Local History Research<br />Its importance to national history<br />Before there was national history<br />There was local...
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
Local history research
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Local history research

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Local history research

  1. 1. Local History Research<br />Its importance to national history<br />Before there was national history<br />There was local history<br />National histories actually sprouted from contributions from local history<br />Local history should follow a common or a national pattern<br />Local history is history in the local context<br />The study of local history provides the foundation and the substance of true national history<br />It is more than the study of towns, provinces and regions of the Philippines and the people who live there<br />It provides us with the documentation and analysis of the broad processes which are important to the life of the people<br />Local history enriches our understanding of our national history<br />Local history along with oral history are basic to autonomy<br />Autonomy implies an exercise of freedom with limited control or influence from the national government<br />It provides more room for local initiatives to develop and for local potentials to progress<br />More importantly it encourages creative and innovative responses to development with people with special talents and potentials<br />History is defined as an organized record of a meaningful past<br />It is actually a reservoir of local data and memories of events, realties, and things that provide the essences of local life<br />From this inexhaustible reservoir people can draw patriotic strength in times of crisis, inspiration in moments of despair and directions in times of ambiguity and dilemma. <br />Local history provides the vital task of putting the meaningful essence of community in space and time<br />Here we can see community life in the context or social perspective<br />The Philippines has a strong and varied source of local history because it has 16 regions, 78 provinces, 1,537 municipalities, 69 cities, 41,925 barangays and over a hundred ethno linguistic groups<br />Local and oral history are fundamental to national interests <br />By their very nature both help unite the nation as an example of unity in diversity<br />National history seeks to bring together all diverse groups<br />National interest by reason of national purpose and will should represent the various localities, sectors, and ethnic groups from Batanes to Tawi-Tawi, regardless of creed, origin, race and gender<br />Colonial historiography<br />This includes the Hispano-American historiographical tradition we have preserved in our national historiography<br />The difference of Hispanic historiography is that it is autocratic and prescriptive while the American is liberal and democratic<br />Filipino historiography incorporates both approaches to national history <br />Nationalist Historiography <br />Nationalist historiography aims to decolonize the old views which is the task of the Filipino historian<br />Local history is an important tool of decolonization<br />It must derive substance and sustenance from local history data before it can establish generalizations<br />In short national history without local history is shallow just as local history without national interest is parochial and divisive.<br />Framework<br />A framework is a theoretical and practical direction<br />It teaches the historian to guide the organization of data as well as the analysis although local histories are usually nondescript presentations from A to Z<br />While this type is useful it is necessary to develop and promote a coherent, cogent and methodologically-determined construction of historical construction and if possibly an artistically crafted proficiency of language and appropriateness of illustrations<br />Historical frameworks may vary from one local history to another<br />It begins with an assumption based on a broad survey of representative literature. <br />In the end all data should provide the basis for either supporting the tentative assumption or modifying and even altogether changing the framework.<br />This may result in months of gathering data and analysis<br />Without this validation by a preponderance of sources framework becomes a speculative and imaginative creation of mind usually taken from personal biases and extraneous impositions<br />History without sources is unthinkable but not all historical works with sources are commendable<br />This brings to the question on what sources to use and how to use them for historical construction<br />Historical sources may be generally divided into<br />Written source such as reports, correspondences, speeches, memorials, petitions and any printed matter available<br />Oral historical sources gathered from interviews which represent the main focus of oral history as a methodology<br />Cultural sources which are preserved evidences of human culture including archaeological artifacts as far back in time as possible<br />By the very nature of the sources they are classified into:<br />Primary accounts such as eyewitness accounts<br />Secondary accounts which include accounts by individuals with some valid information from eyewitnesses<br />The organization and analysis of data <br />This require either familiarity of the historian with the inter or multi disciplinary methodologies or lacking in this, with access to disciplinary specialists concerned.