Historiography of the United States
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The historiography of the United States refers to the studies, sources, critical methods and interpretations used by scholars to study the history of the United States. While history examines the interplay of events in the past, historiography examines how historians do this, and looks at the "methodology of historical study", according to one course description.
Historians have formed scores of scholarly organizations, which typically hold annual conferences where scholarly papers are presented, and which publish scholarly journals. In addition, every state and many localities have their own historical societies, focused on their own histories and sources.
The American Historical Association (AHA) is the oldest and largest society for professional historians in the U.S. Founded in 1884, it promotes historical studies covering all continents and time periods, the teaching of history, and the preservation of and access to historical materials. It publishes The American Historical Review five times a year, with scholarly articles and book reviews.
While the AHA is the largest organization for historians working in the United States, the Organization of American Historians (OAH) is the major organization for historians who study and teach about the United States. Formerly known as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association, its membership comprises college and university professors, as well as graduate students, independent historians, archivists, museum curators, and other public historians. The OAH publishes the quarterly scholarly journal Journal of American History. In 2010 its individual membership was 8,000 and its institutional membership 1,250, and its operating budget was approximately $2.9 million
Other large regional groups for professionals include the Southern Historical Association, founded in 1934 for white historians teaching in the South. It now chiefly specializes in the history of the South. In 1970 it elected its first black president, John Hope Franklin. The Western History Association formed in 1961 to bring together both professional scholars and amateur writers dealing with the West. Dozens of other organizations deal in specialized topics, such as the Society for Military History and the Social Science History Association.
Pre 1800 
During the colonial era, there were a handful of serious scholars—most of them men of affairs who wrote about their own colony. They included Robert Beverley (1673–1722) on Virginia, Thomas Hutchinson (1711–1780) on Massachusetts, and Samuel Smith on Pennsylvania. The Loyalist Thomas Jones (1731–1792) wrote on New York from exile.
The historiography of the Early National period focused on the American Revolution and the Constitution. The first studies came from Federalist historians, such as Chief Justice John Marshall (1755–1835). Marshall wrote a well-received four-volume of biography of George Washington that was far more than a biography, and covered the political and military history of the Revolutionary Era. Marshall emphasized Washington's virtue and military prowess. Historians have complimented his highly accurate detail, but note that Marshall—like many early historians—relied heavily on the Annual Register, edited by Edmund Burke. Mercy Otis Warren (1728–1814) wrote her own history favored the Jeffersonian perspective stressing natural rights and equality. She emphasized the dangers to republicanism emanating from Britain, and called for the subordination of passion to reason, and the subsuming of private selfishness in the general public good.
David Ramsay (1749–1815), an important Patriot leader from South Carolina, wrote thorough, scholarly histories of his state and the early United States. Trained as a physician, he was a moderate Federalist in politics. Messer (2002) examines the transition in Ramsay's republican perspective from his History of the American Revolution (1789) and his biography of Washington (1807) to his more conservative History of the United States (3 vol. 1816–17), which was part of his 12-volume world history. Ramsay called on citizens to demonstrate republican virtues in helping reform and improve society. A conservative, he warned of the dangers of zealotry and the need to preserve existing institutions. O'Brien (1994) says Ramsay's 1789 History of the American Revolution was one of the earliest and most successful histories. It located American values within the European Enlightenment. Ramsay had no brief for what later was known as American exceptionalism, holding that the destiny of the new nation United States would be congruent with European political and cultural development.
Richard Hildreth (1807–1865), a Yankee scholar and political writer, wrote a thorough highly precise history of the nation down to 1820. His six-volume History of the United States (1849–52) was dry and heavily factual—he rarely made a mistake in terms of names, dates, events and speeches. His Federalist views and dry style lost market share to George Bancroft's more exuberant and democratic tomes. Hildreth explicitly favored the Federalist Party and denigrated the Jeffersonians. He was an active political commentator and leading anti-slavery intellectual, so President Lincoln gave him a choice diplomatic assignment in Europe.
George Bancroft (1800–1891), trained in the leading German universities, was a Democratic politician and accomplished scholar, whose magisterial History of the United States, from the Discovery of the American Continent covered the new nation in depth down to 1789. Bancroft was imbued with the spirit of Romanticism, emphasizing the emergence of nationalism and republican values, and rooting on every page for the Patriots. His masterwork started appearing in 1834, and he constantly revised it in numerous editions. Along with John Gorham Palfrey (1796–1881), he wrote the most comprehensive history of colonial America. Billias argues Bancroft played on four recurring themes to explain how America developed its unique values: providence, progress, patria, and pan-democracy. "Providence" meant that destiny depended more on God than on human will. The idea of "progress" indicated that through continuous reform a better society was possible. "Patria" (love of country) was deserved because America's spreading influence would bring liberty and freedom to more and more of the world. "Pan-democracy" meant the nation-state was central to the drama, not specific heroes or villains.
Bancroft was an indefatigable researcher who had a thorough command of the sources, but his rotund romantic style and enthusiastic patriotism annoyed later generations of scientific historians, who did not assign his books to students. Furthermore, scholars of the "Imperial School" after 1890 took a much more favorable view of the benign intentions of the British Empire than he did.
