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David Austin Walsh

  • Originally published 08/04/2013

    Jennifer Polk: "Recent PhDs Need to Have Their Confidence Boosted"

    David Austin Walsh

    The academc job market remains in the doldrums. Recent PhDs continue to outstrip new positions, and the adjunctification of higher ed. in general -- and historians in particular -- continues unabated. It's not surprising, then, that a growing contingent of recent PhDs are standing athwart academic history yelling 'stop!'

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Report: Adjunct Historians Very Much at Bottom of the Barrel

    David Austin Walsh

    Credit: Flickr/Derek Bridges.Adjunct history faculty face heavy workloads, low pay, and poor working conditions, according a new report prepared for the Organization of American Historians.“Adjunct and contingent faculty have a very, very desperate sense of their future,” Edward Reiner, the report's primary author, said in a phone interview. “The consensus, particularly within the humanities, is that adjuncts are treated very poorly, and most never see full-time employment.”

  • Originally published 07/14/2013

    Ray Begovich: How I Found Rare Footage of FDR in a Wheelchair

    David Austin Walsh

    Ray Begovich, a journalism professor at Franklin College in Franklin, Indiana, has announced that he has discovered an eight-second clip of FDR being pushed in his wheelchair aboard the cruiser U.S.S. Baltimore in July 1944.

  • Originally published 07/03/2013

    Why Doesn't D.C. Have a Military Parade on the Fourth of July?

    David Austin Walsh

    On Bastille Day in Paris, the trees lining the Champs-Élysées are covered in the French tricolor. Battalion after battalion of French troops march down the avenue, gleaming bayonets attached to their Space Age rifles. Tanks, armored cars, and nuclear missiles roll past a viewing stand where the French president and his generals look on as martial music plays.It's one of the largest military parades in the world, and it's been going on nearly every year since 1880 (except from 1940-1944, for obvious reasons). Here's what it looks like:Here's what the Fourth of July parade down Constitution Ave. in Washington, D.C. looks like:

  • Originally published 06/30/2013

    The Battle of Gettysburg at 150

    David Austin Walsh

    Hancock at Gettysburg by Thure de Thulstrup. Credit: Wiki Commons.The Battle of Gettysburg marks its 150th anniversary this week (so does the Union victory at the siege of Vicksburg, but good luck seeing anything about that in the media).To mark the occasion, we've assembled a list of resources -- digital collections, books, and news stories -- about the battle and the Civil War that are worth closer examination.And of course, please share your favorite Civil War books in the comments! We're pretty well read here at HNN, but considering that the amount of works published on the Civil War easily numbers in the tens of thousands, we certainly haven't read (or even heard of) them all!Digital Resources

  • Originally published 06/26/2013

    Historians Played Important Role in DOMA Decision

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.The Supreme Court's decision released Wednesday morning to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act in Windsor v. United States upheld upon arguments made by historians in an amicus brief filed by the American Historical Association.The majority opinion acknowledges that “[b]y history and tradition, the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.”This mirrors language in the brief filed by twenty-three historians of marriage, sexuality, and constitutional law, which stated in its introduction that “[c]ontrol of marital status is reserved to the states in our federal system. Marriage has always been understood as a civil contract embodying a couple’s free consent to join in long-lasting intimate and economic union.”

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Eric Foner: VRA Decision "Green Light" to Disenfranchise Voters

    David Austin Walsh

    Lyndon B. Johnson signs the Voting Rights Act as Martin Luther King, Jr. looks on. Credit: Wiki Commons.The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, has struck down the critical Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, the landmark 1965 legislation that banned discriminatory practices in federal, state, and local election laws.The Voting Rights Act was formulated to target areas with a history of poll tests and historically low registration and turnout for federal oversight. Jurisdictions that fall under the Act's authority are required to pre-clear changes in local election laws with the federal government,Section 4 determined the mechanism of determining the target areas; Section 5 of the Act, which provides for the actual pre-clearance requirement itself, was not ruled upon by the Court.In his majority opinion Chief Justice John Roberts wrote“today the nation is no longer divided along those lines, yet the Voting Rights Act continues to treat it as if it were.”

