Research = the collecting of information about a particular subject

[from Merriam-Webster online dictionary]

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"If you accept your thoughts as facts, then you will no longer be looking for new information, because you assume that you have all the answers."

This quote struck me as a reminder to those of us involved in the study of Colonial American history in general, and frontier culture and American longrifles in particular, about why historic research is a never ending quest for knowledge.

Novices in these areas of study tend to want simple, black and white, answers to questions that have either gray answers or to which the answer is presently unknown. Words like "always' and "never" are thrown about in the most casual manner when the best response is often "it depends." It depends on time, place, economic circumstance, culture, and dozens of other factors.

Much of what is presented as fact is in truth a hypothesis, put forward to be tested and proved or disproved by ongoing research. Historians who write with this in mind use phrases like "This rifle is attributed to..." or "Based on this documentation, we believe that..." They never know when a new document or new artifact will turn up that totally reverses a long held belief.

The links on the left lead to some miscellaneous information that may prove interesting or useful.


All articles Copyright 2007, Gary Brumfield