In short, every use of the past tense – “I was there”; “He did it” – is a bit of history. True, false, or mistaken, it expresses our historical habit of mind. We have newspapers to read the previous day’s history. We call up our friends to tell them what has happened to us since the last time we spoke and to hear their story in return. People keep diaries to preserve their memories or to impart their doings to posterity; or again, they delve into their genealogies to nourish pride in their roots. The phsician arrives at a diagnosis after asking for the patient’s history – previous illnesses and those of the parents. Every institution, club, and committee keeps minutes and other records, as stores of experience: What did we do last year? How did we answer when the question first came up? Lawyers and judges think with the aid of precedents, and their research makes our law. All this remembering and recording is conveyed by the written word. (7)
While reading a section in The Modern Researcher (6th edition) by Jarques Barzun and Henry F. Graff, I was struck by the thought that everyone is a historian. Everyone believes that history is important! Everyone is interested in history (no matter how much they may protest)!