Reading Primary Sources: The Interpretation of Texts from Nineteenth and Twentieth Century History, 2nd Edition (Paperback) book cover

Reading Primary Sources

The Interpretation of Texts from Nineteenth and Twentieth Century History, 2nd Edition

Edited by Miriam Dobson, Benjamin Ziemann


336 pages

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Paperback: 9781138393196
pub: 2020-05-29
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 29th May 2020
Hardback: 9781138393189
pub: 2020-05-29
Available for pre-order. Item will ship after 29th May 2020

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Now in its second edition, Reading Primary Sources explores the varied traditions in source-criticism and, through specific examples provided by the contributors, illustrates how primary sources can be read and used in historical research.

The first part of this two-part volume begins by establishing the reader’s understanding of source criticism with an overview of both traditional and new methodological approaches to the use of primary documents. Taking into account the huge expansion in the range of primary sources used by historians, the second part includes chapters on surveillance reports, testimony and court files, in addition to more traditional genres such as letters, memoranda, diaries, novels, newspapers, political speeches and autobiography. For the new edition, each chapter now includes a checklist that suggests an easy-to-follow sequence of steps for interpreting a specific source genre, enabling students to understand how the sources should be read, what they have to offer, and the pitfalls of their interpretation. In addition to new discussions about the availability to digitised source materials, a new chapter on social surveys unlocks the potential of these widely used primary sources.

Taking examples of sources from many European countries and the United States, and providing up-to-date information on the most widely used textual sources, this book is the perfect companion for every student of history who wants to engage with primary sources.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Reading primary sources: contexts and approaches 1. Understanding history: hermeneutics and source-criticism in historical scholarship 2. Reading tests after the linguistic turn: approaches from literary studies and their implications Part 2: Varieties of primary sources and their interpretation 3. Letters 4. Surveillance reports 5. Court files 6. Social surveys 7. Memoranda 8. Diaries 9. Novels 10. Autobiography 11. Newspapers 12. Speeches 13. Testimony

About the Editors

Miriam Dobson is Reader in Modern History at the University of Sheffield. Her first book Khrushchev’s Cold Summer: Gulag Returnees, Crime, and the Fate of Reform after Stalin was published in 2009 and she is currently completing a monograph, provisionally entitled Unorthodox Communities in the Cold War: Protestants, Secularisation, and Soviet Atheism, 1945-1985.

Benjamin Ziemann is Professor of Modern German History at the University of Sheffield. His most recent publications include Contested Commemorations. Republican War Veterans and Weimar Political Culture (2013) and Violence and the German Soldier in the Great War: Killing, Dying, Surviving (2017).

About the Series

Routledge Guides to Using Historical Sources

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / General
HISTORY / Historiography