Who is the Historian?

Who is the Historian?

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By Nigel A. Raab
University of Toronto Press, Higher Education Division © 2016
144 Pages
ISBN 9781442635722
Published Jan 2016
ISBN 9781442635739
Published Jan 2016
ebook (EPUB format)
ISBN 9781442635746
Published Jan 2016
Full purchase $14.95

Who is the historian? What do historians do? Where do their explorations take them? What is the impact of the digital age on historical research?

In an affable style, Nigel A. Raab answers these questions for those intrigued by the past. Each chapter describes a specific aspect of "doing history," beginning in the physical spaces of archives and libraries around the globe. Readers are then introduced to the sources—texts, oral interviews, films, and objects—which historians interpret. Raab points out that historians do not work alone with their materials; rather, archivists, librarians, and others play a crucial role in what he calls the web of the historian's work. Readers will also learn about the skill set imparted to those pursuing a historical education. In the final chapter, Raab brings all these themes together to demonstrate the value of the historian in the contemporary world.

Nigel A. Raab is Associate Professor of History at Loyola Marymount University. He is the author of Democracy Burning? Urban Fire Departments and the Limits of Civil Society in Late Imperial Russia, 1850–1914 (2011), and The Crisis from Within: Historians, Theory, and the Humanities (2015.

1. The Spaces in Which We Work
2. The Sources We Use
3. The Web of the Historian's Work
4. The Historian in the Digital Age
5. The Skill Set of the Historian
6. History, the Historian, and the Humanities
Further Reading

In these thoughtful reflections, Nigel A. Raab reminds us that in a world awash in digital information, historians remain integral to the interpretation of our humanness.

Virginia H. Aksan, McMaster University

This slim volume will help students understand their own humanity through the sights, sounds, and physicality of their relationship with the past. While previous generations of historians read their dog-eared copies of E.H. Carr's What Is History?, today's students of history will pick up their copies of Raab's Who Is the Historian? and seek themselves within its pages.

Rebekah A. Klein-Pejsova, Purdue University

It is a welcome acknowledgement by the author that the historian depends on many other people in the universe of doing history but also acknowledges that the individual historian works alone but often also in collaboration and often outside academe. The great strength of this book is the acknowledgment that historians never really work in isolation.

Left History

Nigel A. Raab's engaging style, starting with his own admission of uncertainty as a student, and his undisguised passion for history will be both a comfort and an inspiration for those who are looking for direction. His gentle instruction as to how to make yourself a better historian will likewise be a helpful tool for those who are just beginning to learn how to investigate the past.