Presidential address delivered before the American Historical Association at New York on December 28, 1940. Published in the American Historical Review 46, no. 3 (April 1941): 509-22.

The Quality of Distinction

When the United States entered the World War in 1917, many of us engaged in the study and teaching of history were depressed by a sense of the futility of what we as students were doing, or attempting to do, in comparison with the more immediately effective service our fellows in other lines were able to render. But today, with large sections of the world under arms and even with the United States exerting its utmost energy and stretching its resources to prepare for whatever emergency may arise, the situation is very different. Now there is an opportunity for us such as comes but rarely in the sequence of the ages. It might be better to say that in the present situation there rests upon American scholarship a great and overpowering duty so immediate and urgent that no one may ignore it, for the danger that confronts us fairly staggers the imagination, and the opportunity corresponds to the greatness of the obligation.

President Roosevelt, when he accepted the nomination of the Democratic party last July, described in memorable words the condition in which we find ourselves. As reported in the daily papers he said over the radio:

The fact which dominates our world is the fact of armed aggression, the fact of successful armed aggression, aimed at the form of government, the kind of society, we in the United States have chosen and established for ourselves. … It is not an ordinary war. It is a revolution which proposes, not to set men free, but to reduce them to slavery….

We face one of the great choices of history. It is not alone a choice of government–government by the people versus dictatorship. It is not alone a choice of freedom versus slavery. . . . It is the continuation of civilization as we know it versus the ultimate destruction of all that we have held dear–religion against godlessness; the ideal of justice against the practice of force; moral decency versus the firing squad; courage to speak out, and to act, versus the false lullaby of appeasement.

The President was speaking primarily with reference to statecraft and national defense, though he evidently had in mind a wider application. Leaders in the industrial world are anxious about the future of our economic life, and we are bombarded with dire predictions as to what is in store for us. In our own field the danger is the greatest of all, for we are concerned with the intangible; our work is in the realm of ideas. If we have any faith in truth, in honor, in fair dealing, and in the gentler qualities of mercy and affection, we must rouse ourselves to the limit of our powers, for these eternal verities seem already to have been lost under totalitarian rule, and in this country, in the hour of danger, they may be sacrificed upon the altar of necessity.

It would be easy, but it is unnecessary, to cite examples. They are reported daily in the press. A single illustration has been chosen that is fraught with meaning for those who look below the surface. The code of behavior embodied in the word “sportsmanship” is not exclusively a British creation, yet the ideals of conduct implied therein as developed and exemplified by the British have been one of the great civilizing forces in the Western world, especially during the last one hundred years. Not many months ago it was reported that in the House of Commons a respected member shouted: “Britain needs more ‘cads’ in official position, more men willing to hit below the belt–willing to forget the Queensberry rules when grave occasion demands it!” A way of life is passing, and the world–not Britain alone–is the loser.

When the declaration is made that an obligation rests upon American scholarship and a great opportunity is opening before it, “scholarship” is used as the counterpart of science and the scientific method. There have been many attempts to differentiate the characteristics and the processes of these two great divisions of intellectual activity. Droysen claimed that the world of phenomena could be comprehended under the conceptions of history and nature–the one involving the element of time, the other of space. Some have taken refuge in the simpler classification of science and religion.

Dr. Edwin Hubble recently epitomized much of the present-day thinking. In “Experiment and Experience” he distinguished between the public domain of positive knowledge, or science, and the private domain of personal judgments, or values. “Values” he explained as “the standards by which we form such judgments as those of beauty, of good and evil, and of contentment”. They “are purely private convictions and on them universal agreement cannot be obtained”. He then made the significant admission that “the scientist, like other men, lives most of his life in the world of values”.

The differentiation reaches down to the depths of human intellectual processes, and there is no intention of entering upon such an abstruse, not to say controversial, subject. The line of division suggested has received wide acceptance and offers at least a convenient working hypothesis. It is given here, only by way of explanation, as the one the speaker has followed and may account for his point of view and method of approach. For his purpose its significance lies in the immediate and inevitable conclusion that the things we are struggling to preserve–summarized, in its day, by the Declaration of Independence as “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness”–fall within the domain of scholarship rather than of science.

