AHA Today

What We’re Reading: October 15, 2009 Edition

AHA Staff | Oct 15, 2009

Norman Rockwell Free SpeechThree articles start off What We’re Reading this week. First, the Chronicle examines history of science professor Robert N. Proctor’s fight to keep his unpublished manuscript private. Then, Wired critiques Google’s Usenet Archive, and Google responds. And finally, the Wall Street Journal takes a look at Norman Rockwell’s paintings of the “four essential freedoms.” From the blogosphere, Laura Wimberley at ACRLog looks at budget cuts in higher ed while the GeneologyBlog worries about Indiana’s State Archives. Meanwhile, from the opinion columns, we bring you thoughts on Walmart and the Wilderness Battlefield, as well as one take on Tarentino’s Inglourious Basterds. Finally, this post rounds out with ten history podcasts you might want to check out.


  • Scholars’ Right to Keep Unpublished Work Private Is at Issue in Lawsuit
    Robert N. Proctor, a Stanford professor of the history of science, who has testified against tobacco companies, is fighting to keep his unpublished manuscript private, while the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company fights to obtain it. The outcome of this lawsuit will definitely have implications for scholars everywhere.
  • Google’s Abandoned Library of 700 Million Titles
    Kevin Poulsen at Wired reports that “a few geeks with long memories remember the last time Google assembled a giant library that promised to rescue orphaned content for future generations. And the tattered remnants of that online archive are a cautionary tale in what happens when Google simply loses interest.” Hat Tip. UPDATE: After this Wired article Google began fixing the Usenet archive.
  • Free Speech Personified
    Norman Rockwell, a household name, wasn’t just a painter; he captured moments in time, those layered with meaning. After FDR’s State of the Union speech on January 6, 1941, Rockwell decided to capture the four essential freedoms laid out in the speech: Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Worship, Freedom from Want, and Freedom from Fear. Bruce Cole dissects these four paintings, placing their meanings into historical context.

Blog Posts


  • Should there be a price tag on our history?
    With the construction of the Walmart on the Wilderness Battlefield in Virginia, historians and preservationists alike were up in arms over the neglect of the site’s historic value. While Tim McCown understands that not every battlefield and historic building in the country can be saved from modern progression, he asks, “How do we place a value on our history? How do we decide what is to be saved?”
  • Who are today’s gatekeepers of history?
    While Inglourious Basterds received high praise from movie critics, it was not so well received amongst historians. Susan Hanley Lane asks, “Who are today’s gatekeepers of history in the post modern world?” Producers of pop culture movies like Quentin Tarantino? Lane believes that history deserves to be retold by those who’ve experienced it or who’ve thoroughly studied it. She concludes, “In the case of the Holocaust, the truth is far more compelling than any attempt at cheap humor by a director with an oversized appetite for revenge.”


Contributors: David Darlington, Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, Jessica Pritchard, and Robert B. Townsend

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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