This page includes, in addition to news about historians, news about political scientists, economists, law professors, and others who write about history. For a comprehensive list of historians' obituaries, go here.
SOURCE: NYT (12-17-08)
The death was confirmed by her son, William M. Putney Jr.
Mrs. Putney, whose life was featured prominently in “The Greatest Generation,” Tom Brokaw’s popular history of the war and the unsung Americans who took part in it, entered the armed services in 1943 to better her prospects in life. She left the service determined to tell the story someday of how black Americans had contributed to the war. This she did in “When the Nation Was in Need: Blacks in the Women’s Army Corps During World War II” (1992) and “Blacks in the United States Army: Portraits Through History” (2003), which she edited.
Martha Settle was born in Norristown, Pa., where her father supported his eight children as a laborer. After winning a scholarship to Howard University in Washington, she earned a bachelor’s degree in 1939 and a master’s degree in history in 1940.
Failing to find a job as a teacher in Washington’s public school system, she toiled, unhappily, as a statistical clerk with the government’s War Manpower Commission. The future looked bleak.
“My hometown offered nothing; only nonblacks were allowed to teach or work in the public schools,” Mrs. Putney told the reference work Contemporary Authors in the 1990s. “The corps, which was then less than a year old, promised an opportunity to become a commissioned officer. Though I had a master’s degree in history, I refused to go any further south for a job, so the promise of a commission was the best option available.”...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (10-21-08)
The 89-year-old former member of the notorious Waffen SS, whose name cannot be revealed for legal reasons, is accused of participating in the murder of 60 Jewish slave workers in 1945.
The massacre took place in Deutsch Schuetzen in Austria and the victims were buried in a mass grave which was only discovered in 1995.
The name of the man first occurred in a trial in 1946, where witnesses claimed he took part in the execution. He was however never charged and returned to his home in the German state of North Rhine Westphalia where he still lives under his real name.
Andreas Foster, 27, a student of political science in Vienna, was researching the case for an university project and acquired documents on the man from German archives. After realising that authorities never attempted to arrest the man, he managed to track him down by a simple search in the telephone directory.
"The Waffen SS man was mentioned by name in court files and other documents and his identity has been known since 1946," said Mr Foster.
He alerted his university mentor, Professor Walter Manoschek, who then travelled to Germany unannounced and visited the alleged war criminal and interviewed him on camera. In the interviews, the man claimed not to be able to remember anything about the massacre but confirmed that he was stationed on the site as a member of the SS at the time when it happened.
Prof Manoschek then compiled a file on the case, including the video tapes, and sent it to German prosecutors who have now opened an investigation.
SOURCE: Times (of London) (12-17-08)
She was born in Athens in 1941. Her family originated partly from the Greek communities of the western Black Sea coast. She began her university studies in 1958-59 at the University of Athens (where the leading Greek Byzantinist, Dionysios Zakythenos, kindled her interest in Byzantium). She then moved to the US, where she obtained her BA from Brandeis University in 1961 and PhD from Harvard in 1966 under the supervision of Robert Lee Wolff, a historian of the Latin empire of Constantinople.
Except for a stint as instructor at the University of Louisiana in 1962, Laiou’s academic career was confined to New England: instructor and then assistant professor at Harvard, 1966-72; associate professor, professor and distinguished professor at Brandeis University, 1972-81; and finally Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Byzantine History, a prestigious position which she held from 1981 until her death.
SOURCE: Sydney Morning Herald (12-17-08)
"The idea of travelling mentally to different times and places really interested me," says Stanley, now 52, who is the director of the centre for historical research at the National Museum of Australia.
But he emphasises that he is not the type of military historian who enjoys "arid technical analysis" of battle strategy. Rather, he is fascinated by military social history - the human element of how people respond under great duress.
"I realised I was drawn to the extremity of human experience you get in war," he says. "It's not trivial, it's literally about life and death."
This fascination for the human spirit under crushing conditions is evident in his other historical focus, surgery without anaesthesia. This interest, too, developed early after Stanley, aged 11, read a book on the amputation of Admiral Nelson's arm in 1797.
He had nightmares about Nelson's operation for almost 30 years, until he exorcised them by writing a book on British medical history from 1800 to 1850.
He describes the period as "the last five decades of painful surgery", where ambitious operations were performed with no pain relief whatsoever. Even rum was only used to revive the patients if they fainted during the procedure.
"There was a real sense of the drama and dignity of the human being," says Stanley, who describes how some patients talked to the surgeon, some screamed and some endured the pain in stoic silence.
That book, For Fear Of Pain, is one of 20 that Stanley has had published over the years, including two this year on exploring Australia's overseas battlefields and on whether Japan intended to invade Australia in 1942.
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (12-17-08)
Among those who have most frequently raised concerns about age discrimination are adjuncts. Departments that have no problem hiring adjuncts to teach courses semester after semester many times hesitate, they say, even to consider these instructors when full-time, tenure-track positions open up. Younger candidates, with new Ph.D.’s and less teaching experience, seem to beat them out, many report, even for positions that are teaching oriented. And the AHA statement agrees that this is one of the situations in which age discrimination is taking place.
“When a department or institution decides to confine its search to younger applicants, it discriminates against two groups,” the statement says. “One is made up of older individuals who earned their doctorates during the job shortages of the 1970s and 1980s, have since held a variety of temporary and part-time positions, and are interested in entry-level positions that offer the possibility of tenured status. Although their teaching experience and often impressive publications might be expected to give them an advantage in the search process, they sometimes find themselves dismissed without interviews as ‘overqualified.’ “
The statement also refers to a second group of victims of age bias: “The other group that suffers age discrimination is made up of those who have earned their degrees later in life and thus are recent Ph.D.’s but no longer young. ...
SOURCE: http://canadafreepress.com (12-13-08)
So, who is Woods? Evil cartoon villain or libertarian-minded Catholic? And, why are some academics so jealous of his success?
The Alabama-based author holds a bachelor’s degree in history from Harvard and a master’s and Ph.D. from Columbia University – but don’t hold that against him. His writings from the colonial origins of American liberty, to the dangerously “centrist” Clinton years are thought-provoking and fascinating. They inform, and entertain – a rare quality.
Wide-ranging and compelling, the history buff’s text is even happy to defend the “racist” Puritans, as liberals choke on their vegan Thanksgiving meals. Yes, “by its second decade Harvard College welcomed Indian students. Colonists could and did receive the death penalty for murdering Indians. Indian converts to Christianity in the ‘praying towns’ of New England enjoyed considerable autonomy,” writes Woods, and they even had the best breweries, according to some other sources I’ve read.
Ben-Peter Terpstra: Thanks for your valuable time. What are you up to?
Thomas E. Woods: I just finished a book on the economic crisis in the United States. The publisher is giving it the title Meltdown: A Free-Market Look at Why the Stock Market Collapsed, the Economy Tanked, and Government Bailouts Will Make Things Worse.
BT: March 11, 2005: Slate’s David Greenberg, a politically correct historian, points out that “conservatives such as Max Boot, Cathy Young, and the historian Ronald Radosh have attacked you.”
And yet, I for one, laugh at the very idea of the name Cathy “Soft on Drugs” Young and the word “conservative” in the same sentence. What’s your take?
TW: For one thing, none of those three are traditional conservatives by any stretch of the imagination. Boot, who’s just creepy, I answered in the pages of The American Conservative, which kindly offered me a platform from which to level the poor guy. You can read that piece along with all my other replies to critics in the “Replies to Critics” section of this page. I got the better of all of them, to put it mildly, if I may be permitted one boast.