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    Gilder Lehrman and Dickinson College Partner for Lincoln Online Course

    David Austin Walsh

    Abraham Lincoln in 1865.With all the digital ink spilt over massive open online courses recently, it's easy to forget that while all MOOCs are online courses, not all online courses are MOOCs.Take “Understanding Lincoln,” a new online course co-sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute Dickinson College. The course, led by Lincoln scholar Matthew Pinsker, will offer a hybrid approach – a smaller seminar section with a hundred-student enrollment cap, direct access to Professor Pinkser and Gilder Lehrman staff, and the opportunity to interact with other students in digital forums.For-credit students will pay $450 and receive three graduate credits at Dickinson, which can be used as transfer credit at other institutions.For those interested in enrichment, a free section featuring lectures and readings will also be available, along with a certificate of completion for those who finish the course.

  • Originally published 06/18/2013

    American Heritage to Subscribers: Sorry, No Refunds

    David Austin Walsh

    American Heritage magazine, the embattled quarterly history periodical that suspended print publication in the fall of 2012, is not currently issuing refunds to its 120,000 subscribers, a spokesperson has told HNN.“We're currently restructuring the organization, trying to balance between the non-profit and publishing entities,” said Lee Sutton, online and editorial associate for the magazine. Mr. Sutton said he was not sure about the company's future plans for either refunding subscribers or resumption of publication of the magazine.Mr. Sutton referred our inquiry to the vice president of administration, who did not respond to HNN as of press time.Subscribers are not happy. “I paid for a two-year subscription and received two issues,” wrote one commentator. “No response from AH to my emails. Just hoping someone will take them to court to get our refunds. I used to have respect for AH magazine and its owners.”

  • Originally published 06/18/2013

    Senate History Just Got a Little More Social

    David Austin Walsh

    The U.S. Senate Historical Office has just debuted a Twitter feed designed to highlight the digital collections available on its website."Technology changes," says chief Senate historian Donald Ritchie, "and we must constantly adjust" to the ever-changing demands of the public.@SenateHistory went live yesterday, and already has nearly two hundred followers. The opening tweet shone a spotlight on the office's extensive resources on the Senate Watergate committee (the infamous break-in celebrated its forty-first anniversary yesterday).Beth Hahn, historical editor at the Senate Historical Office, said that they are also considering expanding their social media presence to Facebook, as well as other platforms. "We know the National Archives has been doing a lot with Pinterest," she related. Even YouTube is not out of the question -- while most of the Senate oral histories, a major role of the office, are not videotaped, Hahn said that there's a great deal of rare and interesting footage of committee hearings -- including the Watergate hearings -- in the Senate archives.

  • Originally published 06/14/2013

    On Non-Academic Job Market, Your PhD is a Visa, Not a Passport

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.If being a professor will indeed no longer a viable career due to downward pressure from administrations and the disruptive potential of massive online open courses, as Cary Nelson darkly suggested at the American Association of Universty Professors conference in Washington, what are enterprising young graduate students and recent PhDs to do?It's not as if the state of the academic history job market right now is particularly encouraging. Despite an uptick of 18 percent in the number of jobs advertised with the American Historical Association in 2012, the number of PhD receipts for that year alone exceeded the number of job opening by nearly one-third.

  • Originally published 06/13/2013

    "Being a Professor Will No Longer Be a Viable Career."

    David Austin Walsh

    Cary Nelson at Yale in 2007. Credit: Wiki Commons.The academic freedom of professors is under siege, Cary Nelson, former president of the American Association of University Professors said during his opening remarks for that organization's annual meeting in Washington D.C. yesterday. Universities are threatening to hijack the intellectual property rights of faculty members over their course material, he argued, and the consequences of that could be extreme.“If we lose this battle for intellectual property,” Nelson said, “it's over. Being a professor will no longer be a viable career. It will be a service industry. That's it.”Nelson said that the advent of massive online open courses – commonly referred to as MOOCs – offer the potential for tremendous disruption not just in terms of jobs and educational options for students, but professors' control over their course content.

  • Originally published 06/11/2013

    Just How Many History MOOCs are Being Offered Now, Anyway?