Creating and preserving collective memory 
In 1791 the Massachusetts Historical Society became the nation's first state historical society; it was a private association of well-to-do individuals with sufficient leisure, interest, and resources for the society to prosper. It set a model that every state followed, although usually with a more popular base and state funding. Archivist Elizabeth Kaplan argues the founding of a historical society begins an upward spiral with each advance legitimizing the next. Collections are gathered that support publication of documents and histories. These publications in turn give the society and its topic legitimacy and authenticity. The process creates a sense of identity and belonging. The builders of state historical societies and archives in the late 19th and early 20th century were more than antiquarians—they had the mission of creating as well as preserving and disseminating the collective memories of their communities. The largest and most professional collections were built at the State Historical Society of Wisconsin in Madison by Lyman Draper (1852–1887) and Reuben Gold Thwaites (1887–1913). Their massive collection of books and documents became (and remain) a major scholarly resource for the graduate program in history at the University of Wisconsin. Thwaites disseminated materials nationally through his edited series, especially Jesuit Relations' in 73 volumes, Early Western Travels in 32 volumes, and Original Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition in eight volumes, among others.
At the national level, major efforts to collect and publish important documents from the revolutionary era were undertaken by Jonathan Elliott (1784–1846), Jared Sparks (1789–1866), Peter Force (1790–1868) and other editors.
The military history of the Civil War especially fascinated Americans, and the War Department compiled and published a massive collection of original documents that continues to be heavily used by scholars. The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion appeared in 128 large volumes published between 1881 and 1901. It included military and naval records from both sides, as well as important documents from state and national governments.
Civil War 
Cover North (Wilson, Greeley), Neo-Confeds (Davis to Craven), memoirs (Century Magazine, Grant), Rhodes; Needless War, Freeman, Nevins, Potter, McPherson, Lincoln bios (Nicolay & Hay, to Foner).
Colonial and Revolution 
Imperial School 
While most historians saw the colonial era as a prelude to the Revolution, by the 1890s the "Imperial School" was interpreting it as an expression of the British Empire. The leaders included Herbert L. Osgood, George Louis Beer, Charles M. Andrews and Lawrence Gipson. They took a highly favorable view of the benefits achieved by the economic integration of the Empire.
Progressive Historians 
Progressive Historians such as Carl L. Becker, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Sr., Vernon L. Parrington, and Charles A. Beard downplayed the Patriot grievances of the 1760s and 1770s as rhetorical exercises that covered the greed of smugglers and merchants who wanted to avoid taxes. Schlesinger argued the false propaganda was effective: "The stigmatizing of British policy as 'tyranny,' 'oppression' and 'slavery, had little or no objective reality, at least prior to the Intolerable Acts but ceaseless repetition of the charge kept emotions at fever pitch." The Progressive interpretation was dominant before 1960, as historians downplayed rhetoric as superficial and looked for economic motivations.
In the 1960s and 1970s, a new interpretation emerged that emphasized the primacy of ideas as motivating forces in history (rather than material self-interest). Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood from Harvard formed the "Cambridge School"; at Washington University the "St. Louis School" was led by J.G.A. Pocock. They emphasized slightly different approaches to republicanism.
The new discovery was that the colonial intellectual and political leaders in the 1760s and 1770s closely read history to compare governments and their effectiveness of rule. They were especially concerned with the history of liberty in England, and the rights Englishmen, which they claimed were the proper heritage of the colonists. These intellectuals were especially influenced by Britain's "country party" (which opposed the Court Party that actually held power). Country party relied heavily on the classical republicanism of Roman heritage; it celebrated the ideals of duty and virtuous citizenship in a republic. It drew heavily on ancient Greek city-state and Roman republican examples. The Country party roundly denounced the corruption surrounding the "court" party in London centering on the royal court. This approach produced a political ideology Americans called "republicanism", which was widespread in America.by 1775. "Republicanism was the distinctive political consciousness of the entire Revolutionary generation." J.G.A. Pocock explained the intellectual sources in America:
|“||The Whig canon and the neo-Harringtonians, John Milton, James Harrington and Sidney, Trenchard, Gordon and Bolingbroke, together with the Greek, Roman, and Renaissance masters of the tradition as far as Montesquieu, formed the authoritative literature of this culture; and its values and concepts were those with which we have grown familiar: a civic and patriot ideal in which the personality was founded in property, perfected in citizenship but perpetually threatened by corruption; government figuring paradoxically as the principal source of corruption and operating through such means as patronage, faction, standing armies (opposed to the ideal of the militia); established churches (opposed to the Puritan and deist modes of American religion); and the promotion of a monied interest—though the formulation of this last concept was somewhat hindered by the keen desire for readily available paper credit common in colonies of settlement.||”|
Revolutionary Republicanism was centered on limiting corruption and greed. Virtue was of the utmost importance for citizens and representatives. Revolutionaries took a lesson from ancient Rome, they knew it was necessary to avoid the luxury that had destroyed the Empire. A virtuous citizen was one that ignored monetary compensation and made a commitment to resist and eradicate corruption. The Republic was sacred; therefore it is necessary to served the state in a truly representative way, ignoring self-interest and individual will. Republicanism required the service of those who were willing to give up their own interests for a common good. According to Bernard Bailyn, "The preservation of liberty rested on the ability of the people to maintain effective checks on wielders of power and hence in the last analysis rested on the vigilance and moral stamina of the people." Virtuous citizens needed to be strong defenders of liberty and challenge the corruption and greed in government. The duty of the virtuous citizen become a foundation for the American Revolution.