<br />Methodology of Local History<br />Interest in local history can be traced to four factors”<br />Firstly the perception of a Manila-centric research created a need to look beyond the metropolis. This type of research tends to point to a national and political history <br />National history reveals gaps and omissions which can only be revealed through local history research <br />The effect of the fall of a monolith such as the Marcos dictatorship in 1986 triggered interest in local history<br />Elements of monoliths such as state-censorship and state-sponsored writing of an official history and the suppression of counter thoughts prevented the emergence of “other views”<br />With the end of monoliths historians can now have more freedom and exercise cultural creativity including historical research<br />Governments following the collapse of the monoliths actually encourage local research<br />The Philippine government actually encourages this through its agencies such as the National Commission for Culture and the Arts which fund local history research<br />Events such as the centennial of the declaration of Philippine independence provided impetus. <br />Instead of reliving national events there are efforts to research the effect of national events in local situations<br />Even without assistance from Manila some local entities have started to assert themselves<br />These consist of individuals and organizations which have taken up the task of researching and writing local history in the firm belief that the stories of the people must be heard now as a way of preserving local heritage<br />Many of them have not gained academic or local recognition but they have kept historical research and writing alive<br />Local history actually has a long traditions in the country<br />These take form ikn souvenir programs by countless town fiestas and similar community celebrations<br />Other forms of local histories are features articles in local and national newspapers which contain stories about events in towns and cities<br />However to be important local history must have these qualities:<br />It must be an original work not a recycling or rehashed work that has been written countless of times. It should present new information or at least a new perspective, insight or interpretation<br />It must deal with a subject of historical value. Note everything which happened in the past is worth researching. History is an academic discipline in which we look back where we came from, how things changed and what particular path we have taken for what persons and why we are where we are now<br />Thirdly basic academic requirements must be met<br />A good research must have good grammar<br />Clarity of presentation or narrative<br /> proper attrributes through a bibiliography with footnotes and end notes<br />Any historical work that does not cite its sources is not credible because it cannot be cross-verified.<br />The history of a region or a province can be best researched by the people of the locality themselves<br />It is a source of pride for the local historians to have people of their own culture write about their ethnic group, their hometown or home province.<br />Local historians will have the authority to express their own values and perceptions specific to his group or province.<br />The local historian will have easy access to local primary sources. <br />He will have the advantage of knowing the vernacular or the local language in using local sources especially oral histories.<br />Local historians serve as interpreters to the larger world and can conversely interpret the larger world to the local community <br />Prerequisites of local history research <br />The local historian needs to have some preparation before writing a historical account<br />He/she must have a good grasp of the national history of the Philippines. This does not mean the memorization of obscure or irrelevant trivia but a familiarity with the general developments and trends of national significance. Examples are the nature of colonialism, the process of nation-building, the building of anti-colonial sentiment and the impact of global trade on local economies<br />The understanding of national history enables the local historian to place in a larger context the local developments<br />To achieve this one may use as reference national history textbooks such as History of the Filipino People by T.A. Agoncillo, S.K. Tan’s A History of the Philippines and R. Constantino’s The Philippines A Past Revisited as well as other textbooks like G.F. Zaide, E. Alip and A. Molina<br />A local historian must be familiar with the historical literature of his region<br />These helps you from duplicating earlier research <br />They help you find leads in your own research<br />These materials are useful in learning activities and make lectures and class presentations relevant<br />Previous works may provide a guide in writing<br />W.H. Scott’s Cracks in the Parchment Curtain and Documentary Sources for the Study of the Prehistory of the Philippines- provide an excellent data as well as theoretical framework<br />Compilation of articles by Alfred McCoy and Ed de Jesus in Philippine Social History: Global Trade and Local Transformation, etc. <br />Sources of data: Primary and Secondary sources<br />Which is more important: facts or analysis?