Overview

On Doing Local History offers local historians a new way of thinking about their work: questioning the sources they use and the subjects they investigate. This book recognizes the special circumstances facing local historian who study, write, and display the history of the communities in which they live. It considers the tradition of local history and the legacy of that tradition, and it looks at how local history is practiced today in many places around the world. An ideal text...
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On Doing Local History

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Overview

On Doing Local History offers local historians a new way of thinking about their work: questioning the sources they use and the subjects they investigate. This book recognizes the special circumstances facing local historian who study, write, and display the history of the communities in which they live. It considers the tradition of local history and the legacy of that tradition, and it looks at how local history is practiced today in many places around the world. An ideal text for classes on local history.

Author Biography: Carol Kammen writes editorials for "History News" and is the author of "Pursuit of Local History: Readings on Theory and Practice" and of eleven plays. She co-edited the "Encyclopedia of Local History" with Norma Prendergast.

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Editorial Reviews

Oregon Historical Quarterly - Kevin Britz
On Doing Local History is an indispensable resource for organizations and individuals dedicated to recording and publishing local stories. By following Kammen's advice, local chroniclers can enhance the credibility of their works and provide resources for future generations of researchers.
From The Foreword - Terry A. Barnhart
The confessions of local historians too often take on the air of apologias or special pleadings for why their works are important. It is more useful, perhaps, to reclaim the prominent place that local history has held in American letters since the birth of the republic and to avoid the common fallacy of speaking about local and national histories in dichotomous terms. Local history holds great value for many different audiences, each of which brings its own expectations, assumptions, and interests to the task of "doing" local history. No single set of concerns or approaches defines local history as a field of historical inquiry. It would be as presumptuous as it would be incomplete to fashion a single definition that would serve all practitioners of local history. Local history is a big tent-the democratic province of both amateurs and professionals-and local historians are as diverse as their audiences. No one has a better appreciation or understanding of those realities than Carol Kammen, and certainly there is no one with more authority to speak of them.

. . . [H]ow often are local historians gently, engagingly, and effectively challenged to think about what they do and why and how they do it? The second and revised edition of Carol Kammen's On Doing Local History, like the first edition, does that by continuing to make us think. New materials have been added without sacrificing what is timeless and true in the materials carried forward from the first edition. The author's revisions reflect changes that have occurred in the field of history since the publication of the original edition, and offer thoughtful perspectives on the themes, topics, approaches, and concerns of local historians past and present. On Doing Local History chronicles the history of local history in the United States, deconstructs the processes by which one generation revises what has been previously held true about the past, and provides concrete examples of how local history is actually done. This book is certainly pr

North Carolina Historical Review, Vol. Lxxx, No. 3, July '03 - Debra A. Blake
Few books have become classics in their field, but such has been the case for Carol Kammen's On Doing Local History...[This] second edition...is a practical guide to the research and writing of history. Kammen's style is easy to read, and the content is thought provoking. The book should be a catalyst for increased study in local history...[a] necessary guide for public historians and anyone involved with local histories.
The Public Historian, Spring 2004, Vol.26, Number 2 - Gavin McLean
On Doing Local History validates the work local historians do, provides intellectual and historical context, and supplies a soothing balm to anyone who has been knocked back for a grant or dismissed as an 'amateur' (in the pejorative sense of the word). It will also be handy for preparing talks to classes or local history societies and, I hope, funding agencies....a lot of ground to cover, but Kammen does it quickly and skillfully, and she also manages to step beyond a parochial or even a national approach. I came away from the book feeling that I had learned not only something about her country and American historiography, but had also been exposed to a judicious sampling of British and French historiography (the Leicester School, for example, and Marc Bloch. Her parish-pump has connected with the cosmos....a fine and very useful work.
Nebraska History, Vol. 83 Nos. 3 & 4 Fall/Winter 2002 - James E. Potter
This indispensable guide to 'doing' local history, first published in 1986, has been refreshed and updated, reflectiong changes in the field and insights the author has gleaned from her own experience. It is both a 'how-to' manual and a challenge for those pursuing local history in its many forms to think about what it is they do, and why. Historical society staff, teachers, students, academics, journalists, and anyone else who researches, writes, preserves, or enjoys local history can use this book. It is one of many worthwhile books, technical leaflets, and periodicals produced under the auspices of the American Association for State and Local History.
Vernacular Architecure Newsletter - Richard Kastl
Good, solid, balanced primer on how to begin to do local history.
Museums Australia Magazine, Feb. 2004 - Thomas Graham
Acknowledged as a classic...this revised edition is relevant to a global audience as it challenges us to think about what local history is, how we explore it and for what purpose...all local historical societies who run volunteer museums should acquire and read it.
Dwight T. Pitcaithley
From the foreword:

