What Do Historians Do All Day?

I was called into security, and was told that I had committed felony trespass and treason, because the material I viewed was top secret. Treason was the only offense in the United States, they told me, still punishable by hanging. This was my first taste of scholarship using primary sources.

Lecture Description

Richard Scarry’s children’s book, What Do People Do All Day, gets children to think about how the world works – how factories operate, how flour is made, how electricity is produced. While most people put away those nosy questions as adults, historians continue to worry about them. We obsess about the little details and narrate and re-narrate stories about the past until they make sense, and that narration leads to new questions. In this sense history is more like the traditional sciences (physics, chemistry, and biology) than the social sciences. When historians are unwilling to give up the Richard Scarry questions, they can discover things they never intended, and can bring about change, often in ways that are difficult to understand.

CATEGORIES

General and Historiography Intellectual

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Scott Reynolds Nelson

VIEW SPEAKER : Scott Reynolds Nelson


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