    David Austin Walsh

    Though many historians are nervous about the potential massive disruption in higher education due to the proliferation of massive online education courses, only a handful of MOOCs are actually dedicated to history. Of four of the largest MOOC providers survey -- Coursera, edX, Udacity, and Semester Online -- only eight history courses actually taught by history faculty are being offered. Popular MOOC provider Coursera only has two dedicated history courses taught by historians open for registration as of June 9, though at least one additional class is in development.EdX, the non-profit MOOC established by Harvard and MIT, also offers eight history classes, but most have a classics or literature focus and are taught by professors from classics, English, or area studies departments. Udacity does not offer history or traditional humanities courses at all, focusing instead on STEM and social science courses.

  • Originally published 06/10/2013


    Download this backgrounder as a Word documentWorth ReadingFrank Uekoetter: Global Warming – It's 1970 All Over AgainBrian Hamilton: Making “Environmentalism” Relevant for Everyone Nancy Unger: Fifty Years After “Silent Spring,” Let's Not Roll Back Environmental Protections Background

  • Originally published 06/09/2013

    UPenn's Stephanie McCurry to Lead First MOOC on History of Slavery

    David Austin Walsh

    Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN staff.Stephanie McCurry, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and a distinguished scholar of the Civil War era, will be leading a new massive online open course this fall about the history of slavery in the United States. It will be based on her popular UPenn course, “The Rise and Fall of the Slave South,” a survey-level class.The course, which has yet to be officially titled, is the product of the partnership between UPenn and the popular MOOC provider Coursera.Professor McCurry says that she became interested in teaching a MOOC after spending three years as undergraduate chair at the university, during which she saw a decline in the number of enrollments in history classes.MOOCs offered an opportunity to shake up the field.“I became interested in pedagogical and curricular questions, and I'd already begun a series of initiatives within my department to move away from standard survey/AP-style courses.”

  • Originally published 06/03/2013

    Coursera Contract with UT System Released; History Chair Says No MOOCs at Knoxville This Fall

    David Austin Walsh

    The University of Tennessee, Knoxville, the flagship campus of the University of Tennessee system, will not be providing massive online open courses for the Silicon Valley tech startup Coursera in the coming semester, says UT Knoxville history department chair Thomas Burman.“This decision does not affect us at all,” he wrote in an email.Only two classes will be offered on the Coursera platform across the entire UT system in fall 2013: an introductory music course at the Martin campus, and freshman English composition at UT Chattanooga.The Tennessean reports that the Coursera partnership is an internal pilot program designed to familiarize faculty with online courses and new technology. The courses offered by the program will only be available on a for-credit basis to already-enrolled UT students.No history courses are planned to be offered under the program.“When the topic [of online education] came up for a wide-ranging discussion among campus leadership [in 2011],” Bruman wrote, “the widely-shared view, including among the central academic administrators, was that on-line teaching has a place in a limited number of areas here, especially in the professional schools, but is not what this campus is about.”

  • Originally published 05/31/2013

    Historians at MOOC Partner Schools Say Faculty Not Consulted

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet,” Randall Stross, a professor of business at San Jose State, wrote back in 2011, “most professors will lose their jobs.”With the proliferation of massive online open courses (MOOCs), Stross wrote in an email to HNN, that time may have come.On May 30, Coursera, the Silicon Valley MOOC provider founded by Stanford University computer scientists in 2012, announced that it had just signed agreements with ten state universities systems to produce and share online courses for credit.The signatories are the University of Colorado, the University System of Georgia, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska system, the University of New Mexico system, the State University of New York system, the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system, and West Virginia University.

  • Originally published 05/30/2013

    Ten State University Systems Sign with Coursera

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.“When colleges and universities finally decide to make full use of the Internet,” Randall Stross, a professor of business at San Jose State, wrote back in 2011, “most professors will lose their jobs.”With the proliferation of massive online open courses (MOOCs), Stross wrote in an email to HNN, that time may have come.On May 30, Coursera, the Silicon Valley MOOC provider founded by Stanford University computer scientists in 2012, announced that it had just signed agreements with ten state universities systems to produce and share online courses for credit.The signatories are the University of Colorado, the University System of Georgia, the University of Houston system, the University of Kentucky, the University of Nebraska system, the University of New Mexico system, the State University of New York system, the University of Tennessee system and the Tennessee Board of Regents system, and West Virginia University.The ten state university systems serve a combined total of nearly 1.5 million students.