Atlantic history 
Since the 1980s a major trend has been to locate the colonial and revolutionary eras in the wider context of Atlantic history, with emphasis on the multiple interactions among the Americas, Europe and Africa. Leading promoters include Bailyn at Harvard, and Jack P. Greene at Johns Hopkins University.
Turnerian School 
The Frontier Thesis or Turner Thesis, is the argument advanced by historian Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893 that the origin of the distinctive egalitarian, democratic, aggressive, and innovative features of the American character has been the American frontier experience. He stressed the process—the moving frontier line—and the impact it had on pioneers going through the process. In the thesis, the frontier established liberty by releasing Americans from European mind-sets and ending prior customs of the 19th century. The Turner thesis came under attack from the "New Western Historians" after 1970 who wanted to limit western history to the western states, with a special emphasis on the 20th century, women and minorities.
Beardian School 
The Beardians were led by Charles A. Beard, who wrote a book called An Economic Interpretation of the Constitution of the United States, and his wife Mary Ritter Beard. Whereas Turnerians tended to believe in geographic determinism, Beardians tended to believe in economic determinism, seeing events as the product of the clash of economic forces.
Charles A. Beard (1874–1948) published hundreds of monographs, textbooks and interpretive studies in both history and political science. His works included radical re-evaluation of the founding fathers of the United States, who he believed were motivated more by economics than by philosophical principles. Beard's most influential book, written with his wife Mary Beard, was the wide-ranging and bestselling The Rise of American Civilization (1927), which had a major influence on American historians.
Beard was famous as a political liberal, but he strenuously opposed American entry into World War II, for which he blamed Franklin D. Roosevelt more than Japan or Germany. This stance destroyed his career, as his fellow scholars repudiated his foreign policy and dropped his materialistic model of class conflict. Richard Hofstadter concluded in 1968: "Today Beard's reputation stands like an imposing ruin in the landscape of American historiography. What was once the grandest house in the province is now a ravaged survival."
The historian Peter Kolchin, writing in 1993, noted that until recently historians of slavery concentrated more on the behavior of slaveholders than on slaves. Part of this was related to the fact that most slaveholders were literate and able to leave behind a written record of their perspective. Most slaves were illiterate and unable to create a written record. There were differences among scholars as to whether slavery should be considered a benign or a “harshly exploitive” institution.
Kolchin described the state of historiography in the early 20th century as follows:
During the first half of the twentieth century, a major component of this approach was often simply racism, manifest in the belief that blacks were, at best, imitative of whites. Thus Ulrich B. Phillips, the era's most celebrated and influential expert on slavery, combined a sophisticated portrait of the white planters' life and behavior with crude passing generalizations about the life and behavior of their black slaves.
Historians James Oliver Horton and Lois E. Horton described Phillips' mindset, methodology and influence:
His portrayal of blacks as passive, inferior people, whose African origins made them uncivilized, seemed to provide historical evidence for the theories of racial inferiority that supported racial segregation. Drawing evidence exclusively from plantation records, letters, southern newspapers, and other sources reflecting the slaveholder's point of view, Phillips depicted slave masters who provided for the welfare of their slaves and contended that true affection existed between master and slave.
The racist attitude concerning slaves carried over into the historiography of the Dunning School of Reconstruction era history, which dominated in the early 20th century. Writing in 2005, the historian Eric Foner states:
Their account of the era rested, as one member of the Dunning school put it, on the assumption of “negro incapacity.” Finding it impossible to believe that blacks could ever be independent actors on the stage of history, with their own aspirations and motivations, Dunning et al. portrayed African Americans either as “children”, ignorant dupes manipulated by unscrupulous whites, or as savages, their primal passions unleashed by the end of slavery.
Beginning in the 1930s and 1940s, historiography moved away from the “overt” racism of the Phillips era. Historians still emphasized the slave as an object. Whereas Phillips presented the slave as the object of benign attention by the owners, historians such as Kenneth Stampp emphasized the mistreatment and abuse of the slave.
In the portrayal of the slave as victim, the historian Stanley M. Elkins in his 1959 work “Slavery: A Problem in American Institutional and Intellectual Life” compared the effects of United States slavery to that resulting from the brutality of the Nazi concentration camps. He stated the institution destroyed the will of the slave, creating an “emasculated, docile Sambo” who identified totally with the owner. Elkins' thesis was challenged by historians. Gradually historians recognized that in addition to the effects of the owner-slave relationship, slaves did not live in a “totally closed environment but rather in one that permitted the emergence of enormous variety and allowed slaves to pursue important relationships with persons other than their master, including those to be found in their families, churches and communities.”
