President Conant's plan for increasing interest in American History among the undergraduate body, and even outside the University's walls, has taken a new step forward with the appointment of a Counselor on extra-curricular reading in this field. This Counselor is to pay particular attention to Freshmen. It is just this group which most urgently needs some officer to foster an interest in a knowledge of our culture and civilization--a knowledge which can be pursued in spare time throughout the remaining three years of college, and which will be a bulwark in later life, comparable to the Englishman's keen appreciation of the classics.
This is a noble ambition and a good thing. But it remains to be seen whether Freshmen will pay particular attention to the newly appointed Counselor. This will depend largely on the Counselor. He will have to use a maximum of care not to frighten sensitive Yardlings by appearing to be another banana skin on the royal road to history. He must be a father-confessor. He must be a patron saint. He must instruct his brood in what to read without letting them guess that it is assigned, and must conduct a serious class in an atmosphere of gay camaraderie. This may possibly be difficult. There will be those who will prefer to glue on their vencer of culture with a brush of their own choosing, who will resent this invasion of an erst-while informal field.
Because it deals chiefly with human events, history is a free-flowing record. Subjected to the corrosive influence of set rules, its glamour fades, becomes scholastic, pedantic, certainly unattractive to the great majority of undergraduates. Care must therefore be taken to see that the American History program cannot suffer this fate.