History Ethics*

Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA

Codes and Policies ~~ Plagiarism ~~ Other Issues in History

Additional Resources

Codes and Policies

American Association for State and Local History (AASLH): Statement of Professional Standards and Ethics
This Statement is designed to guide the diverse membership of the AASLH. Issues such as conflict of interest, revenue producing activities and intellectual freedom are covered.

American Historical Association (AHA):

Code of Ethics for Historians in Australia

The Australian Council of Professional Historians Association (ACPHA) endorsed this Code of Ethics document in August 2001. As a condition of membership in ACPHA, members must follow the highest standards of "professionalism, integrity and scholarship" as outlined in the Code.

Ethical Guidelines for the Historian

Oral History Association
The Oral History Association (OHA) has worked to promote professional standards for oral historians since its formation in 1967. In order to assist oral historians in dealing with ethical issues, the OHA has developed and revised the guidelines that are available at this site.

Oral History Society: Ethical Guidelines
The Oral History Society, a national and international organization "dedicated to the collection and preservation of oral history" has posted guidelines that outline the interviewer's responsibilities before, during and after the interview. Responsibilities of sponsoring institutions are also documented.

Organization of American Historians (OAH)
OAH doesn't have one specific ethics document available at their site. What they do have are several statements and policy papers on issues like exhibit standards and bioethical issues.

Sharing History: Developing Codes of Ethics
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have often been neglected in Australian histories. This article, posted by the Reconciliation and Social Justice Library, suggests that historians working with Australian colonial history may want to develop guidelines that emphasize the rights of the people and communities being studied.

Society for History in the Federal Government: Principles and Standards for Federal Historical Programs
A subcommittee of the Federal Programs Committee drafted this set of principles and standards to guide the actions of government officials involved in historical research. General principles and specific applications like collecting historical records, conducting historical research and using oral evidence are addressed.

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There are numerous articles about plagiarism issues impacting the field of history, especially regarding the Stephen Ambrose and Doris Kearns Goodwin scandals. The following are merely a sampling of articles that can be found on the Web.

Stephen Ambrose

Doris Kearns Goodwin

Other Plagiarism Controversies

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Other Issues in History

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Additional ethics resources can be found at the following sites.

Anthropology Ethics

Art Ethics

Bioethics. See also the Biotechnology Web Page (UIUC)

Business Ethics

Ethics Case Studies



Research Ethics

Social Science Ethics: A Bibliography

Sociology Ethics

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*This site is an adaptation of Web pages I created for the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Created by Sharon Stoerger MLS, MBA
©September 30, 2002

Updated January 11, 2005