Historical Research Methods: Strengths and Weaknesses

What will be the strengths and constraints of using biography, autobiography and oral background as historical sources?

The mixture of autobiography, biography and dental history is enrichment to the study of background through positioning an focus on the role that personalities and individuals have in historical occurrences. They form important options for historical study both main and secondary. It has been stated that the relative merits of biography and oral background, although intrinsically flawed, are an essential factor in the writing and analysis of history. Oral record as a source can conceivably be controversial since it could be perceived as unreliable and mercurial. Storage and the duration of time can intentionally or unintentionally, distort or omit details; seeming spontaneity in response can be over-elaborate or exaggerate an individual's contribution; oral dialogue can personalise happenings and verify them but an individual perspective may possibly also diminish and simplify the same happenings. Interviews, despite possible lack of detail, lapses of storage and tricks of the creativity, give usage of a valuable historical source which could generate a lost world. Background is not merely an evaluation of triggers and consequences; additionally it is a study of human nature. Autobiography, biography and dental history can provide illustration and coloring to what could be regarded as a dried up and dusty subject. They can add personal information into a meeting and due to this they can be unreliable. They can modify or distort the reality according to the author's motives for writing the piece or agreeing to the interview. Maybe it's argued that background is a record of human progress, accomplishments and endeavours so with no contribution of personalised accounts whether through dental recordings, biography or autobiography, the study and research of history will be a one-dimensional break down of facts. Record without some personal emphasis would be boring and unbalanced; personal data prompt deeper historical representation and research.


It is hard for the biographer, for case, to rise above his own preconceptions and become truly objective. Biographies should be used as resources but it always should be borne at heart that they are often subjectively rather than always objectively written. The one of the strengths of using biographies are that there surely is a direct give attention to an event and the biographer might give an event more depth and detail than a standard history reserve would and perhaps give it a individual slant. Biographers can be biased, they are sometimes said to fall deeply in love with their content. Whilst this maybe an exaggeration there exists some truth in the fact that it is hard to be objective about a subject matter that the writer has analysed in depth and feels they understand. Biographers are selective through need as no biography can ever be a full unvarnished storyline of your life. In this particular selection the biographer has to make a decision as to whether he's judgemental or whether he reveals an array of facts from which his reader can develop their own view of the topic. In showing such a selection, the biographer will be allowing his own views and backdrop colour his choice. It's the try to be even-handed with the main topic of the biography that can cause controversy as the biographer is accused of rehabilitating history's villains similarly or denigrating its heroes on the other. Revisionist ideas about notorious historical information can cause outcry and condemnation as was well illustrated by David Irving's biography of Adolf Hitler. Despite having all the problems, they still are a good source of information and the audience should consider other literature about the same person if they are unsure of the treating the subject subject. The wisest move to make is to mix reference biographies/history literature and use several source, in order to get a much better and more informed opinion.


Autobiography provides unique insights since no one knows much better than the topic about themselves. Alternatively they can be economical with the truth or written to cause sensation; the reality could be skewed because the copy writer won't doubt be wanting to present himself in the best light. It is also probable that only 1 point of view of happenings will get so the consideration may not be well-balanced. That being said, autobiography is an excellent first way to obtain information.

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