Historiography is the study of, and the practice of, writing history. History is the result, and historiography is the method. History asks, "Why, how, who, when;" Historiography asks, "Why write history, how is history written, who writes histories, when is a history obsolete?"

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How accurate or supported is Jared Diamond's “Guns, Germs, and Steel”?

Jared Diamond wrote a fascinating book that purports to explain, in a very broad way, the development of civilization. It has several explanations for the development of Eurasian civilization rather ...
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12answers
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Is history always written by the victors?

The famous "history is written by victors" saying argues that the victors overwhelmingly influence historical accounts. Are there any examples of history written by the(or THE) losers?
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By mid-1945, was Japan capable of maintaining the war even in the absence of further direct American attacks? [closed]

The USA went to a great effort to defeat Japan, but do historians regard it as necessary? For example if the USA had just kept the naval action going to the extent of cutting of all shipping to ...
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417 views

How to research controversial history?

I wouldn't be naming the specific examples as that might (will) needlessly divert the attention away from the question itself. Let us say I am trying to research about historical events in a region. ...
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Before the Land Bridge Theory, how was human presence in the Americas explained?

The Land Bridge Theory argues that humans crossed over to Alaska from Siberia, via a land bridge created by glaciation. The theory developed in the 1930s and became the popularly accepted explanation ...
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308 views

When did the use of fabricated speeches in historical works go out of fashion?

In his History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides includes a number of made up speeches based upon "what was called for in each situation". While this is frowned upon in modern histories, it seems ...
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When was the American War of Independence first called a 'Revolution'?

What happened in America seems to be nothing of the kind that happened in France a few years later. American Independence was all about a group of Englishmen exercising their rights under the 1688 ...
14
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431 views

Is there a field of study which attempts to document historic experiences of ordinary individuals?

One of my interests is attempting to understand what human experiences were like for individuals in the past. I want to learn about their day-to-day lives, their fears, their aspirations and what ...
12
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382 views

What are some indicators that distinguish pseudo-history from actual history?

It is sometimes hard for a layman to separate well-researched history from the writings of kooks (or what Mark Twain called "inspired idiots"). For example: my local library carries "A Secret ...
12
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716 views

I'm reading The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. What should I watch out for?

I am currently reading William L. Shirer's The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. I find it an interesting take on Nazi Germany, particularly with its emphasis on the viewpoints afforded by the Foreign ...
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How is the discipline of History differentiated from other disciplines in social sciences or the humanities?

History is a discipline in the academy that is sometimes a social science and sometimes a humanity. However, there are many other social sciences (e.g., economics, political science) and many other ...
12
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549 views

What do historians do when there are no sources?

Historians rapidly come up against absence sources: the documentary record of the past is by its nature fragmentary, selective, partial and obtuse. What strategies do historians use when there are ...
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2answers
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How do historians deal with Historical Bias?

A while ago while watching Crash Course World History, John Green mentioned how Alexander the Great died from the flu despite many people from that time claiming that he died in battle (because this ...
11
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8answers
737 views

How to rebut Holocaust denial argument?

I came across a Holocaust denier who claims that there is a plaque outside Auschwitz which says that the Nazis murdered 1.5 million people there (mostly Jewish). However, the plaque used to say 4 ...
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3answers
2k views

Did the Delphic oracle speak gibberish?

Wikipedia's article on the Delphic oracle says: The usual theory has been that the Pythia delivered oracles in a frenzied state induced by vapors rising from a chasm in the rock, and that she ...
11
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1answer
292 views

Why do Strabo, Pliny and Diodorus cite Pytheas in disbelief?

According to the wikipedia page on Germanic tribes, (direct quotation) The first news about the Germanic world are contained in the lost Pytheas work. It is believed that Pytheas travelled to ...
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Has history mistreated Nero?

