> <<George, I hear what you're saying, but there is no such thing as
> "unedited history" beyond what is
> processed in an individual's brain, and then it's only that individual's
> unedited history. >>
As regards "History" vs 'history.' The past is past. But "History" (the
formal study of the past) changes with each generation, each innovation in
the study of history, and each new ideological paradigm.
We do not know definitively what material will be useful to that endeavor
in the future.
I'm not making a jocular comment when I note that we are now able to
extract useful DNA information from archaeologically retrieved feces. Who could
have known a few decades ago that this seemingly most worthless of artifacts
could provide valuable health, genealogic or climate information?
So there are substantive questions to be asked about the philosophy and
methodology of preservation. And this good reason to let a thousand
preservation regimes flourish.
However, archival preservation is not HISTORY, it is collection and
preservation of DATA, though it nonetheless is an essential and useful tool for and
adjunct to the study of "History."
<< a classical pianist once, when the man
> was in his 70's. Somehow we got on the subject of how he'd be remembered
> and he glumly noted that
> his recordings would stand far longer than the experience of seeing him in
> concert. Yet, he had
> spent thousands more hours performing in concert -- and he believed he had
> performed every single
> work he had done best in concert -- than in front of microphones making
> records. So you can see how
> this is the classic example of "sampling" first-person experiences and
> calling it history. >>
Do we know definitively if some of these live performances were in some way
recorded? As electronic media advance, more and more recordings of
events, communications and images will exist and many will hopefully get
Lib of Congress has recently decided to preserve a large body of Tweet
messages sent by Twitter. Would that we could have had such contemporary data
from the Constitutional Convention; while I suspect that few to none would
prove to be as useful as the Madison Papers, they are DATA for Historians.
So I'm advocating for a broad spectrum of preservation filters;
archivists of the 1920s and '30s might not have considered Louis Armstrong or Duke
Ellington as significant as Walter Winchell or HL Menken, more's the pity.
Much of great value that now occupies public archives was first collected in
private hands and only later passed on. Therefore, despite what archivists
and preservationists decide is important and worth acquiring and
preserving, the act of collection goes on anyway.
Just some random thoughts on this fascinating thread.