AHA Today

What We’re Reading: June 23, 2011 Edition

AHA Staff | Jun 23, 2011

NAEPWe begin this week with some extensive coverage of the U.S. History report from the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). Both Jim Grossman and Lee White (executive directors of the AHA and the NCH, respectively) dissect the results and offer their thoughts. We also link to other articles with reactions from historians. Then, read articles on the winner of the 2011 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing, the 2011 National Book Festival, Art History PhDs, Kissinger papers, and 11 endangered historic places. We’ve also linked to three digital history posts, including a digital version of the Pentagon Papers, a new Russian history blog, and a Ulysses app. Finally, read thoughts on conferences and Twitter, and watch videos from Backstory with the History Guys and the National Archives.

National Assessment of Educational Progress

  • Casting the First Stone
    AHA Director Jim Grossman dissects the results of the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) study of U.S. history knowledge among K-12 students in an article at HNN. His article was part of a Roundtable series that asked: Why Don’t Students Know Anything About U.S. History? Linda K. Salvucci, Sam Wineburg, Rick Shenkman, and Jim Cullen also contributed.
  • National Coalition for History Report
    Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History, reports in a recent post that The Nation’s Report Card: U.S. History 2010shows little improvement in K-12 U.S. History proficiency since 1994.
  • Huffington Post
    In a subsequent interview with the Huffington Post, AHA Director Jim Grossman expressed concern about the results, observing that, “I’d like to see the full Congress take the test … . [H]istory education is a much larger issue in relation to civic culture.” Lee White added his regrets, noting that, “They’ve narrowed the curriculum to teach to the test. History has been deemphasized.”
  • New Yorker
    Susan Orlean in the New Yorker laments the recent NAEP data, noting that “The questions that the fourth graders (and all the students in the study) failed on were, unfortunately, questions that required real understanding to answer”–not subject to simple searches through Google.
  • Historians Weigh In on NAEP Report
    KQED’s Forum program discussed the NAEP results with historian Diane Ravitch (NYU), history teacher Cliff Baker (St Paul’s Episcopal School, Oakland), and Don Schwartz (California Council for History Education).

2011 National Book Festival

  • 2011 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing
    Historian Carlo D’Este has been awarded the $100,000 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing.
  • Lincoln Featured on National Book Festival Poster
    The Library of Congress is advertising its 2011 National Book Festival with a poster featuring Abraham Lincoln reading a book. Authors attending the event include David McCullough, Toni Morrison, Dave Eggers, and others.
  • Focusing on the 20th Century
    The Los Angeles Times notes that Art History PhDs skew heavily to the 20th century (which is quite similar to general history PhDs).
  • Henry A. Kissinger Donates Papers to Yale
    Yale has announced that Henry A. Kissinger declared his intention to donate his papers, which include over one million documents and objects, to the university.
  • America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places
    The National Trust for Historic Preservation has released its list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. It includes Bear Butte in South Dakota, Belmead-on-the-James in Virginia, John Coltrane House in New York, and National Soldiers Home in Wisconsin.

Digital History
Walking Ulysses

  • Pentagon Papers Digitally
    The Internet Archive has posted a digital version of the Pentagon Papers.
  • Digital Resources in the Classroom
    Education Week notices (somewhat belatedly) that “Widespread efforts to digitize historical documents and collect histories are giving students access to thousands of perspectives faster and more easily than ever before.”
  • Russian history blog
    Steven Barnes (George Mason University) discusses the value of wide dissemination for historical scholarship and describes the launch of a group blog for the field of Russian history.
  • Ulysses App
    A professor and his students at Boston College have created the free “Walking Ulysses” app that follows Leopold Bloom’s steps through Dublin.


  • Thoughts on Conferences
    Mark Bauerlein uses the AHA’s precirculated papers decision for a more general argument about the limited value of academic conferences, observing that “Given the chance to prepare as speaker or as listener, AHA members failed.”
  • Twitter: Professional vs. Personal
    The Chronicle looks into how academics are navigating Twitter for professional and personal reasons, and offers tips on how to construct an online identity. The article starts off with Rosemary G. Feal, executive director of the MLA, who recently started her own Twitter account (@rgfeal), in order to reserve the @MLAconvention account for more MLA-related posts.


  • Backstory with the American History Guys, Live
    Meet the historians behind the Backstory podcast with the American History Guys podcast in this video from C-SPAN’s American HistoryTV.
  • H.R. Haldeman’s Notes
    The National Archives has posted a YouTube video that investigates the 18 and ½ missing minutes from the recording of Nixon and Haldeman discussing the Watergate incident and analyzes Haldeman’s notes.

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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