Robert W. Fogel and Stanley L. Engerman in the 1970s, through their work Time on the Cross, portrayed slaves as having internalized the Protestant work ethic of their owners. In portraying the more benign version of slavery, they also argue in their 1974 book that the material conditions under which the slaves lived and worked compared favorably to those of free workers in the agriculture and industry of the time. (This was also an argument of Southerners during the 19th century.)
In the 1970s and 1980s, historians made use of archaeological records, black folklore, and statistical data to describe a much more detailed and nuanced picture of slave life. Relying also on 19th-century autobiographies of ex-slaves (known as slave narratives) and the WPA Slave Narrative Collection, a set of interviews conducted with former slave interviews in the 1930s by the Federal Writers' Project of the Franklin D. Roosevelt administration, historians described slavery as the slaves experienced it. Far from slaves' being strictly victims or content, historians showed slaves as both resilient and autonomous in many of their activities. Despite their exercise of autonomy and their efforts to make a life within slavery, current historians recognize the precariousness of the slave's situation. Slave children quickly learned that they were subject to the direction of both their parents and their owners. They saw their parents disciplined just as they came to realize that they also could be physically or verbally abused by their owners. Historians writing during this era include John Blassingame (Slave Community), Eugene Genovese (Roll, Jordan, Roll), Leslie Howard Owens (This Species of Property), and Herbert Gutman (The Black Family in Slavery and Freedom).
Important work on slavery has continued; for instance, in 2003 Steven Hahn published the Pulitzer Prize-winning account, A Nation under Our Feet: Black Political Struggles in the Rural South from Slavery to the Great Migration, which examined how slaves built community and political understanding while enslaved, so they quickly began to form new associations and institutions when emancipated, including black churches separate from white control. In 2010, Robert E. Wright published a model that explains why slavery was more prevalent in some areas than others (e.g. southern than northern Delaware) and why some firms (individuals, corporations, plantation owners) chose slave labor while others used wage, indentured, or family labor instead.
Cold War 
As soon as the "Cold War" began about 1947 the origins of the conflict between the Soviet Union and the West became a source of heated controversy among scholars and politicians. In particular, historians have sharply disagreed as to who was responsible for the breakdown of Soviet-U.S. relations after the Second World War; and whether the conflict between the two superpowers was inevitable, or could have been avoided.. Historians have also disagreed on what exactly the Cold War was, what the sources of the conflict were, and how to disentangle patterns of action and reaction between the two sides. With the opening of the archives in Moscow and Eastern Europe after 1990, most of the pressing issues have been resolved.
The "orthodox" school dominated American historiography from the 1940s until it was challenged by New Left historians in the 1960s. It places the responsibility for the Cold War on the Soviet Union and its expansion into Eastern Europe. Thomas A. Bailey, for example, argued in his 1950 America Faces Russia that the breakdown of postwar peace was the result of Soviet expansionism in the immediate postwar years. Bailey argued Stalin violated promises he had made at Yalta, imposed Soviet-dominated regimes on unwilling Eastern European populations, and conspired to spread communism throughout the world. America responded by drawing the line against Soviet aggression with the Truman Doctrine, and the Marshall Plan.
The "revisionist" school, originally formed at the University of Wisconsin by William Appleman Williams, and was reflected in his The Tragedy of American Diplomacy (1959). Williams suggested America was just as bad as the Soviets because it had always been an empire-building nation, and forced capitalism upon unwilling nations. Revisionists emphasized Soviet weaknesses after 1945, said it only wanted a security zone, and was mostly responding to American provocations.
The seminal "post-revisionist" accounts are by John Lewis Gaddis, starting with his The United States and the Origins of the Cold War, 1941–1947 (1972) and continuing through his study of George F. Kennan: An American Life (2011). Gaddis argued that then neither side bore sole responsibility," as he emphasized the constraints imposed on American policymakers by domestic politics. Gaddis criticized revisionist scholars, particularly Williams, for failing to understand the role of Soviet policy in the origins of the Cold War. Ernest May concluded in 1984, "The United States and the Soviet Union were doomed to be antagonists.... There probably was never any real possibility that the post-1945 relationship could be anything but hostility verging on conflict... Traditions, belief systems, propinquity, and convenience ... all combined to stimulate antagonism, and almost no factor operated in either country to hold it back."
Social history 
Social history, often called the new social history, is the history of ordinary people and their strategies of coping with life. It includes topics like demography, women, family, and education. It was a major growth field in the 1960s and 1970s among scholars, and still is well represented in history departments. In two decades from 1975 to 1995, the proportion of professors of history in American universities identifying with social history rose from 31% to 41%, while the proportion of political historians fell from 40% to 30%.
The Social Science History Association, formed in 1976, brings together scholars from numerous disciplines interested in social history and publishes Social Science History quarterly. The field is also the specialty of the Journal of Social History, edited since 1967 by Peter Stearns It covers such topics as gender relations; race in American history; the history of personal relationships; consumerism; sexuality; the social history of politics; crime and punishment, and history of the senses. Most of the major historical journals have coverage as well.
Social history was practiced by local historians as well as scholars, especially the frontier historians who followed Frederick Jackson Turner, as well as urban historians who followed Arthur Schlesinger, Sr.. The "new" social history of the 1960s introduced demographic and quantitative techniques. However, after 1990 social history was increasingly challenged by cultural history, which emphasizes language and the importance of beliefs and assumptions and their causal role in group behavior.
