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  • Originally published 09/05/2017

    The Relevance of History

    Rick Shenkman

    History's never been more relevant.  That's something all of us need to acknowledge, even the president.

  • Originally published 03/09/2016

    Why Historians Should Teach the Future

    Peter Bishop, David Hochfelder, Joe Sears, and David Staley

    "We teach about the past, don’t we? Why can’t we teach about the future?”

  • Originally published 11/16/2015

    The Story Trap

    Philip Ball

    We use neat stories to explain everything from sports matches to symphonies. Is it time to leave the nursery of the mind?

  • Originally published 01/14/2015

    Thomas Fleming: What I'm Reading (Interview)

    Tiffany April Griffin

    Why did he choose history as a career?  "History seems to have chosen me.  My ambition was to be a novelist. To support my wife and 4 children, I worked as a magazine editor." Then he wrote a history essay people liked. And that was that.

  • Originally published 09/16/2014

    Why we're still fighting over U.S. history

    Nathan Pippenger

    There’s trouble afoot in Texas, where a recent watchdog review of proposed new social studies textbooks for Grades 6-12 has found a whole slew of problems.

  • Originally published 04/08/2014

    OAH 2014: Get Ready!

    Rick Shenkman

    The annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians begins Wednesday.  

  • Originally published 04/02/2014

    Why science is better than history

    Tom Chivers

    You're probably going to get through about 1,000 books in your 4,000 weeks on earth--and you want to read history?

  • Originally published 03/11/2014

    History as a Collaborative Effort

    Karen Avrich

    Karen Avrich co-wrote "Sasha and Emma: the Anarchist Odyssey of Alexander Berkman and Emma Goldman" with her late father, Paul Avrich of Queens College.

  • Originally published 10/22/2013

    'In a Starving, Bleeding, Captive Land'

    Ta-Nehisi Coates

    Ta-Nehisi Coates admires Tony Judt's opus "Postwar" for its criticism of the "clean" political ideology of World War II and its aftermath.

  • Originally published 08/12/2013

    Catherine O’Donnell: History is Useful Tool, Not Answer to Every Problem

    Catherine O’Donnell is an associate history professor at Arizona State University.I am an historian with a secret. I don’t think studying the past tells us what to do in the present.I should qualify that: If you are considering whether to invade Russia in winter, history provides the answer.But I object when voices from across the political spectrum claim history tells us the answer to more complex questions: what our tax policy should be, why a specific crime happened and, most disturbingly, which political views prove us to be good citizens and which reveal us to be bad ones....

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Matthew Kirschenbaum: How Can We Preserve Software for Future Historians?

    Matthew Kirschenbaum is associate professor of English at the University of Maryland. He is currently completing a book titled Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing for Harvard University Press....[What is] software? Is it just the code, or is it also the shrink-wrapped artifact, complete with artwork, documentation, and “feelies,” extras like faux maps or letters that would become part of the play of a game? Is it the program or the operating system? What about the hardware? The firmware? What about controllers and other peripherals integral to the experience of a given piece of software? How to handle all the different versions and iterations of software? What about fan-generated add-ons like mods and macros? What about discussion boards and strategy guides and blogs and cheat sheets, all of which capture the lively communities around software?More simply: What do we save, and how do we save it?...

  • Originally published 07/18/2013

    Network of Concerned Historians releases 2013 report

    The Network of Concerned Historians, a Dutch-based advocacy group, released its 2013 report on history and human rights on Thursday.The report covers 97 countries and criticizes the United States for its failure to prosecute alleged human rights violations under the George W. Bush administration, as well as the suppression of evidence of Soviet war crimes by President Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II.The CIA and the Pentagon also come under scrutiny. In May 2012, the CIA refused to declassify part of its official internal history of the Bay of Pigs invasion, though the legal case is now under review, while the Pentagon censored 198 passages in Anthony Shaffer's Operation Dark Heart, a memoir of an intelligence officer in Afghanistan.

