Ohio History Journal

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Time's out of joint when a newspaper man ventures to

speak at an annual gathering of a great state historical society.

Whenever a member of the Fourth Estate appraises history,

he must agree with the sages that it is at the root of all science,

the first distinct product of man's spiritual nature, the unrolled

scroll of prophecy, the record of man in quest of complete


What possible connection can there be between proud his-

tory and the common newspaper? Ever since our grandfather's

day, newspapers have been thrown away or burned and it has

been an axiom that nothing is quite so worthless as a day-old

newspaper. What a newspaper man writes may be in demand

for 24 short hours, but he has repeatedly been told that he is

writing on the sands.  The next day his newspaper, with all

his eloquent stories, is useful for nothing but shelf paper, gar-

bage wrapping or, more recently, may be in exalted state because

it has been bundled up and turned to a profit by Boy Scouts in

a waste-paper drive.  In no case, however, was the written

content of the sheet of paper considered of any permanent


The weary G. I. slogging through the mud of Italy did

not know that he was quoting Walpole when he grumbled, "It

is lots more fun to read history than to make it."

Not all the comments about historians or newspaper men

are complimentary.  Somebody has said that on the first page

of each history book should be copied the phrase from the intro-

duction to every movie, "Any relation to real characters living

or dead is purely coincidental." Matthew Arnold called history

a vast Mississippi of falsehood and Washington Irving said in

his Sketch Book, "History fades into fable; fact becomes clouded

with doubt and controversy; the inscription moulders from the

tablet: the statue falls from  the pedestal.  Columns, arches,


* Delivered at the afternoon session of the 61st Annual Meeting of the Ohio State

Archaeological and Historical Society, Friday, April 12, 1946.