It's a Fact. No Discussion Needed. Or Is It?

"He actually said 'Facts can be debated.' Think about that for a moment!"
With these words, a meme in current circulation takes to task a public statement by a public figure.  So, let's do “think about that for a moment.”  Are facts debatable?

Historical 'Truth'

4 January 2015
History is not a collection of raw facts we simply look up and copy down. Nor can we peel away the layers of time to find the plain truth revealed. ...

Building a Case

5 December 2014
As historical researchers, our role has much in common with prosecutors in a court case. When we search historical records, we search for information we can use as evidence. ...

Analyzing Records to Find Our Answers

26 November 2014
We have a research problem. Records of the right type exists for the time and place. We search them, page by page. No record has the information we seek. What then? We have two choices ...

A Basic Vocabulary for Historical Research

24 September 2014
Every field has its distinctive vocabulary. The word "document," for example, evokes a quite-different expectation in the mind of one who does historical research vis à vis, say, a software architect. The following basic vocabulary is ...

Information Is Not Knowledge

29 August 2014
Contrary to the old cliché, facts do not speak for themselves. Facts are chameleons whose shape and color reflect their handlers. A beginning researcher and a skilled one can read the same information in a record
and draw two separate conclusions, based upon ...

Negative Evidence? To Use or Not to Use?

16 August 2014
Evidence is messy. Because it is a mental construct, it rarely gives us the clear and simple answers that we seek. Sources, by contrast, are physical: we can touch them, see them, smell them, hear them. ...

Proof Argument vs. Proof Summary

19 July 2014
"Proof" is a loaded word. Different fields define it in radically different ways. Some even argue that proof cannot exist in historical research because none of us can say with certainty what happened in the past. All we can do ...

Using Evidence—A Four-Step Process

17 June 2014
As researchers, we move from inquiry to conclusion in a four-step process. Below, we give you three of those steps. What do you think is missing? ...

Imply, Infer, and Evidentiary Weight

21 May 2014
Imply or infer? The differences in these two words have implications for the historical researcher as well as the grammarian. ...