Prominent historians working in the U.S. 
Historians born before 1900 
- Henry Brooks Adams, (1838–1918), US 1800-1816
- Charles McLean Andrews, (1863–1943), colonial
- Harry Elmer Barnes, (1889–1958) World wars
- George Bancroft, (1800–1891), colonial and Revolution
- Hubert Howe Bancroft, (d. 1918) West
- Eugene C. Barker (1874–1956), Texas
- Charles A. Beard, (1874–1948), political, economic and social
- Mary Ritter Beard, (1876–1958), social
- Samuel Flagg Bemis, (1891–1973) diplomatic
- Bruce Catton, (1899–1978) Civil War
- Edward Channing, (1856–1931), political
- E. Merton Coulter, (1890–1981) South
- Avery Craven, (1885–1980), Civil War
- Merle Curti, (1897–1997), intellectual, social, peace
- Angie Debo, (1890–1988), Native American and Oklahoma history
- W.E.B. DuBois, (1868–1963) Reconstruction
- Walter Lynwood Fleming, (1874–1932), Reconstruction
- Douglas Southall Freeman, Washington, Lee
- Richard Hildreth, (1807–65) political
- J. Franklin Jameson, editor and archivist
- Leonard Woods Labaree, (1897–1980) editor of the Benjamin Franklin Papers
- Dumas Malone, (1892–1986), Jefferson
- Samuel Eliot Morison, (1887–1976) naval, American colonial
- Allan Nevins, (1890–1971) political and business; Civil War; biography
- John Gorham Palfrey, (1796–1881) New England
- James Parton, (1822–1891), political biography
- James Ford Rhodes, (1848–1927) Civil War, Reconstruction, and Gilded Age
- Theodore Roosevelt, (1858–1919), West, naval
- George Sarton, (1884–1956), history of science
- James Schouler, (1839–1920) political
- Justin Harvey Smith, (1857–1930) Mexican-American war
- Frederick Jackson Turner, (1861–1932), West, methodology
- Charles H. Wesley, (1891–1987) black history
- Justin Winsor, (1831–1897), 18th century
- Carter G. Woodson, (1875–1950) black history
Historians born in the 20th century 
- Gar Alperovitz, (b. 1936) Cold War
- Stephen Ambrose, (1936–2002), WW2, U.S. political
- Joyce Appleby, capitalism, early national
- Herbert Aptheker, (1915–2003), African American
- Leonard J. Arrington, (1917–1999), Mormons
- Thomas A. Bailey, (1902–1983) diplomacy
- Bernard Bailyn, (b. 1922) colonial; Atlantic history
- K. Jack Bauer, (1926–1987), U.S. naval, military, and maritime
- Michael Beschloss, (b. 1955) Cold War
- Ray Allen Billington, (1903–81) West,
- John Morton Blum, (1921–2011) presidents
- Daniel J. Boorstin, (1914–2004), legal, social
- Paul S. Boyer, (b. 1935) culture
- Alan Brinkley, (b. 1949) 20th century
- David Brody, (b. 1930) labor
- James MacGregor Burns, (b. 1918) World War II, FDR
- Richard Bushman, (b. 1931), colonial, Mormons
- Jon Butler, (1940), religion, colonial
- Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., (1918=2007), business
- Ron Chernow, (b. 1949) biography, business
- Edward M. Coffman, (b. 1929) military
- Henry Steele Commager, (1902–98), intellectual
- John Milton Cooper, Woodrow Wilson
- Lawrence A. Cremin, (1925–90) education
- William Cronon, (born 1954), environmental
- Robert Dallek, (b. 1934) politics, diplomacy
- David B. Danbom, rural
- David Brion Davis, (b. 1927) Slavery
- Kenneth S. Davis, (1912–99) Franklin D. Roosevelt
- Carl N. Degler, (b. 1921), social
- Bernard DeVoto, (1897–1955), West
- David Herbert Donald, (1920–2009) Civil War
- A. Hunter Dupree, (b. 1921) science and technology
- Joseph J. Ellis, (b. 1943) early Republic
- Niall Ferguson, (b. 1964) military, business, economic, imperial
- David Hackett Fischer, (b. 1935) American Revolution, cycles
- Robert Fogel, (b. 1926) economic, cliometrics, slavery
- Eric Foner, (b. 1943) Reconstruction
- Shelby Foote, (1916–2005), Civil War
- Elizabeth Fox-Genovese, (1941–2007) South; cultural & social, women
- John Hope Franklin, (1915–2009), black history
- Frank Freidel, (1916–1993) Franklin Roosevelt
- John Lewis Gaddis, (b. 1941) Cold War
- Lloyd Gardner, diplomatic
- John Garraty, (1920–2007) biography
- Eugene Genovese, (b. 1930) South, slavery, religion
- Doris Kearns Goodwin, (b. 1943) presidential
- Paul Gottfried, (b. 1941) conservatism, modern Europe
- Arnold Hirsch, (b. 1949) urban, New Orleans, modern
- Richard Hofstadter, (1916–1970), political; historiography
- Kenneth T. Jackson, (b. 1939), urban, New York City
- Merrill Jensen (1905–1980), American Revolution
- Michael Kazin, (b. 1948), political
- George F. Kennan, (1904–2005) U.S. and Russia
- David Kennedy, 20th century
- Daniel J. Kevles, (b. 1939) science
- Walter LaFeber, diplomatic
- Robert Leckie, (1920–2001), American military
- William Leuchtenburg, American political and legal
- Leon F. Litwack, African-American
- Walter Lord, American, popular
- Forrest McDonald, (b. 1927) early national, presidency, business
- Pauline Maier, (b. 1938), American revolution
