Writing North Carolina History

By Jeffrey J. Crow; Larry E. Tise | Go to book overview

8
North Carolina, 1946-1976: Where Historians Fear to Tread

by H. G. Jones

If history is the record of the past, the three decades since World War II are no less eligible for historical treatment than earlier periods. Certainly there is no paucity of source materials. Indeed, except for documentation shielded by governmental or private restrictions, sources of recent history are more voluminous and more readily available than those for any other period. To be sure, the era has been characterized by a paperwork explosion in which the quality of documentation appears to have deteriorated at least in proportion to the increasing quantity. Furthermore, the substitution of nonpaper recording mediums confronts potential researchers with new and sometimes perplexing challenges in the interpretation of data.

Still, the grist for the historian's mill is source material. But as the grist has piled up in the postwar period, the historian's mill has almost ceased to operate. In fact, because so little has been published by historians about the last three decades, this chapter, except for its inclusion in the table of contents, need not have been prepared. Why have so few historians written about North Carolina's last thirty years? The reasons may be more obvious than justified.

The very nature of the craft makes the historian reluctant to tamper with evidence until it has been lodged in the archives and allowed to mellow with age, for the historian's credibility depends largely upon his objectivity, and although the de-

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