FAQ

What is Stevens Historical Research Associates (SHRA)?

SHRA is a full-service historical research firm with special expertise in land use and water history in relation to environmental disputes. Our historians and researchers conduct primary research to illuminate and analyze a wide range of historical and legal issues for corporate and government clients, as well as individuals. Our clients often request analysis and full reports, although we can also provide basic document retrieval. We begin with the collection of archival material and provide critical interpretation of that material in our reports. We also provide expert witness services for our clients when needed. SHRA can meet all of your historical research needs.

Can’t I do historical research on my own? Isn’t everything on the internet now?

Thorough and professional archival research is the skill of trained historians. Often, the documents we uncover can mean the difference between winning and losing a case. When it comes to litigating a dispute with historical components, there are often hundreds of documents out there that are extremely useful for proving your case, but that are only available through archival research.

Our firm conducts the great majority of research in archives where the materials are not now and likely will never be available electronically. Although some of the collections and archives we use do have indices available on-line, the documents themselves are stored in special archival facilities. Our historians have more than 25 years of collective experience doing historical research, and we are accustomed to communications with archivists that result in finding the materials that we need. We often are able to locate records and sources that non-historians are unaware exist and have not yet been digitized.

Most importantly, SHRA provides seamless professional examination and interpretation of all available primary research results to ensure that you have the entire picture presented to you in an easily understandable and usable product that is tailored to your specific needs.

What is “primary research”?

Primary research involves locating, examining and interpreting original source materials. From historic government records (land grants, survey maps, etc.) to private, corporate and public materials (correspondence, reports, journals, contracts, etc.), we search for all relevant documentation to ensure that no stone is left unturned. From those varied sources, we abstract information germane to your inquiry and offer professional analysis of what the historic records show. Historians are professionally trained to examine human motivation, which means that we can offer expert opinions about original intent of legislation, contracts, and other events.

Where does SHRA do its research?

Although our offices are located in Boise, Idaho, SHRA routinely conducts research in archives across the country, including in Washington, D.C. and throughout the Intermountain West and Pacific Northwest. We have special expertise in the workings and contents of the National Archives, as well as state archives, historic newspapers, municipal collections, and academic and corporate archives, among many other sources. SHRA also conducts field visits to inspect physical spaces or geographic areas when that is the best way to get the information we are seeking.

Does SHRA have specific areas of expertise or interest?

In general terms, SHRA specializes in uncovering information about environmental history in relation to:

– environmental liability under CERCLA (Superfund), RCRA, and the Clean Air and Water Acts;

– access issues, such as road and ditch validations under the 1866 Mining Law;

– water rights, including reserved rights, surface and ground water development, irrigation districts, and Reclamation and Carey Act projects;

– mining history, including gold, silver, phosphate, and other minerals and metals of historic importance in the West.

We have extensive experience in researching these matters. Please visit our “Areas of Expertise” tab on our home page.

The matter I need assistance with is sensitive. What are your disclosure practices?

Each of our contractors and researchers signs a confidentiality agreement with SHRA. Your investigatory requests will not be discussed outside of our offices or with a third party. In addition, any research analysis or findings that we provide in response to your contract will not be shared without your express consent. Because a large portion of our work is in support of pending litigation, we are familiar and comply with the requirements of attorneys and established legal procedure in the provision of our services.

How does SHRA take on new clients? What are the “next steps”?

If you are interested in discussing your specific historical research needs, we would be pleased to assist you. The first step is contacting SHRA by phone at 208-426-0206. After an initial consultation, usually by phone, we will assess your needs and provide you with a written proposal that covers the scope, time and estimated cost for project completion. Once the proposal has been agreed to and signed by both parties, our research will begin. We look forward to hearing from you!

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