Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/54

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26
[No. 9
Use of Sources

lection as this, — or of such parts of it as there may be time to read, — will fix many of the most important events and tendencies mentioned in the text-book. For example, no second-hand account of the Indians can compare in "holding power" with the narratives of Adair and Carver (Nos. 113, 116).

Perhaps the principal value of the educational side of sources for pupils lies in the aid which such material gives to intelligent topical work and to the preparation of "special reports." Of course, many of the advantages of topical study (which is discussed at large in Channing and Hart, Guide to American History, §§ 67, 68) may be had from the use of good secondary books, new to the user ; but such work does not teach the most important lesson of all, — that history is the search for truth, and that truth must depend on the ultimate sources. No pupil, by the use of this volume or of any other collection, can overset a conclusion of Parkman's ; but he may learn that Parkman's greatness lies in his graphic and effective grouping of what he learned from sources.

A topic prepared with access to sources is therefore to the pupil's mind a creation, or rather a building up from materials known to be sound ; it is an exercise in the kind of work which every historian must do, but which, in an elementary form, may be done by any young beginner in the subject. It often may stimulate the pupil to learn more about the picturesque men whose narratives he reads, — about the witches, who acted so like poor, tormented, innocent people (Nos. 16, 17), and the jaunty travellers, Thomas and Castelman and Byrd (Nos. 25, 28, 82). It is therefore natural that the requirements in history for entrance to college, drawn up by a conference at Columbia University in February, 1896, suggest sources as a part of the pupil s material; and that the American Historical Association also favors that method for "vitalization" of the study.

As extracts for reading, many of the pieces in this volume have unique value. The language of the eighteenth century differs little from that of our own time ; but there is a delightful freshness and vigor in such writers as Neal (No. 20), Goelet (No. 23), Beverly (No. 33), Wise (No. 47), Eliza Lucas (No. 83), Wesley (No. 99), Adair (No, 113), Knox (No. 129), Pausch (No. 179), and Greene (No. 212).

To sum up briefly : the pupil may get a foot-hold in the world of colonial thought by reading properly-chosen and related extracts from sources ; he may get a peculiar and valuable training by working out some particular point. For instance, a very good exercise might be to