  • Originally published 07/17/2013

    First Nations children used in experiments in 1940s

    Aboriginal children were deliberately starved in the 1940s and ’50s by government researchers in the name of science.Milk rations were halved for years at residential schools across the country.Essential vitamins were kept from people who needed them.Dental services were withheld because gum health was a measuring tool for scientists and dental care would distort research.For over a decade, aboriginal children and adults were unknowingly subjected to nutritional experiments by Canadian government bureaucrats....

  • 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 05/16/2013

    Historian publishes Coca Cola's 'secret formula'

    Safely guarded in an air-conditioned vault in Atlanta, Georgia, lies one of western society's most valuable artefacts.So valuable, that its owner could lose millions if anyone so much as got a look at it.That's what Coca-Cola would have us believe anyway, claiming the only original copy of the soft drink's top-secret recipe lies underneath its US headquarters.But one man is threatening to lift this veil of secrecy this week as he claims to publish a copy of the original formula in a new book....

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Preservation Virginia releases its annual list of ‘most endangered’ places, sites

    RICHMOND, Va. — Preservation Virginia’s annual most endangered list includes Arlington National Cemetery, a network of rural schools that aimed to improve educational opportunities for young black students in rural areas, and Manassas Battlefield.The private, non-profit preservation group on Monday identified eight places, buildings and sites that it concludes face “imminent or sustained” threats, even to the point of their survival in some cases. The threats include planned roads, neglect or development....— Arlington National Cemetery, threatened by the 27-acre Millennium Project expansion. It would disrupt the cemetery’s surroundings and destroy a 12-acre section of Arlington House Woods, as well as its old-growth hardwoods and a historic boundary wall.— Rosenwalds Schools, a rural school building program by Julius Rosenwald to provide a better public education to African-American students in the segregated South. A total 381 of the schools were built in Virginia. They are now threatened with demolition and neglect....

  • Originally published 05/12/2013

    Tristram Hunt: History is Where the Great Battles of Public Life are Now Being Fought

    Tristram Hunt is Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central. He is the author of The English Civil War: At First Hand and the critically acclaimed Building Jerusalem: The Rise and Fall of the Victorian City. A regular history broadcaster, he has authored numerous radio and television series for the BBC and Channel 4. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a trustee of the Heritage Lottery Fund.The bullish Harvard historian Niall Ferguson cut an unfamiliar, almost meek figure last week. As reports of his ugly suggestion that John Maynard Keynes's homosexuality had made the great economist indifferent to the prospects of future generations surged across the blogosphere, Ferguson wisely went for a mea culpa.So, in a cringeing piece for Harvard University's student magazine, the professor, who usually so enjoys confronting political correctness, denied he was homophobic or, indeed, racist and antisemitic for good measure.

  • Originally published 05/10/2013

    Eric Jaffe: Why Historical Maps Still Matter

    With 150,000 or so old print maps to his name, David Rumsey has earned his reputed place among the world's "finest private collectors." But the 69-year-old San Francisco collector doesn't have any intention of resting on his cartographic laurels. He continues to expand his personal trove as well as the digitized sub-collection he makes open to the public online — some 38,000 strong, and growing."I'm pretty old for a geek map guy," he says. "But I stay young by embracing new technologies all the time."

  • Originally published 05/09/2013

    Hugo Schwyzer: I Teach a College Class on How to Think and Talk About Pornography

    Hugo Schwyzer teaches history and gender studies at Pasadena City College.  He is co-author of Beauty, Disrupted: A Memoir."What do you study in a 'porn class'?" I've gotten that question almost daily since "Navigating Pornography"—a humanities course I offer at Pasadena City College—received national attention in the aftermath of a controversial classroom visit in February by adult superstar James Deen. The queries have grown even more frequent since last week's widely covered announcement that Porn Studies, a new periodical devoted to the study of "cultural products and services designated as pornographic" will make its debut in 2014.

