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Finding and Writing Historiographies

What is a historiography?

Historiography is the “study of changes in the methods, interpretations, and conclusions of historians over time.”

Jules R. Benjamin, A Student’s Guide to History (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2001), 15.

When you write a historiographical essay you “identify, compare, and evaluate the viewpoints of two or more historians writing on the same subject.”

Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin's, 2012), 38.

How do I find historiographies?

Library Catalogue

Historiography is a subject term in the library catalogue. Add a topic keyword to the term historiography in the library catalogue. For example:

  • Great Britain Colonies Historiography
  • Cold War Historiography
  • Reformation Historiography
  • Witchcraft Historiography

History Journal Article Databases

America History & Life and Historical Abstracts are two important databases containing historical content. Unlike the library catalogue you will need to use Boolean operators (and, or, not) to effectively search these databases. In addition to the term historiography you may also want to use review essay. For example, in the top search box in Historical Abstracts type:

Vietnam war and (historiography or review essay)

Suggested Journals and Books

History Compass publishes historiographic essays. It is indexed in Historical Abstracts from 2011 onwards and CKRN Wiley Online from 2003 onwards which means you may come across content from this journal when you are searching in the library catalogue. To search the journal directly, go to the library homepage, click on Browse Journals, enter History Compass in the Ejournal search box, click on Search and then Find it. At this point I would click on CKRN Wiley Online since it contains content from as far back as 2003. Once you are in the database you can browse or search within the journal for specific topics.

History and Theory is another journal which regularly includes historiographic articles. It is indexed in a number of journal article databases so the content may appear in a library catalogue search. To search the journal directly follow the same instructions as listed above for History Compass.

Blackwell Companions give an overview of the scholarship and in some cases the controversies on a particular topic, time period or geographical location.

We have a few volumes in the library

  • A companion to Europe : 1900-1945 / edited by Gordon Martel
  • A companion to nineteenth-century Britain / edited by Chris Williams.
  • A companion to the Reformation world / edited by R. Po-Chia Hsia.
  • A companion to nineteenth-century Europe, 1789-1914 / edited by Stefan

Reader's Guide to British History - Contains A-Z entries on the history of Britain, from ancient and Roman Britain to the present day. Each entry lists 6-12 of the best-known books on the subject, then discusses those works in an essay of 800 to 1,000 words prepared by an expert in the field.

How do I write a historiography?

A good historiography:

  • Identifies the influential authors, books and articles in the field of study.
  • Summarizes, provides an analysis, and comments on the arguments of each of those works. 

For more information on how to write a historiography, see Trent University

This work is subject to a Creative Commons Attribution NonCommercial 4.0 International license. For exceptions, see the Library Copyright Statement.