What’s Happening In History


PROBABLY THE main reason why History is rewritten is that new history causes us to ask new questions about the past. In seeking to understand why things are the way they are, we turn to History. When, as is often the case, History does not provide satisfactory answers, we search the history of these things and end by writing new History. In other words we select different facts, facts that provide answers to the new questions we are asking. The postwar civil rights movement sent historians scurrying to the sources and has resulted in a vast outpouring of black History. The modern demands of women for equal treatment have resulted in research on women as workers throughout history, on sexual mores, and on many other topics in addition to women’s rights movements and other obvious issues.

The following article explains how and why the History of the Reconstruction period after the Civil War has evolved—has been revolutionized- over the years. It is the first of a series intended to make readers aware of the latest trends in the writing of American History and to illustrate what Marc Bloch meant when he wrote that history “is constantly transforming and perfecting itself.”