Schools of American Historiography
Two historians using the same facts may come to two different
interpretations of a historical event. Contemporary British and American views of the battles of
Lexington and Concord would likely differ because the two sides held different assumptions.
Any two historians several years later also hold different assumptions, and produce different
historical accounts. Decades later other historians declare that the previous historians only
perceived part of the truth.
Generation after generation rewrites history and theoretically comes
closer to the truth.
In actuality each historian reflects the time period in which they live.
study of changing historical interpretations, shifting emphasis, and different methodologies is
Domestic History- Four Schools
Progressive Historiography (1900-1940’s):
Four different schools of historians emerged in the 20
The first, the Progressive school,
named for the Progressive reform era, dominated historiography from the 20
century to the end
of the Second World War.
Like the writings of most intellectuals, the themes of the Progressive
historians reflected the issues and concerns of their time.
The Progressive movement was a
collection of reforms designed to adjust to changes brought on my industrial urbanization.
second influence upon these historians was the rise of the social sciences – economics, sociology,
psychology, etc. – as separate fields of study.
Historians borrowed heavily from these new fields
for insights into history, correcting what they saw as the overemphasis on political history.
Progressive historians stressed the differences between competing groups, sections, and classes.
American society was an arena of competing social and economic forces.