Dear AHA Member,
AHA news and updates for the history profession.
In this issue:
- Historical Malpractice and the Writing of Textbooks
- Calling All Contingent Faculty – Deadline: Nov. 30
- Annual Election of Officers – Deadline Tonight!
- AHA Today – Recent history news
- American Historical Review –Now Online
Please feel free to forward this e-mail to your friends and colleagues.
Program of the Annual Meeting – Now Online
Find meeting participants (conveniently linked to their paper abstracts and sessions)
More content from the print version of the Program, including information on accommodations for persons with disabilities, childcare options, committee events, things to do in Boston, and more are available online here.
2011 Annual Meeting
Preregister now for the 125th Annual Meeting in Boston, MA, January 6–9, 2011. Members can preregister by logging in to member services and clicking the link to “Meeting Registration” on the main page Members Services page. The deadline for preregistering for the annual meeting is December 22, 2010.
Registration Resource Center
The messaging function is now available in the Registration Resource Center. Log in today to contact others who have registered for the meeting or sign up to receive email or text message alerts when you have a message waiting for you. The Registration Resource Center also provides receipts and links to housing.
Are you on a search committee planning to interview at the annual meeting? Will you be arranging a private suite or using the Job Center facilities? Please log on to the Job Center page to find all the information and reservation forms you’ll need for a successful meeting. The deadline for reserving space at the Job Center is November 15, 2010.
The Job Center offers:
Rooms that can be reserved for $80 for a half-day or $140 for a full day (prepayment will be required this year)
An information center that will help your candidates find your interview location, even if it’s in a privately arranged suite
Questions? Contact Liz Townsend.
See the AHA’s Annual Meeting web page for more information on hotels, venue locations, registration, exhibit hall details, transportation, and the Job Center.
Survey on Childcare at the Annual Meeting
The Professional Division is exploring whether childcare is a barrier to participation at the annual meeting. The division is considering the feasibility of offering modest subventions of childcare costs to make the annual meeting more accessible to parents or guardians of young children.
In order to understand the potential need for this service, members of the division request that you provide answers to the following brief survey:
Your privacy will be respected and protected. Data will be reported in the aggregate and individual responses will be kept anonymous.
Each person who completes the survey will have the option to enter a random drawing to receive a $50 Amazon gift card. Information provided for the drawing will not be connected to survey results.
Please complete the questionnaire by Friday, November 5. Winners of the gift cards will be notified the following week.
Historical Malpractice and the Writing of Textbooks
By James R. Grossman
Another historical malpractice foisted upon American school children came to light in Virginia last week. Once again it comes down to whether the standards of history as a discipline mean anything in the context of elementary and secondary history education. Few of us would trust our children’s dental care to a historian. Nor do we assume that anyone who has written a book can write a math textbook, regardless of their educational credentials. But too often history seems different, subject to lower standards and inadequate review. When a history textbook for fourth graders in Virginia is found to contain falsehoods that expose incompetent research practices and insufficient understanding of professional standards, the author apparently considers “I am a fairly respected writer” to be an adequate defense. A textbook whose author cannot discern the difference between “controversial” interpretations and outright historical fallacy has no place in our classrooms. Our children deserve better.
The case at hand is straightforward. Our Virginia: Past and Present (Five Ponds Press, 2010) was approved by the Virginia Board of Education without a single historian involved in the review process. Fortunately an alert historian reviewing her daughter’s assignments noticed the glaring error: a statement that “thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” It’s not true. The reference to Jackson’s army is a total fabrication, and the broader reference to the Confederate army ignores the fact that slaves were forced into service and that there are no data available in any archive to document the statistic.
So where did author Joy Masoff (not a historian) get her information? From the Internet. More specifically, from the web site of the Sons of the Confederate Veterans. And even more specifically from a page that claims Frederick Douglass as the source for the statistic, but can’t even get his name spelled right. The relevant quotation from Douglass is taken out of context, and there are no corroborating sources.
