Keepers of Our past: Local Historical Writing in the United States, 1820s-1930s

By David J. Russo | Go to book overview

Introduction

People have always had an interest in studying the past, seeking, in the words of J. H. Plumb, "the meaning of time when related to themselves, with its harsh facts of birth, growth, and death."(1) An awareness of history is innate, inescapable, something essential to human identity. Certainly there is a close connection between the urge to know "who am I?" and genealogical investigation.

Plumb, in a more restrictive vein, stresses "the personal ownership of the past [as] . . . a vital strand in the ideology of all ruling classes. The authoritarian purposes of genealogy for society," Plumb argues, can be seen in the "acquisition of the past by the ruling and possessing classes and the exclusion of the mass of the peasantry and labouring classes," something he claims "is a widespread phenomenon through recorded time," adding: "Nor is it merely Kings and Pharaohs or high priests who have acquired the authority of an ancestral table. All aristocracies have, very sensibly, made a cult of genealogy in order to underpin their special status."(2)

But this perennial search for the historical sources of legitimacy, authority, and status has also been taken up by people whose inclusion under the rubrics "ruling class" and "aristocracy" would stretch the meaning of such terms beyond recognition. I am referring here to people whose prominence, if at all evident, was modest, local. The typical amateur genealogist and local historian has not been a scribe-in-hire to some Sanhedrin of yore, but a lone individual who believed, as one of them so aptly put it, that "[there] is something so natural in enquiring into the history of those who have lived before us, and particularly of those with whom we have any connexion, either by ties of relation or place, that it is surprising anyone should be found by whom this subject is regarded with indifference."(3)

In that portion of the British Empire that became, in 1776, the United States of America, genealogical and historical writing from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries was produced by amateurs, who, before the rise of the historical profession in this century, were "Keepers of Our Past,"

-1-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Keepers of Our past: Local Historical Writing in the United States, 1820s-1930s
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Recent Titles in Contributions in American History ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Copyright Acknowledgments vii
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction 1
  • PART I The Early Antiquarians 7
  • Chapter 1- The Early Setting 9
  • Chapter 2- The New England Pioneers 27
  • Chapter 3- Their Histories 43
  • Chapter 4- Elsewhere: John F. Watson 63
  • Part II- The Later Antiquarians 77
  • Chapter 5- The Later Setting 79
  • Chapter 6- Town Historians 91
  • Chapter 7- City Historians 109
  • Chapter 8- Repeaters 125
  • Part III- Formulaic Local History 147
  • Chapter 9- Local History as a Publishing Venture 149
  • Chapter 10- Local History as an Editorial Project 165
  • Chapter 11- Local History as Literature 183
  • PART IV The Coming of the Academics 189
  • Chapter 12- Amateurs and Academics 191
  • Conclusion 205
  • Notes 215
  • Bibliography 255
  • Index 275
  • About the Author 282
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
/ 284

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.