  • Originally published 05/02/2013

    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 04/01/2013

    Dan Jones: How ‘Game of Thrones’ Is (Re)Making History

    Dan Jones is the author of “The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings And Queens Who Made England” (Viking), to be published on April 22.Is it possible for a historian to dig “Game of Thrones”? Short answer: yes. The new season of the HBO smash premieres tonight – and while it is the sight of dragons in flight and white walkers on the prowl that excites the fantasy heads, it is the show’s deep roots in “real” history that has given the show such huge crossover appeal.There have been plenty of successful fantasy shows on the major cable networks in the last two decades of television. The staple subject matter is vampires and werewolves (“Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “True Blood,” “The Vampire Diaries”), but successful shows have also been spun out of time travel (“Doctor Who”), Greek mythology (“Xena: Warrior Princess”) and a cryptic meditation on the potential permeability of spacetime (“Lost”).

  • Originally published 03/26/2013

    William Murchison: What Texas Won’t Teach

    William Murchison is a nationally syndicated columnist and longtime commentator on politics, religion, and society.We know, axiomatically, how it is with victors in one cause and another—they claim the spoils and write the history; in the latter case, untangling heroism from villainy, assigning significance to the outcomes, defining challenges still to come.Why wonder (to the extent anyone does these days) that from many a seat in the modern classroom, America seems strikingly different from the star-spangled nation generally on view during—oh, I don’t know, the early ‘60s might do as point of departure. That was the era in which I occupied my own seat in the history classrooms of the University of Texas (currently called, due to system expansion, the University of Texas-Austin).A few years after my graduation, with a history B.A., followed by study at Stanford for the history Master of Arts, came the tempests and upheavals of the Vietnam war-counterculture era, whose victors were… guess who?

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Paul Harvey: U. of Colorado Appoints “Scholar of Conservative Thought”

    Paul Harvey runs the blog Religion in American History and teaches history at the University of Colorado.Thursday, the flagship campus of the university where I teach, the University of Colorado, announced its first Visiting Scholar of Conservative Thought, part of a three-year, privately-funded pilot effort to “broaden intellectual diversity” at the school.Similar efforts are underway elsewhere, including proposals to establish Centers for Western Civilization, new Great Books programs, and the like. Funders typically want to expand beyond their cadre of scholars at smaller universities and private colleges (such as Hillsdale) and push their ideas in the highest reaches of the academic world, at the research universities and in the Ivy League. But of course, even a cursory look at George W. Bush’s cabinet and policy advisors—from Donald Kagan, professor of classics and history at Yale, to economist Glenn Hubbard at Columbia—would suggest that there’s a deeper bench of conservative academics at the most elite institutions than commonly alleged.

  • Originally published 03/19/2013

    Slaves’ forgotten burial sites, marked online

    They have been bulldozed over by shopping centers, crept over by weeds and forgotten by time. Across the country, from Lower Manhattan to the Deep South, are unmarked slave burial sites, often discovered only by chance or by ignominious circumstance as when construction crews accidentally exhume bodies when building a shopping mall.Compounding the problem of preserving and locating slave graveyards, there is no comprehensive list of where they are and who lies within them. The situation troubled Sandra Arnold, 50, a history student at the School of Professional and Continuing Studies at Fordham University, who traces her ancestry to slaves in Tennessee.“The fact that they lie in these unmarked abandoned sites,” Ms. Arnold said, “it’s almost like that they are kind of vanishing from the American consciousness.”...

