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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/355

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HTSTORY is a science; it belongs to the family of social sciences. History is concerned with more than the mere perfunctory cataloging of incidents, with more than a string of events held together by the colorless thread of chronology. It is no longer to be considered a record of sanguinary episodes and of individual prowess or debauchery. True history presents a picture of the struggles of conflicting races, interests, sections and classes; it tells the interesting story of the struggle of the masses upward toward equality. Historical science is a study of cause and effect. In the political and social world, structures are evolved and changes take place in response to modifications in the physical and social environment, or in the industry of the people. Political institutions, wars and royal intrigues are but the visible manifestations of underlying and powerful social, economic, geographic and racial forces. History—true history—is, consequently, a study of the social physics of the past; sociology, of the present. It is, indeed, "the record not of the doings of man, but of his progress." The memoirs of the "not-great" are the most important, but usually the neglected, part of real history. Unless the study of history aids in the solution of the important social and economic problems of to-day, it remains in the lower rank of leisure-class, cultural studies—the value of which is chiefly traditional and putative. In our progressive educational institutions history is not offered merely for the sake of storing up in the mind of the youth a knowledge of the past, for its disciplinary value only, for so-called cultural purposes, or because it is considered to be the proper or conventional kind of knowledge for a college graduate to become familiarly acquainted with.

The medieval mind had no idea of causation in the physical world; only comparatively recently did the men of modern times begin to throw off medievalism in regard to social progress. According to the early metaphysical conception of history, data and investigations were of no value, or of negative value. In a similar way, the medieval authorities considered inductive physical science to be improper and immoral. However, metaphysics and superstition in regard to the evolution of political institutions are fortunately rapidly giving way to scientific hypotheses based upon exact and detailed investigation of historical data.

The proper function of real historical study is to ascertain and ex-