Blogs > Cliopatria > Still More Noted

Mar 13, 2007 5:19 am

Still More Noted

Members of the American Historical Association have ratified the Resolution on United States Government Practices Inimical to the Values of the Historical Profession. Just under 15% of its members cast 1550 votes favoring and 498 opposing the resolution. AHA Today and Inside Higher Ed have the story.

Tony Horwitz,"American Schemers," Washington Post, 11 March, reviews Karen Ordahl Kupperman's The Jamestown Project, Benjamin Woolley's Savage Kingdom: The True Story of Jamestown, 1607, and the Settlement of America, and Tom Hashaw, The Birth of Black America: The First African Americans and the Pursuit of Freedom at Jamestown.

Victor Sonkin,"Alice's New Adventures," Moscow Times, 9 March, tells the strange story of how Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland came to the Soviet Union. Hat tip.

Michiko Kakutani,"Triumph of Willful Blindness to the Horror of History," NY Times, 13 March, and Judith Thurman,"Where There's a Will: The Rise of Leni Riefenstahl," New Yorker, 19 March, review Steven Bach, Leni: The Life and Work of Leni Riefenstahl, and Jürgen Trimborn, Leni Riefenstahl: A Life.

Eric Arnesen,"Examining the Political Radicalism of Martin Luther King, Jr.," Chicago Tribune, 11 March, reviews Thomas F. Jackson, From Civil Rights to Human Rights: Martin Luther King, Jr., and the Struggle for Economic Justice and Michael K. Honey's Going Down Jericho Road: The Memphis Strike, Martin Luther King's Last Campaign. Hat tip.

Cathy Young,"The Impact of Academic Bias: Professors Do Lean to the Left – but are students listening?" Reason, 8 March, argues that intellectual diversity is essential for the vitality of academic communities. Hat tip.

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Maarja Krusten - 3/13/2007

It is difficult to log off on a Smartphone. The screen is small and the keyboard tiny. As they say often in Washington, "mistakes were made." Nevertheless, I accept the rebuke about double posting. You drew my attention to some the SMU issues and you also post about Presidential records from time to time on Cliopatria. I don't mind dropping your blog from my reading list, however, as my discussing issues relating to Presidential records in detail seems to be such an irritant to you. I'll miss reading what your colleagues Dr. Howard and Dr. Chamberlain have to say, I've enjoyed much of what they write about. Nice models of thoughtful academic writing in some of their essays.

Ralph E. Luker - 3/13/2007

Maarja, Please show some restraint. You have double-posted here a link to things that you've posted elsewhere on HNN. You are the only person I know of at HNN who can carry on a full-scale conversation with herself at considerable length and multiple comments. Several of us have suggested to you that you should set up a blog of your own, where you can discuss the issues that interest you at whatever length you care to do. I don't mean to be rude, but we do not need to be directed from one of your comments to another and from it to yet a third.

Maarja Krusten - 3/13/2007

I had not looked for some time at comments under the article I posted on HNN in January, “Look Before You Leap Into Presidential Libraries.” I first saw today the late comment posted there by Dr. Susanne Johnson in February 19. This appears to be the Susanne Johnson who is an Associate Professor of Christian Education at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology, as she refers in her comment to “our letter” to President Turner at SMU and to “we faculty members.” See;bheaders=1#105771 
I saw this for the first time today after I posted on Cliopatria this morning about Presidential records. I had noted in the comments section of my January article on Presidential Libraries that I took no position on whether SMU should be the site for the Bush Presidential Library. Nor do I take a position on the Institute that will report to the Bush Foundation. As a Fed, my focus is on what I know: statutory controls, the role of the National Archives, and its representation in court by lawyers, the top of whose reporting chain is the Attorney General. My post above refers to varying views and approaches. Since Susanne Johnson’s comment was posted long after my article went up in January, and you may have missed it, I pass it on as an illustration of how people may differ in their focus and approach to issues relating to Presidential records.

I cannot ensure the integrity of the academy, as she asks of me, because I’m not an academic. My 34 years of service have all been federal. As a public servant, my focus is on the good federal archivists I left behind at NARA and on records.

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Maarja Krusten - 3/13/2007

Dr. Luker, you may remember that in 2004 we exchanged some comments on historians and how Presidents may come to view them.

I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts and those of Cliopatria's many readers on coincidence that the AHA announced the passage of the resolution at the same time that historians are being urged to support legislation affecting the Presidential Records Act. Purely coincidental, of course, but having spent hours during the 1980s as a NARA employee, listening to Richard Nixon's then unreleased tapes and H. R. "Bob" Haldeman's recorded diaries, my mind flashed back this morning to comments back then showing President Nixon writing off people in fields such as the arts as "not our people."

Drawing on Haldeman's diaries, which Bob had expected NARA would release but he ended up publishing himself, Richard Jensen later referred to one such comment in an article from 1995, "The Culture Wars, 1965-1995: A Historian's Map." Unfortunately, Dr. Jensen's footnote refers to Haldeman diary entries from November 11 and 20, 1972 that appear on the now largely inaccessible CD-ROM version of the full diary issued by Sony in 1994, not the abridged hard copy book. (I mentioned this in the interesting comments traded over the weekend about digitization.) H. R. Haldeman told me about his plans to use new technology to publish the diaries. It seemed like a great idea at the time. I still can access Sony's Haldeman CD; not many others, including those working in univesity libraries, can, for the reasons I explained over the weeked.

But that is a side issue. I notice you linked earlier this month to an item about the Presidential Records Act. I'll ask a question I once asked on H-Diplo. If any readers of Cliopatria could sit down with President Bush and discuss the transfer of his records to the National Archives, how would you explain your desire to see what is in them?

Another way to look at this, if these were the records of your work, as opposed to a President's activities, what arguments would resonate with you from those seeking access to them, and what conditions or actions by those seeking access would make you hesitate to throw them open?