What is history? What is it that historians do and how do they do it? These are the questions that shape this course, which is designed to introduce you to the profession of history and the skills needed for historical study in the context of a particular historical problem.
To that end, this course starts with a historical event: the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Mississippi in 1936. In that opinion, the Court held that law enforcement officers who tortured suspects in order to make them confess to a crime violated the United States Constitution. We will look closely at Brown and explore its history. In the process, we will consider what sorts of questions historians need to ask to understand the history of that decision, and what sorts of tools and techniques they need to ask those questions and present their answers. At the end of the course, you will know more about Brown, its historical context, and the legal problems it raised. You will also have been introduced to the tools and techniques that will help you get the most out of your time as a history major at UF.