One more thing about Boot: he’s thrilled with Barack Obama’s appointments. Boot writes, “Only churlish partisans of both the left and the right can be unhappy with the emerging tenor of our nation’s new leadership.” Normal people don’t talk like that. ...
SOURCE: NYT (12-11-08)
The death was confirmed by his daughter Elizabeth Pierson-Rainey.
A painter and art historian by training, Mr. Pierson was recruited to Williams by S. Lane Faison in 1940. There, with Mr. Faison and Whitney Stoddard, he formed one third of the durable art-historical team joking referred to as the Holy Trinity. After creating a studio-art program at the college, Mr. Pierson began teaching the history of art and architecture, delivering his lectures in a sonorous baritone that reflected his training as an opera singer. At the end of every class he tore up his notes in a dramatic demonstration that he never gave the same lecture twice.
Mr. Pierson’s students included James N. Wood, president of the J. Paul Getty Trust; Thomas Krens, who stepped down this year as director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation; and Earl A. Powell III, director of the National Gallery in Washington.
SOURCE: Press Release--Jack Dempsey (12-16-08)
“We’re still connected to them,” said historian C.F. Herberger, who in 1972 published the first demonstrations of Minoan time. “They predate Homer, the Parthenon and Old Testament. Why does a 4-year cycle still govern The Olympics? How did women and men share power on the first Western throne? And, how did Crete function so well without kings? Those have been crucial questions. As it turns out, good answers were hiding in plain sight.”
Where? Built into the elegant border of a famous fresco from the palace or “Labyrinth” of Knossos---which shows women and men at the dangerous sport of bull-leaping. Harvard’s renowned archaeologist Alexander Marshack was first to call Herberger’s discovery “valid and valuable.” But it took computer-age methods to show the calendric connections between real cycles of Moon, Sun and nature, patterns in the Bull-Leap Fresco’s border, and the Minoans’ central symbols of authority, from the Throne of Knossos to their Labrys or Double Axe.
Dr. Jack Dempsey’s 2009 Calendar House: Secrets of Time, Life & Power in Ancient Crete’s Great Year tests Herberger’s discovery against a range of established facts from astronomy, ecology and expert analyses. With over 400 photos, diagrams, charts and evidences of every kind, it confirms the Knossian 8½-year cycle of time---signaled, at each beginning and end, when New Moon meets Winter Solstice and, 6 months later, Full Moon meets Summer Solstice.
“Great Years go on,” Dempsey reports (a new cycle begins 12/20/09 and 6/20/10). “Minoans adopted these pairs of signs and countersigns to keep farming, sacred festivals, and Games too in step with nature. Now we can see how they used astronomy like a constitution, to shape and limit executive powers of women and men on their Throne.” Minoan Great Year astronomy (and no kings) traveled with Cretans later into the Palestine of Biblical times.
“Their model was partnership, like Moon and Sun,” Dempsey adds. “Now the Minoans can tell us more of how they sustained so much progress for 2000 years before Homer.”
Whereas, The AHA supports combating discrimination based on sexual orientation;1
Whereas, The 2010 AHA annual meeting is currently scheduled to take place at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego;
Whereas, Doug Manchester, the owner of the hotel has made a $125,000 contribution in support of Proposition 8 in California, which would deny marriage rights to same-sex partners;
Whereas, A coalition of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered (LGBT) and labor activists has called for a boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego;2 Whereas, The AHA should hold its annual meetings in venues that uphold the anti-discrimination standards that the AHA expects from academic professionals and institutions; and
Whereas, The AHA should not force its members to choose between honoring the boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego and attending the annual meeting;
Resolved,That the AHA will not conduct its 2010 annual meeting at the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego.
1. Committee on Women Historians, “Gender Equity in the Academic History Workplace: Best Practices,” May 2005, http://www.historians.org/governance/cwh/GenderEquity.cfm.
2. The boycott has been called by UNITE-HERE, Sleep with the Right People Coalition, The San Diego LGBT Community Center, San Diego Pride at Work, and Californian Against Hate. It has been endorsed by San Diego City Councilmember Donna Frye; Congressman Bob Filner; Todd Gloria, Former Chairman, San Diego GLBT Center and community and people-of-color activist; City Commissioner Nicole Murray-Ramirea; City Commissioner Bob Faulkner; Carlos Marquez, co-chair, San Diego Pride at Work; Stephen Whitburn, San Diego District 3 City Council candidate; Gilbert Baker, creator of the Rainbow Flag; Ron deHarte, Executive Director, San Diego Pride; Cleve Jones, NAMES Project AIDS Memorial Quilt.
SOURCE: John Lawrence in Perspectives, the magazine of the AHA (12-1-08)
... Over the past 34 years, I have held a number of senior positions in the House of Representatives, on personal, committee, and more recently, leadership staffs. Throughout those years, my training as a historian has very much been a part of my daily work in the Congress, providing me with a unique perspective for assessing political developments while offering antecedents and analysis for how we might respond and plan for the future. I arrived on Capitol Hill during the Ford Administration, fresh from graduate school, as a young staff aide to one of the so-called “Watergate babies” elected to the House following Richard Nixon’s resignation. Scandal had rocked the nation, reform and change were the cry of the press and the electorate, and an unpopular war still raged consuming American lives and billions of dollars. For me, the awareness of personal change came quickly. Just a couple of years after studying labor history at Berkeley, I found myself sitting on the lawn at the White House Labor Day party next to President Jimmy Carter, singing “Solidarity Forever.”
Some 32 years later, scandal, reform, and an unpopular foreign war again dominated the national elections, and this time, Democrats regained control of Congress, and I was thrust into my current job as chief of staff to the Speaker. Looking at these parallels, a cynic might conclude that in Washington, it is business as usual; history repeats itself.
But much has changed—though not enough to satisfy many voters or critics. Indeed, virtually everyone who works in Congress shares, at some point, the outsider’s frustration with the slow pace of the legislative process, the ability of a strong-willed minority to obstruct change, and the disproportionate power exercised by a few powerful members and special interests. It is a challenge for many to avoid the cynicism and defeatism that often accompany the dynamics of the legislative process.
One of the significant changes I have witnessed has been the alteration in the distribution of power within the Congress. The traditional, domineering power of the committee chairs has never recovered from the dethroning of three of the “old bulls” by those incoming “Watergate babies” in 1975. Newer members became increasingly assertive in promoting their legislative initiatives—such as institutional reform, environmental protection, and opposition to overseas military intervention—all challenges to the authority of the leadership and chairs to set the agenda largely independent from input from the broader membership....
SOURCE: Southern Illinois University Carbondale student newspaper (12-9-08)
A joint statement released Tuesday morning from the association and the university confirms all the "priceless" Civil War materials collected by the late history professor John Y. Simon will be moved to Mississippi State University, home of the association's new executive editor.
John Marszalek, a retired history professor at MSU, was voted to replace Simon as the executive editor at a memorial service for the late history professor Aug. 24.
At the service, association president Frank Williams criticized SIUC leadership for severing the relationship between the two parties because of the way they treated the late Simon, who was locked out of the Grant Association office in January after accusations of sexual harassment from co-workers.
Simon had received a letter of termination from the university after an investigation into the charges, but interim Chancellor Sam Goldman has said he was negotiating Simon's return to the university when the professor died July 8.
In a tense and adversarial meeting at the State Department yesterday, the chairman of the Department’s Historical Advisory Committee warned that the future of the Department’s “Foreign Relations of the United States” (FRUS) series, which is the official record of U.S. foreign policy, is in jeopardy due to mismanagement by the Office of the Historian. Underscoring his concerns, he announced his resignation from the Committee.
An Assistant Secretary of State rebuffed the criticism. He accused Committee members of engaging in innuendo and ad hominem attacks, and he abruptly walked out of the meeting.
