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10.20.02 Beard, Charles A., with J. H. Randall, H. K. Beale and others, Theory and Practice in Historical Study: A Report of the Committee on Historiography, Bulletin 54, published in 1946, following conference of 1942 of the Social Science Research Council.

To explain how this book came to be, we quote from the opening Foreword by Merle Curti:

“The point of departure of [Theory and Practice in Historical Study . . .] was the memorandum, ‘Current Research in American History,’ prepared for the Social Science Research Council by Professor Roy F. Nichols.  This memorandum provided the basis for a discussion of ‘Trends in Research in American History’ at a conference held on November 8, 1942, at the New York office of the Social Science Research Council. . . .   A smaller group  was subsequently constituted as the Committee on Historiography . . . [which] decided it might best fulfill its obligations to the Council and to the historical profession by preparing a manual designed to help clarify thought about history and to aid historians in teaching and writing it.”

Although this work was published a few months after World War II, it is also important to our Society of Independent Southern Historians because it reveals issues concerning the proper way to study, write and teach history that were being debated during the last years of the Great Depression and the first years of World War II — the time when our Society is concluding its span of attention.

This book of 177 pages consists of 6 chapters:

  1. Grounds for a Reconsideration of Historiography by Charles A. Beard
  2. Controlling Assumption in the Practice of American Historians, by John Herman Randall, Jr., and George Haines, IV.
  3. What Historians Have Said About the Causes of the Civil War, by Howard K. Beale.
  4. Problems of Terminology in Historical Writing by Charles A. Beard.
  5. Propositions, by the Committee.
  6. Selective Reading List on Historiography and the Philosophy of History, by Ronald Thompson.

The Society recommends this work for serious students of issues concerning deceptive versus truthful telling of history.  This reviewer obtained a copy discarded by the Brooklyn Public Library.  You might find a similar discarded book through Amazon.  Reprints are also available.