8. Notes

[1] History, here and in this context, is presented as a structured body of information, compiled according to certain prescribed rules, standards and conventions by recognised practitioners, often in paid employment as recognised experts in the field, who work in institutions devoted to the accumulation, analysis and dissemination of knowledge: as such, it is a science. Despite common misapprehensions, particularly among the English, who traditionally did engage in the following activities in 'Science' lessons at school, this designation has nothing to do with wearing a white coat, killing a rat or wielding a Bunsen burner.

This may seem trivial but there are important implications here. Clarification of this point is essential for any sensible discussion of historical methodology. However, to discuss methodology it is necessary to accept that there is one, and for many undergraduates taking modules in historical methodology, often reluctantly, this comes not infrequently as an unpleasant surprise.

[2] The terms 'primary source' and 'secondary source' can cause students more difficulties than they ought. For those in doubt, I offer the following clarification, idiosyncratic though it may be.

It is easy to classify an original document, such as the Domesday Book, as a 'primary source'. It is also easy to classify a recently published commentary on the Domesday Book as a 'secondary source'. Some students, however, appear to struggle with the classification of a commentary on the Domesday survey written in Victoria's reign because of its age; the misleading definition which they appear to have adopted, and which leads to this confusion, is that a primary source is old.

Things can only get worse if a student labours under the misapprehension that 'primary sources' are more 'accurate', or less 'biased', than secondary sources because the latter are not 'the original documents'. Most of the time a historian would be deeply disappointed by a 'primary source', such as a diary, which did not demonstrate clear evidence of bias - a diary written as an impartial brief itinerary, without personal opinion or subjective verdicts, would be as useful to historians as a shopping list; that is, of interest but rather limited in its potential use.

Here the determining factor is the purpose to which the reading of the text is put, not the age of the text. An example drawn from closer to hand serves to illustrate here. This CD will usually have the status of a 'secondary source' even though it replicates many original documents which are themselves, for most purposes, 'primary sources'. However, should this CD be cited in a discussion of either historical methodology or the usage of IT in history, then it will have the status of a 'primary source.'

[3] S. Jordan (1997) 'The Trojan Horse - the myth of Edward Colston', Bristol Historical Databases Project Newsletter, 5, pp. 2-4.]

[4] F. Greenacre and S. Stoddard, W.J. Muller 1812-1845(1991: Friends of Bristol Museum and Art Gallery: Bristol) .

[5] C. Nash, 'Historical geographies of modernity', in B. Graham and C. Nash (eds.) Modern Historical Geographies (2000: Longman: London), pp. 13-40; citations at pp. 13-4.

[6] C. Nash, 'Historical geographies of modernity', p. 31-7.

[7] C. Nash, 'Historical geographies of modernity', pp. 31-2.

[8] A. Howkins (1986) 'The Discovery of Rural England', in R. Colls and P. Dodds (eds.) Englishness, Politics and Culture 1880-1920 (1986: Croom Helm: London).

[9] C. Nash, 'Historical geographies of modernity', pp. 31-2.

[10] J. Winston (1997) 'Indexing the Reece Winston Archive', Bristol Historical Databases Project Newsletter, 6, pp.15-6.

[11] C. Roper (1997) 'Fitting Ordnance Survey's superseded and historical large-scale maps into a database', Bristol Historical Databases Project Newsletter, 6, pp.17-9.

[12] P. Abercrombie and B.F. Brueton, Bristol and Bath Regional Planning Scheme (1930: Liverpool University Press and Hodder & Stoughton, Ltd: London); the accompanying map appears by kind permission of the Liverpool University Press.

[13] S. Jordan (1995) 'Obituaries: an historical perspective', Bristol Historical Databases Project Newsletter, 5, pp.4-5.

[14] HIST, the Historian's Interactive Statistical Toolkit, appears by kind permission of MacKenzie Ward Research. MacKenzie Ward Research can be contacted at email@mwreseach.com; their website appears at: www.mwresearch.co.uk/src/directions.html

[15] D Smith, The Chicago School: Theoretical Traditions in the Social Sciences, New York, 1988; cited in M Bulmer, The Chicago School of Sociology, Chicago, 1994, p. 139.

Bristol in 2000 is a much less rumbustious city than Chicago at the turn of the century and, similarly, the Bristol Historical Databases Project could claim neither the scholarly pedigree nor the academic influence and impact of the Chicago project. Nevertheless Ruml's itinerary strikes a familiar , and common ground was shared by the two projects. Obviously, both projects took the city as their subject and each concentrated on the city of their location. One of the major contributions to social science made by the Chicago project was the model of urban morphology proposed by E.W. Burgess and this inspired, at least in part, research undertaken by the BHDP which investigated the historical development of spatial patterns of land use within Bristol's region. Theory, therefore, was an explicit consideration for both projects; additionally, both projects were also determinedly committed to collaborative and interdisciplinary research. In short, methodology played a vital role in both cases. For the BHDP team some characteristics of the project were crucial and distinctive: we set out explicitly to collect, document, process and distribute datasets pertaining to Bristol; we took pride in the speed with which these were made available; we attempted to involve those of the local community interested in history, encompassing both the amateur and the professional; we encouraged the use of our materials at every level of educational provision, for primary schools through to postgraduate study; and, in summary, our concern with methodology led us to encourage the development of self-conscious and reflective practice.

[16] P. Wardley, Teaching Computing to Historians at Durham' in P. Denley and D. Hopkin (eds.), History and Computing (1987: Manchester University Press: Manchester), pp.321-32; R. Middleton and P. Wardley (1990) `Information technology in economic and social history: the computer as philosopher's stone or Pandora's box?', Economic History Review, XLIII, pp.667-96; R. Middleton and P. Wardley (1991) `Annual review of information technology developments for economic and social historians, 1990' {Spreadsheets}, Economic History Review, XLIV, pp.343-93; J. Colson, R. Middleton, and P. Wardley (1992) `Annual review of information technology developments for economic and social historians, 1991' {DBMS: database management systems}, Economic History Review, XLV, pp.378-412; D. Dunn, R. Middleton and P. Wardley (1993) `Annual review of information technology developments for economic and social historians, 1992' {CAL/CAT: computer assisted learning/teaching} Economic History Review, XLVI, pp.379-409; R. Middleton and P. Wardley (1994) `Annual review of information technology developments for economic and social historians, 1993' {Statistics and econometric packages}, Economic History Review, XLVII, pp.374-407; See also: R. Middleton and P. Wardley (1991) `From the Wings to Centre Stage: The role of IT in a resurgent economic history', Computer Applications in Business and the Social Sciences (1991) 2, no.2, pp.1-18.

[17] The problem here goes very deep and goes far beyond concerns over the teaching of history in the United Kingdom. The Second World War has become such an important determinant of British identity, though in reality this is often an almost subconsciously held English identity, that it impinges on multifarious aspects of this culture, influencing current political debates, probably detrimentally, and distorting its perceptions of the modern world.

Those surprised to find a view of this kind expressed in this medium should explore further to rediscover the reasons eminent historians have offered to justify the study of history. Such vindications go beyond mere awareness of the past to encompass: an understanding of human nature; the development of civic awareness; the encouragement of logical thought and reason; and, appraisal of the past to better inform perceptions of the future.

A proper awareness of history, as a subject and a discipline, on the part of secondary school children would probably make the currently proposed classes in citizenship unnecessary. It would probably be more fun, too.