Nero is (wrongly) "known" as the Emperor who "fiddled while Rome burned." But he did kill a number of prominent people, including his own mother. He is treated by much of history as a psychopath, and ...
11
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136 views

What was the Nove / Millar debate, how is it important to the historiography of the Soviet Union?

The Nove / Millar debate was a debate amongst economic historians in the 1970s, where the Western understanding of Soviet economic development in the 1920 and 1930s was seriously revised. In ...
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1answer
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Did Hongwu Emperor flay 5000 women, and why?

On Wikipedia, there is a snippet that reads: The Hongwu Emperor flayed many servants, officials and rebels.[5][6] In 1396 he ordered the flaying of 5000 women.[7] The problem is that the second ...
10
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3answers
443 views

Is there a definition of history separate from the definition of politics?

I encountered a problem to define something as "history", namely the determination of legal status of Kosovo. The action is so recent, I would say it more belongs to "politics". For my impression ...
10
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4answers
681 views

How to validate a historical source

You can learn and understand history various ways such as learning in a university, reading books, being taught by someone with a background in history, watching TV, browsing the internet, or, in my ...
10
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1answer
274 views

Who came up with the name “Peloponnesian War”?

If I understand correctly, Thucydides actually called his book just History. If that is correct, then at what point did it become known as History of the Peloponnesian War? EDIT: Here is how he ...
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5answers
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Is there any research explicitly contradicting facts in Suvorov's “Icebreaker” book series claiming that Stalin intended to attack Hitler in 1941?

Viktor Suvorov is a somewhat famous ex-GRU spy who defected and wrote a series of books. The most (in)famous and sensational were a series of books on World War II, starting with "Icebreaker", which ...
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652 views

Does Chinese history really span the past 5000 years?

Chinese kids the world over are frequently taught that there is "5000 years of Chinese history". What basis is there for this claim?
9
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2answers
224 views

How many proofs does History require?

There's a well-known story about Andrey Kolmogorov. As a student his first choice of major was not Mathematics but History, and he wrote a serious paper on taxation of Russian serfs. He notices that ...
9
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198 views

How can scholarly non-historians locate and properly use scholarly histories?

Non-historian scholars regularly have a need for dependable accounts of particular moments in the past. How can a non-historian locate and then best use scholarly histories?
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390 views

Is there contemporary evidence for the Roman Kingdom?

The early history of Ancient Rome is notoriously poorly documented. The Gaul Sack of Rome (390 BC) has destroyed much early written records. What evidence do we have that remains of the Roman Kingdom? ...
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How historically accurate is Les Miserables?

In essence, I'm asking about whether there are any historical inaccuracies in the movies/plays themselves. I'm pretty sure the book would have very few, due to the fact that it was written in a ...
8
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1answer
2k views

Why was record keeping forbidden in Ancient Sparta?

in Ancient Sparta, record keeping and any kind of written history was forbidden by law. (src: http://history.stackexchange.com/a/5966/332 ) What was the rationale for such a law?
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200 views

How do historians treat gossip?

How do historians deal with information that has no other sources than gossip? I mean facts (or "facts") that are not covered by primary sources, but are widely known from gossip. Usually this ...
8
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1answer
358 views

Horace Walpole on Richard III

Thus reads Wikipedia: In Historic Doubts on the Life and Reign of King Richard III (1768), Walpole defended Richard III against the common belief that he murdered the Princes in the Tower. In ...
8
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1answer
2k views

What is the difference between a professional historian and an amateur?

Some historians appear to practice history professionally, in the sense that they produce histories that are accepted by other historians as "real" and "full." In this sense there is a profession of ...
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1answer
190 views

Has the strength of the historical-archaeological method ever been tested experimentally?

Historians routinely draw quite far-reaching conclusions about all aspects of society from archaeological artifacts and textual documents that – naturally – represent only a minuscule fraction of all ...
8
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423 views

How is history studied?

What are the unique and distinct features of the study of history in terms of: Epistemology Purpose Theory Method Methodology Does the study of history produce unique perceptions? Does the ...
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915 views

Where did the term “Radical Republican” come from?