<br />The quick answer was analysis but one must remember there cannot be analysis with out facts<br />Historical sources can be obtained from primary and secondary sources <br />Primary sources are those written and oral are eyewitness or contemporaneous sources or observers in a particular historical era<br />Secondary sources are based on primary sources the latter carry greater weight on the accuracy of facts<br />Reliable sources of primary sources <br />The Philippine Islands by James Alexander Robertson and Emma Helen Blair which is a collection of documents and eyewitness accounts from the 15th to the 19th centuries.<br />Friar accounts – works by Ignacio Alcina, Pedro Chirino, Aduarte, Malumbres, Plascencia<br />Traveller accounts – writings by John Foreman, Jean Mallat, Feodor Jagor, <br />Unpublished primary sources can be found in the UST archives, the archdiocesan archives of Manila and other ecclesiastical archives<br />One must be critical in using these sources<br />There might be racial prejudice and bias which tend to distort their observations and perceptions<br />For those who can read Spanish may consult <br />Erecciones de Pueblos – for those studying the formation of towns<br />Sediciones y Rebelliones - for studying the Philippine Revolution <br />Filipinos Ilustres – illustrious Filipinos<br />Asuntos criminales – crimes<br />Bautismos – baptisms<br />Difunciones - deaths<br />Many other sources in the PNA<br />Other primary sources<br />These include maps, sketches, plans, <br />Selecting a research topic<br />Get a topic that interests you most; one that attracts your curiosity; one that is an original topic<br />The topic must have a definite scope and limitation<br />Determine your access to research resources<br />Be sure that you will finish your research on time; have a schedule or timetable.<br />Some topics are fairly common such as the history of a barangay, town or province. This type of research usually highlights the remarkable events in the locality such as the beginning or end of a period<br />Other topics maybe biographical<br />Such biographies should include previously unknown information<br />Another topic would be the story of a site or structure such as a church or even a series of historical sites. <br />One may research a particular era such as the Philippine Revolution, Peacetime or the Japanese Occupation<br />One may do an economic history such as the history of the mining sector, the weaving industry<br />Another area is institutional history such as the history of an academic institution or a business company<br />Social movements<br />History of the Pulajanes, the Colorums and other messianic groups<br />Cultural history includes changes in the practices of the communties such as the Tingguianes and the Apayaos.<br />Women’s histories – now increasingly popular<br />Local primary sources are now available for all these topics.<br />It is up for the researcher to use his creativity and insight in unearthing and retrieving data from local sources<br />Practical Guidelines for data-gathering<br />Use note cards or note paper because papers of a uniform size are easier to carry, store and organize.<br />Take notes carefully especially of direct quotes, to ensure accuracy<br />Do not mix two or more topics in one note card. If you come across a new topic start with a new note card to avoid confusion later.<br />Do not alter data that you encounter just because it runs against what you believe is the correct information or your projected conclusion.<br />Always indicate the source of information, such as the title and date of a document, or the bibliographic data for the printed materials such as books, pamphlets and magazines.<br />Organize your data into primary and secondary sources or according to major topics or chronologically.<br />Take proper care of primary materials such as old photographs, manuscripts, or maps. Such materials are extremely rare and are one-of-a kind and need special handling. <br />There maybe other practical steps which you have found useful and which work is best for you.<br />Making an outline<br />Before you begin to write it would be helpful to prepare an outline to serve as your guide in organizing your data and your narrative. The outline may contain the following:<br />Introduction – this is a short essay on what your topic is all about, its scope and time frame and possibly what made you choose the topic for your research<br />Chronology – this is optional but useful especially for complex narratives and would help you identify possible conflicting dates of the events that occurred.<br />Text – this is the main bulk of your written account. This must be organized and coherent. An outline for this section is necessary.<br />Analysis – this is your explanation and interpretation of the data that you have provided and this explains your analytical framework or theory that you employed.<br />Conclusions and recommendations – these are based on the text and analysis and a summation of your findings. <br />Appendix and glossary – these are materials which could not be incorporated into the text but would add to the clarity and depth of your research.<br />Endnotes/footnotes – these are required in academic research but may not be always applicable<br />Bibliography – this is the listing of sources including books that were used which could be classified as primary or secondary, published or unpublished, oral or written<br />Writing a Historical Account: Perspectives and Concepts<br />Language – first decide on what language to use. You may choose to write in the vernacular but if you decide to have a wider audience English would be the best language. Writing in English does not mean a lack of nationalism but is simply a matter of getting your message heard across a wide spectrum of society.