In his sophomore year, Roh Yong Ho approached me with the intention to write a history research paper about the economic
development of the Ruhr area. Yong Ho always had a strong interest in economic history, earlier wrote a term paper on
The Impact of the Marshall Plan on Britain, 1947-1951.
Regarding his plan to write on the history of the Ruhr Area, I discouraged him. (1) He does not speak German, and 99 % or
more of existing sources will be in German. (2) He never visited the area. (3) The history of that region is extraordinarily
complex, and (4) I grew up in the region, expected him, based exclusively on English language sources, not being able to
come up with a presentable paper.
Yong Ho did not permit me to dissuade him; he was resolved. The result is the paper commented on here, in print version
35 pages single space, with 133 notes and 26 titles in the reference list (encyclopedias counted as one position each, no
matter now many articles quoted).
About half of the notes refer to Norman Pounds, The Ruhr: a Study in Historical and Economic Geography, 1952; most figures
in Yongho's paper are adapted after Pounds. This heavy dependence on one source is to be explained by the scarcity of
English language publications on the topic. Yong Ho spent great effort to find additional sources in order to add information,
get alternative perspectives; he made extensive use of the online version of the Encyclopaedia Britannica 1911 edition
("Classic Encyclopedia"), accessed websites of cities and factories on the Ruhr, both in English and in German. He realized
that being limited to English language sources only would have a negative impact on his paper, and, despite never having
had a class in German language, with the help of a dictionary and occasional questions to me, used a number of encyclopedic
German language sources.
Yong Ho's Papers, on the Marshall Plan Impact on Britain as well as on the Development of the Ruhr in the 19th Century,
show his penmanship by an independent organization, a solid descriptive part and a thorough, independent analysis.
"The Rise of the Ruhr Area, Germany's Industrial Heartland, in the 19th Century" compares to an oversized 3rd year
college presentation; it would serve as a solid preparation for an academic discussion. The paper reaches the limit of what
a student, 9000 km away from the region he examines and without knowledge of German language, within a high school
environment, can establish. As a high school research paper, it more than suffices.
November 8th 2007