Teaching Historical Methods and Imagining the Archives, Part 1: Teaching Methods

AHA Session 226
Sunday, January 5, 2020: 1:30 PM-3:00 PM
New York Ballroom West (Sheraton New York, Third Floor)
Elizabeth S. Manley, Xavier University of Louisiana
Who Do You Think You Are
A. Kristen Foster, Marquette University
Teaching Historical Methods with University Archives at Norwich University
Mark Boonshoft, Norwich University; Christine McCann, Norwich University
Teaching Kansas History from the Archive
Jonathan Hagel, University of Kansas
The Audience

Session Abstract

For many undergraduates interested in history, the process of learning to research and write effectively about the past is a difficult one. For years it seemed that research methodology was reserved for the graduate level, if that. Even in undergraduate programs where a course in historical methods course is offered, often the syllabus began with a quick read of Marius’ classic A Short Guide to Writing about History (and maybe a visit to special collections) and then students were turned loose in the library and expected to produce a primary source based term paper. Much like their instructors, they were expected to learn to identify and make sense of primary sources as they went along. However, many history professors have begun to question this model, believing that it is perhaps not the best way of engaging students in the writing and producing of history. A plethora of new approaches have recently been piloted, from thematic-based courses, to archival-centered (or flipped) models, to engaging creative sources and repositories, and finally to engaging with the vast array of digital materials now available to students and instructors.

This two-part workshop on Teaching Historical Methods and Imagining the Archives will offer some new and creative ideas for teaching historical methodologies. The panelists will describe their own efforts in creating methods courses that operate in innovative ways, with an emphasis on creating a hands-on approach to sources and expanding traditional notions of what constitutes those sources. The panelists will share both the successes and the obstacles in developing these courses, and discuss the logistical hurdles they have navigated along with the pedagogical ones. The panelists will engage in a dialogue with each other and with the audience to expand our collective knowledge about making historical methods course more robust and useful for faculty and students. The first pedagogy working group session, “Teaching Methods” will focus on courses that have utilized more traditional source repositories while innovating the methods used to teach students to analyze, synthesize, and present historical narratives.