My students were captivated not only by the manner in which Kammen made local history interesting (the concept of local history being something quite foreign to those recent high school graduates), but also the style with which she presented her information. [The second edition of] On Doing Local History provided them a logically constructed window through which they could view and understand the nature of history. Because Kammen has such an obvious gift for conceptualizing and writing about local history, my students departed my class with a much greater appreciation for the idea of history and how history is constructed and used, locally and nationally.

This third edition of On Doing Local History contains all of the informative essays of the previous versions. Readers will additionally benefit from a new compelling chapter on doing ecclesiastical history and an inspired meditation on the public benefits of encouraging Clio to interact with other muses of the arts and humanities. She proposes here that if an understanding of history is enhanced by the inclusion of art and music, then clearly the public presentation of music and art can be enriched when accompanied by historical context. Our sense of history— local, public, and general—is equally enhanced by the intelligent analysis of Clio’s profession found in On Doing Local History.

Philip V. Scarpino
Carol Kammen is among the most creative, versatile, and insightful local historians practicing in the United States today. This excellent and highly readable revision of On Doing Local History adds to her reputation as a scholar and teacher of local history. It speaks easily to multiple audiences; it ranges broadly and boldly, integrating theory and historiography and method with practical, hands-on examples and advice. Kammen introduces her readers to the excitement and varieties of local history. She writes from experience about being a historian, doing history, and using history in a way that is clear, engaging, and interesting. On Doing Local History is sensitive to the interplay between memory and place in explaining and communicating local history. Like really good local history, it is accessible, highlights the specifics, and sets its subject matter in a broader context.
Oregon Historical Quarterly
On Doing Local History is an indispensable resource for organizations and individuals dedicated to recording and publishing local stories. By following Kammen's advice, local chroniclers can enhance the credibility of their works and provide resources for future generations of researchers.
— Kevin Britz, The High Desert Museum, Bend, Oregon
Vernacular Architecture Newsletter
Good, solid, balanced primer on how to begin to do local history.
— Richard Kastl, Binghamton University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780585455327
  • Publisher: AltaMira Press
  • Publication date: 12/1/2003
  • Series: American Association for State and Local History
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 1,333,335
  • File size: 583 KB

Meet the Author

Carol Kammen has been writing about doing local history for many years. The first edition of this book came out in 1985; this edition is greatly pruned and expanded. She has edited The Encyclopedia of Local History (two editions) for Alta Mira Press and AASLH and has written editorials for History News since 1995. In addition she has written a history of her county, of the City in which she lives, and Cornell: Glorious to View (2003) and Part & Apart: The African American Experience at Cornell, 1865-1945 (2008) and edited First Person Cornell: Student’s Letters, Diaries, Email and Blogs (2006). She has also written two-dozen dramatic presentations using local history, including Between the Lines, Peaches and Bird, The Language of War and others and writes a history column for her local newspaper. She lives in Ithaca, New York, taught for many years at Cornell University, and serves as the Tompkins County Historian.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Preface to the Second Edition
Introduction 1
Ch. 1 Local History's Past 11
Coda to Chapter 1: Revising What Is Held as True 42
Ch. 2 Thinking about History 47
Coda to Chapter 2: Censorship 59
Ch. 3 The Subjects of Local History 65
Coda to Chapter 3: Journalists and Historians 86
Ch. 4 Researching Local History 91
Coda to Chapter 4: When Being Right Is Not Good Enough 115
Ch. 5 Giving Back 121
Coda to Chapter 5: The Great Document Exchange 138
Ch. 6 The Local Historian 143
Coda to Chapter 6: Adult Local History Workshops 156
Ch. 7 The Past That Was Yesterday 161
Coda to Chapter 7: One Last Thing 179
Index 185
About the Author 189
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