HISP611 Historical Research Methods



Faculty Assigned
Kristen Crase
Fall 2013
Th 7:00pm - 9:40pm (ARC 1117)


Catalog Description

An overview of common research methods and documentation tools used in historic preservation. Introductions to graphic documentation, building investigation, historical research, socioeconomic data collection and analysis. (Previously HISP 619Q, HISP 610).

Goals and Objectives

  • To introduce students to methods of historic sites research through a combination of readings, case studies, and hands-on projects;
  • To familiarize students with the various stages of a research process; to assist students in learning a variety of skills used in historic sites research; and to provide an opportunity to explore different approaches to data collection, analysis, and synthesis;
  • To provide an intellectually stimulating forum for cross-disciplinary discussion of key concepts and approaches within the field of historic preservation;
  • To provide a supportive learning environment in which students can present work and learn to monitor their progress and maintain the momentum of research and writing;
  • To encourage students to develop an appreciation for intellectual inquiry and the search for knowledge outside their safety zone 
  • To help students develop a framework of ethics and values, including self-confidence, self-discipline, organization, and social responsibility, especially regarding academic/professional pursuits;
  • To create an awareness of the current and common social, political, and economic issues affecting preservation in the public realm. 


We have three required texts (monographs) for this class, plus two briefs/guidelines that are available online. The three monographs are on reserve in the Architecture Library.


  • Howell, Martha, and Walter Prevenier. From Reliable Sources: An Introduction to Historical Methods. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2001.
  • Kyvig, David E., and Myron A. Marty. Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You. 2nd ed. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press, 2000.
  • LeCompte, Margaret D., and Jean J. Schensul. Designing and Conducting Ethnographic Research. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press, 1999. 


Recommended Texts (for further background reading):

  • Burns, John A., and the staff of the Historic American Buildings Survey, Historic American Engineering Record, and Historic American Landscape Survey, eds. Recording Historic Structures. 2nd ed. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 2004.
  • Howe, Barbara J., et al. Houses and Homes: Exploring their History. The Nearby History series. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press, 1997.
  • Schlereth, Thomas J. Artifacts and the American Past. Walnut Creek, California: AltaMira Press, 1996

Background Reading on Historic Hyattsville:

  • HISP 650 Fall 2009 Studio Report: Hyattsville Historic District Style Guide: A Resource for Homeowners.
  • Damron, Andra, on behalf of the Hyattsville Preservation Association. Hyattsville. Images of America series. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing, 2008.
  • Hyattsville, Our Hometown: 100 Years of Life, Growth and Service in Prince George’s County, Maryland. City of Hyattsville

Student Performance Criteria Addressed

  • Deed Assignment (10%)
  • Census Assignment (10%)
  • Probate Assignment (10%)
  • Map / Photograph Assignment (10%)
  • Newspaper Assignment (10%)
  • Oral History Assignment (10%)
  • Final Property History Project (30%)
  • Class Participation (10%)

NOTE: late assignments will be marked down the equivalent of ½ grade per day. If you have a personal emergency or illness, please contact instructor prior to the due date if at all possible.