Re: Is what we're doing REAL history??


--- In, "Charlie Vlk" <cvlk@...> wrote:

However, Chris made the following statement and I must take
exception to it. History is not just a person's
learned interpretation of the facts. It is also the source data.
We Railroad Enthusiasts are retrieving and preserving
a great deal of information which otherwise would have been "Lost to
History". Do we occasionally get things wrong?
You bet. But sometimes those that were making history did as
well... there are errors in source data. Sometimes we
detect and correct them. This is as much "Real History" as some
academic with advanced degrees cloistered in an
institution of higher learning putting things in context.
Charlie: Not to belabor this, I will just say I don't disagree at all
with you on the fundamental importance of cataloguing and
preservation. I also think you choose to save the things you do
because you have a curiosity and a set of ideas about why they might
be important and how they relate. History doesn't have to be in the
form of a treatise, or have any degrees behind it, to meet my
definition. As has been said by others, any thinking person can do
it--and thanks be they do. Sometimes what we all up learning or
re-learning from their efforts is a lot more important than freight
car history.

I think my point boils down to the idea that it is that knowledge you
carry around in your head that makes you save the things you do is
just as important as the things themselves. For one thing, it may the
only reason we all still have those things around to look at. This
ought not to be dismissed, stomped on, or taken lightly by anyone.

Where I would take this is that something a person of your experience
thinks or even suspects is almost always valid point of entry for a
conversation on this list. Even when what you suspect turns out to be
wrong, probably a bunch of us learned something in the process of
coming to that conclusion. Actually it's usually me that's wrong...but
I don't mind, I have to be right all the time in my job, this is a
hobby. I'm happy if I start out wrong and end up a feeling a little
closer to seeing it right.

Chris Frissell
Polson, MT

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