William Roger Louis, the esteemed historian who has chaired the Committee for the last five years, presented his views in a letter to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (pdf), which he read into the public record at the December 10 meeting.
“The Historian’s Office has become an intolerable place to work; the exodus of experienced historians is significant; and the future of the Foreign Relations series is at risk,” Prof. Louis said.
“My concern, along with that of all members of the committee, arises from mismanagement by the Historian himself, Dr. Marc Susser. So large are the numbers of staff members leaving, or contemplating departure, that the integrity of the Foreign Relations series is now in jeopardy,” he wrote.
An analysis (pdf) appended to Prof. Louis’ statement said that “This year alone the office has lost 20% of its FRUS staff (7 of 35 members) and 30% of its FRUS staff experience (64 of 212 years).”
In a separate memorandum to the Secretary (pdf), Prof. Thomas Schwartz, another prominent historian and a former member of the Committee, echoed those concerns. (Following the criticisms he voiced in the Committee’s last annual report, Prof. Schwartz’s membership was pointedly not renewed, in what was interpreted by other Committee members as an attempt to intimidate them.)
“Simply put, there are enormous problems within the Office of the Historian, and they stem largely from the management style of Dr. Susser,” Prof. Schwartz wrote. “The forced retirement this past summer of Dr. Edward Keefer, the FRUS series editor…, was only the latest example of a management style that insisted on abject and subservient loyalty to Dr. Susser at the expense of competence and performance in the achievement of the goals of the office.”
The criticism was rejected by the State Department.
“I hardly think that the kind of ad hominem attacks you have engaged in are the kind of behavior we expect from respected academics,” said Sean McCormack, the Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs. “To express concern about the timeliness and quality of the FRUS series is fine. But to attack individuals in public? I find that objectionable.”
“I will not sit here and listen to personal attacks on the leadership of this office,” he said, before exiting the meeting.
In a written reply to Prof. Louis (pdf), Secretary McCormack added: “By taking these actions, I feel you are obscuring the very thing you hope to accomplish: to raise questions about the quality of the FRUS. I do not believe you can dispute the fact that disagreements with the Historian’s Office have become entangled with personal issues that have nothing to do with the quality of scholarship. While you have decided to walk away from the FRUS, I will continue in my efforts to ensure its continuing timeliness and quality.”
“I regret that I have to sit hear and listen to this decline to the level of slime and innuendo,” said Dr. Marc Susser, the State Department Historian and the principal object of Committee criticism. “We welcome all constructive criticism, but not personnel issues, hiring, firing, or comings and goings of staff.”
But “This is not a conflict of personalities,” Prof. Louis said, noting that his relations with the Historian had always been cordial and professional. “I am resigning on a point of principle.”
At the end of the day, it remained true that there has been a significant departure of qualified staff from the Historian’s Office, and that the FRUS series was far behind its legally-mandated schedule.
“The Foreign Relations series… is regarded throughout the world as a model of its kind, indispensable to the American public, the Congress, and above all the Department of State itself,” Prof. Louis wrote in his letter to Secretary Rice. “It is a tribute to the US Government that such an accurate and comprehensive series exists. In short, the Foreign Relations series stands as a symbol of commitment to openness and accountability. It would be no less than a tragedy to allow the series to falter or decline.”
Inside Higher Ed: ‘Crisis’ Seen in Key History Series
SOURCE: Deborah Lipstadt blog (12-15-08)
Never has anything I posted received as many comments. The number stands at 105 at the moment. I find that remarkable.
Well it looks like the book and the 15 million dollar movie will be out soon.
But that is not the only thing that will soon be out. Some serious historians as well as other historical sleuths have done some pretty serious research on this story. There are also survivors who are very upset about this story. They just don't believe it.
Based on what I have seen thus far, I would say that this story is not exactly a shining example of verisimilitude.
The folks behind these productions [movie and book] will go after the critics with a vengeance. One of them did so to me. He essentially accused me of slander and told me that I really don't know much about the Holocaust and that he knows more....
Seems to me that it is his way of trying to silence the critics.
My prediction is that he won't be able to do so this time. There is just too much evidence to the contrary.
Another really unfortunate circumstance.
SOURCE: Mary Ryan in a commentary on Howe's WHAT HATH GOD WROUGHT at H-SHEAR'S FORUM (11-17-08)
Howe is to be commended for welcoming women and gender into the Oxford History of the United States. More than just including female characters, of whom there are many in this volume, Howe acknowledges the efficacy of women actors in making history. When wives of Washington leaders snubbed Peggy Eaton, as Howe tells it, they succeeded in thrusting their "separate gender identity" into national politics: "The women saw themselves defending the interests and honor of the female half of humanity" and learned that "women acting collectively could advance the moral state of society" (p. 338) Taking instruction from books like Catherine Allgor's _Parlor Politics_ (2000), Howe attributes power to women who "although legally disfranchised were not necessarily politically apathetic or inert" (p. 338).
Howe puts women (even so unsavory a woman as Eaton, whom he calls "brash, demanding, and voluptuous in appearance") squarely on the stage of antebellum history. Although he treats this particular female subject with some frivolity ("Peggy seldom seems to have been lonely"), Howe demonstrates that gender operates on the most elevated plane of history, in the federal circles of political power (pp. 335-336). Although he does not press the point, the drama of the Washington drawing rooms also illustrates how women and their sexuality can be exploited for partisan political purposes. Eaton was largely a pawn in the political machinations of the familiar cast of central historical characters; Martin Van Buren garnered favor from President Jackson, outwitted Henry Clay, and advanced his own presidential prospects, all by defending the wife of the Secretary of the Treasury. Eaton is also something of a pawn in the historian's interpretive game. Howe uses the Eaton scandal as an occasion to vent his undisguised contempt for Andrew Jackson, who "expected to be able to control his cabinet members, and thought they in turn should be able to control their wives" (p. 337). The induction of Peggy Eaton into mainstream history may seem a sobering and bittersweet, if not entirely pyrrhic, victory for the field of women's history. After the extraordinary scholarly efforts of a generation, women are issued another reminder that they are the second sex, both in history and in the U. S. historical synthesis.
To those of us who labored for close to forty years to write women into history, this can be a painful recognition. It is enough to provoke a feminist to take up a double-edged sword and critique both the current state of women's and gender history and the whole project of the grand synthesis of national history. Howe is fully cognizant of the altered epistemological conditions under which we write history now that powerful white males no longer hold exclusive title to historical relevance. He concedes that the complexity and variety of past experience cannot be reduced to a single argument and chooses instead to tell multiple stories including those of people previously excluded from the master narrative of U. S. History. While particularly attentive to African Americans, and giving relatively shorter shrift to lower classes, he makes women his favored Other. Although the women actors are often minor players in a drama staged around male political leaders, selective members of the second sex are given a story of their own, and even a privileged position in the closing chapters. The endpoint of the women's story is the Seneca Falls convention, whose bold proclamation of women's rights Howe anticipated even in the Eaton scandal of 1829. Jumping ahead to 1848 Howe predicted that "Although most or all of them would have been shocked if had been pointed out," the wives who patrolled sexuality during the Jackson administration "would lead in a few more years to an organized movement on behalf of women's rights" (p. 342).
