A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events

A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events A memoir is a contemporary account or remembrance of a series of events, written by someone who was an eyewitness.

A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events
A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events

Memoirs can be useful for historians who want to understand the past, but there are also pitfalls associated with using memoirs as evidence.
In this assignment, you are being asked to analyze a historical memoir in order to develop your skills as a historian: that is, to learn how to critically assess historical evidence. This assignment will help you demonstrate how a first-person account of an event can both illuminate – and obscure – the truth.
Steps to successfully completing the assignment:
Choose a memoir.
The memoir must be about one of the following events: World War One, the Russian Revolution, or the Spanish Civil War.

A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events Writing Guidelines

We strongly encourage you to choose from the list at the end of these guidelines.
If you want to go off list you MUST CONFIRM WITH YOUR TA. Please note that volumes with multiple authors are not allowed. You do not need to confirm with your TA if you choose from the attached list.
Analyse your memoir.
A) Describe the Document:
When was the document written and what was happening at that time?
Who wrote the document and what was their background?
Why did they write this memoir?
Who is the intended audience? How does this affect the tone, content and aims of the document?
B) Describe the Content:
Describe the contents of the memoir. Try to be concise, since you should leave a lot of room for your critical analysis (part C).
C) Critically assess the memoir and its use as evidence:
What does this document tell us about this period of history? How and why is the document historically significant?
What are the strengths and weaknesses of this document as a historical source?

A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events Questions

Some of the questions you may wish to consider are:
What are the limitations of memories? Can we trust them? Why should we trust the author, and why should we not trust the author?
What are some things that we learn about wartime experiences, and what is still missing?
What is the author’s bias? (Why does this matter?) Does the author have an “agenda”? How might this agenda shape the way the author presents “truth”?
What, in general, are the limits of using only one piece of evidence to understand a historical event?
Required Finishing Touches:

a) You don’t need a title page, but you do need a FULL REFERENCE for your book. Put this at the very top of your first page. Here’s an example of a full reference for a book:
Smith, John. At the Front. New York: Routledge, 1998 [first edition published 1921].
b) DOUBLE SPACE your assignment.
d) Try and QUOTE your document directly to back up the points you make. For example, if you are describing a battle the author recounts, quote his or her views of the battle. Quotations help emphasize main points. Just don’t over-use quotes – paraphrase where possible.
e) When you quote or paraphrase, put the page number in brackets at the end of the sentence. This kind of referencing is allowed when you are analysing a single source. If you do use outside sources (none are required, but you may wish to), you need a full footnote or endnote plus a bibliography. Please do not use web sources for this assignment.
f) In your header at the top of the page, or in a footer at the bottom, put your name in the left corner and the page number in the right corner.
g) Please put your TA’s name somewhere on the first page.
*If you wish, you can double-side your essay to save paper, but this is not a requirement.*
An A paper will:
-Have a clear and grammatically correct writing style
-Be structured into the three sections as outlined in this memoir study guide
-Demonstrate good knowledge of the structure of the memoir, describes its contents clearly and concisely, identifies the author, date and the purpose for which it was written
-Quotes from the memoir to emphasize key points (but does not over-quote)
-Critically assesses the memoir’s usefulness as a historical source
-Use double spacing
-Has page numbers and your name on each page

A Memoir a Contemporary Account of a Series of Events and the List of Approved Memoirs for this Study

World War One

Baldwin, Harold Holding the Line
Barbusse, Henri Under Fire
Brittain, Vera Testament of Youth
Dinesen, Thomas Merry Hell! A Dane with the Canadians
Duhamel, Georges Civilisation: 1914-1917
Graves, Robert Goodbye to all That
Harrison, Charles Y Generals Die in Bed
Bird, Will R. Ghosts Have Warm Hands
Cliff, Norman To Hell and Back with the Guards
Keene, Louis Crumps. The Plain Story of a Canadian who went
McClintock, A Best O’ Luck. How a Fighting Kentuckian won the Thanks of Britain’s King
McKean, G.B. Scouting Thrills
McMillan, David Trench Tea and Sandbags
Richards, Frank Old Soldiers Never Die
Allen, Hervey Toward the Flame: a Memoir of World War One
Edmonds, Charles Subaltern’s War
Bloem, Walter Advance from Mons 1914
Blunden, Edmond Undertones of War
Adams, Bernard Nothing of Importance
Read, I.L. Of Those we Loved
Farmborough, F. Nurse at the Russian Front: a Diary 1914-1918
Jünger, Ernst Storm of Steel
Malin, Geoffrey How I Filmed the Great War
Scott, Frederick How I Saw the Great War
Steele, Owen Lt. Owen William Steele of the Newfoundland Regiment
Russian Revolution & Civil War
Dunsterville, L.C. The Adventures of Dunsterforce
Hindus, Maurice Red Bread
Mandelstam, N. Hope Against Hope
Golitsyn, Sergei Memoirs of a Survivor
Spanish Civil War
Borkenau, Franz The Spanish Cockpit: an Eyewitness Account of the Spanish Civil War
Lee, Laurie A Moment of War: a Memoir of the Spanish Civil War
Orwell, George Homage to Catalonia
Stephens, D.P. A Memoir of the Spanish Civil War
Neugass, James War is Beautiful
Woolsey, Gamel Malaga Burning: an American Woman’s Eyewitness Account
Remember: you don’t have to choose from this list. But if you go off this list you must clear it with your TA. Volumes with multiple memoirs in them are not allowed. Letters are allowed, but only if all the letters are from one person and not a collection of different authors.

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