“Never drink downstream from the cows,” said Glenn Rawson in the keynote session of the St. George Family History Expo. “The same principle still applies to historical research.” Rawson said that to connect with history, we need to go to the original documents. When he first started producing television shows about history he had to delve into what he considered nothing more than “dusty old books.”
“You grab ahold of those old documents and suddenly you are connected,” Rawson said. “To know that I was holding something that [historical people] held and wrote—they were no longer dusty old records.”
“There are a couple of things that bring you a sense of history,” he said. “[Another] is to go to the place.” He related the story of following the route taken by the Mormon Battalion in the Mexican-American War. The journey took him to the old Catholic mission of San Luis Rey. He had flipped through the pages of the journal of battalion member, Levi Hancock, and found a sketch of the old mission.
“We stood exactly where Levi stood and saw the same thing that Levi saw.” He said it was an amazing experience, as though 1846 had jumped forward to the present.
“If you want to connect to history, read the original documents—the dusty old books.”
Rawson is the producer, writer, and host of “The Joseph Smith Papers” and “History of the Saints.”