Historians in the News Historians in the News articles brought to you by History News Network. Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2 (http://framework.zend.com) https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/category/54 Michelle Nickerson Interviewed on the "History of Fake News" We conclude our MPR winter member drive with a program about the importance of independent journalism.

Loyola University-Chicago history professor Michelle Nickerson was featured recently at the Minnesota Historical Society's "History Forum."

She tells us about the centuries-long history of "fake news" in the United States.

Beginning with the partisan newspapers in the earliest days of the new country, she takes us through the sensationalized "yellow journalism" of the late 19th century on to the 20th century when journalists established their first code of ethics — and to the elusive search for "truth" and "facts" in today's cable news and social media landscape.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171236 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171236 0
Ibram X. Kendi: A Reading List for Ralph Northam In the years before he became Virginia’s governor, Ralph Northam apparently chose not to read books in which blackface was present. “I used just a little bit of shoe polish to put under my—or on my—cheeks,” he said about the day he impersonated Michael Jackson in blackface. “I look back now and regret that I did not understand the harmful legacy of an action like that.”

Now, as governor, Northam is choosing not to heed calls for his resignation. He is denying he’s pictured on his medical-school yearbook page in blackface or in a Ku Klux Klan outfit above the notation of his alma mater, his interests in pediatrics, and his quote advocating having “another beer.”

Is Northam, then and now, two sides of the same blackfaced white man affronting African Americans? He wants to be seen another way.

“Now that he knows better, he is going to do better,” a Northam adviser told BuzzFeed.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171233 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171233 0
The Letters Can Wait The American Historical Association’s governing council recently approved changing the organization’s Guidelines for the Hiring Process to encourage hiring institutions to request reference letters only from candidates who have passed the initial screening, upon requesting additional materials or before video or conference interviews.

"Given the current academic job market, having applicants provide letters of recommendation only after the initial screening stage can reduce stress and unnecessary paperwork for candidates, letter-writers and hiring committees," the updated policy reads.

James Grossman, executive director of the AHA, said that students often have to pay their dossier system to have letters sent out, meaning they’re “shelling out money when the odds of being hired are long.” Graduate advisers and other references also write “a lot of letters for candidates who are eliminated quickly from a search,” and so are “better off spending more time on letters at a later stage, when the odds are higher,” he added.

Suzanne Marchand, Boyd Professor of History at Louisiana State University and a councilor for the AHA’s Professional Division, wrote about the problem in a column called “Letters of Rec: An Ancient Genre in Need of a Modern Update” for the association’s Perspectives on History in September. “Letters have grown so bathetic that in the last job searches I chaired, I confess, I hardly looked at the letters for the general pool of candidates (over 150 in each search, many of them, apparently, ‘our best student ever’),” she said.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171232 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171232 0
Historian Kathryn Olmstead on The Long History of the Red Scare as an American Political Tactic “Here, in the United States, we are alarmed by new calls to adopt socialism in our country,” Donald Trump said in his State of the Union speech, adding that, “Tonight, we renew our resolve that America will never be a socialist country.”

It was just the latest in a new swell of anti-socialist talk on the right. In October, the president’s Council of Economic Advisors released a report on “the opportunity cost of socialism.” In the months since the midterms, the right has grown increasingly obsessed with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and her democratic socialism. It seems increasingly likely that the theme of the 2020 election will be a full-on red scare. 

There is a term for this, of course: red-baiting, a fixture of American politics for much of the 20th century. I spoke to Kathryn Olmstead, professor of history at the University of California, Davis, and author of Right Out of California: The 1930s and the Big Business Roots of Modern Conservatism, about some of that history. Our conversation has been lightly edited for clarity and length. 

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171229 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171229 0
A new journalism podcast looks to history to counter ‘objectivity’ THE AMERICAN JOURNALISM COMMUNITY fancies itself a completely neutral estate, the poster child for objectivity. But this conceit is, at best, ahistorical. Like all things, the modern press corps was born into an inequitable society, and its strictures show up in the industry everywhere from hiring practices to how certain communities are covered, if they get coverage at all.

