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Book chapter2024Peer reviewedOpen access

Historical documents and records

Westin, Anna; Madry, Scott; Jones, Elizabeth


This chapter introduces the use of historical documents as sources in Historical Ecology research. There is a large range of purposes and contents of historical documents, and many of them hold important information about the use, qualities, agreements, and beliefs related to past ecosystems. Written words from the hands of people in the past, illustrations, and photographs are a direct link to these people's lives and conditions. Historical documents therefore play a vital role in Historical Ecology research. In this chapter we present several categories of historical documents and issues relating to their use. We provide an outline of the process of historical criticism that includes both external and internal analysis. The chapter will also describe a sampling of the kinds of historical documents that contain information relevant to Historical Ecology questions, including tax records, parish records, ethnological data, Atlases, photographs, and family records. Finally, the chapter describes several brief case studies from Sweden and France on how historical documents have contributed to historical ecological research questions.

Published in

CBM:s skriftserie
2024, number: 130, pages: 34.67 Title: Practicing Historical Ecology : Methods for the Collection, Analysis, and Integration of Interdisciplinary Historical Data
eISBN: 978-91-88083-45-6
Publisher: SLU Swedish Biodiversity Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

    Associated SLU-program

    SLU Swedish Biodiversity Centre

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