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"HE question of the availability and use of sources for those who
are not expert investigators has been discussed recently in many other places, and needs no special treatment here. The Committee of Seven of the American Historical Association has considered it in its Study of History in Schools; the New England History Teachers' Association is shortly to publish a Report on the Use of Sources, which will be a guide both to the methods of using sources and also to the materials available in English. In Hart's Source-Book of American History are practical introductions, by various hands, on the use of sources in schools and colleges. James Ingersoll Wyer, Bibliography of the Study and Teaching of History (in the Report of the American Historical Association for 1899), prints an elaborate list of books and articles on historical methods. The editor of the Contemporaries has developed his views on the subject in the Introductions to the previous volumes of this series, and they need not here be repeated.
For the imaginative side of history, Volume IV includes some of the most notable and spirited narratives ever written on American affairs. The period from the beginning of the Mexican War to the outbreak of the
Civil War abounds in deeds of daring and of equally heroic suffering. The controversies over the Wilmot Proviso, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, and “ Bleeding Kansas" are the precursors of the great storm. On the causes, elements, and events of the Civil War there is a wealth of materials. Most of the great military commanders on both sides prepared reports at the time, and wrote memoirs afterward; there is a literature of soldiers' letters and reminiscences; and the civil side of the war is hardly less varied and active. For the last part of the volume, there is less of the romantic, yet inuch that arouses the mind.
2. How to Find Sources OR the period covered by this volume there is no comprehensive
bibliography, least of all on post-bellum events. The most convenient brief bibliography is, William E. Foster, References to the History of Presidential Administrations ; Channing and Hart, Guide to the Study of American History, comes down only to the end of the Civil War. The foot-notes to the four volumes now published of James Ford Rhodes, History of the United States from the Compromise of 1850, are a valuable means of reaching sources from about 1845 to 1864; on the Reconstruction period may be used the foot-notes to W. A. Dunning, Essays on the Civil War and Reconstruction. J. M. Larned's forthcoming Annotated Bibliography of American History, prepared by the coöperative method, promises to be very helpful. Bowker and Iles, Reader's Guide, has many references on current economic and social questions; and W. E. Foster's Bulletins of the Providence Public Library include many serviceable special bibliographies. Poole's Index is of course the best approach to the abundant periodical material of the last quarter century, much of it first-hand writings. The collections available for school use are named and described in the Report on the Use of Sources, mentioned above.
3. Intelligent Use of Sources
that sources vivify the study of history and tend to fix in the memory the principles best worth remembering, seems established by the experience of schools that have tried it.