A Search for Truth

Jeannette Holland Austin
2 min readApr 19, 2022
Imagine a former era

Is it safe to say that the further away we are from an event, the less accurate is our assessment of the situation? If I am a participant, or sitting next to someone who relates the events of the moment, will my version of the story be accurate? How about a year later? 10 years later?

Sometimes we get so absorbed in our own lifetime, that our imagination cannot fathom anything other than what we see around us.

How often have I visited old relatives only to hear of an imperfect scenario of events? Although people of my own generation may recall the date of the Kennedy assassination, can they remember their grandmother’s date of birth?

While some things are remembered, the further that we are away from the event, the less likely that our story is accurate.

Take the War Between the States. Afterward, officers on both sides wrote of their battles. When the comparison was made between the North and South, the stories varied. The nearest that we will come to actual reality is to read the old issues of the Civil War Magazine (dated 1865 et al) found in some regional libraries. Not later publications. Another source is the pension applications of actual soldiers who served (found at the National Archives).

This is the reason that school history books end up with a “version” of history, viz: the opinions of modern writers, or theorists. Theoretical subjects labeled as “science” such as the origin of man, astronomy, archaeology, soil and plant fragments, medicine, etc., have undergone some pretty drastic changes. Subjects once taught in the schools as fact, have experienced write-overs. But is the current analysis correct? The student should be taught to resolve issues, not accept them carte blanche.

From my own personal view, as an avid genealogist, I find that rigid facts, like dates, burials, documents, etc. establish a worthy baseline of truth. Once this information emerges, I can relate it to a more accurate history of the era of my ancestors.

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