On close inspection the thread of this argument seems somewhat thin, gnarled and frayed. Thin in supporting evidence and gnarled in its convoluted chronology, it frays all along the ragged edges of the social and cultural differences within the female population. Howe himself acknowledges that the empirical foundation of this story is weak; only a small minority of women or men endorsed women's rights by 1848. Careful recent studies also indicate that gender politics took a detour away from women's rights during the period 1815-1848. The convolutions in Howe's line of argument are exposed when he strays away from the history of the women's rights movement into his favored domain of religious history. Speaking for antebellum advocates of women's rights he contends that "Nineteenth-century feminists, when they invoked the Enlightenment language of natural rights, typically interpreted it in the light of the Second Great Awakening of religion" (p. 845). Yet, as many women's historians have demonstrated women's rights took intellectual root in ideas that were often outside of, if not antagonistic to, evangelical Protestantism, chiefly those of Quakers, Unitarians and freethinkers. Conversely, Howe fails to mention the potent evangelical opposition to women's rights, most notably Catherine Beecher's rebuttal to Sarah Grimké's _Letters on the Equality of the Sexes_ (1837) and pastoral admonitions that women should practice their religion in unobtrusive ways.
The peculiar slant of this construction of the women's rights movement is in fact a subplot of the dominant storyline that runs through _What God Hath Wrought_. If not evangelicals, Howe's favored women, like his favored men, are aggressively Protestant members of an emerging middle class. While scores of women find entry into Howe's narrative, they represent a relatively narrow segment of the population. Howe inadvertently reveals his personal vantage point on antebellum America at the very outset of the book when he chooses first a male and then a female character to introduce his narrative. Samuel Morse, inventor of the telegraph and fierce Nativist, serves as his male persona, while the prologue to the female subplot is drawn from a Methodist woman's magazine that praised the telegraph as a "means of extending civilization, republicanism and Christianity over the earth" (p. 3). Elsewhere he credits "Bible-centered Protestantism, synthesized with the Enlightenment and a respect for classical learning," for helping to "shape the culture, determine patterns of intellectual inquiry and define the terms of debate in the antebellum American republic. It supplied a young and rapidly changing society with a sense of stability" (p. 482). Women's claim to influence in _What God Hath Wrought_ is confined chiefly to these narrow social and cultural channels, awarded on the condition that they be "moral" and act in the service of "civilization."
It is the insistent middle-class and Protestant slant of Howe's synthesis that opens up a prominent role for women in American history. Of the westward movement, for example, we are told that "the shortage of women also contributed to the temporary drop in the level of civilization among the new arrivals. ... The presence of respectable Anglo womanhood in California became a dream, part of an aspiration to the civilization the migrant had left behind" (p. 819). Those who might oppose or reject this orthodoxy, like Fanny Wright, whose forthright call for gender equality and sexual freedom is slighted in a single reference to "Wollstonecraft feminism," are all but ignored (p. 540). Similarly, Howe seems oblivious to Sarah Grimké or Elizabeth Cady Stanton's rejection of the notion of female moral superiority, which would contradict his account of the intellectual origins and meanings of the antebellum woman's rights movement. At least some humorous asides, like the references to Anne Royall, tried for harassing Presbyterian ladies on their way to church, leave some hint that not all women signed on to the middle-class Protestant civilizing mission (p. 495).
In 1840 the subplot of Protestant womanhood converged with the Howe's major storyline of partisan politics. In the presidential campaign of that year, the Whig Party invited women to express their support for their nominee, William Henry Harrison. While Howe concedes that women were never Whig leaders and remained excluded from nominating conventions, he pointedly takes note of the exceptionally rare occasions when a woman gave a speech or marched in a partisan procession. Not just women, but gender difference more broadly was implicated in the Whig political culture that occupies so prominent a position in _What God Hath Wrought_. "Recognizing that theirs was the party of the middle class, the Harrisonians presented their candidate as the custodian of the domestic values cherished by the middle class, as the guardians of hearth and home" (p. 607).
The gender ideology of female domesticity as championed by the Whigs is contrasted with the "insistent masculinity of Democratic ranks" (p. 607). Howe aligns the code of Democratic masculinity with a violent urban "male tavern culture" where "youths proved their manhood by drinking, fighting each other, attacking members of different ethnic groups or political parties, and beating up or gang-raping women" (p. 528). Although a careful search through urban history would find some brawling gangs affiliated with the Whig party, Howe codes his favored party as a different style of masculinity characterized by "literacy , thrift, impulse control, respect for diligent work, honesty and promise-keeping, moral involvement with the world outside one's local community" (p. 580). This capacious volume does not exclude entirely those magnetic American personalities who cannot be constrained within the Whigs' gender discipline. He quotes Walt Whitman, for example, proclaiming "O the joy of manly self-hood/ To be servile to none, to defer to none" (p 528). Yet he does not take this as cue to celebrate with Whitman that distinctively un-Whiggish love of the freedom, tumult and delirium of the city, not to speak of his homosexuality, though these too are a vigorous, if not a particularly godly, part of antebellum American history.
Howe's way of mapping male and female onto the partisan landscape identifies important aspects of the political culture of the antebellum period. But by leaving that ideology largely unexamined and undisputed he skirts the most critical and complicated issues in gender history. Among other things he tends to obscure the inequity and hierarchy that undergirded codes of masculinity and femininity. While Howe is attentive to the ways in which the Whigs paid rhetorical homage to femininity and domesticity, he tends to avert his gaze from gender inequities: for examples, the denial of women's rights--to property, child custody and individuality--or the sexual double standard, for example. He opines that "despite the common law of 'coverture' which deprived married women of legal independence from their husband, women almost always looked forward to the prospect of marriage" (p. 36). The burdens of gender inequality for widows sentenced to the almshouse house or the young females in sweatshops are also greeted with relative complacency. They are acknowledged only in muted references to Lowell girls who "put in long hours under unhealthy conditions and contracted not to leave until they had worked at least a year. But twelve to fourteen dollars a month was a good wage and the new town had attractive shops" (p. 133). (This is at a time when the typical women's wage was one third that earned by a man.) While Howe never shrinks from indicting America for its crimes of slavery and racism, his account of the gender relations of African Americans is cursory. "In their aspirations for a modicum of personal security, dignity, and tangible reward for hard work, enslaved American families resembled other American families" (p. 59). Speaking of such a resemblance seems glib given the fact, documented by numerous studies, that the majority of enslaved men and women could not expect to reside in households composed of two parents and their young children.
No single volume, not even one as expansive as _What God Hath Wrought_, can fully record all the fine gradations and variations in the experience of gender, especially as they are refracted by class and race. Still, to so homogenize them is to neglect one of the most important historical transformations of the period from 1815 to 1848. While Howe showcases a "communications revolution" that transformed America in fundamental ways, he treats gender largely as a static phenomenon, subject only to superficial variations within a priori categories of manhood and womanhood. Modifications in gender roles and practices appear as byproducts of economic or technological changes. Of the Erie Canal, for example, he writes that the effect was "particularly felt by women, causing some to turn from rural household manufacturing to management of middle-class households based on cash purchases" (p. 218). This hardly does justice to the magnitude and complexity of gender change enacted by the men and women who inhabit the pages of _What God Hath Wrought_. Over the course of Howe's narrative, the productive unit of the farming couple of 1815 is seen to disappear in a generation, replaced by two separate flanks of the middle-class, the domesticated but reform-minded wives and the independent hard- driving breadwinners of the Victorian age. Howe offers general economic factors and scattered references to the decline of "patriarchal authority" as explanations of this transformation. Given all the energy women and gender historians have paid to charting and then critiquing the notion of separate spheres (an issue that is especially germane to the period covered here), Howe's decision to forego the opportunity to make gender analysis a more integral part his historical synthesis is specially regrettable.
