One of the strangest and most fascinating source encounters I have experienced so far while working in the Venetian archives concerns the role of food in the records of a set of diplomatic missions to Cairo. In one case, in the early morning of December 17, 1489, at the citadel of Cairo, Pietro Diedo, the Venetian ambassador to Egypt, delivered an assortment of gifts to the Mamluk sultan Qaytbay.
By Adam Rothman
Many universities in the United States are reckoning with their own involvement in the history of American slavery. What can historians contribute? It may seem counterintuitive to ask what historians can bring to the discussion of what seems to be an essentially historical problem, but the answer is not obvious because it depends on the tricky relationship between the past and the present.
By Naomi Lieberman
How can I get information about my father’s service in World War II? Where can I find records about my grandfather’s work for the Civilian Conservation Corps? Is there a list of official postmasters for local offices somewhere? These are all examples of questions recently asked and answered on the National Archives and Records Administration’s History Hub.
By Zach Schrag
Historians have long complained about interference with their work by institutional review boards (IRBs), university-based ethics committees charged with protecting people who participate in experiments and other forms of human subjects research. Though well intentioned, IRB members and staff frequently fail to understand the differences between psychology experiments and genetic research on the one hand, and oral-history interviews and archival research on the other. For instance, they have sometimes insisted that oral historians disguise the identities of their narrators or destroy audio recordings, even though the identification of narrators and the preservation of their stories are central to the discipline.
By Jessica DeWitt
“Sorry, We’re Closed,” read the sign on the door of the small Albertan museum I had traveled hours to get to and planned to conduct research at last Monday. I sighed, “What now?” I thought to myself as I climbed back into my car …
By Kathleen Thompson
I spent this summer on a research journey to find Union Civil War soldiers committed to insane asylums.
By Melissa Young
In this post for our Summer for Historians series, Melissa Farah Young considers how her internship at Birmingham Holocaust Education Center inspired her to shift her focus from language of trauma in Civil War letters to Holocaust oral history,
Part of what makes doing history so exciting is that the questions and interpretive challenges never really end. In the process of tackling one question, a new one always emerges.