Like "Topsy" this book "just growed." Six of these essays were written as a whole, or incorporate materials, prepared for special occasions over a period since 1946, but were denied publication through conventional channels. Among other things, that means that in search of a publisher, they have had a fairly wide circulation in manuscript form. The third, the fifth, and the final essays appear here substantially as originally written. The final essay was prepared upon invitation of the program committee of the American Historical Association and was read in abbreviated form at the New York meeting of the Association, De cember, 1951. Into essays two, four, and seven are incorporated all or parts of several papers. The remainder of the essays have been on paper in fragments or in trial draft for at least fifteen years, only the final wording and some aspects of organizations being new.
A study of the social thought of P. W. Bridgman was incorporated into a paper prepared in 1947 under the title, "Methods of extending the limits of certainty." The occasion was an invitation to participate in a joint session, in conjunction with the Social Science Research Council, arranged for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association, at Cleveland. The SSRC mimeographed the theme papers, and the formal commentaries upon them, for distribution at the meeting. Subsequently, after the SSRC declined further reprinting, another edition was run off at my expense in order to satisfy continued requests for copies. Except for the mimeographed version, the paper was not published, but nevertheless it did have a fairly wide circulation, and apparently had some influence. The present version of the survey of Bridgman's social thought is enlarged from the first, but the critique in terms of the unique individual is new.
If a specific or proximate date is to be assigned for my public break with and categorical challenge of the traditional historiography as a whole, that would probably be found in the essay "Mobility and history....," 1943, and in my presidential address before the Agricultural History Society in February, 1944, both printed in Agricultural History. Challenge of the Turner cult, however, stems from a community study of 1932-1933.
New departures undertaken by the introduction into my historical work of an orientation in the sciences, especially in their ecological, geographical, and technological aspects, broadened . . .