I think I've figured something out about my frustration over the insistence that historians tell the "truth," or obfuscate the "truth," or are the keepers of "truth" about the past. The people who are demanding "truth" are demanding something that is essentially metaphysical or philosophical but that they think is objective. At some level, I think they want us to confirm what they already believe about the world, which of course must be true because who would believe a lie? (That's a whole other set of issues.)
In fact, the more I think about what the man in my last post said, the more I think that he was essentially telling me that the study of women's history is the study of lies or un-truths (possibly because it did not put the menz at the center, which is of course, not a description of HIS world, and therefore not true). He was really offended by the whole concept of studying the history of women.
Another man (who, god help us, is teaching history as an adjunct at our school), could only conceive of women's history as a nice history of the "group" but not really important to the "whole of history" unless a particular woman did something that affected major events. The reason to study history -- in fact, the definition of history -- was to tell the "truth" about the major events of the past. Wars and politics and stuff. The rest is just fluff about people who are unimportant because they didn't have starring roles. His seems to be the interpretation of historical research that I encounter most out in the public.
That's not really what historians do. In regard to "truth," historian want facts and evidence, and we want them to be accurate, but we want those facts in order to paint as accurate a picture as we possibly can of the past. We want to understand the past in all of its facets, not proclaim truth as if we are the Messiah.