The study of history is a collective endeavor between students and professors at Gettysburg. History students have the opportunity to work in small groups with faculty members through the study of Historical Method as well as the Senior Research Seminar. There are additional collaborative and in-depth study and fieldwork programs available in the department, as well. For example:
- The Dorothy and Robert Bloom Award enables seniors to pursue archival research off-campus for their senior seminars. In recent years, students have used this funding to travel to Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, and the Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.
Mellon Research Grant Recipient David Fictum '11
For a historian, analyzing the bias, context, and value of sources is an important task. For his 2010 Mellon Scholars Project, History major David Fictum '11 intends to evaluate the most famous period source for pirate history, Charles Johnson's General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pirates. First published in 1724, this book was an important source for pirate history of late seventeenth and early eighteenth century pirates for almost 300 years. Not until the last century has this book's authority been challenged. In recent decades, research has shown Johnson's history to contain numerous inaccuracies. But Fictum's study is not about concluding what is accurate or not in Johnson's history. Rather, Fictum is investigating why the book contained inaccuracies what they have meant for pirate history. The early eighteenth century, an age with such authors as Jonathan Swift, Alexander Pope, and Daniel Defoe, was also an age known for "factual fiction." Period authors often combined fact and fiction to make their works more appealing and therefore more profitable. Authors also used these changes of fact to make political and moral statements. Fictum is reconsidering General History of Pyrates as one such factual fiction to determine what lessons and value it may still have for a modern historian of piracy.