Debate about whether complete objectivity is possible while reporting inspires heated debate. A new podcast, The View From Somewhere, aims to push this important ethical conversation again to the forefront, this time with a deep look into the archives. Hosted by reporter Lewis Raven Wallace, 34, whose book of the same name is slated for release late this year, the podcast will dig into the history of objectivity in a journalistic context, featuring stories about reporters whose work has poked holes in the myth of its infallibility.

“Part of [the goal of] this book and this podcast is to tell a whole different story about what journalism has been and what it could be,” says Wallace.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171221 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171221 0
Smithsonian Magazine Interviews Amy S. Greenberg on Sarah Polk and the Model of Conservative Female Power In July 1848, as hundreds of women suffragists gathered in Seneca Falls to demand the right to vote and assert their right to participate in the public sphere, one prominent woman in Washington, D.C., was busy shaping the nation’s policy and guiding its direction at the highest level of government. Unfortunately for the activists, she didn’t share their politics.

First Lady Sarah Polk formed half of an unusual political partnership with her husband, President James Polk, during his sole term in office from 1845 to 1849. Despite his brief time in office, Polk had an outsized influence on American history, particularly with regard to the Mexican-American War.

As president, Polk sought his wife’s counsel on decisions, relied on her smart politicking and benefited from her popularity. Her active role in his presidency made her the most powerful woman of the era, asserts Amy S. Greenberg, professor of history and women’s studies at Pennsylvania State University and author of the new book Lady First: The World of First Lady Sarah Polk

Religious and conservative, Polk didn’t support the suffragists’ campaign; she had no need for what they sought. Polk had leveraged her privileges as a white, wealthy, childless and educated woman to become “the first openly political First Lady, in a period when the role of women was strictly circumscribed,” explains Greenberg, whose book hits shelves amidst a wave of feminist political activism. 131 women were sworn into Congress this January and the race for the Democratic Party nominee for the 2020 presidential election features multiple women candidates.


Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171220 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171220 0
"Black Perspectives" Features Online Roundtable on Chris Tinson’s Radical Intellect In Radical IntellectChristopher M. Tinson writes “a political and cultural history” of Liberator magazine, which he considers “one of the lesser acknowledged, but widely influential, periodicals of the 1960s and early 1970s” (1). By paying close attention to the personalities and politics that defined the magazine, as well as to the community of activists, artists, and intellectuals who supported it, Tinson succeeds in expanding the discussion of radical Black political journals.

Tinson informs us that Liberator played two roles. First, it served as a platform for Black radical thinkers to exchange ideas. “At its height of influence,” he writes, “theLiberator provided an indispensible forum where many of the national and international concerns facing black people could be discussed” (4).  Second, the magazine molded the contours of Black politics. “Liberator’s role shaping black radical thought left an imprint on a range of activist-intellectual activities,” explains Tinson (184).  Throughout Radical Intellect, Tinson explores Liberator’s dual roles, deftly explicating the expressions of Black radicalism captured in its pages and skillfully exploring the impact that it had on those who embraced this political tradition.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171216 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171216 0
Historians on The Books Ralph Northam Should Read To Better Understand Racism Virginia’s Democratic governor declared this weekend that he’s “not going anywhere.” Refusing to resign, the 59-year-old promised to pursue racial equality during the final three years of his term. After the revelation of a racist picture on his medical school yearbook page and his confession that he wore blackface during a moonwalking contest in 1984, Northam said he’s begun to finally grapple with the meaning of “white privilege.” He’s planninga “reconciliation tour” that will take him across the state and has ordered all his Cabinet secretaries to prepare policy proposals that would improve the plight of African Americans.

There are certainly models for redemption. John McCain’s career was nearly destroyed by the Keating Five scandal, for example, but the late senator from Arizona refashioned himself as a champion for strict campaign finance rules.

First, however, Northam says he wants to read up on race. He told The Washington Post that he has reviewed “The Case for Reparations,” a 2014 article in the Atlantic by Ta-Nehisi Coates, as well as a few chapters from “Roots,” by Alex Haley. “I have a lot more to learn,” Northam told my colleague Greg Schneider on Saturday. “The more I know, the more I can do.”

