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History's Memory

History's Memory

Writing America’s Past, 1880-1980

Ellen Fitzpatrick

ISBN 9780674016057

Publication date: 10/25/2004

Enthusiasts and critics both have looked to the political upheavals of the 1960s to explain recent transformations in historical study. But how new, in fact, are our contemporary approaches to the study and writing of American history? This question lies at the heart of History's Memory, Ellen Fitzpatrick's sweeping study of the past century of American historical writing.

Through careful examination of hundreds of historical essays and books, Fitzpatrick has uncovered striking continuities in the writing of American history. The contributions of earlier scholars, some of them outside the mainstream of the historical profession, reveal that interest in the history of women, African Americans, Native Americans, and the working class has been long-standing. Whether in the Progressive era's attention to issues of class, or in the renewed concern with Native Americans in the 1930s and 1940s, Fitzpatrick demonstrates that over the past century historians have frequently grappled with issues that we think of today as innovative.

This reinterpretation of a century of American historical writing challenges the notion that the politics of the recent past alone explains the politics of history. Fitzpatrick offers a wise historical perspective on today's heated debates, and reclaims the long line of historians who tilled the rich and diverse soil of our past.

Praise

  • The "new" history--the history of ordinary people, of minorities, of women, of African-Americans, of native Americans, of labor, and of social and economic conflict--how new is it? Ellen Fitzpatrick shows in excellent detail how old and deep a tradition in American historiography it really is, how it emerged in the 1880s, deepened in the 1920s and 30s, and reached maturity long before the so-called 'new' historians of the 1960s and 70s called it their own. Exploring the work of historians and social scientists, especially of the years before World War II, she shows the deep continuities of history 'from the bottom up' and the remarkable achievements of the scholars--some renowned, some obscure--who originated modern social history. An important part of history's memory has been recovered.

    —Bernard Bailyn, Harvard University

Author

  • Ellen Fitzpatrick is Professor of History at the University of New Hampshire.

Book Details

  • 336 pages
  • 0-15/16 x 5-11/16 x 8-7/8 inches
  • Harvard University Press

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