Both gender and women, while admirably included in _What God Hath Wrought_, are subordinated to another story, and inevitably suffer some distortion in the process. This is the author's prerogative and the result of difficult decisions about what to include in a work of historical synthesis. More pertinent is the larger question: is it possible to write a satisfying and comprehensive synthesis after historical writing has been sufficiently democratized to give representation to women and an array of other social differences and cultural groupings? Some might consider giving up on the whole enterprise, and try a different tack. Recent historiography has shown us that in-depth, highly-focused, micro studies can better evoke and explain the events of the past. For example, studies of one prostitute by Patricia Cohen and one document by Lori Ginsberg speak to gender with more complexity and completeness than any synthetic compendium could possibly realize. Similarly a concentration on a single or circumscribed space, a town in Tennessee (Lisa Tolbert) or a mining camp in the West (Susan Johnson) can condense both intimate knowledge and social breadth within one small compass.
Yet books that attempt the national range and thematic generality of _What God Hath Wrought_ meet a real need of both professional historians and general readers. Daniel Walker Howe has served that purpose with grace, erudition and the vitality of his distinctive point of view. He has also been more attentive to women and gender than most authors of big synthetic history books. This admirably inclusive history has, however, the ironic effect of calling attention to the remaining lacunae in big-picture history. This conundrum should at least serve as reason to disavow the attitude of the omniscient narrator and instead to admit to the inevitable selectivity or biases of any single author. (In the case of this reviewer that means owning up not just to a feminist perspective, but a preference for taking historical excursions to city taverns rather than genteel parlors or Sunday schools.)
Finally, a more pluralistic and less omniscient synthesis would convey the volatility and ultimate incomprehensibility of history itself. Daniel Walker Howe has deftly demonstrated and finely detailed the massive transformation that occurred between 1815 and 1848. But this volume, like most such synthetic works, leaves those who experienced these changes somehow unruffled by change, still encased in the same rigid boxes, be they labeled Whigs or Democrats, middle class or their shadowy others, male or female. Yet these boxes were fabricated by human beings and hence are always protean in themselves. In terms of Howe's front story of politics, the period between 1815 and 1848 saw not just a rivalry between two parties, but the invention of a whole new political regime, characterized by expanded suffrage, wider democratic participation, the assertion of the foreign-born and the non Protestant, all worked out not just in party conventions, but at the polling places, on the streets, and yes, in churches and private households. That history requires more than placing Whigs on a par with Democrats or women on the sidelines of presidential history. Antebellum Americans did haltingly re-arrange themselves into two separate, ill-fitting boxes, one labeled male and the other female. It was certainly not clear at the time that women were on a teleological path to equality that would take a century and more. Neither was it ordained that men or women would docilely file into separate positions within the public realm, nor that one sex or the other would construct and then preside over a separate domestic realm. To invest the whole unwieldy American story with this uncertainty, diversity and possibility, is to see the history that human beings hath wrought.
SOURCE: Jesse Lemisch at his Facebook page (12-11-08)
SOURCE: Deborah Lipstadt blog (12-11-08)
The problem is that the guy gave Irving a chance to spout, not just odious views, but misstatements of fact and he apparently did not even know how to challenge them. [That was what my trial was all about.]
It's one thing to argue that people with disgusting views have a right to freedom of speech. They do [unless they engage in incitement].
But since when does a person who just spouts lies and distortions and inventions have to be celebrated?
Obviously such a liar has a right to speak but what person in their sane mind would believe that they have to give them a platform?
Obviously Rex Bloomstein, the filmmaker did.
The film, celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and in particular Article 19 which states 'Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression.'
Rex Bloomstein has made The Longest Hatred: The History of Anti-Semitism and KZ which tells the story of Mauthausen concentration camp.
Bloomstein told the publication that he"thought long and hard" about including Irving in the film, but said:"In the end, I thought it was right to include him and I would have to accept that the decision would be met with some controversy."
He also said:"Irving is someone who reflects the limits of freedom of expression. He epitomises repellent views which make us aware of the limits of freedom of expression. It would be derelict not to include someone who challenges how we look at that freedom."
This guy does not get it. It's not a matter of right or wrong. It's a matter of judgment.
Why give someone who is simply twisting the truth and lying a platform?
Did Bloomstein, possibly unconsciously so, want to show how brave he is? How willing he was to buck criticism? I think dense is a far more accurate term.
Sometimes, just because lots of people criticize you, does not mean your are right. [With apologies to the originator of the line: Just because I am paranoid does not mean everyone isn't out to get me.]
[For my views on outlawing Holocaust denial see here.]
SOURCE: Tom Engelhardt at tomdispatch.com (12-12-08)
On Sunday, I went to a memorial for Studs Terkel, that human dynamo, our nation's greatest listener and talker, the one person I just couldn't imagine dying. After all, the man wrote his classic oral history of death, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? at 89, and only then did he do his oral history of hope, Hope Dies Last. The celebration of his life went on for almost two and a half hours. Everyone on stage had a classic story about the guy, one better than the next, and Studs would have been thrilled that so many people talked at such length about him. But he wouldn't have stayed. Half an hour into the event, he would have been out the door, across the street, and into the nearest bar, asking people about their lives. And the amazing thing is this: they would have been spilling their guts. He could make a stone talk -- and not only that, but tell a story of stone-ness that no one had ever heard before or even imagined a stone might tell. His death is like an archive of what was best in America closing; his legacy lies in oral histories that will inform the generations.
Unfortunately, his remarkable oral history of the Great Depression, Hard Times, may prove all too hauntingly relevant to our moment. In fact, in the midst of the ceremonies, the radio host Laura Flanders pointed out that, in Studs's beloved Chicago, a group of more than 200 workers from United Electrical union local 1110 were sitting in at their factory. After the Bank of America had cut the company off from operating credit, the execs of Republic Windows and Doors shut the plant for good on just three days notice without offering severance pay. The workers responded by demanding some justice and"blocking the removal of any assets from the plant" until they got their"rightful benefits." Shades of the 1930s! As John Nichols of the Nationwrites,"[They] are conducting the contemporary equivalent of the 1930s sit-down strikes that led to the rapid expansion of union recognition nationwide and empowered the Roosevelt administration to enact more equitable labor laws. And, just as in the thirties, they are objecting to policies that put banks ahead of workers; stickers worn by the UE sit-down strikers read: ‘You got bailed out, we got sold out.'"
If this isn't a message from and about a changing nation, I don't know what is. And, by the way, the fact that the President-elect supported their demands at a news conference on Sunday indicates not just that change has indeed occurred, but that messages sent from the bottom en masse don't go unnoticed by canny politicians at the top.
Until this second, who would have predicted such a thing? And who can imagine what version of hard times we will face? All I know is that, if Studs, who made it to 96, to the verge of the historic election of Barack Obama, were alive today, he would have recognized a moment of hope when he saw it and made a beeline for Republic Windows and Doors, tape recorder in hand. He was, after all, a man who knew that anyone can hope in good times, but that, in bad times, to feel hopeful you have to act, you have to take a step, even on an unknown path. And he was a man who also would have taken it for granted that the lives of the workers in that Chicago factory were at least as complex, deep, dark, surprising, fascinating, confusing, and remarkable as any among Washington's elite or the movers and shakers (down) of Wall Street.
In one of Studs's interviews, the chief of the trauma unit at a Chicago hospital, talking about how a doctor should deal with the family of a young person who has just died traumatically, says that, when he introduces himself,"they won't even remember my name. Sit them down. Sit down with them. Look into their eyes. If you can, hold on to them and say, 'it's bad news.' And they'll say, 'Is he dead?' Or they just look at you. You have to use the word, you have to say it: 'He's dead.' If you say he's 'expired,' he's 'passed away,' they don't hear that… It's very important to put yourself into their shoes, but you've got to say the word 'dead.' You've got to give them the finality of it."
Well, Studs is dead. And it's hard times without him.
