Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Interstection of Journalism and History

I am going to be talking at the Judah L. Magnes Museum on Thursday September 20 about the intersection of journalism and history. In writing my biography of Isaias W. Hellman, I have used the archives of the Western Jewish History Center, an incredible repository of photos, letters, diaries, and newspapers detailing the Jewish contribution to the settling of the West.

I am going to talk about combining a variety of sources to write historical narrative. Normally in journalism, a reporter goes out and interviews people about a topic, reads the literature, observes the scene and then writes up a report.

But recreating history is not so neat. Generally there is no one to interview and you can't observe the scene first hand. So you have to hunt for clues in old newspapers, letters, photographs, etc. I will be talking about how to mine primary sources to write narrative. I will also be talking about Hellman and the Jewish experience in California in the 19th and 20th centuries.

The Magnes is located at 2911 Russell Street in Berkeley. I will talk at 6:30.

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