Below please find several examples of historiographical essays. What they share in common is an effort to chart changes in the questions asked by historians of a particular topic or field, or the sort of sources they consult; they also usually seek to explain why new questions have emerged (causation) and to assess the implication of these developments. Historiography is the history of the history of a particular topic. Most of these examples are much larger and more extensive in scope than I am expecting of you. Most are, in fact, historiographical essays assessing the state of a field, such as family history, or a big topic, such as Reconstruction. You could pick some small part of a topic–say immigrant families in 19th c cities–and say you were going to assess how the study of this topic had changed since Ryan’s 1982 RAH essay. But mostly I offer them so that you can see how you need to pick a topic that has enough literature for you to analyze (that is, look for patterns within, and take a stab at explaining why those patterns exist). I am not expecting you to read them word for word, nor will I quiz you on them in class or elsewhere.
Nevertheless, many professors will ask you to include a critical bibliography at the end of your essay. Such a bibliography will do more than provide publication information, but will include a critical assessment of each book: it will describe each books thesis and ways in which the author supports that thesis; the position and role of the work vis-a-vis the historiographical debate on the subject it addresses; and the relevance of the work to the particular theme of your historiographical essay.
Historiographical Essay (20%):
Another type of bibliography is a book that documents all the sources written on a particular topic (at the time the book was published).These sources can be very useful when writing a historiographical essay because they can point to various secondary sources on a topic and list them in chronological order.