History vs Memory In the Realm of Historic Preservation

In short, history is known to be the facts of what occurred in the past and memory is one’s recollection of what happened in the past. Some see history and memory as synonymous [including me] while others see them as polar opposites. So let’s compare! Memory is a personal expression that is both emotional and subjective. it draws off of ones biological capacity and mind. it is expected to be “changeful” and happens without intention. History on the other hand is a “factual” recollection of what happened. It is [supposed to be] objective and is often scientific. we expect the facts to stay the same and be fixed or stable. History is memory without intention. both history and memory are both ways of creating relationships with the past. Memory is on a micro scale while history is on the macro. Heritage is the past made useful or a match-up of the two. It is memory and history made useful to the here and now. Heritage is tangible and intangible and thus encompassing both ideas.

In my opinion history and memory are one in the same. I know that when the Battle of Bunker Hill or the Great Fire of London occurred, that someone was not there waiting for it to happen and documenting it as it happened. I believe in writing history, memory was at play. It is a combination of research and testimonies. As history is recorded by academics, including only certain perspectives, there can be no security regarding the accuracy of historical accounts. It makes sense that accounts of the past should be supplemented with the recollection of memories of those involved. Memory enhances history by providing undocumented details and emotions, depicting a more comprehensive human experience of the past.

So are they the same? Or are they different. it can be argued various ways depending on the context. In terms of preservation they are opposite. The historical significance or history of a building could vary from person to person based on their memory or the experience they recall having there. So the question is still left unanswered.


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