- William Manchester, (1922–2004) World War II
- David McCullough, (b. 1933) presidents
- William S. McFeely, (b. 1930) Civil War and Reconstruction
- James M. McPherson, (b. 1936) Civil War
- D. W. Meinig, American geography
- Russell Menard, Colonial, demographic
- Perry Miller, (1905–1963) intellectual
- Edmund Morgan colonial and Revolution
- David Nasaw, Progressive Era
- George H. Nash, (b. 1945), conservatism; Herbert Hoover
- Thomas Paterson, Cold War
- James T. Patterson, 20th-century political
- Bradford Perkins, U.S. diplomatic
- Gordon W. Prange, World War II
- Jack N. Rakove, US Constitution and early politics
- Robert V. Remini, (b. 1921), ante-bellum politics
- Richard Rhodes, nuclear weapons
- W.J. Rorabaugh, 19th and 20th century
- Charles E. Rosenberg, medicine and science
- Leila J.Rupp, feminism
- Cornelius Ryan, (1920–1974), World War II, popular
- Thomas J. Sugrue, (b. 1962), urban
- Arthur Schlesinger, Sr. social, urban
- Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., Andrew Jackson, New Deal, Kennedys, politics
- Theda Skocpol, Institutions and comparative method; sociological
- Richard Slotkin, environment & West; literature
- Henry Nash Smith, (1906–96), cultural, American Studies
- Jean Edward Smith, (b. 1932) biography,
- Richard Norton Smith, (b. 1953) presidential
- Kenneth Stampp, (1912–2009) South, slavery
- Ronald Takaki, (1939–2009), ethnic studies
- Stephan Thernstrom, (b. 1934) new social history
- George Tindall, (1921–2006), South
- John Toland, (1912–2004), world wars
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, (b. 1938) Early America
- Robert M. Utley, (born 1929), 19th-century American West
- J. Samuel Walker nuclear energy and weapons
- Russell Weigley, (1930–2004), military
- William Appleman Williams, (1921–1990) diplomatic
- Clyde N. Wilson, (b. 1941) 19c South
- Gordon S. Wood, (b. 1933) American Revolution
- C. Vann Woodward, (1908–1999), South
- Howard Zinn, (1922–2010) People's history
American historians working in U.S. on non-U.S. topics 
- Carl L. Becker, (1873–1945), modern Europe
- Geoffrey Bruun (1899–1988), European civilization
- Louis R. Gottschalk, (1899–1975) French Revolution
- Clarence H. Haring, (1885–1960), Latin American
- Charles H. Haskins, (1870–1937), medieval
- Alfred Thayer Mahan, (1840–1914), naval
- Lawrence Henry Gipson, (1882–1970), British Empire before 1775
- William L. Langer, (1896–1977), diplomatic
- John Lothrop Motley, (1814–1877), Netherlands
- Lewis Mumford, (1895–1988), urban
- Francis Parkman, Canada, French and Indian wars
- William H. Prescott (1796–1859), Spain
- Jacques Barzun, (b. 1907), cultural
- John Boswell, (1947–1994), Medieval
- Peter Brown, (b. 1935) Medieval
- Christopher Browning, (b. 1944) the Holocaust
- Gordon A. Craig, (born 1913) German, diplomatic
- Robert Darnton, (b. 1939) 18th-century France
- Lucy Dawidowicz, (1915–1990) Holocaust
- Natalie Zemon Davis, (b. 1928) early modern France, film
- Trevor Dupuy, (1916–1995) military
- John K. Fairbank, (1907–1991), China
- Saul Friedländer, (b. 1932) Holocaust
- Francis Fukuyama, (b. 1955) world
- Peter Gay, psychohistory, Enlightenment, modern Europe
- John Whitney Hall, (1916–1997) Japan
- Victor Davis Hanson, (b. 1953) ancient warfare
- Gertrude Himmelfarb, (b. 1924) 19th-century British
- Hajo Holborn, (1902–1969), Germany
- Tony Judt, (1948–2010), 20th-century Europe
- Donald Kagan, (b. 1932) ancient Greek
- Paul Kennedy, (b. 1945) world, military
- Claudia Koonz, Nazi Germany
- Thomas Kuhn, (1922–1996), science
- John Lukacs, (b. 1924) 20th-century Europe
- Ramsay MacMullen, (b. 1928) Roman
- Charles S. Maier, b. 1939) 20th century
- William McNeill, (b. 1917) World
- Arno J. Mayer, World War I and Europe
- George Mosse, German, Jewish, fascism
- Geoffrey Parker, early modern military
- Richard Pipes, Russian
- J. G. A. Pocock (born 1924), early modern Europe
- Nicholas V. Riasanovsky, Russian
- Theodore Ropp, military
- Carl Schorske, Vienna, Modernism, intellectual
- Paul W. Schroeder, European diplomacy
- Joan Scott, (b. 1941) Feminism
- James J. Sheehan, modern German
- William L. Shirer, Third Reich
- Dennis Showalter, military
- Timothy D. Snyder, World War II
- Jonathan Spence, (b. 1936) China
- Jackson J. Spielvogel, world
- Barbara Tuchman, (1912–1989) 20c military
- Robert C. Tucker, (1918–2010) Stalin
- Eugen Weber, modern French
- Gerhard Weinberg, World War II
- John B. Wolf, (1907–1996) early modern French
- Gordon Wright, (1912–2000) Modern French
Notes and references 
- Donna Gebbacia, Ellen Manthe (February 12, 1999). "United States Immigration History and Historiography". Course notes. Retrieved 2011-01-15. "Historiography is the methodology of historical study."