<br />Writing down history is not simply putting down facts on paper but it should be done through a proper framework or context. <br />Contemporary historians utilize a nationalist perspective. This is not anti-foreign but it reflects our nationalist consciousness and sentiment.<br />What this means is we think and write about our history in a way that is not seen as filtered through the mentality and perspective of foreign historians<br />Rather we should see ourselves in the following light:<br />That we are leading actors in the historical events rather than merely acting to the colonizers<br />As being in the center of our localities instead of just accepting being relegated to the peripheries of power and culture<br />As people who can also determine their destiny instead of just being driven willy-nilly by great external historical forces<br />As creators and originators of our own ethnic identity which is unique and original rather an molding ourselves in imitation of the dominant power’s culture <br />Philippine history as taught today is the most colonially-driven disciplines which need reinterpretation<br />Many terms are derogatory such as infieles, piratas, insurrectos, brujas whcih were uncritically accepted <br />Tausug, Tagalog, Pampangos were seen as dialects or tribes but should be recognized as languages and ethnolinguistic groups instead<br />Shortcomings of local history writing<br />There maybe difficulty in relating cause and efffect. The historian should take to account various local and external forces<br />There maybe rigid conformity to periodization which conforms to national history i.e. Pre-Spanish, Spanish and American periods.<br />Indiscriminate presentation of facts in the belief that all data gathered must not go to waste.<br />There is too much emphasis on local celebrities and personalities who may appear important but they are not i.e. Longest-serving mayor or councillor.<br />Tendency of local historians to slant their narrative in favor of powerful families or portray a national personality in the hope of achieving reflected glory or gaining patronage and reward from that family.<br />In many instances local historians allow their personal biases to distort their work by hiding certain unfavorable facts, misrepresenting events and passing off false information as true which result in the work becoming a propaganda instead of an accurate rendering of the past<br />Ethical issues<br />Never plagiarize – always acknowledge and provide citation of your sources. Always cite in quotation marks every statement and phrase you lifted verbatim from a source. <br />Do not pass off somebody else’s work as your own – because this will be eventually found out. Plagiarism is an intellectual theft which discredits the author and a plagiarized work has no value to the scholars<br />Do not make students and/or subordinates do your research work<br />Nor should you use their output/data without your permission and without giving them due credit. <br />Doing so constitutes an abuse of one’s position.<br />Respect the wishes of your sources <br />When they ask that the information they gave you is off the record. Publishing and revealing something that an informant wanted to keep confidential will cause harm to other people.<br />Always tell your informant that you are using their information in a written account<br />Tell them about your purpose<br />If you are going to use the information for some other purpose you should also tell them.<br />Finally do not conduct your research under false pretenses<br />Just as you do not want to be fooled, so you should not fool others in dealing with them.<br />Always tell the informants or sources that you are going to use their material <br />Conclusions<br />All these points are meant to be guidelines and the historian should know what works what and what weill not only go through the processes of research and writing<br />All of us need to realize the urgency of the work of local historians<br />With the beginning of a new millennium it is imperative that we should do the utmost effort in retrieving oral and documentary sources and data before they finally disappear<br />If not us, then who?<br />Oral history is a historical source of a special nature<br />Its special nature lies in the fact that it is an unwritten source of information which consists of verbal testimonies which are reported statements involving the past<br /> The Methodology and Practice of Oral History<br />Its Importance to Modern Historiography <br />What are the types of verbal testimonies?<br />Oral tradition – this comes from a collective consciousness of a people<br />These come in the form of epics, tales, genealogies and legends<br />Though not suited for historical analysis oral tradition can be used as traditional material<br />Eyewitness account<br />Eyewitness accounts are given by people who are actually in the place of a historical event or were actually its participants.<br />Eyewitness accounts do not fall into the realm of oral tradition <br />hearsay does not qualify as eyewitness account because the event was not witnessed by the narrator and remembered by the informant himself<br />What about rumor?<br />A rumor is a verbal account which does not always concern the present.