AHA Today

What We’re Reading: May 17, 2012

AHA Staff | May 17, 2012

Today’s roundup of interesting articles and links from around the web includes Jill Lepore’s commentary on breastfeeding in America, a new addition to Teachinghistory.org, a new short documentary film about Ken Burns, and more.


  • Georgia State E-reserves Case Roundup
    If you use electronic course packs of readings for your classes, you should familiarize yourself with the recent ruling in a case involving Georgia State University and a number of large book publishers. While the university won on most points, the actual effect on future use of course packs still remains a bit murky.
  • Judge: Keep Part of CIA’s Bay of Pigs History Secret
    The final volume of the CIA’s own assessment of its role in the fiasco will remain secret, not because of the information therein, but because its release would, according to a federal judge, “harm the deliberative process” within the CIA, and make CIA in-house historians fearful of attempting “innovative, unorthodox or unpopular interpretations” if they think their reports will eventually become public. The National Security Archive, which has pushed for the release, responds here.
  • Plagiarism Ignored?
    The case of an Arizona State University professor accused of plagiarism, but cleared by an investigating committee of all serious offences, continues to attract attention, as Inside Higher Ed describes the challenges of identifying and policing cases in history.
  • How the Professor Who Fooled Wikipedia Got Caught by Reddit
    There’s an important discussion to be had about the ethics of assigning students to create a public hoax, but Yoni Appelbaum here takes a look at why one social network in particular proved so efficient at ferreting out the truth. T. Mills Kelly, the professor behind the hoax, responds here.

Discussion Points:

  • “Plan B” and Bob Dylan
    Continuing the conversation sparked by AHA President Anthony Grafton and Executive Director Jim Grossman, Inside Higher Ed’s Felicia B. LeClere proposes that PhD programs should “teach graduate students the skills necessary to move knowledge forward in different environments.”
  • Overexposed: Breastfeeding in America
    Jill Lepore offers a historian’s perspective on the ongoing discussion and squeamishness over Time magazine’s Mother’s Day cover. 

  • The Politics of Presidential Commencement Addresses

    Carah Ong at Riding the Tiger looks at how presidents have used the platform provided by graduation ceremonies. 
  • Berkeley Historian Defends IRB Review of Oral History
    Over at the Institutional Review Blog, Zachary Schrag chastises a historian who defends efforts to bring oral history under guidelines and policies intended for other disciplines.
  • In Defense of the New York Public Library
    Robert Darnton, the Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and university librarian at Harvard University, and a former president of the AHA, discusses the controversial changes proposed by the trustees in response to growing financial pressures.
  • King’s Forgotten Manifesto
    David W. Blight and Allison Scharfstein recall the document Martin Luther King delivered to President Kennedy, on May 17, 1962, asking for a “second Emancipation Proclamation.”


  • Take a Walk on the Historical Side 
    Kelly Schrum and Jennifer Rosenfeld describe Visiting History: A Professional Development Guide, which is a new addition to Teachinghistory.org. The resource provides tips and examples for taking the professional development classroom into the field.
  • Projects Aims to Build Online Hub for Archival Materials
    Can technology solve the challenge of finding scattered archival records? Jennifer Howard at the Chronicle of Higher Education describes one effort to at least simplify the process of finding those sources.
  • Ken Burns on Why His Formula for a Great Story Is 1+1=3
    Sarah Klein and Tom Mason discuss their new project Ken Burns: On Story, a short documentary film about Ken Burns, a man whose “sweeping documentary series have brought American history to life for millions of viewers.”

Contributors: Nike Nivar, Allen Mikaelian, Lis Grant, Pillarisetti Sudhir, and Robert B. Townsend

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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