First lady Pam Northam, who has urged her husband to remain in office, is also tackling the subject. She’s reading “We Face the Dawn,” by Margaret Edds, which tells the story of two Virginia lawyers who were involved in Brown v. Board of Education.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171212 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171212 0
Eric Foner Reviews "Separate" by Steve Luxenberg A few years ago the legal scholar Jamal Greene published “The Anticanon,” an article that identified the worst Supreme Court decisions in American history. High on the list was Plessy v. Ferguson, the 1896 case in which the court upheld a Louisiana law requiring railroad companies to provide “equal but separate” coaches for white and black passengers. Legally mandated segregation, the court ruled, did not violate the 14th Amendment’s guarantee to all persons of the equal protection of the laws.

Thanks to the iconic status achieved six decades later by Brown v. Board of Education, which overruled it with regard to public education, Plessy is undoubtedly the most widely known of a series of late-19th-century Supreme Court decisions that eviscerated what Republican leader Carl Schurz called the “constitutional revolution” after the Civil War — the three amendments that ended slavery and sought to establish the legal foundations for equal citizenship regardless of race. But few Americans know much about the cast of characters central to the case. They include Albion W. Tourgée, who as a judge fought the Ku Klux Klan in Reconstruction North Carolina and argued the case before the court; Henry Billings Brown, a scion of the New England elite who wrote the 7-to-1 decision; John Marshall Harlan, the slave-owning Kentuckian who fought for the Union in the Civil War and became the lone dissenter in Plessy; and members of the Citizens’ Committee of New Orleans, descendants of the city’s prewar mixed-race free black community, who initiated the campaign to overturn the Separate Car Act.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171211 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171211 0
Peter Wallenstein Talks About Why White Supremacy “Must Die and Yet Will Not Die” “Yes,” declared a Virginia politics blog, “this is chaos.” After Democratic Gov. Ralph Northam clumsily defended a bill that would roll back a number of abortion restrictions, including rare abortions in the third trimester, a former medical school classmate sent a tip to (then) little-known conservative media outlet Big League Politics. The publication, which has tiesto white nationalists, published a photo of Northam in blackface from his medical school yearbook.

Amid calls for his resignation, Northam stumbled. He bungled his apology; he joked about dressing up as Michael Jackson. Now, it seems his advisers have assigned Northam some reading: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Alex Haley’s Roots. But he avoided talk of resignation, in part, because the rest of the top-tier of Virginia’s government is now engulfed in scandal too, potentially jeopardizing Democrat leadership. Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax (D-Virginia) is facing allegations of sexual assault; Attorney General Mark Herring admitted he also wore blackface in college. It’s unclear what will happen next, but culturally, something already has: In Virginia, racism can now endanger political power.

Peter Wallenstein, a history professor at Virginia Tech and longtime civil rights scholar, says that’s new. “Any and all who take exception to the world of white supremacy…take exception to blackface as the image du jour of a world that must die and yet will not die,” he noted. 

“That yearbook page has been there for the longest time,” Wallenstein points out, but only now is it being called into question. 

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171210 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171210 0
Massachusetts Historian Works To Solve Mystery Of Anonymous Graves LULU GARCIA-NAVARRO, HOST:

A Massachusetts historian has been working for years to solve a 60-year-old mystery. Who is buried in the MetFern Cemetery? That's the resting place of nearly 300 residents from two now-shuttered institutions for people with mental and physical disabilities. WBUR's Eve Zuckoff tells us their identities could have been lost forever if not for one man's commitment and a partnership with local high schoolers.

YONI KADDEN: I'll introduce you to one person right now.

EVE ZUCKOFF, BYLINE: This is Yoni Kadden, a teacher at Gann Academy in Waltham, Mass. We've just walked about 15 minutes off a main road into the woods, into a clearing the size of a football field. Kadden is looking for someone we can easily miss.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171204 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171204 0
Holocaust row taints Hungary's House of Fates museum project Pilots landing after dark at Budapest international airport will soon have a new star to navigate by - a giant Star of David.