Where did the term "Radical Republican" come from? I know that Radical Republicans is term for a group of Republicans in the early Republican party in the mid 1800s, but was the term used at the time ...
7
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1answer
239 views

Who were the “tyrants” that Charles Martel “crushed”?

The second chapter of Einhard says: It was this Charles that crushed the tyrants who claimed to rule the whole Frank land as their own, and that utterly routed the Saracens, when they ...
7
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2answers
235 views

Is the position of women as portrayed in the Mad Men series historically accurate?

I found similar questions about a game (closed as off topic), a play (7 upvotes) and a movie (9 upvotes) so I am unsure if this is an acceptable question for this SE. In the Mad Men series, which ...
7
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1answer
191 views

Are there any battles that have been extensively studied across the world? [closed]

Has there been any historical battle which became so universally well regarded, that military academies from across the world would would study it? Or are most military academies inherently biased ...
7
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1answer
190 views

The history of the idea that lack of moral censure leads to decline

"The decline of a civilization has long been linked, anecdotally, to less moral censure and a decline in manners (manners being self, usually-moral censorship)." (Brock Adams, commenting an earlier ...
7
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2answers
284 views

Can a source be considered 'primary' if it is not written by an eyewitness and partly based on another source?

The example I have in mind is Luke's Gospel, but the question is not about that source in particular, I'm interested in the terms 'primary' and 'secondary' in the technical sense they would be used by ...
7
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1answer
158 views

What are legitimate methods and sources?

How does a historian or an amateur determine what legitimate methods can be used and what legitimate sources are? Obviously there are many methods to read texts and speculate about political, social, ...
6
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2answers
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Should I trust a church history book that's more than 50 years old?

I found a history book (A History of the Christian Church, Revised Edition by Williston Walker) at my local used book store. It was copyrighted in 1959. Have there been any developments in research ...
6
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3answers
191 views

Where can I find open historical map data?

I am building an interactive map project, that should draw a political map for any given year. Are there any open resources, that give access to such information? Maybe, as an array of points marking ...
6
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2answers
1k views

How do functionalists explain the fact that Holocaust continued until the very end of the war?

While I haven't read Goldhagen or scholars with a similar viewpoint directly, I frequently encounter the following argument that seems very Goldhagenite to me: "The Germans tried to murder Jews up ...
6
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2answers
581 views

How can we be sure that a certain historical claim is true and accurate?

The study of history heavily relies on textual records, which are, to some extent, value-laden or subjective. Worse still, since peer-review was not a strict practice in the past, it is fairly ...
6
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1answer
176 views

How do the kings and important figures in history get the titles?

What I mean by the titles is: Alexander "the Great", Julian "the Apostate", Henry "the Navigator" and so on. Do such important figures choose titles for themselves? Or do the subjects or historians ...
6
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2answers
675 views

Is whig history generally considered to be 'bad' history?

I am new to history, but what strikes me is that people in the field often complain that a certain text is too much whig history. (See wikipedia for a definition.) It really seems like a critique, or ...
6
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434 views

What is “discovery” in the historical sense? How do historians today view and describe “discoveries”?

I was taught in grade school "Columbus discovered America", "Captain Cook discovered Hawaii" etc, and I imagine many of us were taught the same. Obviously the term "discovered" here is problematic: ...
6
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1answer
437 views

Who gave Charles the Bold his nickname and why?

I am talking about the Duke of Burgundy here. Wikipedia has a tantalizing footnote (n. 1): Charles le Téméraire is more accurately translated in English as "the Rash", but the English speaking ...
6
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Today, how accurate and balanced is Paul Johnson's book *History of the Jews*?

A History of the Jews, by Paul Johnson, takes an authoritative tone and is dense with citations. But its scope is enormous and it sometimes draws very strong conclusions. Given the state of the art of ...