What We’re Reading: July 23, 2009 Edition
In recent news, Obama picks Jon Jarvis for the National Park Service, $116 million goes toward improving the teaching of American history, Governor Tim Kaine supports the Wilderness Battlefield fight, and starting July 27 the public can review the Social Studies-History Standards. We also note two events: a constitutional history graduate course and the Thomas Paine exhibit at the National Portrait Gallery. Then, read about some new digital history projects: podcasts from the Gilder Lehrman Institute, digitized records from the Freedmen’s Bureau, and NARA on Flickr. And finally, a review by Peter Green, a report on Historical Thinking in Higher Education, first ladies’ homes, John Brown and Harper’s Ferry, and celebrating the 40th anniversary of Apollo 11.
- Leader Is Picked for Park Service
President Obama nominated Jon Jarvis last week for the position of director of the National Park Service. See the National Parks Conservation Association’s endorsement of this pick, and the White House’s official press release of the news.
- School Districts in 38 States Receive $116 Million in Grants to Help Improve Teaching of American History
The U.S. Department of Education put out a press release last week about the $116 million in new grants to help schools improve the teaching of American history.
- Virginia Governor Tim Kaine Speaks up for Wilderness Battlefield
The PreservationNation blog reports that, “on July 13th Virginia Governor Tim Kaine and Speaker of the Virginia House of Delegates William Howell wrote to the Orange County Board of Supervisors to strongly encourage the local elected officials to ‘work closely with Wal-Mart to find an appropriate alternative site’ for the proposed Wal-Mart development.”
- Social Studies-History Standards: Public Review Period
The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) announces its public review period for the Social Studies-History Standards. The standards can be accessed through this survey from July 27 to August 9, 2009.
- Robert H. Smith Seminar – The Institute for Constitutional History (PDF)
The Institute for Constitutional History, of the New-York Historical Society, is hosting a semester-long graduate course on Constitutional History (see PDF). Designed for graduate students and junior faculty in history, political science, law and related disciplines, the seminar will be taught by the distinguished scholars Akhil Reed Amar (Yale College and Yale Law School) and James Oakes (CUNY Graduate Center).
- One Life: Thomas Paine, The Radical Founding Father
On August 7, the National Portrait Gallery opens the exhibition “One Life: Thomas Paine, The Radical Founding Father.” This exhibition marks the 200th anniversary of Paine’s death and features 22 objects including the museum’s recently acquired portrait of Paine by the French artist Laurent Dabos, made around 1792.
- Podcasts from the Gilder Lehrman Institute
The Gilder Lehrman Institute is now offering dozens of podcasts on a variety of topics. Hear two recent ones from noted historians and AHA members John Lewis Gaddis, on “The Origins of the Cold War,” and Thomas Bender, on “American History: Views from Abroad.”
- Data Helps Descendants of Slaves Reclaim History
The Freedmen’s Bureau, originally created to help former slaves transition into society after the Civil War, recently digitized the Virginia portion of their records. These records include “marriages, birth certificates, contracts and even some personal narratives will offer a trove of detail to historians and to the descendants of slaves, who have struggled to piece together family histories obscured by the institution of slavery.”
- U.S. National Archives finally joins the crowd on Flickr
From the ArchivesNext blog comes the news that NARA has joined Flickr and is posting both photos and images of scanned documents (like the Articles of Confederation, Treaty of Paris 1783, Emancipation Proclamation, and more).
Articles and Reports
- Google Books or Great Books?
Peter Green uses a review of Anthony Grafton’s latest book in the Times Literary Supplement to reflect on the Republic of Letters from the Renaissance to the digital age.
- Historical Thinking in Higher Education (PDF)
The Australian Historical Association has linked to a report on Historical Thinking in Higher Education that includes recommendations for working with primary sources, visual and new media as well as assessing students on historical thinking.
- Revisiting the First Ladies’ Homes
From the Smithsonian magazine comes an article on first ladies’ homes, with links to their respective web sites.
- Let History Ring
Though famous to some and infamous to others, John Brown and his raid on Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia left its mark in history. The brick federal arsenal that Brown and his men claimed as their headquarters on October 16, 1859 has become a landmark to Harper’s Ferry, except the bell tower is missing one critical component: its bell! Rick Holmes retells the story of the bell’s journey through the Civil War to its current resting place in Marlborough, Massachusetts.
- To The Moon!
New York Times writer, John Noble Wilford, covered the original launch of Apollo 11 on July 16, 1969. As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of America’s first moonwalk, Wilford remembers the days leading up to one of the country’s most historic moments.
Contributors: David Darlington, Noralee L. Frankel, Elisabeth Grant, Arnita A. Jones, Jessica Pritchard, and Robert B. Townsend
This post first appeared on AHA Today.
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