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Cathy Spude
Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:14pm


The third definition of the word "professional" in my copy of Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary, is "characterized by or conforming to the technical or ethical standards of a profession" (page 680). As a retired government employee, I am accustomed to using the Secretary of Interior's Professional Qualification Standards to define a historian. These standards are used by the entire federal government, and by all states when hiring historians. They are actually less rigorous than academic standards, which demand a PhD to teach as a historian.

The Secretary of Interior's Standards are as follows:

The minimum professional qualifications in history are a graduate degree in history or closely related field; or a bachelor's degree in history or closely related field plus one of the following:

1. At least two years of full-time experience in research, writing, teaching, interpretation, or other demonstrable professional activity with an academic institution, historical organization or agency, museum, or other professional institution; or

2. Substantial contribution through research and publication to the body of scholarly knowledge in the field of history.

This was the definition I used for professional historical studies of Soapy Smith on page 8 of "That Fiend in Hell." All three historians met those standards. The reason I did not include you and ALIAS SOAPY SMITH is because I have not been able to ascertain where you obtained a bachelor's degree in history or closely related field.

As you say, much valuable information has been contributed by grassroots historians. I do discuss the contributions of ALIAS SOAPY SMITH on pages 191-194 in "That Fiend." However, at the particular point where I was discussing the very limited contribution by professional historians, my point was in showing how the LEGEND predominated. As your book deals with facts, it was not appropriate to discuss your book at that point.

    • Re: ProfessionalsJeff Smith, Wed Dec 12 10:32am
      (The following debate revolves around the post I made HERE ) On page 8 of That Fiend In Hell , Cathy Spude states that “only three professional historians have attempted to examine the Smith story... more
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