- James J. Sheehan, "The AHA and its Publics - Part I." Perspectives 2005 43(2): 5-7. online
- Kirkendall, ed. (2011)
- "OAH Treasurer’s Report, Fiscal Year, 2009", Robert Griffith, OAH Treasurer, February 8, 2010 http://www.oah.org/publications/reports/treasurer09.pdf
- Michael Kraus and Davis D. Joyce, The Writing of American History (3rd ed. 1990) ch 3-4
- William A. Foran, "John Marshall as a Historian," American Historical Review 43#1 (1937), pp. 51-64 in JSTOR
- Lawrence J. Friedman and Arthur H. Shaffer, "Mercy Otis Warren and the Politics of Historical Nationalism," New England Quarterly 48#2 (1975), pp. 194-215 in JSTOR
- Peter C. Messer, "From a Revolutionary History to a History of Revolution: David Ramsay and the American Revolution," Journal of the Early Republic 2002 22(2): 205-233. Jstor
- Karen O'Brien, "David Ramsay and the Delayed Americanization of American History." Early American Literature 1994 29(1): 1-18. ISSN: 0012-8163
- Harvey Wish, The American Historian: A Social-intellectual History of the Writing of the American Past (1960) ch 4 online
- Harvey Wish, The American Historian: A Social-intellectual History of the Writing of the American Past (1960) ch 5 online
- See for online editions
- George Athan Billias, "George Bancroft: Master Historian," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society, Oct 2001, 111#2 pp 507-528
- N. H. Dawes, and F. T. Nichols, "Revaluing George Bancroft," New England Quarterly, 6#2 (1933), pp. 278-293 in JSTOR
- Michael Kraus, "George Bancroft 1834-1934," New England Quarterly, 7#4 (1934), pp. 662-686 in JSTOR
- W. D. Aeschbacher, "Historical Organization On The Great Plains," North Dakota History, 1967, 34#1 pp 93-104
- Elizabeth Kaplan, "We Are What We Collect, We Collect What We Are: Archives and the Construction of Identity," American Archivist (2000) 63:126-51 in JSTOR
- Amanda Laugesen, "Keeper of Histories: The State Historical Society of Wisconsin Library and Its Cultural Work, 1860-1910," Libraries & Culture, Winter 2004, 39#1 pp 13-35,
- Michael Kraus, Writing of American History (2nd ed. 1953), pp 89-103, 108-14
- Harold E. Mahan, "The Arsenal of History: The Official Records of the War of the Rebellion," Civil War History, March 1983, 29#1 pp 5-27
- Alice Fahs and Joan Waugh, eds. The memory of the Civil War in American culture (2004) p 21-22
- Thomas Pressley, Americans interpret their Civil War (1954)
- Ian Tyrrell, "Making Nations/Making States: American Historians in the Context of Empire," Journal of American History, 86#3 (1999), pp. 1015-1044 in JSTOR
- Arthur M. Schlesinger, Prelude To Independence The Newspaper War On Britain 1764 1776 (1957) p. 34
- Gordon S. Wood, "Rhetoric and Reality in the American Revolution," William and Mary Quarterly 23#1 (1966), pp. 3-32 in JSTOR
- Rodgers (1992)
- Trevor Colbourn, The Lamp of Experience: Whig History and the Intellectual Origins of the American Revolution (1965) online version
- H. T. Dickinson, ed., A companion to eighteenth-century Britain (2002) p. 300
- Mortimer N. S. Sellers, American republicanism (1994) p. 3
- Robert Kelley, "Ideology and Political Culture from Jefferson to Nixon," American Historical Review, 82 (June 1977), 536
- J.G.A. Pocock, The Machiavellian Moment p 507
- Gordon Wood, The Idea of America (2011) p. 325
- Bernard Bailyn, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution (1967)
- Alison Games, "Atlantic History: Definitions, Challenges, and Opportunities," American Historical Review 2006 111#3 pp. 741-757 in JSTOR.