Why does this matter? Is this simply an issue of a professional association protecting its turf?
Hardly. It matters because when we educate our children we model best practices. They learn not only from what we say, but also from what we do. So if we want to teach them how to use the Internet, how to be “information literate” in a digital world, we need to provide them with textbooks written by people who use digital sources responsibly. And any student in a relevant undergraduate history course could ascertain in less than five minutes the deficiencies of a web site that refers to Confederate soldiers protecting their region from “an illegal invasion.”
And it matters because this is not just a random misstatement, as Masoff suggested in her response to the Post reporter. This claim, and most of the putative historical information on the Sons of Confederate Veterans web site, is made in the service of demonstrating that the Civil War was not about slavery. The irony, of course, is the use of Douglass, who from the beginning knew that it was, and that it could not be otherwise.
As I worked through chains of text, trying to find documentation for Masoff’s assertion beyond the Sons of Confederate Veterans site, I kept running into the same assertion: “It has been estimated that over 65,000 Southern blacks were in the Confederate ranks.”
Estimated by whom? I tried to find out. A Google search for the string turns up not a single primary source or reputable secondary source. Facebook pages, hobbyists, Confederate apologists quoting one another. Nothing that a teacher would accept from a student research paper as a valid source. This is not providing our children with a model of historical research, use of the Internet, critical thinking, or any other educational goal.
Whether history, biology, geography, mathematics, or any other discipline: there is no excuse for dumping on our children curriculum materials that do not meet appropriate standards.
This post originally appeared on the AHA blog.
Calling All Contingent Faculty:
We Want to Know More about You
On behalf of the Coalition on the Academic Workforce (CAW), the AHA invites all historians and other faculty employed in the contingent academic workforce in U.S. colleges and universities to participate in a survey about course assignments, salaries, benefits, and general working conditions. We invite participation from all instructional and research staff members employed off the tenure track, including faculty members employed either full- or part-time, graduate students remunerated as teaching assistants or employed in other roles, and researchers and postdoctoral fellows.
This is an exceptionally important study, as most of the data on the working conditions of the contingent academic workforce exist in large data sets that are only aggregated and averaged at the national level. This obscures the similarities and differences that contingent academic workers experience across different institutions and institutional sectors, geographic regions, and disciplines. The survey collects institution- and course-specific information to create a more textured and realistic picture of contingent academic workers’ working lives and working conditions.
With your assistance, this survey will develop a rich dataset to help CAW and its member organizations advocate on behalf of professional compensation and working conditions for the contingent academic workforce. To that end we deeply appreciate the time and effort given by all who fill out this survey. Individuals who wish to be entered in a drawing for one of several $50 book gift cards may include contact information at the end of the questionnaire, but this information will not be used to connect survey data with specific persons.
Please visit the following URL:
We hope you will fill out the questionnaire today, but if you cannot, please do so by November 30, 2010. Winners of the gift cards will be notified the following week.
Annual Election of Officers
Ballots for the 2010 election were sent to all members in good standing on September 1.
If you need assistance with the online voting process or to change your preference (from paper to online, or online to paper), contact the AHA's Help Desk at (866) 720-4357 (toll free) or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Changes of address requests or non-election related questions should be forwarded to the Membership Department by e-mail or phone call (202) 544-2422 (ext. 123).
Please return your completed ballot no later than 11:59 p.m. tonight, November 1.
Keep up with the latest information on history and the profession on the AHA’s blog, AHA Today. Recent posts include:
What Boston Has to Offer Part 2: Boston Points of Interest
Take a look at some Boston Points of Interest to help plan your trip the Annual Meeting.
What Boston Has to Offer Part 1: Walking Tours and Walking Attractions
While we hope you attend as many events as possible at the 125th Annual Meeting, make sure you take some time to get outside and take in the history and attractions of Boston.
