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Updated: Apr 12

Oxford definition: (noun) the study of historical writing.

In other words, historiography is the study of the history and methodology of history as a discipline. Briefly, it is the history of history. One of my favorite ways to study the history of history is to read cultural books and history books from different periods in history.

I have recently been working through The Run of the Mill by DunWell. Not a particularly old book, (1970s) it outlines the history of the New England Textile mills. But that is not what it is really about for me. What it is really about is the history of how electricity changed our lives. How did transportation change our lives? How did the world wars and the demand side of a single industry reflect the changes in our lives? To understand one small aspect of history well, is to understand something of all the facets of history, and it is fascinating.

In the same bent I recently reread Hidden History of Maynard by David Mark. I happen to live a few towns over and I visit Maynard frequently, so for me the book has some extra enjoyment, but it is another example of studying history through literature. History within the telling of history. By understanding how a single town thrived, flourished changed and shaped itself you can see the way it touched the world and how the world touched it though centuries.

Babe Ruth visited the town. It was built up by one of the richest and most powerful families in the state. It was a lost cause for a decade when the textile and shoe industries walked away before the town found its footing again.

Every inch of those changes can still be seen today in the town as you walk through.

If you have never tried reading books for the history of a place, consider it. Consider finding a book or magazine on the history of your own town, or a neighboring one. The local libraries and historical societies will be happy to help you find the information. You never know how much more real your local environment can become.

Read on.

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