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January 1937


Author Affiliations

Emeritus Professor of Medicine, Rush Medical College CHICAGO

Arch Derm Syphilol. 1937;35(1):14-18. doi:10.1001/archderm.1937.01470190017006

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Samuel Johnson once remarked that historical writing was a very inferior kind of literature, merely a monotonous record of facts, requiring no imagination and little invention, and fit only to be compared to poor poetry. Like many of the dogmatic utterances of the famous doctor, like many familiar epigrams and proverbs, the statement was only partially true even for the time when it was made. It is less true today. For now more rigorous demands are made of the historian. He must write something other than a dreary record of dates or descriptions of battles, plottings of royalty or the amours of courts.

The modern historian is of course expected to record facts; this is a fundamental requirement. He must know these facts to be true not because he has read them in the pages of some previous writer but because he has verified them at the source. Unless

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