Page:American History Told by Contemporaries, v2.djvu/56

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[No. 11
Use of Sources

Former historians have had to collect and organize their material in painful and expensive fashion. Jared Sparks and Francis Parkman each accumulated a costly set of transcripts of manuscripts. For future historians, much of the most valuable material is now in print ; and though no one will ever again set himself to George Bancroft's task of writing a general history of the United States entirely from sources, the special works which are to be the foundation of new views must rest wholly on such materials. Although large collections of printed sources are now available, many of them have not yet been examined by competent writers, and discoveries of great importance are still to be made by the investigator. For example, the manuscript of Boudinot s valuable reminiscences (No. 1 80) had not been printed till 1896.

11 . Use of Sources by Readers

FOR the numerous class of persons who have not the opportunity to be students, or the inclination to investigate, sources are useful by way of arousing the imagination and filling up the sketch made by the secondary writer. All that has been said about the usefulness of materials for the teacher and pupil applies equally to the self-taught. Sources alone are one-sided, because they lack perspective and comparison of views, and because they leave great gaps. Secondary works alone are also one-sided, because they tell us about people, instead of letting the people tell us about themselves. The ideal method is to read a brief sketch of colonial history, such as Professor Fisher's Colonial Era ; then some illustrative extracts from sources ; then a fuller work like that of Park man or like John Fiske's books, with a larger collateral use of sources. Upon the general subject of home study of American history, Channing and Hart have a discussion in the Guide to American History, § 13.

Among the reprints in this book likely to be most interesting to readers are the witches' testimony (No. 17) ; Goelet on Boston (Nos. 23, 84) ; Gabriel Thomas on Pennsylvania (No. 25) ; Burnaby on New York (No. 32) ; Eliza Lucas on Carolina (Nos. 35, 83) ; the slavery question in Georgia (No. 42) ; Douglass on colonial government (No. 50) ; Clinton on a governor s perquisites (No. 57) ; Morris s veto (No. 65) ; Zenger on his prosecution (No. 72) ; Providence town-meeting (No. 78) ; extracts from Franklin's autobiography (No. 81) ; a plea for protective duties