Historical Malpractice and the Writing of Textbooks
This blog post by Executive Director Jim Grossman also appears above.
Leave Your Comments: Perspectives on History Articles Online
It’s now also possible for members to comment on Perspectives on History articles right online.
Also, see the most recent What We’re Reading (October 21 and October 28) and Grant of the Week (E. Geoffrey and Elizabeth Thayer Verney Fellowship and Fellowship in the History of Medicine).
American Historical Review - October, 2010
The online version of the October issue of the American Historical Review is now available. Members should login to member services and click the link tothe American Historical Review to access the full text from these articles.
The October issue includes an article on the links between the 17th-century English Revolution and the origins of abolitionism, a piece on the granting of independence to Iraq in 1932, and an AHRForum on “Intimate Life and Sexuality in Mid-Twentieth-Century France.” There are also five featured reviews, followed by our normal extensive book review section. “In Back Issues” calls attention to articles and features in the AHRfrom 100, 75, and 50 years ago.
For a more detailed description of the contents of the October 2010 issue, see the AHA Blog.
National History Center
Colleges Implement AHA-NHC-Teagle Report
Three institutions of higher learning are putting into practice the findings of an AHA-National History Center study that called for history departments to reassess their curricula for history majors with an eye toward emphasizing the goals and values of liberal education.
According to National History Center Assistant Director Miriam Hauss Cunningham, the history departments of Beloit College in Beloit, Wisconsin, Miami University of Ohio in Oxford, Ohio, and St. John’s University in Queens, New York were chosen to implement the study’s recommendations on a test basis. Funded by a grant from the Teagle Foundation and published as an AHA pamphlet entitled The History Major and Undergraduate Liberal Education, the study report was prepared by a working group headed by Stanley N. Katz of Princeton University and James R. Grossman, formerly of The Newberry Library and now AHA executive director.
The report’s authors argue that the history major should “nurture [students'] liberal and civic capacities, in part by integrating disciplinary knowledge, methods, and principles into the broad experience of undergraduate education.” The pamphlet is available for purchase at the American Historical Association’s Pub Shop.
Call for Applications for the 2011 Decolonization Seminar
The National History Center is now accepting applications from early-career scholars to participate in the sixth international summer seminar on decolonization, which will be held for four weeks, from Sunday, July 10, through Saturday, August 6, 2011, in Washington, D.C. The seminar is funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and takes place at the Library of Congress.
The application deadline is today, November 1, 2010 and due via e-mail at the following address: email@example.com.
See the call for applications page online for more information.
News from Washington
In addition to AHA Today, the Association also draws on the efforts of a number of coalitions that support the Association's agenda to keep track of issues in the nation’s capital that will be of concern to historians. Here are news updates from some of them.
Pelosi Appoints Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as New House Historian
On October 20, Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced the appointment of Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as the new Historian of the House of Representatives.
National Archives to Put the Founders Papers Online
The National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives, has announced a cooperative agreement with The University of Virginia (UVA) Press to make freely available online the historical documents of the Founders of the United States of America.
Veterans Day Marks Efforts to Honor and Preserve Veterans History
As Veterans Day approaches, programs are underway to promote the preservation of the history of the nation’s veterans and to honor their service to our country. These include the Veterans History Project at the Library of Congress and “Take a Veteran to School Day” sponsored by the History Channel.
Congress Passes Continuing Resolution Stopgap measure to fund government through December 3.
Recent Nominations Made to the National Council on the Humanities Three nominations currently pending with the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions
- October 25, 2010 Washington Update
Please feel free to forward this email on to a colleague or friend.
Contributions to this issue of Fortnightly News came from: Miriam Hauss Cunningham, David Darlington, Debbie Ann Doyle, Kelly Elmore, Elisabeth Grant, James Grossman, Vernon Horn, Pillarisetti Sudhir, Sharon K. Tune, Liz Townsend, and Robert B. Townsend
Last Updated: October 29, 2010