Scholarship in the United States has been developed by a process of selection and adaptation–by selection from the best of British and Continental sources and by adaptation to our own needs and conditions. The responsibility and the opportunity are ours because this country alone possesses the resources to realize the hopes and to maintain the scholarly ideals that have become our heritage. Lord Tweedsmuir preferred to have his books published over the name of his earlier years and reputation–John Buchan. Toward the close of his autobiography, Pilgrim’s Way, he wrote: “The United States is the richest, and, both actually and potentially, the most powerful State on the globe. She has much, I believe, to give to the world; indeed, to her hands is chiefly entrusted the shaping of the future. If democracy in the broadest and truest sense is to survive, it will be mainly because of her guardianship.”

There is no escape from the conclusion that the United States is inevitably becoming, if it has not already become, the leading exponent and the chief hope of those parts of the world that believe with us in certain values that make life worth living. American scholarship has a great part to play, and in the world of scholarship historians should take the lead. This is spoken by a student of history to his co-workers in the field and not in disparagement of other subjects. Let us not emphasize the differences and distinctions between the social studies, the humanities, and the various disciplines into which they have been divided. Each has accomplished much in its own line of endeavor. The need today is for co-ordination and co-operation. History offers one method of synthesis, all the more promising because the material used in other fields of study is recognized as historical in its nature, and their results when achieved come within the all-embracing scope of history.

The subject of this address, “The Quality of Distinction”, was thought of long before the presidency of the American Historical Association imposed its inexorable demands. The address offers nothing of a scholarly nature. It merely embodies the results of observation during many years of study, teaching, and administrative experience. Yet the attribute implied in the title lies at the heart of the permanence we are seeking in the present emergency and accordingly seems appropriate for this occasion. The subject is elusive, but, for the speaker, the “quality of distinction” has a meaning so vivid that it has come to be a personal belief, a deep conviction, of which he hopes he may be able to convey something to his hearers. He realizes, however, that he may be groping for the expression of an idea that defies analysis.

For a long, long time “the world has been going scientific, industrial, middle-class”. In that movement the United States, for more than a century, was forging ahead and for the last fifty years, at least, has been recognized as leading in commerce and industry, in standards of living (especially for the mass of the population), and in education for everybody.

One great problem, and perhaps the greatest problem, of democracy is a double one: to find the proper leaders and, when such have been installed, to inculcate a willingness to submit to the discipline efficient leadership requires. It is little wonder that so large a number of states, in desperation as it were, have turned to authoritarian control. Many a writer and speaker, in times past as well as today, have expressed doubts as to the ultimate success of democracy, but few have put it so effectively and picturesquely as the late Brooks Adams, in a letter written early in 1916.

You take your social and political creed as a matter of faith and not of reason. You believe in “democracy” … exactly as a thirteenth century monk believed in the efficacy of the Virgin. … It is with you a matter of faith in humanity, as it might have been to your grandfather faith in Christ. I conceive on the contrary, that the soundness of any social system is proved by its success, and by nothing else. … The eighteenth century theory that you are to find salvation in the intelligence of the average of humanity … can’t be made to work. … It collapses like an eggshell … when brought into competition with the Roman system, which was administration by selection, and not by averaging downward. Nor can you hope ever, under any circumstances, to obtain administration from a society which administers by debating assemblies.

One differed with Mr. Adams’s conclusion then exactly as one may take issue with similar ideas now. Such dissent does not demand a belief in the efficiency of democracy but is based upon a recognition of certain qualities that may be developed to better advantage under freedom than under compulsion. Among these are vigor, endurance, and initiative, the last of which frequently rises to the level of creative force. There is a strength and power in voluntary effort greater than any that can be extorted by coercion. At the very time Brooks Adams was writing, the United States was giving an interesting and instructive example of the way a vigorous democracy rises to meet an emergency. His letter is dated January 2, 1916. That was fifteen months before the United States entered the World War, but it was nearly eight months after the sinking of the Lusitania, which shocked the American people and galvanized a few spirits into action. The bill that resulted in the establishment of the Council of National Defense had been introduced in the Senate of the United States several weeks before Adams wrote his letter. The Council of National Defense did not solve the problem of preparedness, but it was an all-important step in the process. Leviathan was rousing itself to action.

If the problem of democracy is to find effective leadership and to submit to discipline, the correlative danger is also twofold: of following demagogues instead of competent leaders and of lowering standards.

