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Master Syllabus

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Administrative Unit: History and Political Science Department
Course Prefix and Number: HIST 294
Course Title: Introduction to the Historian's Craft
Number of:
Credit Hours 3
Lecture Hours 3
Lab Hours 0
Catalog Description:

Designed for the history major or minor, but open to non-majors as well, this course provides hands-on exploration of history and gives students a broad foundation in learning how to think and work as historians. Topics include the assessment of issues such as causes of events and the reliability of evidence. Studnets will learn how to critically analyze primary and secondary sources and use a variety of approaches to history, including oral history, quantative history, and digital history. As a central project, students will craft a research proposal as a solid foundation for more advanced work in the history major/minor. Completion with a grade of "C" or higher is required. Prerequisite: Six hours of history courses at the 100 level. Offered Fall.

Prerequisite(s) / Corequisite(s):

Six hours of history courses at the 100 level.

Course Rotation for Day Program: Offered Fall.
Text(s): Most current editions of the following:

The most recent editions of the following: 

Additional monographs and style guides may also be assigned from the recommended list below: 

The Methods and Skills of History: A Practical Guide
By Conal Furay and Michael J. Salevouris (Harlan Davidson)
History on the Web: Using and Evaluating the Internet
By McMichael (Harlan Davidson)
A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations
By Turabian, Kate L. (University of Chicago)
Doing History
By Donnelly, Mark & Claire Norton (Routledge)
After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection
By Davidson, James West and Mark Lytle (McGraw-Hill)
The Historian's Toolbox: A Student's Guide to the Theory and Craft of History
By Williams, Robert (M.E. Sharpe)
Course Objectives

 To think seriously and systematically about history as a discipline shaped by many and often contradictory concerns.

  • To master the knowledge, theories and skills for properly researching a historical topic.

    Measurable Learning
    • Identify appropriate primary sources on a historical topic. 
    • Analyze primary source materials and explain their historical context. 
    • Detect assumptions, bias, and opinions in secondary source materials on controversial issues in the past. 
    • Utilize a variety of approaches used by historians to analyze multiple types of primary source material. 
    • Produce a literature review and a research prospectus using the Chicago Style. 
    • Describe and explain an essential question for historical research. 
    Topical Outline:

    Instructors should introduce participants to various tools--practical and theoretical--that historians have used in their work as well as current approaches to the study of the past. Instructors should also craft assignments that teach students the basic skills of historical research, including but limited to, identifying and analyzing primary and secondary sources, properly citing sources using footnotes per the Chicago Manual of Style, drafting a research question, studying books and journals, locating documents and data, determining a particular perspective, formulating a hjypothesis and crafting a prospectus. Instructors should organize the seminar meetings to focus upon the traditions and the practices that are indispensable for the study of history as a discipline. Topics should include, but not be limited to, the following:

    • The profession of history
    • The Chicago Manual of Style
    • Historical thinking
    • Using the internet to do history
    • Evaluating and critiquing secondary sources
    • Identifying and analyzing primary sources
    • Oral history
    • Quantitative history
    • Digital history
    • Material culture as primary source
    • Public history -- museums, websites and historic sites
    Culminating Experience Statement:

    Material from this course may be tested on the History Assessment Test (HAT) administered during the Culminating Experience course for the degree. 
    During this course the ETS Proficiency Profile may be administered.  This 40-minute standardized test measures learning in general education courses.  The results of the tests are used by faculty to improve the general education curriculum at the College.


    Recommended maximum class size for this course: 15

    Library Resources:

    Online databases are available at You may access them from off-campus using your CougarTrack login and password when prompted.

    Prepared by: Tonia Compton Date: November 5, 2013
    NOTE: The intention of this master course syllabus is to provide an outline of the contents of this course, as specified by the faculty of Columbia College, regardless of who teaches the course, when it is taught, or where it is taught. Faculty members teaching this course for Columbia College are expected to facilitate learning pursuant to the course objectives and cover the subjects listed in the topical outline. However, instructors are also encouraged to cover additional topics of interest so long as those topics are relevant to the course's subject. The master syllabus is, therefore, prescriptive in nature but also allows for a diversity of individual approaches to course material.

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