  • Originally published 03/14/2013

    Retirees today leave behind a historians' treasure trove of documentation

    NO one will confuse typical retirees today with the Emperor Augustus, who constructed a huge mausoleum to celebrate his life for eternity. And yet they belong to the first generation of elders within easy grasp of something once so rare and valuable that relatively few historic figures could enjoy it until now: virtual immortality.Where their grandparents may have left behind a few grainy photos, a death certificate or a record from Ellis Island, retirees today have the ability to leave a cradle-to-grave record of their lives. Their descendants will be able to witness births and first steps, Pee Wee football games and grade school dance recitals, high school graduations, wedding ceremonies, first homes, vacations and family reunions. They will also be able to read their opinions on politics and religion, know that they loved the music of Junior Kimbrough, the films of Billy Wilder, the New York Yankees and mint chocolate chip ice cream.Ancestors from the distant past are, at best, names in the family Bible. Fifty, 100, even 500 years hence people will be able to see how their forebears looked and moved, hear them speak, learn about their aspirations and achievements and that sizzling ski trip to Vermont....

  • Originally published 02/07/2013

    Archaeology volunteers can help uncover history in UK

    Researchers’ recent confirmation that a body long hidden under a municipal parking lot is King Richard III will no doubt stir interest in British archaeology — as it should. While X never marks the spot and you’re unlikely to unearth an undiscovered king, Britain’s long history means that almost anywhere you plant a shovel, there’s history to be found.From Iron Age forts to Victorian gardens, hundreds of archaeological digs are happening in Britain at any given time – and many of them welcome volunteer diggers to help uncover the past. Instead of just visiting Britain’s ancient churches, villages and stone circles, you could be part of the teams that are discovering new sites and artifacts every day. Just get ready for a little hard work....

  • Originally published 01/29/2013

    New British citizenship test puts emphasis on history, culture and even humor

    LONDON — What does it mean to be British? Monarchs, Margaret Thatcher and Monty Python are all important parts of the nation’s heritage, according to a new guide for immigrants introduced Monday.The government is revising the “Life in the U.K.” handbook and test taken by those seeking to become British citizens or settle here permanently.While the previous version — created under the former Labour government — included some practical questions about daily life, the emphasis is now firmly on British history and culture. There are questions on sports, music and historical figures from William Shakespeare to Winston Churchill....

  • Originally published 01/28/2013

    Nell Irvin Painter Bids Farewell to the Past

    In 2005 the prize-winning historian Nell Irvin Painter put down her pen and picked up a paintbrush.After 17 years at Princeton University, the publication of seven groundbreaking books, and terms at the helms of two prestigious historical associations, Ms. Painter said goodbye to all that. She retired at 62 and spent $150,000 to pursue a bachelor-of-fine-arts degree from Rutgers University, followed by an M.F.A. from the Rhode Island School of Design, in 2011.And although she received a Centennial Medal that same year from the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences for her historical work, the former professor, once described by some peers as an imperious trouble­maker who refused to be boxed in, is not particularly interested in returning to the ivory tower.In an interview here at her art studio, a few blocks from Penn Station, Ms. Painter, who is now 70, describes having given away all the books in her library. She says she'll never write another word of history....

  • Originally published 07/26/2017

    Conversations About Health Care

    Steve Hochstadt

    The creators of our nation believed that “Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness” were the most important universal rights to be protected by government. It’s not clear what led Thomas Jefferson to elevate the pursuit of happiness to an inalienable right. If that phrase means anything, it must include government participation in our efforts to stay healthy. How can anyone be happy who can’t pay for health care they need?

  • Originally published 07/18/2016

    Future Shock and History

    Jim Loewen

    From the late Alvin Toffler historians can learn a lesson:  Their work should take the future into account. 

  • Originally published 05/22/2016

    The Secrets of the Woman in Hitler’s Bathtub

    Gil Troy

    Discovered for her beauty when she was almost run over, Lee Miller went on to have one of the greatest careers that was later undermined by the horror she saw and experienced.

  • Originally published 08/26/2015

    How Do We See the Poor?

    Steve Hochstadt

    It doesn’t do Democrats any good to advocate for the poor. They don’t make the giant political contributions that keep the Republican machine going. They don’t vote as often as the people who make those contributions. They don’t staff the offices of lobbyists in Washington. They don’t hobnob with candidates at fancy dinners. There is no quid pro quo for helping “the most vulnerable”, except the feeling that it’s the right thing to do.