Why Is History Rewritten?

Why Is History Rewritten?

Why Is History Rewritten?

Why Is History Rewritten?

Excerpt

This is the last piece of historical work that Miss Salmon brought to completion. It was finished in the fall of 1926, and was in the hands of the publisher when she died three months later. If she had chosen just which of her works she would leave for posthumous publication she could not have made a more characteristic or more worthy choice. Through this whole work runs her mature, sane, thoughtful conception of history. No one who had not done much research would write with such realization of the difficulties of the task of historical scholarship. Yet no one who was not a teacher would approach the subject in so practical and so appreciative a spirit. Enthusiasm for discovery, approval of rigorous methods of investigation, willingness to accept the truth, whatever it may prove to be, enjoyment of good writing suffuse this work, as they did all Miss Salmon's writing and teaching.

There is no lack in it of condemnation of what is false or ignorant or partisan in historical writing, but she takes for granted that her readers also will condemn it and will accept all her high ideals for her subject. Her book, therefore, notwithstanding the rhetorical question that gives it its title, is not so much an argument as it is an explanation, an explanation of why history should be written and rewritten. Miss Salmon finds a score of reasons why it must be rewritten but she finds a hundred other questions to be answered and criticisms to be made as she goes along. History has progressed from naive tales of personal adventure through its use for partisan purposes to its modern state of a branch of science. In each stage it has used materials, followed standards . . .

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