<br />It is transmitted from one person to another <br />It becomes useful as a historical source if it is corroborated by other sources, otherwise it should be dismissed as an uncorroborated hearsay.<br />Oral history is not a discipline of history <br />It is only a methodology of history in which first-hand historical events are recounted by the eyewitness through the intervention of a historian<br />The main technique of oral history is the interview<br />This technique goes as far back as ancient time including that of Homer and Herodotus who used the technique in their practice of historical discourse.<br />However the popular use of oral history as a methodology is relatively new even among professional historians.<br />Filipino historians like T.A. Agoncillo and Isabelo de los Reyes used oral history in obtaining historical information<br />Recently historical bodies have engaged in oral history<br />The best example was created by Dr. Marcelino Foronda of De la Salle University who organized students to conduct interviews of important personalities starting from the 70s. <br />Where written documents are lacking oral history maybe used as long as this is corroborated by other sources<br />Being a “talking people” Filipinos are full of oral histories<br />Oral history also gives the power to the marginalized people who have no access to writing or could not write or those who have no time to write history, their views of the past<br />The practice of oral history<br />Definition of terms:<br />An eyewitness account is the sum of the testimonies made by an informant concerning a single series of events or a single event<br />The informant - is a person or group of person who gives an account of a referent or that of which the account is given – the thing observed.<br />The informant is the one who transmits the information and he plays an important role in the process of oral history.<br />Things to see:<br />The credibility and the reliability of the informant – one important task of the researcher is to determine the reliability of the eyewitness account. <br />Oral history helps fill the gaps in written history.<br />One should not use it as a justification to use uncorroborated accounts<br />How reliable is the informant?<br />How involved was he in the event?<br />Is he capable of lying or fond of telling untrue things?<br />Is he suffering from memory lapses?<br />Will he have ulterior motives or capable of having ulterior motives?<br />Is he fearful of legal complications?<br />Care must be taken in evaluating the materials being used. <br />Louis Gottchalk in understanding history says:<br />Is the source able to tell the truth?<br />Is the primary witness willing to tell the truth?<br />Is the primary witness accurately reported with regard to the detail under examination?<br />Is there any independent corroboration of the detail under examination?<br />William Moss in Oral History Program Manual says:<br />“If the interviewee is committed to the purpose of the interview, if he is also by nature a candid and reflective person, and if he is also articulate and expansive in the exposition of his memories then the artifacts maybe plentiful and significant”<br />Get to know the environment<br />The researcher must know the language and culture<br />If the interviewer is not adept in these elements then the information obtained by him maybe unintelligible. <br />The interviewer must make a careful study of the cultural system of the interviewee otherwise he would not be able to obtain the information he truly needed.<br />The search for informants<br />Not everyone is capable of supplying the information he needed<br />The informants must have the following:<br />Conversant with the information required<br />Their status must equip them with the certain necessary information<br />Their reputation is not tainted by dishonesty<br />Collection of sources<br />The collection must be systematic<br />He must be interesting in finding as much information as much as possible.<br />Complete collection of information would increase the chance of an accurate reconstruction<br />In research one must devise what is the practicable way of obtaining information given the time and financial means<br />Recording of sources<br />The researcher must dispel the tension between himself and the informant<br />Failure to do this results in an incomplete testimony<br />Make sure that the informant is at ease. <br />The researcher should acquaint himself with the informant either with him or through a third party<br />Make sure that he is not afraid or overconfident<br />The researcher must be observant that the informant does not distort his information or make the informant say things that he wanted to hear<br />The informant must not know that the researcher is interested in his information otherwise the risk of distortion becomes great<br />The Interview Technique: According to Willa Baums in Oral History for Local Historical Society “Tips”<br />Always begin with preliminaries<br />Ask the informant his name, age, occupation especially if it has something to do with the topic<br />Types of Interviews<br />Interviews can be structured or unstructured<br />Structured interviews require preparing a set of questions to be answered by the informant<br />Therefore it is best to prepare questions on notecards <br />Unstructured interviews are more freewheeling interviews in which the informant can talk freely and free from time constraints<br />The interview