  • Originally published 05/14/2013

    Niall Ferguson Meets with Students; Harvard Faculty Clarify Stance

    David Austin Walsh

    Credit: Flickr.UPDATE 12:13PM: David Armitage, chair of the Harvard history department, wrote in an email to Inside Higher Ed that the department requested a "post in the modern history of gender and sexuality (jointly with Harvard's program in women and gender studies) long before the recent debate arose." He also pointed to the work of Afsaneh Najmabadi, Nancy Cott, and Laurel Thatcher Ulrich as an example of Harvard's pre-existing strength in the field of gender and sexuality studies.Historian Niall Ferguson, in an attempt to blunt criticism of his recent controversial remarks about John Maynard Keynes's sexuality, spoke on Monday to students at a lunchtime panel at the Harvard College Women's Center.

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Niall Ferguson's Harvard Colleagues Support Him, but Not LGBT Historians

    David Austin Walsh

    Credit: Wiki Commons.UPDATE 3:58PM: Don Romesburg, co-chair of the Committee on LGBT History, issued the following statement on Monday to HNN, calling for Harvard to demonstrate its commitment to taking LGBT history seriously:[Niall] Ferguson's subsequent attempts to clarify his statement unfortunately show little more understanding of the history of sexuality than his initial comment did. The Committee on LGBT History encourages him to consulting the field’s extensive scholarship, much of which our members have written, to avoid echoing unfounded and discriminatory stereotypes and to deepen his understanding and analysis of the LGBT past. Harvard should show leadership here by, at a minimum, hosting a major conference about LGBT history and encouraging Ferguson to attend. It is also high time that Harvard makes a new tenure-track hire in LGBT history. The incident has underscored the value of teaching and researching LGBT histories. This confronts ignorance about LGBT people, lives, and communities, and in the process, builds a more accurate historical record overall.

  • Originally published 05/06/2013

    Trashing Keynes for Being Gay is Nothing New

    David Austin Walsh

    J.M. Keynes (right) and Duncan Grant in 1913.Harvard economic historian Niall Ferguson told a group of financiers and investors last Saturday that John Maynard Keynes was a flawed economist who didn't care about future generations because he was childless and gay.Tom Kostigen, a reporter for Financial Advisor magazine, first reported on the story:Ferguson asked the audience [at the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad, Calif.] how many children Keynes had. He explained that Keynes had none because he was a homosexual and was married to a ballerina, with whom he likely talked of "poetry" rather than procreated. The audience went quiet at the remark. Some attendees later said they found the remarks offensive.It gets worse.

  • Originally published 05/03/2013

    American Heritage Magazine Temporarily Suspends Publication

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.If you are one of American Heritage magazine's 120,000 subscribers you may be wondering where your copy is. It wasn't lost in the mail. There hasn't been a new issue since last fall.The publication of the print edition of the magazine has been suspended, according to Edwin Grosvenor, the president and editor-in-chief of the American Heritage Publishing Company. The suspension of the magazine will be “temporary,” according to Grosvenor, as the company refocuses its mission on education and digital history.This is the second time in recent years that the storied magazine, founded in the early 1950s, has faced questions about its viability. Forbes, which previously owned American Heritage, suspended publication in the spring of 2008. Grosvenor, the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, stepped in to rescue it that fall.

  • Originally published 04/26/2013

    Historians Still Despise George W. Bush

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.Former president George W. Bush has had his best week in years. His public approval ratings have hit a seven-year high, publications around the country have published articles reassessing his legacy, and he was warmly joined by all of the living former presidents at the dedication of his new presidential library at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas.

  • Originally published 04/17/2013


    David Austin Walsh

    Download this backgrounder as a Word documentWorth ReadingRay Raphael: The Income Tax Amendment Turns One Hundred and It’s Worth CelebratingIs the Income Tax Illegal?Michael Lind: What If All Sides are Wrong about Taxes?Q&A: How FDR Built Today’s Tax SystemBackgroundHow does the federal income tax – due on April 15 each year – work in the United States?It’s complicated.