Tocqueville wrote of the “dead level of mediocrity” in the United States, and our people seem to have accepted the description without undue resentment. Quantity production usually means deterioration in quality, whether it be in the factory or in the school–but not necessarily so. The automobile of today, turned out of machine shops on the assembly line by the thousands, can be and usually is superior to the motor car made by individual workmen a generation ago. Standards have not only been maintained; they have been raised by the employment of expert brains and hands in devising and fabricating machinery to achieve these results. The knowledge and information possessed by many a high-school graduate today is superior to that of the sages of old or even of eminent men a century ago. The amount of education, however, is not the point at issue, but its character and its use.

These things have been said so often that repetition seems commonplace. The problem is perennial, not to say everlasting. Each generation approaches it from a slightly different angle or with a change of emphasis, and someone is rash enough to call it new. No sooner is that word made use of than objections are heard, from various quarters that the same ideas may be found fifty or a hundred years or even many centuries ago. To avoid all such criticisms the speaker has tried to say it first. He is quite willing to accept Theodore Roosevelt’s good-natured protest, “I am pleased to . . . find that I have plagiarized you in advance.”

No attempt is being made to consider more than one or two aspects of democracy, and what has just been said upon those seems so evident that acceptance may be taken almost as a matter of course. If so, the part we have to play becomes clearer. With the selection of leaders, which includes the all-important employment of expert guidance, and with submission to discipline historians as such have little to do beyond recording what has happened in the past. With the maintenance and improvement of standards our concern is exactly that of every other profession and business. The first essential is that the quality of historical production shall not be permitted to deteriorate; and the second–which is the harder task–is to discover, at every stage of the historical process, how the work may be improved.

No man can succeed in industry who does not keep a careful accounting, who does not analyze the various processes involved in his particular business, and who does not frankly face the results as shown on the balance sheet of profit and loss. In other words, no man succeeds if he ignores the facts of experience. If he does disregard the lessons of the past, he only deceives himself, and the ultimate and inevitable result is disaster. If he makes a report of his business to others and in that report misrepresents the facts, he is liable in milder cases to civil suits for damages and more often lays himself open to criminal prosecution.

History is the experience of the race. An accurate knowledge and a correct appreciation of history are essential for the wise conduct of affairs, now and in the future. An appalling responsibility accordingly rests upon those who attempt to record and interpret historical facts. Ignorance is no excuse. He who pretends to interpret history and does so with insufficient knowledge or with prejudice, even though his intentions may be good, should be subjected to the severest condemnation.

There are only two ways in which the results we are all striving for may be achieved: one is voluntary, the other is forced; one is by education, the other is by compulsion. When the alternative is presented as between education or compulsion, there can be no hesitation, for in the United States we have raised education to the status of a religion. Our universities and colleges, and even our public schools, have erected monuments of architecture comparable to the cathedrals of the Middle Ages. A young Jesuit priest, studying in one of our larger schools of education over twenty years ago, is reported to have epitomized the results of some of his observations by saying that in the United States there has developed a “new religion whose God is humanity, whose heaven is the earth, whose sacrament is education, whose church is the public school, whose priest is the pedagogue, and whose name is secularism”. There is a blind faith, among the mass of our people, in the efficacy of merely going to school and college that is pathetic and often tragic. Education is only a means to an end, and all education is self-education. Education is, then, the medium through which we are to work, but we should recognize that it is education in a changing world in which methods of disseminating information have been transformed.

He must indeed be blind who has not seen, during the last ten or fifteen years, how an appreciation of what some of us are pleased to call “good music” has been diffused in ever-widening circles by means of the radio, in spite of the craze for jazz and accompanying “jitterbugs”. A decade ago a distinguished professor of English in one of our great universities listened to a motion-picture star suddenly called upon to address a popular gathering. The lapses in grammar were appalling, and pronunciation and enunciation were even worse. Whereupon he exclaimed in disgust, “What is the use of our trying to do anything in school and college when a popular idol murders the king’s English in such fashion?” Today, since the advent of the sound pictures and of an ever more critical radio audience, the popular standards of speech have been vastly improved.

There is need for the presentation of history through these channels. Some of our number have been concerned over the failure of historians to enter the field. Perhaps we have been slow to see and seize an opportunity. It may be regrettable, but it was probably inevitable. Few professional students of history have the gift of writing or of speaking in a way that appeals to the popular taste. He who is favored in such fashion should meet at our hands not ostracism and obstruction but welcome and support. This Association has sponsored an important experiment by combining the knowledge of scholars with the skill of one who has the training and ability to present the material thus prepared in an effective and telling manner over the radio for the benefit of a general audience. The promising character of the venture is indicated by the fact that “The Story behind the Headlines” has twice received awards at the Institutes for Education by Radio.