SOURCE: http://www.civilwar.org/walmart08/historianletter.htm (12-11-08)
National History Coalition Backgrounder
Mr. Lee Scott, President and CEO
Walmart Stores, Inc.
702 SW 8th Street
Bentonville, Arkansas 72716-8611
Dear Mr. Scott:
I urge you in the strongest possible terms to pursue alternate building locations for the Walmart Supercenter proposed in Orange County, Virginia. The site currently under consideration lies within the historic boundary of the Wilderness Battlefield and only one quarter mile from the current boundary of the Wilderness Battlefield unit of Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park.
The Battle of the Wilderness was among the most significant engagements of the Civil War. It marked the first time legendary generals Robert E. Lee and Ulysses S. Grant faced off against one another on the field of battle. During two days of desperate conflict in a harsh, unforgiving landscape tangled with underbrush, 4,000 Americans lost their lives and nearly 20,000 were wounded.
The proposed location will greatly increase traffic through the area and encourage further development to encroach upon and spoil the battlefield. This, in turn, will seriously degrade the experience for the many tens of thousands of heritage tourists who visit this National Park every year. The Wilderness Battlefield is easily the biggest tourist attraction in Orange County, with visitors coming from around the world to experience its serenity and contemplate its history and significance.
As a historian, I feel strongly that the Wilderness Battlefield is a unique historic and cultural treasure deserving careful stewardship. Currently only approximately 20 percent of the battlefield is protected by the National Park Service. If built, this Walmart would seriously undermine ongoing efforts to see more of this historic land preserved and deny future generations the opportunity to wander a landscape that has, until now, remained largely unchanged since 1864.
The Wilderness is an indelible part of our history, its very ground hallowed by the American blood spilled there, and it cannot be moved. Surely Walmart can identify a site that would meet its needs without changing the very character of the battlefield.
There are many places in central Virginia to build a commercial development, but there is only one Wilderness Battlefield. Please respect our great nation's history and move your store farther away from this historic site and National Park.
Terrie Aamodt, Walla Walla University
Edward D. Abrahams, Silver Spring, Md.
Sean P. Adams, University of Florida
Garry Adelman, History Associates, Inc.
Nicholas Aieta, the Marlborough School, West Springfield, Mass.
A.J. Aiseirithe, Washington, D.C.
James Anderson, Ashburn, Va.
Adam Arenson, University of Texas
Jonathan M. Atkins, Berry College
Arthur H. Auten, University of Hartford
David Bard, Concord College
Alwyn Barr, Texas Tech University
Craig A. Bauer, Metairie, La.
Erik Bauer, West Hollywood, Calif.
Dale Baum, Texas A&M University
Edwin C. Bearss, Historian emeritus, National Park Service
Caryn Cosse Bell, University of Massachusetts at Lowell
Jeffrey R. Bennett, Waterford, N.Y.
Shannon Bennett, Ellettsville, Ind.
Melvyn S. Berger, Newton, Mass.
Arthur W. Bergeron, Shippensburg, Pa.
Edward H. Bergerstrom, Port Richey, Fla.
Eugene H. Berwanger, Colorado State University
Fred W. Beuttler, Deputy Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
Darrel Bigham, University of Southern Indiana
John Bloom, Las Cruces, N.M.
Frederick J. Blue, Youngstown State University
Christopher Bobal, Lees Summit, Mo.
Thomas Bockhorn, Huntsville, Ala.
Keith Bohannon, University of West Georgia
Phillip S. Bolger, San Diego, Calif.
Patrick Boyd, the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Conn.
Vernon S. Braswell, Corpus Christi, Tex.
Roger D. Bridges, Bloomington, Ill.
Ronald S. Brockway, Regis University
Col. George M. Brooke, III, USMC (Ret.), Lexington, Va.
Bruce A. Brown, Cypress, Calif.
Norman D. Brown, University of Texas, Austen, Tex.
David Brush, the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Conn.
Jim Burgess, Manassas National Battlefield, Va.
Ken Burns, Walpole, N.H.
Brian Burton, Ferndale, Wash.
Victoria Bynum, Texas State University-San Marcos
Peter S. Carmichael, West Virginia University
Marius M. Carriere, Christian Brothers University
Katherine Cassioppi, National-Louis University
Gary Casteel, Lexington, Va.
Jane Turner Censer, George Mason University
William Cheek, San Diego State University
John Cimprich, Thomas More College
Thomas G. Clemens, Hagerstown Community College
Leon F. Cohn, Plantation, Fla.
Thomas B. Colbert, Marshalltown Community College
James R. Connor, Chancellor emeritus University of Wisconsin-Whitewater
William J. Cooper, Jr., Louisiana State University
Janet L. Coryell, Western Michigan University
Charles E. Coulter, Yankton, S.D.
Robert E. Curran, Richmond, Ky.
Thomas F. Curran, Saint Louis, Mo.
Gordon E. Dammann, National Museum of Civil War Medicine
Guy Stephen Davis, Atlanta, Ga.
William C. "Jack" Davis
Joseph G. Dawson, III, Texas A&M University
Mary DeCredico, United States Naval Academy
James Lyle DeMarce, Arlington, Va.
Charles B. Dew, Williams College
Steven Deyle, University of Houston
Richard DiNardo, Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Luis-Alejandro Dinnella-Borrego, Warwick, N.Y.
Richard R. Duncan, Alexandria, Va.
Kenneth Durr, History Associates, Inc.
David Dykstra, Poolesville, Md.
Mark Elliott, University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Robert F. Engs, University of Pennsylvania
C. Wyatt Evans, Drew University
Daniel Feller, University of Tennessee
Rex H. Felton, Tiffin, Ohio
Paul Finkelman, Albany Law School
Jeff Fioravanti, Lynn, Mass.
Joseph C. Fitzharris, University of Saint Thomas
J.K. Folmarm California, Minn.
George B. Forgie, University of Texas Austin
Lee W. Formwalt, Organization of American Historians
Janet B. Frazer, Narberth, Pa.
Gary W. Gallagher, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
Jonathan Gantt, Columbia College
Jason Gart, History Associates, Inc.
Louis S. Gerteis, University of Missouri, St. Louis
Kate C. Gillin, the Pomfret School, Pomfret, Conn.
Mary Giunta, Edinburg, Va.
Martin K. Gordon, Columbia, Md.
Cathy Gorn, University of Maryland
Thomas M. Grace, Amherst, N.Y.
Susan W. Gray, Severna Park, Md.
A. Wilson Greene, Pamplin Historical Park and National Museum of the Civil War Soldier
Debra F. Greene, Jefferson City, Mo.
Jim Griffin, Frisco, Tex.
Linda J. Guy, Clearville, Pa.
Edward J. Hagerty, American Military University
Alfred W. Hahn, Midlothian, Va.
Judith Lee Hallock, South Setauket, N.Y.
Jerry Harlow, President, Trevilian Station Battlefield Foundation
D. Scott Hartwig, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pa.
David S. Heidler, Colorado State University
Jeannie Heidler, United States Air Force Academy
John S. Heiser, Gettysburg National Military Park, Pa.
Earl J. Hess, Lincoln Memorial University
Libra Hilde, San Jose State University
T. John Hillmer, Jr., Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, Mo.
David Hochfelder, State University of New York – Albany
Sylvia Hoffert, Texas A&M University
Patrick Hotard, Philadelphia, Pa.
Richard Houston, Harwich, Mass.
Randal L. Hoyer, Madonna University
Richard L. Hutchison, Fort Worth, Tex.
Brian M. Ingrassia, Georgia State University
Perry D. Jamieson, Crofton, Md.
Jim Jobe, Fort Donelson National Battlefield, Tenn.
