Browse Methods
Scholarly overviews of key questions in world history and practical guidance for analyzing different kinds of sources.
A woman kneels and holds a piece of stone at an archeological site

Analyzing Material Objects

The modules in Methods present case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. This module developed by historian Daniel Waugh explores how historians interpret material objects to better understand the past. Examples of objects include Turkish water jugs and Byzantine coins among others.

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Title page of The Voyages and Adventures of Ferdinand Mendez Pinto

Primer: Transnational History

Transnational History encompasses all history that transcends the national level. As a field within the discipline of History, it arose out of dissatisfaction with what was called “methodological nationalism”: the assumption in most historical inquiry that the nation-state is the main building block of history.

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Primer: Defining World History

World history is the study of the past at the global level. World historians use a wide spatial lens, though they do not always take the entire world as their unit of analysis.

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Primer: Tasting and Hearing the Past

Experiencing the full spectrum of world history involves all the senses. World historians not only use their eyes to see what happened; they not only read or otherwise examine written and visual evidence. Tasting or hearing the past can offer unique insights into familiar and fundamental dimensions of another time and place.

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Title page of A Narrative of the Life and Adventures of Venture A Native of Africa, but Resident Above Sixty Years in the United States of America Related by Himself

Primer: Global Microhistory

In 1791, the commander of an East India Company ship commented on the interplay between macro-level political and economic forces and the decisions and actions of seemingly marginal actors: “Forgive me for mentioning the circumstance which I do, to show, amongst numberless other instances, how a splendid act of government may be linked with the conduct of obscure individuals, separated even fro

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Primer: Migration and Diaspora in World History

The phenomenon of migration is as old as the evolution of human beings, which predates even the concept of world history. The interlocking relationship between human evolution, migration and the diaspora is best understood through the migratory nature of humans; a significant epoch in world history.

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Sketch of nutmeg

Primer: Commodities

Commodities are raw materials or basic goods that are produced, transported, traded, and consumed. They are interchangeable, anonymous and are conventionally traded in vast quantities. While scholars have studied commodities like oil or coal or silk for decades, the bulk of this work was oriented around a single stage or link in a wider commodity chain.

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Students’ Guide to “Reading” Primary Sources on the History of Children & Youth

How do you study the history of young people? What can primary source documents reveal? What limitations do they pose? What light can the history of young people shed on the past? This essay aims to serve as a guide to finding, interpreting or “reading” primary sources on young people from ancient civilizations to the present.

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Analyzing Commission Records

The modules in Methods present case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. In the video below, historian Meredith McKittrick analyzes sources from a commission hearing conducted in southeastern Nigeria in 1930 by British colonial officials.

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Analyzing Manifest Records

The modules in Methods present case studies that demonstrate how scholars interpret different kinds of historical evidence in world history. In the video below, Wendi Manuel-Scott analyzes manifest records from the SS Atenas. This ship sailed from Kingston, Jamaica, to New York City in 1920.

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