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Saturday, February 03, 2007

Analyzing documents

Over at Anglo-Dutch Wars, I have tried transcribing and annotating a list from a document that I received in 2003 from the Nationaal Archief in The Hague. I have found that you cannot analyze information in a vacuum. If you have only seen one document or item in a published source, you probably do not have enough background to interpret what is there. The problem with all published sources is that there are errors. On the later volumes of The First Dutch War, C. T. Atkinson lacked the exposure to the subject matter than Dr. Gardiner had, so he made more errors, especially in the early volumes, but in all, even Vol.VI. In several cases, we have benefitted from the mistakes, as he put material in the work that we would not have seen if he understood the material better. For example, there is an English list from 1649 that was put into Vol.III, because Mr. Atkinson could not date the material. If he had known more, he would have recognized that this was prior to the 1650's.

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