The greater bulk of historical production, however, is to be found in written form. Business is a sensitive organism quickly responding to changing conditions. The publisher of books keeps his finger on the pulse of popular interest and offers wares that will attract and sell. Consequently tendencies or trends are more readily observable in the market place than in the seclusion of academic life. For years many historical novels and biographies have been among the best sellers, and one is appalled by the flood of second- and third-rate productions that are pouring from the press. Yet such popular writing has its usefulness if it does nothing more than stimulate interest. Democratic public opinion, however, should be formed on the basis of knowledge that is accurate and compelling. To that extent history is in accord with scientific method. Accordingly we must not permit either writers or readers to be under any illusion as to the nature of the product they are giving and getting that bears the label of history. That is a primary task, but to accomplish it we must ourselves discriminate.

The obvious channel for expressing opinions upon the merits or demerits of published works is in book reviewing. There was a time when our learned journals carried reviews that often made the members of our gild blush with mortification. Scholars of standing seemed afraid of hurting one another’s feelings. They condoned poor workmanship and lack of ability through sympathy for the author who had done his best. It looked for a time as if the promoter’s slogan, “Boost, don’t knock”, might grow into a national habit. It was a sign of youth and immaturity. Discrimination has come with age and experience. Reviews are better now, but they still leave much to be desired. A recent address at the William L. Clements Library, “Reviewers Reviewed”, attracted some attention. Professor Carl Becker, in a characteristic note in the American Historical Review, ventured to differ with the author because he was generalizing upon insufficient data. Becker’s historical conscience, however, forced him to add that he did not claim that

the reviewing of historical books is all it might be. In nontechnical journals … too many books are reviewed by critics with an inadequate knowledge of the subject. In technical journals … too many reviews are inadequate in substance, deficient in insight, or inexpert in form. But, generally speaking … the reviewing of historical books is as honest and as competent as the reviewing of other works of scholarship.

That is damning with faint praise. Progress does not lie in the acceptance of such a standard. Our reviews ought to be better. The Social Science Research Council has performed a notable service by setting up a Committee on Appraisal, “to devise ways and means of assaying the quality of completed pieces of research in the various social sciences”. The committee’s discussions are being printed in full. We cannot have a committee of that kind sitting on every book that appears, although we might wish that published works were few enough and important enough to warrant such a procedure. The establishment of the committee indicates healthful discontent with existing conditions and is an intelligent effort to improve them. Its composition emphasizes the advantages, indeed the necessity, of co-operation because of the extent and variety of knowledge required, in these days, for every field of study. The committee’s declared purpose is to “do something to focus the attention of scholars more sharply on the underlying principles of social science and to assist in developing criteria of judgment and standards of performance that would help students to identify good work as well as to produce it”.

Publishers’ representatives travel about the country in search of promising authors. Perhaps it is too much to ask them to refrain from following a way that experience has shown to be “good business”. A culpability rests upon them, nevertheless, when they lure the young and unwary and tempt even older scholars to write books for which they are not prepared by the hope of material reward in the form of cash or reputation.

There are others besides publishers and reviewers who share in the accountability for the lowering of standards. Among them might be numbered the academic executives who bring pressure to bear upon younger members of the staff to publish, by allowing promotion to depend upon the quantity rather than the quality of the output.

We may have reason to condemn publishers. There may be some justice in blaming university and college presidents, but, after all, the chief fault is our own. We are the ones who pass final judgment upon all works of history and near-history. We must make ourselves heard, we must preach in season and out of season, but we must be clear in our own minds as to the doctrine we are proclaiming.

There is one phase of popular writing that should not be ignored. It requires ever watchful attention, and, when occasion demands, our protests should be both loud and convincing. The reference is to perfectly honest but unprofessional–and that usually means uninformed–opinion. In a comparatively recent number of the Saturday Review of Literature the leading article was on the relation of the historical novel to history. Therein one might read: “History records; the historical novel re-creates. History is written from the point of view of the present; the historical novel from that of the past. The one is general; the other particular. The former is the product of analytical, deliberative minds; the latter of creative, venturesome ones.”

