Documentation of Historic Sites

Write a thought-piece or short essay that reflects upon a series of readings related to documentation
methods and process. Thought-pieces should not exceed 7 typed, double-spaced pages, nor be shorter than 4
pages. In them, you should not merely summarize the content of the essays, but rather analyze the
approach(es) advocated by their authors. What are the implications of what these authors have written for how
we document and interpret historic places? In reading, look for the assumptions, approaches, biases,
strengths, and weaknesses of what each scholar has written, providing quotes (and citations) from the text as
appropriate to support your conclusions and opinions. The following essays (full citations appear in the
syllabus’ bibliography) describe either ways of conducting research using historic buildings and landscapes, or
ways of combining field and archival information to interpret historic places. Two are class readings; three are
not. They were written by were employed by institutions of higher education, others work or worked for historic
sites and preservation agencies.
• Chappell, 1984, “Looking at Buildings”
• McDonald, n.d., “Understanding Old Buildings: the Process of Architectural Investigation”
• Harris, C., 2001, “Archival Fieldwork”
• Herman, 1997, “The Bricoleur Revisted”
• Raitz, 2001, “Field Observation, Archives, and Explanation
• Ridout, 2014, “Reediting the Architectural Past”

Sample Solution

ACED ESSAYS