primary sources

  • Scientists Decipher Marie Antoinette's Redacted Love Notes

    “It’s always exciting when you discover that you can know more about the past than you thought you could,” said historian Rebecca L. Spang, who studies the French Revolution at Indiana University and was not involved in the study.

  • You are Only as Good as Your Sources

    by Bobby Cervantes

    Can researchers reexamine the boundary between journalism and historiography while maintaining the integrity of both? A researcher with a background in both explains how. 

  • A Lost Brontë Library Surfaces

    "A trove of Brontë family manuscripts — all but unseen for a century — will be auctioned by Sotheby’s as part of what the auction house is billing as the sale of a legendary “lost library” of British literature treasures."

  • The Ethics of the "N-Word" in the Classroom

    by Alan Singer

    Neither censorious expungement nor free speech absolutism offer good practical guidelines for teaching historical sources that include racial slurs. A professor of history education explains his approach. 

  • Keeping it Real: Historians in the Deepfake Era

    by Abe Gibson

    "Deepfake" videos threaten to undermine the integrity of primary sources, particularly for researchers and students of recent history. Historians need to be ready to question, verify, or push back against deceptive videos.

  • The Game Is Changing for Historians of Black America

    by William Sturkey

    "Active racism, exclusion, and environmental injustice have systematically destroyed or buried whole sections of Black history. Many of those who gripe about “erasing history” of Confederate monuments and other symbols in the South have no idea how much history has already been erased." Digital newspaper databases and genealogical tools are a key tool for reconstructing the record of Black history.

  • The Strange Case of Booker T. Washington’s Birthday

    by Bill Black

    A history teacher's saga of the verification of a seemingly simple fact shows that sources may not always be reliable, and that our knowledge of many facts is the product of historians' labor. 

  • Working with Histories that Haunt Us

    by Marius Kothor

    The author responds to a recent essay on the traumatic aspects of archival research. As a political exile from Togo, her identity and experience converged with subject matter she couldn't study at a remove.