History Behind the Headlines

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History Behind the Headlines is a webinar series featuring prominent historians discussing the history behind current events. Webinars in this series are generously sponsored by AHA member Jared Brubaker.

Upcoming Events

History Behind the Headlines: Presidential Records Act
April 4 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Moderator: Peniel E. Joseph, associate dean for justice, equity, persity and inclusion; professor of public affairs; Barbara Jordan Chair in Ethics and Political Values; and founding director, Center for the Study of Race and Democracy at the University of Texas at Austin
Panelists: Nicole Hemmer, director of the Rogers Center for the American Presidency and associate professor of history at Vanderbilt University, Timothy Naftali, director of the NYU undergraduate public policy program, clinical associate professor of history and public service, and founding director of the Richard Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, and Trudy Huskamp Peterson, certified archivist and former acting archivist of the United States. 
This panel, organized by the AHA and the Society of American Archivists, will bring together four leading scholars to put recent events surrounding presidential records in historical context. Why is the FBI raiding residences of former presidents and vice presidents? Does any of this matter to anyone other than archivists and historians?

Register: To attend, register here. Can't make it? Don't worry—register anyway and receive the link to the recording, which will be posted to the AHA's YouTube channel after the event.

Recordings of Past Events

Abortion, Choice, and the Supreme Court: History Behind the Headlines
July 6, 2022, at 3 PM ET
Moderator: Leslie J. Reagan, Professor, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign
Nancy F. Cott (Jonathan Trumbull Research Professor of American History, Harvard University), Melissa Murray (Frederick I. and Grace Stokes Professor of Law and Faculty Director, Birnbaum Women's Leadership Network, New York University School of Law), and Aaron Tang (Professor of Law, University of California, Davis School of Law).
“Abortion, Choice, and the Supreme Court: History Behind the Headlines,” brought together four leading scholars to place Dobbs v. Jackson Women's Health Organization in historical context. How did we get here from Roe v. Wade (1973)? Why is history central to this jurisprudence and its implications? This session might be particularly useful for teachers and their students at college and high school levels. 

Russia and Ukraine: History Behind the Headlines
March 4, 2022, at 2 PM ET
Moderator: David Engerman (Leitner International Interdisciplinary Professor, Department of History and Jackson Institute for Global Affairs, Yale University)
Panelists: Serhii Plokhii (Mykhailo S. Hrushevs'kyi Professor of Ukrainian History and the director of the Ukrainian Research Institute, Harvard University), Sergey Radchenko (Wilson E. Schmidt Distinguished Professor, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies), and Marci Shore (associate professor of history, Yale University)
“Russia and Ukraine: History Behind the Headlines,” brought together three leading scholars to place current events in historical context. With each historian approaching the current conflict from a different perspective, attendees learned about the deeply intertwined histories of Russia and Ukraine, as well as the Cold War and post-Cold War disputes that have led to the Russian invasion. This session demonstrated not only the value, but indeed the necessity of thinking historically if we are to understand the worlds around us. This session might be particularly useful for teachers and their students at college and high school levels. 

Preserving Records: Archives and Presidential Transitions
January 29, 2021
Chair: Sarah Weicksel, American Historical Association
Panelists: Richard H. Immerman (Temple Univ., emeritus; chair, NARA Review Committee, American Historical Association), Trudy H. Peterson (consulting archivist; former Acting Archivist of the United States), and Gary M. Stern (National Archives and Records Administration)
In this panel, three experts on archives, preservation, and access discuss issues regarding the archival implications of presidential transitions.

Historians Reflect on the 2020 Election
November 13, 2020
Chair: James Grossman (American Historical Association)
Panelists: Marsha E. Barrett (University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign), Jelani Cobb (Columbia University), John A. Lawrence (University of California Washington Center), Heather Cox Richardson (Boston College)
In this virtual conversation, four prominent historians of American political life offer historical perspective on the events, and consequences, of the 2020 election.

Presidential Debates in Historical Perspective
September 26, 2020
Chair: Joanne B. Freeman (Yale Univ.)
Panelists: Kathryn Cramer Brownell (Purdue Univ.), Peniel E. Joseph (Univ. of Texas-Austin), Newton N. Minow (Commission on Presidential Debates)
In preparation for the first 2020 presidential debates on September 29, this panel offers a historical examination of debates for the nation's highest office and connects these historical precedents with the current contest. 

Erasing History or Making History? Race, Racism, and the American Memorial Landscape
July 2, 2020
Chair:  Jim Grossman (American Historical Association)
Panelists: David W. Blight (Yale Univ.), Annette Gordon-Reed (Harvard Univ.)

Teaching the History of Racist Violence in the High School Classroom
June 19, 2020
Chair: Jacqueline Jones (AHA president-elect)
Panelists: Reginald K. Ellis (Florida A&M Univ., AHA Councilor, Professional Division), Tina L. Heafner (president, National Council for the Social Studies)
The American Historical Association and the National Council for the Social Studies hosted a panel on effectively using the Association’s Statement on the History of Racist Violence in the United States and how it can be used productively in high school history classrooms. Panelists explored the history referenced in the statement, the context of its authorship, and the opportunities the statement creates for challenging classroom conversations on historical and current events.

Featured Recording

History Behind the Headlines Playlist