It will be lit up from the side of a tower resembling stacked cattle trucks. The illumination will be so bright that permission was sought from Hungarian airport authorities.

The Star of David, made of perforated steel, is the crowning glory of the new House of Fates museum, built on the site of a railway station from which Jews were deported by Nazi Germany in 1944.

The buildings were ready five years ago, but arguments over the whole concept of the museum, and the content of the exhibitions and educational centre which will operate there, have long delayed the opening.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171203 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171203 0
Women's History Pioneer Anne Firor Scott Has Died at 97 Pioneering historian Anne Firor Scott, who helped establish the field of women’s history and taught at Duke for three decades, has died. She was 97.

Scott was awarded a National Humanities Medal in 2013. In making the award, the National Endowment for the Humanities praised Scott’s “groundbreaking research spanning ideology, race, and class.”

“In 1970, Anne Firor Scott of Duke University helped open the floodgates both for women historians and women’s history with ‘The Southern Lady: From Pedestal to Politics, 1830-1930,’” the citation reads. “…Scott not only destroyed the myth of the perfect but powerless ‘southern lady,’ but demonstrated how southern women found their own roles in the public square.”

Born in Montezuma, Georgia, in 1921, a year after U.S. women won the right to vote, Scott went on to work alongside aging suffragists at the National League of Women Voters in Washington, D.C. during World War II.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171163 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171163 0
In since-deleted xenophobic tweet, author Barbara Ehrenreich attacks Marie Kondo Author Barbara Ehrenreich is known for books such as USA TODAY best-sellers "Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America," "Bait and Switch: The (Futile) Pursuit of the American Dream," and most recently, "Natural Causes," released in 2018. 

But in a since-deleted xenophobic tweet, Ehrenreich made a comment about fellow author Marie Kondo that quickly went viral. 

Kondo is the author of "The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up" and "Spark Joy," both international bestselling books. Kondo, who is Japanese, is also the star of a new Netflix show, "Tidying Up with Marie Kondo," in which she used a translator to communicate with English-speaking clients. 

"I will be convinced that America is not in decline only when our de-cluttering guru Marie Kondo learns to speak English." Ehrenreich tweeted at 11:05 a.m. Monday.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171150 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171150 0
In Upcoming Documentary, Henry Louis Gates hopes to enlighten Americans about Reconstruction Historian Henry Louis Gates can trace the roots of his upcoming PBS documentary about the Reconstruction to his days in school, when he’d hear about the end of slavery during the Civil War, then virtually nothing about race relations until the civil rights movement in the middle of the 20th Century.

“It led me to think, if Lincoln freed the slaves, why did we need a civil rights movement?” the Harvard historian said at a news conference on Saturday.

The answer arrives April 9 with the Gates-produced, four-hour “Reconstruction: America After the Civil War,” which he hopes enlightens people to what he believes is one of the least understood periods of the nation’s history.

Freeing blacks in the South had a brief and dramatic impact on society. Within two years, about 80 percent of freed blacks in the former Confederacy were registered to vote — a greater participation level by percentage than blacks have today, Gates said.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171142 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171142 0
Leonard Dinnerstein, 84, Dies; Scholar of Anti-Semitism in U.S. Leonard Dinnerstein, a historian whose doctoral dissertation on the 1915 lynching of Leo Frank, a Jewish factory manager, in Atlanta heralded his career as one of the nation’s foremost scholars of anti-Semitism, died on Jan. 22 at his home in Tucson. He was 84.

The cause was complications of kidney failure, his daughter, Julie Dinnerstein, said. He had spent most of his academic career at the University of Arizona in Tucson.

Professor Dinnerstein was a young scholar who had completed postgraduate course work at Columbia University in 1963 and was gravitating toward a thesis topic on political history when his wife proposed a more contemporary subject, like civil rights.

His adviser approved, he recalled, and as he was leaving the building following their meeting an acquaintance reminded him that “the Jews were involved in civil rights before it became a Negro issue,” he would later write. Another friend suggested that the topic be narrowed further to Leo Frank.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171135 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171135 0
Burins R. Morris on what Carter G. Woodson would want Americans to do for Black History Month The official theme of Black History Month 2019, “Black Migrations,” is a fitting one: not only is migration one of today’s most pressing political issues, but it’s also a key part of the annual observance’s own history.

