What We’re Reading: September 29, 2011 Edition
In the news this week, an archivist found a moon rock in former president Bill Clinton’s papers, historian Oscar Handlin has died at the age of 95, the National Archives is now on iTunes U, and students’ knowledge of civil rights history has declined. Then, listen to an interview with MacArthur Fellowship winner Jacob Soll, watch a TED talk on “Culturomics,” read an article on studying “deep history,” advocate for history education, and discover personal histories in report cards from the 1920s. Finally, just for fun, read an article on historians from satirical newspaper The Onion.
- Arkansas archivist finds missing moon rock among Clinton’s gubernatorial papers
You never know what you’ll find in the archives. For example, last week “an archivist sifting through the papers and memorabilia amassed during former President Bill Clinton’s time as Arkansas governor found a moon rock brought back by the Apollo 17 mission that had mysteriously gone missing.”
- Oscar Handlin, Historian Who Chronicled U.S. Immigration, Dies at 95
The New York Times reports on the death of historian Oscar Handlin, and quotes AHA Executive Director Jim Grossman on how Handlin shifted perspectives of American history: “[Handlin] reoriented the whole picture of the American story, from the view that America was built on the spirit of the Wild West, to the idea that we are a nation of immigrants.”
- National Archives on iTunes U
The National Archives is now offering access to a “selection of World War II films, Presidential historical documents and podcasts, and several ‘Inside the Vaults’ videos featuring behind-the-scenes at the Archives” through iTunes U.
- Students’ Knowledge of Civil Rights History Has Deteriorated, Study Finds
The New York Times reports on a recent study that finds students’ knowledge of civil rights history has declined.
- A conversation with 2011 MacArthur Fellow Jacob Soll
History professor, chair of the AHA 2012 Program Committee, and recent MacArthur Fellowship winner Jacob Soll sat down for an hour interview with WHYY Radio to discuss his work and recent award.
- What we learned from 5 million books
For anyone interested in a quick introduction to Culturomics, Erez Lieberman Aiden and Jean-Baptist Michel provide an amusing survey of their work in a recent TED talk. See also AHA President Anthony Grafton’s thoughts on Culturomics in this article from the March 2011 issue of Perspectives on History.
- History That’s Written in Beads as Well as in Words
Patricia Cohen at the New York Times talks to historian Daniel Lord Smail about “deep history,” or more specifically looking “back 50,000, 500,000, even 2.6 million years to the earliest humans.”
- The Wall Street Journal on National History Day
Norm Augustine at the Wall Street Journal advocates for history education in this article of National History Day, “The Education Our Economy Needs.” Do note that the majority of this article is behind a pay wall, though the comments (some thoughtful, some exasperating) are freely available to read.
- Report Cards from the 1920s
Paul Lukas tells the story, in this Slate article, of how he found 400 Manhattan Trade School student records from the 1920s and the personal histories he learned from them. Then check out his blog, where he takes a closer look at individual records.
- Historians Politely Remind Nation To Check What’s Happened In Past Before Making Any Big Decisions
"According to the historians, by looking at things that have already happened, Americans can learn a lot about which actions made things better versus which actions made things worse, and can then plan their own actions accordingly.” Enough said.
Contributors: Debbie Ann Doyle, Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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