This treatise of historical methodology, originally published in 1950 is based upon a liberal conception of history which excludes no narrator of past events from the ranks of historians. It defines history as the accurate story which preserves the memory of the past experiences of human societies. The functionof history determines its method and provides the answer to the question: how secure is our knowledge of the past? In the author’s view, history is empirical and its results are for ever provisional. The relative merits of dogmatism and scepticism are examined and several interpretations among English historians are scrutinized.
Part 1: What is History? 1. The Story That Must Be Told 2. Nothing But A Story 3. The Past Itself? Part 2: The Detection of Events 1. Events and Their Traces 2. Detecting the Traces 3. From Trace to Event 4. Certitude, Doubt and Common Sense 5. Our Knowledge of Events Part 3: Telling the Story 1. Relevance and Serialization 2. Some Methods of Serialization 3. Human Behaviour 4. The Historian’s Philosophy of History 5. The ‘Laws’ of History 6. History As An Art 7. Historians