Willie Ray Johnson, Kennesaw Mountain National Battlefield Park, Ga.
Vivian Lee Joyner, New Hill, N.C.
Whitmel M. Joyner, New Hill, N.C.
Walter D. Kamphoefner, Texas A&M University
Amalie M. Kass, Harvard Medical School
Philip M. Katz, Washington, D.C.
Brad Keefer, Kent State University
Brian J. Kenny, Denver, Co.
Victoria A. Kin, San Antonio, Tex.
George W. Knepper, University of Akron
Christopher Kolakowski, National Museum of the U.S. Army Reserve
Carl E. Kramer, Indiana University Southeast
Arnold Krammer, Texas A&M University
Robert K. Krick, Fredericksburg, Va.
Michael E. Krivdo, Texas A&M University
Benjamin Labaree, Saint Alban's School, Washington, D.C.
Dan Laney, Austin, Tex.
Connie Langum, Wilson's Creek National Battlefield, Mo.
William P. Leeman, Coventry, R.I.
Kevin Levin, Charlottesville, Va.
Richard G. Lowe, University of North Texas
Robert W. Lowery, Jr., Newport News, Va.
M. Philip Lucas, Cornell College
R. Wayne Mahood, Geneseo, N.Y.
Daniel Martin, Lancaster, Pa.
William Marvel, South Conway, N.H.
Matthew Mason, Brigham Young University
Dinah M. Mayo-Bobee, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
George T. Mazuzan, Springfield, Va.
Nathan McAlister, Hoyt, Kan.
Dennis K. McDaniel, Washington, D.C.
James M. McPherson, Princeton University
Kathleen G. McKesson, Eighty Four, Pa.
James G. Mendez, Chicago, Ill.
Brian Craig Miller, Emporia State University
Roger E. Miller, Eagle River, Alaska.
Wilbur R. Miller, State University of New York – Stony Brook
Eric J. Mink, Fredericksburg, Va.
Robert E. Mitchell, Brookline, Mass.
John Moody, Orange Park, Fla.
Richard Moore, Woodbridge, Va.
Richard Morey, Kent Place School, Summit, N.J.
Geoffrey Morrison, Saint Louis, Mo.
Brenda Murray, North Pole, Alaska.
Richard J. Myers, Doylestown, Pa.
Eric Nedergaard, Mesa, Ariz.
Robert D. Neuleib, Normal, Ill.
Kenneth Noe, Auburn University
Justin Oakley, Martinsville, Ind.
Kristen Oertel, Millsaps College
Marvin Olson, La Crescenta, Ca.
Beverly Palmer, Claremont, Ca.
John T. Payne, Lone Star College
Graham Peck, Saint Xavier University
William D. Pederson, Louisiana State University, Shreveport
William E. Pellerin, Santa Barbara, Ca.
Don Pfanz, Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, Va.
Michael Pierson, University of Massachusetts, Lowell
Kermit J. Pike, Western Reserve Historical Society, Mentor, Ohio
Ann Poe, Alexandria, Va.
Kieth Ploakoff, Rossmoor, Ca.
Lawrence N. Powell, Tulane University
Adam J. Pratt. Baton Rouge, La.
Gerald Prokopowicz, East Carolina University
John Quist, Shippensburg University
Steven J. Rauch, Evans, Ga.
S. Waite Rawls, III, Museum of the Confederacy
Carol Reardon, Pennsylvania State University
Douglas Reasner, Durant, Iowa
Michael Reis, History Associates, Inc.
Robert V. Remini, Office of the Historian, U.S. House of Representatives
James Renberg, Southern Pines, N.C.
Gordon Rhea, Mount Pleasant, S.C.
Jean Richardson, Buffalo State College
Jeffrey Richman, Brooklyn, N.Y.
Harris D. Riley, Jr., M.D., Nashville, Tenn.
James I. Robertson, Jr., Virginia Tech
Stephen I. Rockenbach, Virginia State University
Sylvia Rodrigue, Baton Rouge, La.
Rodney A. Ross, Center for Legislative Archives, Washington, D.C.
Jennifer Ross-Nazzal, Johnson Space Center
Jeffrey J. Safford, Montana State University
Frank Scaturro, New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Mark S. Schantz, Hendrix College
Laurence D. Schiller, Deerfield, Ill.
Christopher A. Schnell, Springfield, Ill.
Glenna R. Schroeder-Lein, Springfield, Ill.
Frederick Schult, Jr., New York University
Donald L. Schupp, Warrenton, Va.
Richard D. Schwartz, Morristown, N.J.
Cynthia Seacord, Schenectady, N.Y.
Tomas Seaver, Woonsocket, R.I.
Diane Shalda, Chicago Military Academy
Peter D. Sheridan, Torrance, Ca.
Mark Snyder, Akron, Ohio
John Sotak, O.S.A., New Lenox, Ill.
Clay W. Stuckey, DDS, Bedford, Ind.
Carlyn Swaim, History Associates, Inc.
Andrew Talkov, Virginia Historical Society
Robert A. Taylor, Florida Institute of Technology
Paul H. Tedesco, Northeastern University
James Thayer, Milford, Mass.
Emory M. Thomas, University of Georgia
JoAnne Thomas, Peoria, Ill.
Joseph Trent, Worcester, Mass.
Tony R. Trimble, Plainfield, Ind.
I. Bruce Turner, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Edwin C. Ulmer, Jr., Feasterville, Pa.
Charles W. Van Adder, Forked River, N.J.
Charles Vincent, Baker, La.
Joseph F. von Deck, Ashburnham, Ma.
Brent Vosburg, Elizabethtown, N.J.
Robert Voss, Lincoln, Neb.
George N. Vourlojianis, Lorain County Community College
Christopher R. Waldrep, San Francisco State University
John Weaver, Tipp City, Ohio
Robert Welch, Ames, Iowa
Lowell E. Wenger, Cincinnati, Ohio
Jeffrey Wert, Centre Hall, Pa.
Bruce E. Wilburn, Glen Allen, Va.
Diana I. Williams, Wellesley College
Mary Williams, Fort Davis National Historic Site, Tex.
Terry Winschel, Vicksburg National Military Park, Miss.
Roger Winthrop, Lansing, Mich.
Eric J. Wittenberg, Columbus, Ohio
Ralph A. Wooster, Lamar University
Donald Yacovone, Harvard University
Shirley J. Yee, University of Washington
Mitchell Yockelson, National Archives and Records Administration
William D. Young, Maple Woods Community College
Mary E. Younger, Dayton, Ohio
Jack Zevin, Queens College, City University of New York
SOURCE: Scott McLemee at the website of Inside Higher Ed (12-10-08)
The two volumes of essays collected by Harrison during his lifetime have been out of print since the 1920s. A major step forward in his rediscovery came in 2001, when Wesleyan University Press published A Hubert Harrison Reader, edited by Perry, who also prepared a thorough entry on him for Wikipedia. (This can’t have hurt: Where a Google search once turned up a dozen or so pages mentioning Harrison, it now yields thousands.)
Last month, Perry sat down with me for an interview, excerpts from which are available here as an Inside Higher Ed podcast. The night before, he had spoken at a Washington, D.C., bookstore; to judge by the warmth of that talk’s reception it seems fair to say that a wider public is ready to rediscover Harrison now. Besides traveling around giving talks to promote the book, Perry is also busy preparing a digital archive of Harrison’s work, to be made available soon by Columbia University....
As luck would have it, I ran into a guy handing out fliers for Hubert Harrison: The Voice of Harlem Radicalism at a conference at Columbia University last month. He was a retired postal worker (white like me) and prone to considerable animation as he talked about the book, which, it turned out, he had written.
