Much of the history narrated by these creative mediums is what I call
history, events that belong to our common memory, chronicled in our history books, such as: The Civil Rights Movement, the Underground Railroad, and the
incident. But creative mediums also narrate
history, such as that found in the poem
Those Winter Sundays
by Robert Hayden, in which the narrator provides a unique perspective on his father getting up early on Sunday mornings in a bitter "blueblack," cold house to make a fire so the house will be warm for his children, and the narrator realizes, now that he is grown, that no one ever thanked his father. This is a
and very poignant history lodged only in the memory of the narrator. Some narratives are a combination of both public and private histories. The history of the orphan trains that ran from large eastern cities out West in this country from the late 1850's to 1930 is such a combination public and private stories. While over 200,000 children traveled on the orphan trains, and this piece of our history gets a few paragraphs in American history books, individuals who are still living who made that journey have narrated their personal survival stories, and these have been published.
While one assumes that the histories that art tells are grounded in non-fiction, they may also be fictional, created for the purpose of teaching us something about ourselves as individuals or as a people. The short story "Mr. Toussan" by Ralph Ellison that I discuss in its own section of my unit does this.