The statement represents a point of view that is all too commonly held and may do more harm than a deliberate falsification. No historian can write acceptably of the past unless he has the sympathetic imagination that enables him, in spirit, to live in the time he is recording. Just so, the historical novelist projects himself into the period of his story, but, unless he is wiser and better informed than any that is known to the speaker, the novelist invariably lapses into woeful mistakes. The historian’s imagination is restrained by the bounds of fact. The novelist knows no such limitation. He is prone to believe that anything not contrary to the facts may have happened, and sooner or later he injects into actions he is describing things that would have been impossible at the time of which he is writing. He even ventures to give the thoughts of his characters. Who can tell what Washington, Jefferson, or Lincoln thought upon a particular occasion unless he has the person’s own statement of what was in his mind?

But popularization is not the way of advance in history and education, any more than is the method or machinery of mass production in industry. It is what lies back of both that is important. Progress comes only with infinite toil and labor and usually at the cost of much pain. Even the genius to whom is given a vision of things not seen by others must build his creations upon deep and solid foundations if they are to endure. Progress in manufacturing has been possible largely because, in addition to the multitude of individual experimenters and inventors, our great industrial organizations have kept staffs of experts continually at work experimenting, discovering, and devising new methods and processes.

There is no intention of making another appeal for research since that is now recognized as a vitalizing factor in all forms of training at the graduate level. On the contrary, a claim is presented for a more general recognition of what has already been accomplished in that direction. Historical investigation is better done and more widely diffused than ever before in this country, and we have reason to be proud of it. The professional historian was far ahead of the recent journalistic wave of popular writers. He was among the first to realize that various hitherto neglected aspects of life and a great variety of factors must come within the scope of his investigations because they help to explain the forces causing men to act as they did in particular circumstances. Popular writers have used that material freely. The historian has used it sparingly. He was not concerned with reaching the public ear. His was the inner compulsion of extending the boundaries of observed and recorded fact. He also realized that it was unwise to attempt to use the newly uncovered information until much more had been gathered and longer study had been given to it.

The plea is not for more research but for research of a higher quality; and so, after apparently wandering far afield but in reality disposing of possible distracting considerations, we come to the crux of the whole matter.

The facts of history are like drops of water in the ocean or grains of sand on the seashore. They are innumerable. When such vast quantities have to be dealt with, selection becomes a necessity, and with that step we part company from our scientific friends, or, rather, we pass with them into the realm of hypothesis and theory–that is, into the world of values.

A memory of childhood stands out vividly. It is of a copy of the Emancipation Proclamation, written in formal Spencerian hand. By shading the strokes of the pen on certain lines the engrosser of the document had made a likeness of Abraham Lincoln stand out as if the Proclamation were the embodiment of the martyred President’s spirit. Later the historical student has often thought that the document illustrated the dangers and the possibilities of historical interpretation, for the shading of the writing could just as easily have been made to portray the features of Jefferson Davis.

Selection of what is important and rejection of the unimportant will be successful or unsuccessful, good or bad, according to the knowledge, ability, training, and character of the student. A word, in passing, upon a single aspect of that training. Much of the historical material we have to use is in the nature of evidence that is frequently contradictory. A whole series of rules for its handling has grown into what is comparable to the law of evidence in judicial procedure. It may be true that historical criticism is nothing more than the exercise of common sense, but the student who is familiar with the pitfalls and has learned how they may be avoided is less likely to suffer mishap than the one who wanders blithely on, ignorant of danger. Let the historical novelist take warning.

A story that has become a tradition in one of our universities doubtless has its analogue in many another institution. A student complained because of the grade received on an examination for which he thought he deserved better. The professor in charge selected a typical answer. This was read to the complainant, and then an adequate answer was given by the instructor. The student protested, “I do not see the difference”–to which the obvious response was made, “That is the reason you received the lower grade.” At first thought this might seem discouraging; but if the student were made of the right stuff and were earnestly trying to get the best out of the course for his own development and not merely the temporary advantage of a high mark, he would not rest content until he perceived the distinction between what made a first-rate and a second-rate answer. In the days when Calvinism was still a dominating religious force conviction of sin was the first step on the road to salvation.

All of us are capable of improvement. When an attempt was made, a few years ago, to formulate some of these ideas before an indulgent group, composed largely of history students, an educational psychologist present objected that the elements composing the quality of distinction had not been analyzed. The intimation was that if they were defined, students might be taught to attain them. Reflection leads to the belief that there is no peculiar element involved. Distinction means nothing more than raising to a higher degree the quality of each process in any action, activity, or work. It may be inculcated by precept, but example is the better teacher.

One of the first things impressed upon the student preparing himself for independent study in history is that practically all the material with which he has to deal is in the nature of records or reports made by others. That is, they have already passed through the stage of human interpretation, which means they have been subjected to the variables of personal judgment and taste. Merely to protect himself from criticism by the meticulous, the speaker announces that he is perfectly well aware that a newspaper of 1840, in addition to containing a record or report of the news, is a relic of that period directly transmitted from the past. As such it is an example of paper, printing, advertising, and writing of the time and is being studied by direct observation. He is also aware that the trend of modern historical scholarship is towards the inclusion of many aspects of life or living hitherto neglected by students of history, such as painting, sculpture, and architecture, which involve study of the material itself. He repeats, however, without fear of contradiction, that the great mass of material with which the historical student has to deal is in the nature of records.

The significance of this is that records lie in the world of values, where, as Hubble has said, there is no calculus of standards. There is no measuring rule universally accepted. What, then, is to be the criterion?

Daniel Berkeley Updike, founder and head of the Merrymount Press, in a paper entitled “The Essentials of a Well-Made Book”, writes with reference to his own field of work: “How is a man to arrive at a right selection of types? The answer is by a mixture of knowledge and taste. The knowledge must come from a trained mind and experience … [and] a right taste is cultivated in printing, as in other forms of endeavor, by knowing what has been done in the past and what has been so esteemed that it has lived.”

There is the quality that sets the standard for every form of human activity in the world of values and should appeal to the student of history. Anything must have superior merit when, in addition to other admirable qualities, it has stood the test of time.

One great class, whose lifework lies in the world of values, has not been mentioned, but it has not been forgotten. Poets, painters, sculptors, musicians–creative artists of every kind, whose chief aim is the revealment of the spiritual–are as much concerned as we over the danger that threatens us. Our cause is one and the same, and for them, as for us, salvation lies not in the acceptance and encouragement of mediocrity but in the maintenance and improvement of quality.

C. H. Collins Baker, artist, critic, and historian of art, in an address not yet published, declares that “A great master’s expression … is born of the marriage of … deeply stirred emotion with knowledge.” He recurs, again and again, to the same theme–that “In art the quality of rare thought and emotion is inseparable from rare quality in technique.” He then explains, in words almost identical with Updike’s, that technique is based upon training and experience.

The United States is slowly awakening to the seriousness of the present crisis. Group meetings and gatherings of every sort are discussing the same problem, each trying to find a solution in its own way. It would be gratifying, if one had time or opportunity, to dwell upon the importance that is almost universally accorded to the study of history. Our duty and our opportunity spring from the same root. In this critical period, when the struggle is between two conflicting ideologies, two opposing conceptions of life and living, historians are in a strategic position. They are the conservators, in the world of values, of those things that are so esteemed that they have lived. There never was a greater need than at present for the accurate recording of historical events and for adequate and truthful interpretations of history. The strength and the lasting nature of its influence will depend upon how well this work is done.

Recognition of quality, the distinction between first-rate and second-rate, comes from experience and observation. It is not an attribute of youth but of maturity and age. Yet the plea that has been presented–and arises to an impassioned appeal for the development and expression of the best that is in us and better than anything of which we believed ourselves capable–is addressed primarily to the younger generation of historical students. Let them remember that knowledge and ability will not suffice. Training received at the hands of others is not enough. They must school themselves in the methods and practices of selection, which are, after all, largely matters of self-discipline and self-criticism. They must force themselves to eliminate personal considerations so as to achieve the detachment of the scientist and the scholar. They must cultivate an understanding of the work of creative artists and appreciate that certain elements or principles of beauty and of art are immutable, although their forms and manifestation may change from age to age and vary from generation to generation. Finally, they must recognize that these are all things that cannot be taught; they are a part of one’s self-education, and the responsibility therefore rests upon each individual.

Scientists, when they credit work with distinction, are apt to refer to the form and character of its presentation, although they admit that products of inferior grade cannot attain such merit. But in the world of values distinction is the hallmark of sterling; it commands recognition by others because of excellence. The quality of distinction raises its possessor out of the common run. It endows whatever it permeates with long life and possibly with life everlasting.

At the time of his presidency, Max Farrand was employed as director of the Huntington Library.