OAH Resolution on Honesty and Integrity


The following statement was approved by the OAH board on April 11, 2002.

Honesty and integrity should undergird the work of all historians. Historians seek truth about the past in an effort to better understand historical developments and how they relate to the present and future.

When students encounter historians in the precollegiate, community college, and university classroom, there is an implicit trust on the part of the student that the history teacher or professor will convey a truthful representation of the past when s/he is discussing historical themes, events, places, or individuals. The OAH categorically condemns lying as well as falsification and deliberate distortion in the teaching of history. Such mendacity is an ethical violation of the principle of truth on which the historical profession is based.

Similarly, plagiarism also undermines the search for truth. Stealing another writer's work and offering it as one's own is not only a violation of law that can result in legal action, but it is an attack on the credibility of the historical profession as a whole. The OAH endorses the American Historical Association Statement on Plagiarism, amended in January 2002, and its conclusion that"All historians share responsibility for maintenance of the highest standards of intellectual integrity. . . . Scholarship flourishes in an atmosphere of openness and candor, which should include the scrutiny and discussion of academic deception."

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Clayton E. Cramer - 5/5/2002

I guess that the curriculum used in schools varies considerably throughout the U.S. Certainly, Mr. Buffone's description of what his daughter is being taught about American history doesn't match what my children were taught in California. If anything, they seem to have been exposed to a curriculum that went a bit too far the opposite direction from jingoism. Even when I was in secondary schools in the 1970s, while many unpleasant parts of American history were downplayed, they were not completely missing.

buffone - 5/1/2002

This is a commendable statement, but isn't this throwing stones from a glass house? The current American History curriculum my daughter studies is full of historical mythology, distortions, and out-right omissions of fact. Abraham Lincoln knew that the American people would respond well IF GIVEN THE TRUTH and the sad fact is that our historical truths have been manipulated to create an idealized version of America, leaving our children and many other adults to wonder about the events of September 11th, the race riots in L.A, and the debates about reparations. We are a strong and glorious nation with great potential, but that potential will never be reached if we continue to cheat our children out of some of the unsettling and difficult issues connected to our domestic and foreign affairs. Give them the tools to function in our democratic republic and internationally INSTEAD of pointing fingers.