Precision in Writing & Reporting

24 February 2015
Grammarphobia, the delightful blog by two writers who spent years in the editorial trenches at the New York Times, was recently asked: "Is 'close proximity' redundant?" We'll let you read for yourself their take on the subject, but we'll crib one line and build upon it ...

How Do I Cite a Name?

21 February 2015
This is a question EE hears often. The word "cite," of course, implies exactness—whether we're citing a person, a source, or a name that appears in a source. On the other hand, as historical researchers, our use of names does not always involve ...

Is This Published or Unpublished?

18 February 2015
Two mantras are common among those who use historical material: (1) Cite what you actually used; and (2) To decide what it is you've actually used, ask yourself: What am I holding in my hand? One aspect of that Handholding Principle is often overlooked. We also need to ask ourselves ...

Writing Historical Biography

15 February 2015
"Here's my challenge," a history researcher wrote recently on social media. "How do I write a biography of someone from the 1700s with little direct documentation available?

Why Are EE's Source Citations So 'Complicated'?

12 February 2015
We hear this question often. It's usually accompanied by a reference to "scientific style" citations that the questioner considers to be "clean and concise," or to a publisher's house style that strips citations down to ...

Crisis, Opportunity & Published Government Documents

9 February 2019
On 14 August 1814, British forces set fire to the U.S. Capitol, the White House, and other government buildings in the nation's new capital. Out of crisis came opportunity for those of us who study the past, albeit an opportunity that is often overlooked. ... And for those of you who love history's mysteries, and the challenge of using a document as a stepping stone to finding the story behind the record, we offer ...

Analyzing a Colonial Garnishment—The Sequel

6 February 2015
Our last QuickTip was a Tuesday's Test. Today, we'll explore a few answers. Your challenge was to take a published abstract of a colonial document—a 1747 garnishment—and analyze it. How would you interpret the events that triggered the garnishment? What might it tell you about individuals involved? What clues can you draw from it for further research? Three brave souls posted their thoughts to help the 1,309 others who scurried to the site for tips. Today, we'll build a bit on their foundation. ...

Tuesday's Test: Drawing Clues from a Colonial Garnishment

3 February 2015
In September 1747, along Virginia's Southside frontier, the court issued an order of garnishment against the "estate" of William Clark, who had "absconded" without paying all his debts. A published abstract of the resulting actions tells us the following: ... How would you interpret this document? What clues might you draw about any or all of the individuals involved? If you were interested in one of these individuals, how would you use this record as a stepping stone to further your research? ...

Analyzing Census Records: Context Matters!

31 January 2015
A census record is a snapshot, a blink of a lens on one day, freezing in time a person or a family. Still, there is much more that we can glean from a census if we make it a habit to always analyze our person-of-interest in community context. To do otherwise, is to snip one negative from a roll of historic film and assume that the other negatives on that roll are totally unrelated subjects. For starters, we should ...

Sources 101

28 January 2015
Sources come in endless types, but six basic rules apply to using all of them: