Robert Allen Rutland
lio, the Greek muse vested with the inspiration of history, has been reigning for a long time in places as diverse as New Haven, Cambridge, Oxford, Paris, Bologna, and Berkeley. If there is something grandiose in claiming that we have found Clio's outstanding practitioners in American history, forgive us for overstatement. But here we go.
Historians talk about each other's work all the time but have a reluctance to record their thoughts concerning colleagues. Hence the entire twentieth century passed by with only a handful of books devoted to the historical profession in the United States. The landmark work was the 1937 publication, The Marcus W. Jernegan Essays in American Historiography, written by former students of their teacher at the University of Chicago and edited by William T. Hutchinson. This festschrift became a kind of Bible for a generation or so of graduate students, who went into their oral examinations with trepidation and a copy of Jernegan nearby. Pastmasters, published in 1969 and edited by Marcus Cunliffe and Robin Winks, brought the story up to date. Both books reached back to Francis Parkman's time. None of the historians covered by the 1937 book is in this work, but from the Cunliffe-Winks collection we find four historians who still command respect—Richard Hofstadter, David M. Potter, Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., and C. Vann Woodward. Eight new faces—those of Bernard Bailyn, Merle Curti, David Herbert Donald, John Hope Franklin, Howard Lamar, Arthur S. Link, Gerda Lerner and Edmund S. Morgan— complete our roll call of excellence. Initially, there were thirteen historians who made “the final cut, ” but the person who accepted one assignment never turned in his essay, and deadlines cannot be stretched forever. Our “Contributors” section notes that essays on five of the chosen twelve have been written by former students.
How did some historians make the honored list and others not? Earli