History, Agendas, and Microhistory

One of the things that I found bothersome about the readings was the fact that some historians have interpreted history to serve a predefined purpose. This type of agenda driven history was, and still is in some cases, regular and some feel it serves a purpose. Whether it’s to galvanize a people behind a common goal or to back a specific group/program, creating an official version of history does not necessarily present the past in its truest sense. Historians should strive to present past events holistically and as accurate as possible through sound research methods. Corrections continue to take place as new scholars attempt to correct the fallacies of past research but I wonder if the new versions are free from the agendas of their creators. It is almost impossible to leave all one’s preconceptions and agendas out of the picture. Can these be left out of research and revisions? Is it possible to be completely neutral on an issue and present a truly unbiased narrative? This leads to another question of why all the revisions in the Ward reading took place. I’d like to think it was to correct past mistakes, but in each instance the new history has a purpose. This makes me wonder if, and when, the versions of history currently being presented will undergo revision.
The history of history was well represented in this week’s readings. The topic was at times fascinating and at other times dense and difficult for me to follow. John Tosh’s showed how time, place, theory, social perspective, and other facets determine how the past is understood, written, and presented by historians. One of the things I found most interesting was his discussion of microhistory. I am taking Oral History and this is one way the stories of individual, voiceless people fit into the grander scope of history. Oral history fills in the small details that are often lacking in the search for the past. These details help complete the story of a specific time and place, and it comes straight from the voices of people who lived through a particular event.