November 14, 2009

A Perfect Quote for the History Commons

Filed under: community — Max @ 8:55 pm
Tags: , ,

Well, at least in my opinion. I came across it in the introduction to Sean Wilentz’s The Age of Reagan, but it’s originally from a 1984 tome by Theodore Draper. Draper wrote:

I have written for the reader who was no longer interested in the daily or even weekly ration of news; this reader wanted to understand it in some organized form and some historical perspective. No doubt the organization and perspective would change as time went on and more information or insight became available. Life cannot wait, however, for historians to gather enough evidence to satisfy them or to make up their minds once they get it. Even a preliminary organization and perspective represent an advance, however provisional. We must make do with what we have while it is still possible to do something about the matter.

Naturally, I do not contend that I or anyone else on the Commons is fit to carry the pencil cases of Wilentz or Draper, two of our generation’s most eminent historians. But I think Draper’s words fit our raison d’etre very nicely, with one important difference: we don’t wait for historians, either ourselves or others, to make judgments and present them to the public. We provide the information and let the public make its own judgments, based on the best and most complete information we can present.

(Cross-posted at the History Commons Group blog.)


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