  • Originally published 04/17/2013

    Fredrik Logevall wins Pulitzer for history; Tom Reiss and Gilbert King win for biography and non-fiction

    Fredrik Logevall, John S. Knight Professor of International Studies at Cornell University, has won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for History for his book Embers of War: The Fall of an Empire and the Making of America's Vietnam, published by Random House last year.Embers of War, which the Washington Post called a "product of formidable international research ... lucidly and comprehensively composed," is a study of France's war in Vietnam, from the end of World War II to the eventual French withdrawal in 1954.Though the war was foughtly primarily between the French and their colonial auxiliaries on one side and the Viet Minh on the other, Logevall argues that the conflict was truly international in scope and American policymakers had great influence over French decisions from the very beginning. In particular, he maintains that Franklin D. Roosevelt, long an advocate of decolonization, would have pressured the French to exit Indochina in 1945, had he lived. But with Roosevelt's death and Harry Truman's de-emphasis on decolonialization and his policy of vehement anticommunism in Europe and Asia, the seeds were sown for a long, bloody conflict in Southeast Asia.

  • Originally published 04/16/2013

    Tough Times to Be Lobbying for History on Capitol Hill

    David Austin Walsh

    Image via Shutterstock.Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History, was unequivocal in his presentation Saturday at the Organization of American Historians annual meeting in San Francisco: history is in trouble on Capitol Hill.White has been the head of the NCH, the face of history in Washington, D.C. officialdom as the only dedicated advocacy for history and historical research, since 2007. With a law degree from the Catholic University of America, a master’s in history from George Mason University, and over twenty years of experience as a lobbyist, he’s no stranger to the machinations of Washington politics.

  • Originally published 04/12/2013

    Turnout Middling at OAH Meeting in San Francisco

    David Austin Walsh

    FROM SAN FRANCISCO -- San Francisco. Steep hills, charming cable cars, rolling breezes off the ocean, and people so friendly, strolling through Golden Gate Park at 9:00am on a Thursday morning will net an amiable young visitor in a tweed jacket no less than two offers for high-quality drugs.

  • Originally published 04/09/2013

    OAH 2013 Survival Guide

    David Austin Walsh

    Trains, planes, and automobiles are going to be packed with historians over the next two weeks – the Organization of American Historians kicks off its 2013 Annual Meeting in San Francisco this Thursday, April 11, and the National Council on Public History opens its conference in Ottawa next Wednesday, April 17.As always – even with the slow-motion jobs crisis in history and the humanities in general – young men and women crazy enough to pursue (or dream of pursuing) advanced degrees in history will flock to the conferences for the first time, with starry-eyed hopes of meeting the rock stars in their fields, making connections (hopefully of a non-scandalous nature), presenting their first paper in front of an academic audience, or maybe even closing the deal on that juicy tenure-track position (after all, the phone interview went really well!).

  • Originally published 02/28/2013


    David Austin Walsh

    Download this backgrounder as a World documentWorth ReadingHNN's History of Healthcare Reform http://hnn.us/articles/hnns-history-healthcare-reformNYT Times Topic: Medicare http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/health/diseasesconditionsandhealthtopics/medicare/index.html?8qaColin Gordon: “Hands Off My Medicare: The Deadly Legacy of Social Insurance” http://hnn.us/node/122017BackgroundAs people get older, they tend to get sicker. You've probably seen this yourself with your parents and grandparents. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), those 65 and older (usually called “the elderly” in the media) are nearly twice as likely to need to take pills in order to stay healthy; they are also much more likely to require hospitalization -- in fact, the CDC estimates that nearly 25 percent of those aged 65 and up are in “fair or poor health.”

  • Originally published 02/15/2013

    Russia's Other Meteor Explosions

    David Austin Walsh

    The Internet is ablaze today* over astounding pictures and video from Chelyabinsk†, a mid-sized city in Russia's Ural Mountains about a hundred miles from the border with Kazakhstan, which show what appears to be a flaming meteorite streaking across the sky before exploding at high altitude (for the latest updates on this story, check out Phil Plait's Bad Astronomy blog over at Slate). The brilliance of the object as it moved across the sky rivaled the sun, and the shock wave from the explosion below out windows in the city below, causing over 1,000 injuries.This video shows the course of the fireball across the sky:Another video, taken from a car dashboard cam:And this video, shot a few moments later, features at the 27-second mark the massive shock wave that broke thousands of windows across the region: