This paper examines historical methodology and suggests ways accounting history may be made more relevant to contemporary accounting researchers. First there is a brief discussion of the “traditional” accounting history method, the documentary model, and an examination of history methodologies that offer alternatives modes of inquiry. This includes the pattern model and rhetorical analysis. This discussion is brief and focused on only issues examined in subsequent discussion of the empirical research. The discussion of the empirical research, including behavioral research, focuses on three issues: retrodiction, with examples concerning securities legislation; belief transference, with examples concerning the demand for auditing; and methodological transference, with examples from the behavioral literature including a discussion of the importance of historical context and sensitivity. The objectives are [1] to show how all researchers need to tell more plausible stories and how historical analyses can clarify and enhance understanding of the complex environment in which accountants function, [2] to suggest fruitful areas for future accounting historical/empirical/behavioral research and [3] to issue a call for diversity, tolerance, and a free exchange of ideas—stressing these as values that cannot be separated from accountants' research activity.

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