Black History Month’s roots can be traced to the Great Migration of the early 20th century, during which millions of African Americans from the South moved to the northern cities hoping for better job opportunities. In 1918, Carter G. Woodson published his book A Century of Negro Migration, which argued that the Great Migration represented a “new phase of Negro American life which will doubtless prove to be the most significant event in our local history since the Civil War.” The book helped put Woodson on the map, and less than a decade later — as literacy rates were on the rise among black populations in those cities — he was instrumental in establishing Negro History Week, the predecessor to Black History Month.

With February approaching, TIME talked to Burnis R. Morris, author of the recently published Carter G. Woodson: History, The Black Press, and Public Relations and a Professor of Journalism and Mass Communications at Marshall University, about Woodson’s legacy.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171133 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171133 0
‘It’s a Beatle haircut’: historian claims 15th-century portrait is from the 1960s To the National Gallery, the man depicted in the masterpiece that hangs in its gallery of 15th-century treasures is a holy man, possibly a saint, reading a legal text. And the portrait is believed – at least by the gallery’s experts – to have been created in the workshop of the Netherlandish painter Rogier van der Weyden.

But to one leading art historian, it is nothing of the sort. Instead, it is a 20th-century fake, of an unknown man sporting a Beatles-style haircut and reading a paper containing nothing more than nonsense.

And, claims Christopher Wright, an old-masters scholar, its likely creator is Eric Hebborn, the greatest forger of modern times. Wright is challenging the attribution of A Man Reading, possibly Saint Ivo, which the gallery label dates to “about 1450”. 

He told the Observer that the picture “screams” the 1960s, and that Hebborn had repeatedly claimed authorship – before denying it.

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171131 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171131 0
NPR Creates First History Podcast: 'Throughline' Throughline, the newest addition to NPR's podcast roster, provides the history we sometimes forget — or didn't know in the first place — of events in the news and ideas dominating our national conversations. Through cinematic and sound-rich storytelling, hosts Rund Abdelfatah and Ramtin Arablouei will give you the story and perspectives often missing from history textbooks to help you understand our world today.

Beginning February 7, Throughline will explain how the U.S. overthrew Iran's democratic government and changed the world; unpack how conspiracy theories shaped American political culture; explore the tradition of black athletes using their platform to protest injustice, and more.

"In Throughline, Rund and Ramtin will explain the history that underpins everything happening in this moment," said Anya Grundmann, senior vice president for programming and audience development. "We hope that Throughline will allow people to take a step back from the blinding speed of the news cycle and absorb, more profoundly, the historical context at play. Rund and Ramtin are two of our most charismatic and talented young producers and we're excited for them to come at this with a unique perspective and experience."

Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171120 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171120 0
Does democracy need truth? A conversation with historian Sophia Rosenfeld Ever since Donald Trump announced his Presidential candidacy, in June of 2015, there has been considerable concern about whether his allergy to truth is endangering American democracy. Without a public sphere dominated by agreed-upon-facts, many say, a healthy society—and wise polity—become impossible to sustain. In her new book, “Democracy and Truth: A Short History,” Sophia Rosenfeld, a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania, argues that the relationship between truth and democracy was fraught for centuries before the time of Twitter and Trump. “Does democratic politics really ‘need truth to do its business well,’ as some have recently claimed?” she asks in the book. In addition to trying to answer that question, she argues that questions of truth have always been litigated and disputed, and that a politics dominated by shared notions of the truth has never really existed.

With Trump halfway through his four-year term in office, it seemed like a good time to talk about the state of truth in American society, so I called up Rosenfeld. During our conversation, which has been edited and condensed for clarity, we discussed whether it is healthy for a democratic society to debate issues like evolution and global warming, why people distrust experts, and whether public fact-checking is a good solution to the problem of fake news.


Sun, 17 Feb 2019 04:42:46 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171105 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/171105 0