is NOT a dialogue – <br />the whole purpose is to get the informant to tell his or her story. The interviewer must therefore limit his remarks to a few pleasantries to break the ice. Then ask questions to guide him along<br />The interviewer must ask questions that require more than “yes” or “no” answers<br />Start with questions with how, where, what, or what kind<br />The interviewer should ask one question at a time<br />Interviewers who ask multiple questions while informants will only answer the first question or the last one<br />Multiple questions will confuse the inf0rmant and deliver confused answers<br />Ask brief questions<br />It is unlikely that the informant is so dull that it takes more than a sentence or two for him to understand the question<br />Begin with non-controversial questions<br />Save the delicate questions if there are any until you have become sufficiently acquainted with your informant <br />Avoid ambiguous questions. These results in vague answers<br />You may repeat the questions to verify the answers.<br />Do not interrupt a good story <br />Especially when you forgot a good question or because your informant is straying from the planned outline. <br />If this happens try to pull him back as gently and as quickly as possible.<br />It is often hard for an informant to describe persons<br />Begin by asking him how to describe a person’s appearance. From there the informant is more likely to move into character description<br />Try to establish every important point in the story on the role of the informant<br />It is important to indicate his role in the event in order to indicate how much is eyewitness information and how much is based on the reports of others<br />Do not challenge accounts which you may think that is inaccurate<br />Your informant may be telling you quite accurately what he saw rather than what you think.<br />Tactfully point out to the informant that there is a different account what he is describing. <br />Begin with “I have read...”<br />This is not a challenge to his account but rather an opportunity to refute the opposing view or to explain how that view got established.<br />If done carefully some of your best information can come from the juxtaposition of different accounts.<br />Do not switch the recorder one and off<br />It is better to waste a little more tape on irrelevant material than to call attention to the tape recorder by constant switching on and off.<br />Bring as more tape as possible<br />Also bring enough batteries<br />End the interview at a reasonable time<br />An hour and a half is probably a reasonable time for a single session.<br />Informants cannot speak forever<br />Do not be a show-off<br />Do not try to flaunt your knowledge about the subject matter. It turns off the informant or makes him hostile.<br />Nor try to impress him with charm, vocabulary or other abilities.<br />Good interviewers do not shine only their interviewees do. <br />Be observant<br />Take note of the non-verbal acts such as gestures and body language. These may add message<br />Observe the tone of voice of the informant. You may detect sarcasm, outright admiration and other emotions which may be useful in the gathering of information<br />Some verbal taboos such as cuss words could also serve as signals<br />Post Interview <br />The interview can be written down or put on tape.<br />The advantage of putting the interview on tape is that it gives the exact wording of the testimony and allows the informant to speak at the speed and rythm that is natural to him.<br />Post interview recording requires the reading back on the tape to put in writing what has been recorded<br />Although it takes time it is preferable to record on tape when the words themselves become part of the testimony<br />Create a transcript of the interview<br />This should be done as soon as the interview is completed.<br />The interviewer may go back to the informant to clarify vague matters and ask for follow-ups<br />Upon finalizing the interview ask the informant if he is willing to sign his testimony this strengthens the interview<br />Questionnaire<br />It is important to make a note of all the necessary information<br />Have a questionnaire ready to include a bio-data of the informant, the language used, the manner of the giving of testimony and controls exercised in getting the testimony<br />A note must be given on the characteristics of the matter such as payment given to the informant as to give some information on what the informant will have for testifying. <br />There is no one type of questionnaire and the researcher has to devise his own<br />Prepared questionnaires<br />These contain questions to be answered by the informant by writing the testimony himself<br />Should be brief, concise and to the point<br />As in the interview the researcher should ask for the informant’s background<br />Conclusion<br />Oral history is very important in gathering eyewitness information <br />It is important in social history and it reveals aspects of working class life and other experiences<br />Oral history empowers the inarticulate in history and it gives us what preliterate societies think.<br />However oral evidence requires critical evaluation and must be deployed in conjuction with the canons of historical method.<br />Transcriptions of oral history are not history themselves but raw materials for writing history. It needs corroboration and cross-referencing. <br />

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