The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972

Book Reviews

In Pursuit of American History. By Walter Rundell, Jr. (Norman:
University of Oklahoma Press, 1970. Pp. xv+445. Appendices,
bibliography, index. $7.95.)
While an assistant executive secretary of the American Historical
Association and director of the Association's Service Center for Teach-
ers, Walter Rundell met many historians throughout the nation. He
expanded his first-hand acquaintance with the profession when a
handsome grant from the National Historical Publications Commis-
sion enabled him to travel widely, visiting seventy Ph.D. granting
universities (including the University of Hawaii) and interviewing
some 557 historians, librarians, and graduate students about their
research and training. Thus, Rundell has written the kind of book
that the reader immediately opens to the index to find his own name
and those of his institution and colleagues. This reviewer was cited
once, while one of his former colleagues was cited six times, close to
a record for a single individual in this volume. Texas universities and
libraries generally are thoroughly covered, as the author visited every
university in the state granting the doctoral degree at the time of the
The survey is an excellent cross-section of what historians were
doing or said they were doing in regard to exploiting new research
techniques and manuscripts and other primary sources, and how they
were going about training future generations of historians. It is not,
however, a dry-as-dust report. Because of the skill of the author in
utilizing his interviews and questionnaires, the book becomes rather
chatty. It is filled with quotations from historians caught off guard:
for example, when asked about the training in historical methods,
Barnes F. Lathrop of the University of Texas replied, "As far as
methodological training in seminars goes, I don't do anything except
assign papers and make faces over the results." His students might
well argue the truth of this wild understatement, for of course he
does a great deal more in his seminars.
This example raises a cautionary note about this survey technique,

Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 75, July 1971 - April, 1972. Austin, Texas. The Portal to Texas History. Accessed November 25, 2015.