AHA Today

What We’re Reading: August 1, 2013

AHA Staff | Aug 1, 2013

Today’s What We’re Reading features the history of “catfishing,” a memoriam for the family photo album, the most trendy names in US history, an abandoned Walmart becomes a modern library, and much more!

History in the News

We Need More Humanities Majors

In response to the question, “Do we need more humanities majors?”, authors Christian Madsbjerg and Mikkel B. Rasmussen argue that “we need humanities majors more now than before to strengthen competitiveness and improve products and services.”

Odd Fox News Interview Lifts Reza Aslan’s Biography on Jesus

Publisher rushes another 50,000 copies of a historian’s book after his interview on Fox News goes viral via Buzzfeed. Pressed on why a Muslim would want to write a book about Jesus, Alsan responded: “I am a historian. I am a PhD in the history of religion.” And “ I’m not sure what my faith has to do with my 20 years of academic study of the New Testament.” Video and coverage at the Times.


Romantic Deceit via Telegraph: How ‘Catfishing’ Worked in the 1880s

Think ‘Catfishing’ is a web 2.0 problem? Jessica Gentile refers to history in order to prove that the act of fabricating identities to trick people into relationships is nothing new.

Mitch Daniels Takes Issue with Howard Zinn’s So-Called History: Rich Lowry

Lowry attacks Howard Zinn and supports Daniel’s efforts to get his book out of classrooms. The AHA has weighed in on the controversy, and is mentioned in Lowry’s syndicated article.

In Nation’s First Black Public High School, A Blueprint For Reform

A look back at Paul Laurence Dunbar High, the nation’s first black public high school.

How the FBI Turned Me On to Rare Books

Historian and recent National Humanities Medal winner Natalie Zemon Davis reflects on important turning points in her life.

National Civics, History Tests to Disappear

The National Assessment of Educational Progress will no longer include exams in US history, civics, and geography.

Digital History & Preservation

In the Digital Age, the Family Photo Album Fades Away

Heidi Glenn for NPR explores how the traditional family photo album is changing, and so is the way families curate digital pictures.


Matthew Kirschenbaum, writing for Slate, asks “How can we preserve the software of today for historians of tomorrow?”

Not Even Silicon Valley Escapes History

Via the Atlantic, Alexis Madrigal tries to map the history of the birthplace of modern tech.

Using Twitter for Curated Academic Content

“With all the demands of academia, becoming an active curator on Twitter may sound appealing but just too onerous a task. To help ease such anxiety, Allan Johnson shares his own Twitter workflow and suggests several tools and apps, such as Pocket and Buffer, to help academics make the most of their valuable time in contributing and curating content.”

How Public Libraries Fit Into the Digital Age

Consumer Affairs profiles a few apps that many public libraries are using to keep up with the digital revolution.

The Most Trendy Names in US History

At Flowing Data, names that surged and then disappeared, such as Catina, Jalen, Aailyah, Talan, and Colt.

Baltimore, Then and Now (1911 to 2013)

For urban enthusiasts, Atlantic Cities offers a comparative look at Baltimore through the years.

Take a Visual Walk through the History of Vespa

Animation of the 70 year design history of the iconic scooter.

An Oral History of the March on Washington with Photographs by Stanley Tretick

“It’s difficult for someone these days,” march participant Ken Howard told Smithsonian, “to understand what it was like, to suddenly have a ray of light in the dark. That’s really what it was like.”

Miami Beach Preservationists Battle Glitterati over Homes

Miami preservationists are locked in a fight with Lisa Hochstein, a cast member on The Real Housewives of Miami, to save a historic home from being torn down.

A Black History Collection with a Surprising Collector

The Washington Post profiles Mark Mitchell, a self-described treasure hunter who has become a force in the creation of the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

Disembodying the Past to Preserve It

Via DH Now, a gorgeously illustrated talk by book historian and performance scholar Sarah Werner on some interesting intersections between history of books and digital preservation

Fun and Off-Beat

Abandoned Walmart is Now America’s Largest Library

An abandoned Walmart in McAllen, Texas, has been turned into the largest single-floor library in the United States.

Print Dead at 1,803

“Print, which had for nearly two millennia worked tirelessly to spread knowledge around the globe in the form of books, newspapers, magazines, pamphlets, and numerous other textual materials, reportedly succumbed to its long battle with ill health, leaving behind legions of readers who had for years benefited from the dissemination of ideas made possible by the advent of printed materials.”

The Pace of Modern Life

A Webcomic archives a century of complaining over the death of letter writing.

When Did “The United States” Become a Singular Noun?

Reddit users explore the state of the union through history using the N-gram viewer, showing patterns of usage in printed material from 1780.

This post first appeared on AHA Today.

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