The History of History - Vol. 1

The History of History - Vol. 1

The History of History - Vol. 1

The History of History - Vol. 1

Excerpt

The present volume is a belated product of a movement in the field of American historical criticism, which came of age in the decade preceding the World War, a movement toward the recasting of traditional perspectives in the light of original source materials. During the closing years of the nineteenth century scholars returning from Europe -- or those trained under them -- set about the task of remaking the teaching of history in our universities. The seminar method brought the student face to face with evidence, as libraries, filled with great collections of original documents, grew more and more adequate for historical research. The result was a profound change in the academic treatment of history. While the general public continued for a generation or so to enjoy what it had formerly enjoyed and gave up with reluctance cherished beliefs in the history of their own or other countries, universities and colleges vied with each other in the furtherance of what was known as the scientific method in history. Of this there were two outstanding evidences, the rewriting of college and high-school textbooks and the preparation of books of "Readings" of translated sections of original sources. Thus the study of history passed from a process of memorizing dates and events of little interest to the youthful student to the discipline of exercising caution in the examination of evidence and the exhilarating sense of direct contact with a living past.

Among the leaders in this historical renaissance in American education, none stood higher than Professor James Harvey Robinson. The outstanding difficulty for American students was the barrier of foreign languages, which only a select few regarded as anything more than a temporary acquisition of little use after the examinations in them were passed. As aids for the history classroom, therefore, Professor Robinson and his former col-

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