- Bernard Bailyn,Atlantic History: Concept and Contours (2005) online excerpts
- Jack P. Greene, and Philip D. Morgan, eds. Atlantic History: A Critical Appraisal (2009
- Ray Allen Billington, ed,. The Frontier Thesis: Valid Interpretation of American History? (1966)
- Clyde A. Milner, et al. Trails: Toward a New Western History (1991)
- Ellen Nore, Charles A. Beard: An Intellectual Biography (1983).
- Burris, Charles (2007-08-01) Franklin Roosevelt and the New Deal: An Annotated Bibliographic Guide, LewRockwell.com
- Hofstadter, The Progressive Historians (1968), 344
- Kolchin p. 134
- Horton and Horton, p. 9. David and Temin (p. 740) add, "The considerable scholarship of Phillips and his followers was devoted to rehabilitating the progressive image of white supremacist society in the antebellum South; it provided a generally sympathetic and sometimes blatantly apologetic portrayal of slaveholders as a paternalistic breed of men."
- Foner 2005 p. xxii
- Kolchin p. 135. David and Temin p. 741. The latter authors wrote, “The vantage point correspondingly shifted from that of the master to that of his slave. The reversal culminated in Kenneth M. Stampp's ‘The Peculiar Institution’ (1956), which rejected both the characterization of blacks as a biologically and culturally inferior, childlike people, and the depiction of the white planters as paternal Cavaliers coping with a vexing social problem that was not of their own making.”
- Kolchin p. 136
- Kolchin pp. 137–143. Horton and Horton p. 9
- Robert E. Wright, Fubarnomics (Buffalo, N.Y.: Prometheus, 2010), 83-116.
- Jonathan Nashel, "Cold War (1945–91): Changing Interpretations" The Oxford Companion to American Military History. John Whiteclay Chambers II, ed., Oxford University Press 1999.
- Fred Halliday, "Cold War" in The Oxford Companion to the Politics of the World (2001), page 2e.
- Robert H. Ferrell, Harry S. Truman and the Cold War Revisionists (2006)
- Jonathan Nashel, "Cold War (1945–91): Changing Interpretations," in The Oxford Companion to American Military History ed. by John Whiteclay Chambers II, (1999)
- (Ernest May, "The Cold War," in The Making of America's Soviet Policy, ed. Joseph S. Nye, Jr. (1984), p. 204.
- Diplomatic dropped from 5% to 3%, economic history from 7% to 5%, and cultural history grew from 14% to 16%. Based on full-time professors in U.S. history departments. Stephen H. Haber, David M. Kennedy, and Stephen D. Krasner, "Brothers under the Skin: Diplomatic History and International Relations," International Security, Vol. 22, No. 1 (Summer, 1997), pp. 34-43 at p. 4 2; online at JSTOR
- See the SSHA website
- . See Journal of Social History
- Gary Kornblith and Carol Lasser, "More than Great White Men: A Century of Scholarship on American Social History," OAH Magazine of History (2007) 21#2 pp 8-13.
- Lynn Hunt and Victoria Bonnell, eds., Beyond the Cultural Turn (1999).
Further reading 
- Cunliffe, Marcus, and Robin Winks, eds. Pastmasters: Some Essays on Americans Historians (1969) essays on leading historians of the past (by current historians)
- Foner, Eric, ed. The New American History (1997) 397pp; 16 essays by experts on recent historiography
- Foner, Eric, and Lisa McGirr, eds. American History Now (2011) 440pp; essays by 18 scholars on recent historiography excerpt and text search
- Handlin, Oscar, et al. Harvard Guide to American history (1955), methodology and detailed bibliographies
- Higham, John. History: Professional Scholarship in America (1989). ISBN 0-8018-3952-1, the history of the profession
- Jensen, Richard J. "Historiography of American Political History," in Jack Greene, ed., Encyclopedia of American Political History (New York: Scribner's, 1984), vol 1. pp 1–25
- Joranger, Terje Mikael Hasle. "A Historiographical Perspective on the Social History of Immigration to and Ethnicity in the United States," Swedish-American Historical Quarterly (2009) 60#1 pp 5–24.
- Kirkendall, Richard S., ed. The Organization of American Historians and the Writing and Teaching of American History (2011), essays on the history of the OAH, and on teaching main themes
- Kraus, Michael,and Davis D. Joyce. The Writing of American History (3rd ed. 1990)
- Kulikoff, Allan. "A Modest Proposal to Resolve the Crisis in History" Journal of the Historical Society (June 2011) 11#2 pp 239–263, on the tension between social history and cultural history
- Link, Arthur, and Rembert Patrick, eds. Writing Southern History (1966) 502 pp; scholarly essays on historiography of the chief topics
- Muccigrosso, Robert ed. Research Guide to American Historical Biography (5 vol 1988-91); 3600 pages of historiography on 452 prominent Americans
- Novick, Peter. That Noble Dream: The "Objectivity Question" and the American Historical Profession (1988), ISBN 0-521-34328-3
- Parish, Peter J., ed. Reader's Guide to American History (1997), historiographical overview of 600 topics
- Rutland, Robert, ed. Clio's Favorites: Leading Historians of the United States, 1945-2000 (University of Missouri Press, 2000) online
- Wish, Harvey. The American Historian: A Social-intellectual History of the Writing of the American Past (Oxford University Press, 1960) online