Seminar in Historical Methods

Scan of a French royal ordinance from 1666.

French royal ordinance from 1666. (Image by Prof. Jeffrey Ravel.)


MIT Course Number


As Taught In

Spring 2003



Cite This Course

Course Description

This subject is designed to give 21H majors and minors an introduction to the methods that historians use to interpret the past. We will focus on two areas: archives and interpretation. In our work on archives, we will ask what constitutes an archive. We will visit one or two local archives, speak with archivists, and assemble our own archive related to life at MIT in 2003. Once we have a better understanding of the possibilities and limitations of historical archives, we will turn to the task of interpreting archival findings. We will discuss a series of readings organized around the theme of history and national identity in various parts of the world since the end of the eighteenth century.

Other OCW Versions

This subject examines the distinctive ways in which historians in different parts of the world have approached the task of writing history. Details vary as it is taught by different faculty from year to year.

Jeffrey Ravel. 21H.931 Seminar in Historical Methods, Spring 2003. (Massachusetts Institute of Technology: MIT OpenCourseWare), (Accessed). License: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA

For more information about using these materials and the Creative Commons license, see our Terms of Use.