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  • research Category

    30th Aug

    Why Was the Document Written?

    The most important question to ask about any document is why the person who wrote it took the trouble and used the paper to write it. I’m having a surprisingly hard time thinking of any documents out of the hundreds of thousands that I have read in wartime archives for which that is not true. […]

    16th Aug

    When Was the Document Written?

    Let’s continue our discussion of how to evaluate historical documents. In order to answer the question of who wrote the document and what his or her agenda may have been, you also need to know when the document was written. In the case of the Second World War, the closer to the event a document […]

    2nd Aug

    Who Wrote the Document?

    In the last post I talked about the importance of knowing the context of any historical document. You also need to ask three key questions about any documents: who wrote it, when and why. Who wrote the document? You need to know this to judge whether the author can be expected to (a) know the […]

    17th Jul

    A friend has asked me for some advice on how to research his family history during WWII. I know that there are a lot of people trying to piece together how a relative escaped Nazi occupation or served in the Resistance, so I’ll share these thoughts with all of you. I’ve already mentioned useful archives […]

    7th Jun

    What’s the Point of Footnotes?

    What is the point of footnotes (or endnotes, as you call the ones at the end of the book)? It’s quite simple: they distinguish fiction from non-fiction. Footnotes essentially establish a history book’s credentials. Footnotes tell the reader where the author found his or her information. They keep the historian honest because they make it […]