      > Oh, no question of that. That is why historical interpretation is
      > always changing. I get highly amused at the re-enactors
      and 'heritage
      > types' I know who protest about 'PC' and how 'leftist' historians
      > trying to 'change' history like there was some sort of immutable
      > 'historical truth'. Yes, nobody is completely objective and error
      > always possible, but a good historian is cognizant of that. I never
      > suggested history was like science.
      > >
      > >I beg to differ on the your interpretation of musical performance.
      > >It is the conductor and/or performer who must interpret what the
      > >composer wanted. Yes, there are clues in the score. But does
      > >really know how the composer heard his music? The score may
      > >many dynamics...but how loud is that Forte? I have had the pleasure
      > >of doing some conducting many years ago and I can tell you from my
      > >experience that ultimately, the conductor interprets the score and
      > >then his or her job becomes conveying that interpretation to the
      > >performers to get them to respond as you have interpreted. It is
      > >an easy task, but when it happens? It's quite a thrill.
      > I don't want to bore the board with a discussion of music. I also
      > have done some conducting and understand your point - but my point,
      > not well stated I guess, is that the analogy is incorrect.
      > are not doing the same thing as conductors. We are not trying to
      > interpret the intentions of some composer, but trying to ascertain
      > the 'what, why, who, where, and so on'. Quite a different task.
      > Apples and oranges as they say.
      > >
      > >Let me ask you this; I am writing a book about local ACW soldiers
      > >veterans. Part of my work has been to identify as many soldiers as
      > >possible that were born in, lived in for extended amounts of time,
      > >died in this county. I knew going in it would not be possible to
      > >each and every one; particularly those who moved west as children.
      > >But I have 75 pages of names, units, where in the county they lived
      > >if it can be determined, when they died and where they are buried,
      > >etc. If I were required to cite every source I used to locate this
      > >information for every soldier on that list, the footnotes would be
      > >five times the length of the list. I used a variety of sources and
      > >never included a name until I was able to validate the information
      > >more than two sources. That was my method. At some point, don't you
      > >have to give me the benefit of the doubt that I followed this
      > >for each and every name on the list?
      > Yes and no. Obviously you aren't going to cite each specific
      source -
      > however, generally you create a bibliography with the sources you
      > used - For example, pension records, Muster rolls, cemetery
      > etc. If you used specific collections of papers, you would cite
      > those. Newspapers can also be listed. You don't have to cite each
      > obit with page number. Since you are working in a very specific
      > I would imagine that there are records that you have used
      > for many of the soldiers - local newspapers, archives, and so
      > This would give someone a handle on where you got your information
      > without having 43 pages of endnotes. Like Harry, my trust in what I
      > read comes from the reliability of what is written and an idea of
      > sources you used. For a local type genealogical publication, you
      > don't need more than this.
      > > I should add that my purpose is
      > >not to achieve an academically acceptable end result. My purpose is
      > >to write a book about local soldiers, the events they experienced
      > >they saw them, and their post-war experiences.
      > Understood, but if you want your work to stand, you need to provide
      > some data. Just as an example, I came across a paper done in 1963
      > the Evanston Review, a weekly newspaper here in the Chicago area,
      > which talked all about contributions of local soldiers in the CW.
      > Unfortunately, even a cursory reading showed me it had numerous
      > errors and since there was no indication of sources, I found I
      > trust anything in the article unless I knew it to be true from my
      > work (I work on the 8th Illinois Cav amongst other cavalry units).
      > I just 'trusted' this guy, I would have quite a bit of incorrect
      > information which I might incorporate into something I wrote - and
      > course I would have cited this guy. All of us can cite examples
      > one source ends up being the source for some myth which gets
      > (a la Buford's repeaters) until it is 'popularly accepted'. I'm not
      > at all suggesting that your work is shoddy - it sounds as though
      > are being quite thorough, but it is the sort of thing someone doing
      > other research might like to use and you owe them the sources, at
      > least in a general way.
      > > If I were submitting
      > >this project as a thesis, the standard would be much higher than my
      > >desire to submit this to the general public and people with an
      > >interest in the history of this area; I strive for accuracy, I can
      > >not guarantee that every middle name, or date of death, or every
      > >Company is 100% correct. There are all sorts of problems inherent
      > >the kinds of sources I had to use. But I want people to know,
      > >and remember these men. I am not trying to convince anyone of
      > >anything.
      > It's not a question of 'convincing' someone of anything. Remember,
      > the first task of the historian is to collect data - which is what
      > you are doing.
      > > Would you find no value then in my work?
      > Of course I would - as per what I said above. In my never ending
      > research on my cavalry book, I have used stuff just as you are
      > collecting - but it is more difficult for me to use if I can't get
      > handle on how you have collected it. Which brings me to another
      > - it is always good to have a short introduction which explains
      > methodology - that also covers the type of sources you used and
      > the reader confidence in your work.
      > >
      > >I don't mean to get everybody lost in this subject!! My law
      > >enforcement experiences tells me that not every case is text book
      > >perfect with undeniable evidence. Many times, you are forced to
      > >with what you have and often that is not an ideal situation. I
      > >believe, however, that it prevents you from presenting a "provable"
      > >case within the guidelines of the justice system. You can not
      > >the "human factor"....witnesses will recant, lawyers will muddy
      > >issues, technical mistakes will be made, and jurors will acquit
      > >guilty people. Do we therefore give up on the system?
      > I'm not sure I follow your point here. History is not 'truth' in
      > sense. We always find new things that may change how we interpret.
      > Nor is history a 'case' to be proved. We simply take the data as
      > we can and create an interpretation. There are even competing valid
      > interpretations depending on what variables you want to stress
      > (economic, political, etc.) You can challenge any interpretation
      > I may change my mind (or not =-)), but you'd better be able to show
      > the flaws in my argument. The problem is always that any
      > interpretation must be backed by solid data and sound argument. So,
      > as I said in my first post, not all interpretations are equally
      > Best,
      > Laurie Schiller
      > >
      > >Thanks for an interesting discussion.
      > >With all due respect,
      > >Anne (BS, MLIS....no PhD on my wall!!!):^)
      > >
      > --
      > Dr. Laurence Dana Schiller Civil War First Person
      > Maitre d'Armes William Bradshaw, Co.
      F 2nd WI
      > Head Fencing Coach George Hammitt, Co. H 104th
      > Department of History
      > Northwestern University
      > Commissioner, Midwest Fencing Conference
      > Midwest VP, US Fencing Coaches' Association
      > Vice-Chair USFA Illinois Division
      > Lds307@n...
      > 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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