A Student of History

October 29, 2010

Historians’ Code

Filed under: What is History? — John Maass @ 8:29 am

A Historian’s Code:
1. I will footnote (or endnote) all of my sources (none
of this MLA or social science parenthetical referencing
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 that 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.

From: Richard W. Stewart, Ph.D., in Army History, Fall 2010, p. 46.

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