The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981 Page: 251
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fascinating. The fascination lies in the ways the Archives have influ-
enced the historical profession over the years. The mandatory trip to
Washington to "check" the Archives is a ritual in which most historians-
in-training have had to participate before they were granted their
coveted degrees and sent out to practice their profession. The purpose
of a ritual is to orient the individual within the cosmos. It is through
ritual that the individual is able to subjugate the world and bring
order out of chaos. Since many would argue that ordering the past is
the principal function of the historian, then one can see the impor-
tance of the trek to the Archives in the training of the historian.
By analyzing the Archives and the personnel who created it Pro-
fessor McCoy succeeds in taking away some of the magic which sur-
rounds that trek. Perhaps in so doing he redresses, in a small way, the
overbalance that the cult of objectivity has imposed on the historical
profession. In his book McCoy portrays J. Franklin Jameson as a sort
of Wizard of Oz who, because of his control of the Manuscripts Division
of the Library of Congress, was able to handpick an archivist accept-
able to him. The chosen one would shape the new institution in a way
which would reinforce the attitudes and perceptions about the nature
of historical inquiry which Jameson held. The simple fact was that he
who controlled access to the sources could control the infrastructure of
the profession. Jameson was aided and abetted by the leadership of
the American Historical Association. Largely due to the efforts of this
group, and especially of Jameson, Robert D. W. Conner was appointed
as first archivist of the United States. Professor McCoy's book encom-
passes the careers of four men who held that position, ending with the
retirement of Robert H. Bahmer in 1968.
Aside from being a sort of temple of initiation for young scholars
entering the historical profession, the National Archives is also an
elaborate bureaucracy, and McCoy's book quite effectively traces its first
thirty-four years of bureaucratic growth. The National Archives is a
depository for historical records and Professor McCoy is equally effec-
tive in examining the problems of acquisition, arrangement, and pro-
tection of those records. Of special interest is the chapter which deals
with the establishment and definition of the Presidential Library
In summary, this is a book which I would recommend to any pro-
fessional historian or to any individual who has to deal with profes-
sional historians. It is also valuable to those who are interested in
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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 84, July 1980 - April, 1981, periodical, 1980/1981; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth101225/m1/287/: accessed July 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas State Historical Association.