Ohio History Journal

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PROCEEDINGS                              243


by the Society as its chief contribution in connection with the

State-wide celebration of the 150th Anniversary of the Establish-

ment of Civil Government within the limits of the State.                His

general presentation is printed in this number of the QUARTERLY

as a part of the "Prospectus for a History for the State of Ohio."

(pp. 249-259.)

Miss Bertha E. Josephson, editorial associate of the Missis-

sippi Valley Historical Review, was next on the program.




Ever since the rise of the critical school of historical writing in

America, over half a century ago, there has been a marked increase in

the total quantity of historical production.  Unfortunately, this has been

accompanied by a marked decline in the literary quality of historical presen-

tation. As early as 1912, Theodore Roosevelt, in his presidential address

before the American Historical Association uttered an eloquent plea for

the use of the imagination in the treatment of historical subjects.1  Eight

years later, cognizant that "the writing of history was not in a satisfactory

state," the American Historical Association appointed a committee con-

sisting of Jean J. Jusserand, ambassador from France, chairman, Charles

W. Colby, Wilbur C. Abbott, and John S. Bassett. These scholars were

requested to make a study of the matter and to report their analysis and

offer their suggestions as to the possibility of improving the craftsmanship

and style of historical writing.

This study resulted in the composition of four inspiring papers in

which the respective essayists treated the subject in three phases: an ex-

amination of the existing situation, with some discussion of how it came

about; a consideration of style of expression in historical writing; and a

recommendation for the training of historians in effective presentation.2 On

the first point the four members of the committee agreed in their slightly

overlapping essays: that historical science had "succeeded or replaced his-

torical literature."3 On the second, they were unanimous in commenting:

"History must conform to truth . . . it must at the same time be as inter-

esting as life itself."4 But on the third point they could only advise that

it took training, time, and effort to master the technique of the art of

effective historical presentation.5

1 Theodore Roosevelt, "History as Literature," American Historical Review (New

York), XVIII (1913), 473-89.

2 Jean J. Jusserand, "The Historian's Work"; Wilbur C. Abbott, "The Influence

of Graduate Instruction on Historical Writing"; Charles W. Colby, "The Craftsmanship

of the Historian"; and John S. Bassett, "The Present State of History Writing," in

The Writing of History (New York, 1926).

3 Abbott, "The Influence of Graduate Instruction." 39. See also Colby, "The

Craftsmanship of the Historian," 74; Jusserand, "The Historian's Work," 11; Bassett,

"The Present State of History Writing." 112.

4 Jusserand, "The Historian's Work," 11-12; Abbott, "The Influence of Graduate

Instruction," 39; Colby, "The Craftsmanship of the Historian," 67; Bassett, "The

Present State of History Writing," 113.

5 Jusserand, "The Historian's Work," 17-18; Abbott, "The Influence of Graduate

Instruction," 55; Colby, "Craftsmanship of the Historian." 76; Bassett, "The Present

State of History Writing," 116. See also letter of J. Franklin Jameson in Bassett,

"The Present State of History Writing," 127-35, especially, 128-29,