• Lizabeth Cohen Reviews "Myth America"

    Although it was inspired by the battles over history encouraged by the Trump administration and the MAGA movement, a new book of essays on historical mythmaking actually shows that spinning the past to serve a present agenda is nothing new. For historians, the task isn't just fact-finding, but offering compelling interpretations. 

  • Kruse and Zelizer: History is a Battleground

    Is it reasonable for historians to "stick to the facts" and hope the truth will win out when political partisans are cherry-picking the past for justification of radical agendas in the present?

  • New Anthology Mistakes the Roots of the Problem as "Misinformation" Rather than Power

    by Paul M. Renfro and Matthew E. Stanley

    The new "Myth America" offers insight into some recurrent myths about history from some excellent scholars, but it hews too closely to the idea that historical lies are a Trumpian phenomenon, rather than a broader aspect of the pursuit and consolidation of power for MAGA and New Democrats alike. 

  • Has Magellan's Time for Debunking Arrived?

    by Felipe Fernández-Armesto

    The historical record shows Magellan was an exemplar of the imperialist impulses for which other European explorers have been recently castigated. Myths about Magellan's achievements, intentions, and actions have, thus far, shielded him from such reevaluation. 

  • What "Forget the Alamo" Forgets

    by James W. Russell

    "Forget the Alamo" is ultimately constrained by American unwillingness to fully deal with the reality that the US forcibly stole Texas and the southwest from Mexico.

  • A Mansion Sale Built on the Myth of a Notorious Cow

    The Chicago Fire of 1871 has been the wellspring of plenty of myths. A real estate listing for a southside mansion is just the latest. Historians Carl Smith and Ann Durkin Keating comment. 

  • How We Lie to Ourselves About History

    At its best, the "You're Wrong About" podcast transcends fact-checking and debunking to ask why so many of the stories we know are wrong, and why they persist nevertheless. 

  • There's More to the Story About General Pershing's Campaign Against Muslims

    by Paul A. Kramer

    Donald Trump's claims were debunked.  But what the commentators tended to underplay or overlook was that Pershing, while he did not order the shooting of prisoners as far as we know, did participate in forms of warfare that used pigs and the threat of pigs to spread terror in Moro society.

  • Thomas Bailey Project: Historical Myths to Beware Of!

    by HNN Editor

    In the spirit of historian Thomas Bailey, whenever we come across articles in either scholarly journals or the media that purport to debunk myths of history we will post them on the site. They'll be listed here.

  • Why Students Should Stop Interviewing Vietnam Veterans

    by Jerry Lembcke

    Credit: Vietnam Veterans Against the War.It’s that time of the year: Hi, my name is Emily and I’m supposed to interview a Vietnam veteran for my AP history class. Hello, I’m Chris and my senior project is on the Vietnam War. Do you know any veterans I could talk to? Dear Veterans, I’m studying the Vietnam War and I would like to know how you were treated when you came home. Could I ask you some questions? Thank you for your service, Jason.Sometimes the inquiries arrive through the listservs of veterans’ organizations; others find their way to me more directly. They become more frequent in the months when the high school history curriculums reach the spring events that ended the war in 1975. The approach of Memorial Day in late May sustains interest in the war through the end of the school year.

  • “Grandma Did What?” Digging Up the Roots of Family Lore

    Researching one’s family tree has become a popular pastime, partly because parents want to pass on family stories to their kids, to give them a deeper sense of identity and history.Many old family legends, however, are at least partly false.Megan Smolenyak, a genealogist and author of “Hey, America, Your Roots Are Showing,” says the stories passed down by families are often rooted in one of several common misperceptions. She summarizes them this way:“Three brothers came to America; one went north, one went south and one went west.” Many people assume they have family ties to large numbers of widely dispersed people with the same surname, but DNA testing and other genealogical tools often disprove it....

  • Top 5 Myths About the Fourth of July!

    by Rick Shenkman

    Credit: Wiki Commons.#1 Independence Was Declared on the Fourth of July.America's independence was actually declared by the Continental Congress on July 2, 1776. The night of the second the Pennsylvania Evening Post published the statement:"This day the Continental Congress declared the United Colonies Free and Independent States."So what happened on the Glorious Fourth? The document justifying the act of Congress-you know it as Thomas Jefferson's Declaration of Independence-was adopted on the fourth, as is indicated on the document itself, which is, one supposes, the cause for all the confusion. As one scholar has observed, what has happened is that the document announcing the event has overshadowed the event itself.When did Americans first celebrate independence? Congress waited until July 8, when Philadelphia threw a big party, including a parade and the firing of guns. The army under George Washington, then camped near New York City, heard the new July 9 and celebrated then. Georgia got the word August 10. And when did the British in London finally get wind of the declaration? August 30.