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Searching in the Past

The importance of professional, historical research in accurately reconstructing the record of the past.

In this article, Historian Michael C. Reis recounts true worst-case scenarios when improper research was conducted and contrasts these with success stories where historians have uncovered documents essential to the merits of cases. He then discusses the various legal settings in which professional historians have been asked to partner with lawyers in recent years such as environmental litigation, freedom of information, legislative history, and corporate succession. He concludes, “Historians unearth and make sense of the relevant past in the hunt for the evidence that shapes and sometimes makes the case.”

Published in the March 10, 2003, issue of  Legal Times, a Washington, D.C.-based law and lobbying paper.

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