I say “it turned out” because Perry is strikingly unproprietary about his book. He displayed very little ego regarding it. Starting to say something about the thoroughness of his research on this or that topic, he would catch himself, seem embarrassed at the presumption, then insist that younger scholars were bound to discover more than he had. (Having gone over his footnotes, I want to wish them luck with that.)
After a while, this began to seem less like shyness than a matter of absolute concentration on Harrison himself. But I wanted to find out how it had come to pass that Perry discovered Harrison – let alone persuaded Columbia University Press to publish a two-volume biography. (The second part, covering the final decade of Harrison’s life, is now in progress.)
It’s neither a short nor a simple tale. Perry graduated from Princeton in 1968 and attended the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a year or so — making straight A’s, he says, “until I had an opportunity to travel by land through the Americas and took it. I went to Argentina and back.” In 1974, he took a job at the New Jersey International Bulk Mail Center and joined the postal workers’ union. He retired in June 2007....
SOURCE: Stanford Humanities Center (12-10-08)
In her book, published in 2008, Satia takes an unprecedented look into the British intelligence agencies’ history of surveillance and espionage in the Middle East in the era of WWI. The historical lessons to be gleaned from Britain's mistakes and successes are so pertinent to the current U.S. occupation of Iraq, that in 2007, at the request of the U.S. Directorate of National Intelligence, Prof. Satia presented her findings to officials from more than a dozen intelligence agencies and policy-making units, emphasizing that in the 1920s, much as today, “group think” about the Middle East as a particularly mysterious place produced dire consequences for both Iraq and its occupiers, laying the path to today’s latest chapter of misfortune
Satia’s research focus might seem to mark her as precisely the type of applicant that the Department of Defense hoped to hear from when they put out a call for research proposals for their aptly named Minerva Initiative. The Minerva Initiative, announced in 2008 and on-going for the next five years, is designed to promote humanities and social science scholarship in areas of U.S. national security policy. With a $75 million dollar budget, the DoD hopes the Minerva Initiative will help to forward research that the military can benefit from while at the same time opening the lines of communication between universities and the government.
The Minerva Initiative appears to be a project with worthy intentions. In theory, it will aggregate and then apply the insights of leading academics to both current and long-term terrorism scenarios. Add to that the fact that current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who initiated the project, is a former President of Texas A&M University, making this a moment when scholars might be particularly amenable to sharing their research with a government agency. But for a number of scholars, including Prof. Satia, the project was cause for alarm. To her, academics belong in the public, not the governmental sphere, for they serve us best as independent producers of knowledge and critics of government action, “the more academics appear beholden to the state, the less authority they will possess in the public sphere. That sphere is the very lifeblood of democracy; its abridgement or cooption is, as the British public discovered too late, the path to autocracy.”
The Social Science Research Council (SSRC), an independent, not-for-profit research organization, also recognized the flaws inherent to the Minerva Initiative. SSRC Program Officer, Thomas Asher, points out the key issues, “although the Minerva initiative will promote scholarship as a public resource, it is also fraught with the ethical issues of how the research findings will be affected by DoD funding, what standards should be imposed when scholars work with the Department, and who is in charge of vetting the researchers. Scholars opposed to the initiative are worried about the DoD’s ability to only pay attention to the findings that support their existing agendas.”
To provide scholars with a discussion platform and to facilitate interdisciplinary discourse on the topic, the SSRC created a Minerva Controversy on-line essay forum. The SSRC solicited entries from Prof. Satia and professors from other universities including Harvard, Cornell and Duke. The SSRC also approached a number of public figures such as Saad Eskander, Director of the Iraq National Library and Archive.
In her essay for the SSRC’s Minerva forum, Professor Satia argues that an appeal to academics might seem to indicate the Department of Defense’s belated awareness that they are in over their heads. But, to Satia, the appeal is a misguided attempt to involve academics without fully considering the consequences of the act. Satia calls attention to a similar situation involving the British military in Iraq after the First World War. The British government reached out for academic expertise in the area in order to validate its actions and to appease the public by engaging empathetic civilians to help with upheavals in Iraq. Empathy was no guarantee of humanity, however; the British military continued to use forceful means to impose order on the country.
As Satia puts it, “Today, too, embedded anthropologists will not rid our wars of ‘collateral damage’ or remove the stigma of occupation; only the end of war can.” Rather than luring scholars to work towards the Department’s agendas with grants and fame, Satia suggests the DoD learn to access and make better use of knowledge already being produced by academics working on the Middle East situation.
Asher said that Department of Defense representatives are reading the forum essays and he’s hopeful that the agency will take the scholars’ thoughts into consideration as the initiative moves forward.
Priya Satia is currently Assistant Professor of History at Stanford where she teaches courses on modern Britain and the British Empire. Her research has been featured in the American Historical Review, Past and Present, and elsewhere. Her article, “The Defense of Inhumanity: Air Control in Iraq and the British Idea of Arabia” won the Article Prize of the Pacific Coast Conference on British Studies for 2005-2006 and the 2007 Walter D. Love Prize of the North American Conference on British Studies.
Satia is currently researching the manufacture, trade, and use of small arms in the British Empire for her next book project Empire of Guns: The British Empire and the Making of the Legal Trade in a Weapon of Mass Destruction, 1760-1960.
SOURCE: Ascribe (11-25-08)
It would seem unlikely that one could discover tolerant religious attitudes in Spain, Portugal, and the New World colonies during the era of the Inquisition, when enforcement of Catholic orthodoxy was widespread and brutal. Yet this groundbreaking work by historian Stuart Schwartz does exactly that. Drawing on an enormous body of historical evidence, including records of the Inquisition itself, Schwartz investigates the idea of religious tolerance and its evolution in the Hispanic world from 1500 to 1820.
"The topic is engaging --- one of the main issues of our time: tolerance," said esteemed historian and jury member Roger Chartier."The research is outstanding, based on a long familiarity and original readings of inquisitorial archives all around the world, the scope of the study is worldwide, crossing our interest or preoccupations with globalization, and the lesson is profound: even for the humblest folk and within the worst situation it is possible to stand for generous and strong beliefs." Canadian Senator and fellow jury member Serge Joyal adds,"Schwartz's history reveals that even during the infamous Inquisition, one of the darkest periods of the history of religion, freedom of conscience and the spirit of tolerance were alive in the minds of ordinary human beings. It offers a glimmer of hope for today's religious 'culture wars.'"
Schwartz is the George Burton Adams Professor of History at Yale University. He taught previously at the University of Minnesota, has been a Guggenheim Fellow, a Fellow of the Institute for Advanced Study (Princeton), and twice an ACLS Fellow. His first book,"Sovereignty and Society in Colonial Brazil" (1973), received Honorable Mention for the Bolton Prize in 1974 and his book"Sugar Plantations in the Formation of Brazilian Society" (1984) won the Bolton Prize. He has published more than 70 articles in scholarly journals and anthologies and he currently serves on the editorial board of 12 scholarly journals in seven countries. In 2000, he received the Order of the Southern Cross, Brazil's highest decoration for foreigners.
The largest non-fiction historical literature prize in the world, the annual Cundill Prize awards $75,000 U.S. to an author who has published a book determined to have a profound literary, social and academic impact on a given subject. Two $10,000 U.S."Recognition of Excellence" prizes are also awarded. The shortlist, chosen from more than 170 entries from around the world, was announced on Oct. 20, 2008. The finalists were:
-"Matters of Exchange: Commerce, Medicine, and Science in the Dutch Golden Age," by Harold J. Cook (Yale University Press)
-"Life and Death in the Third Reich," by Peter Fritzsche (Harvard University Press)
-"All Can Be Saved: Religious Tolerance and Salvation in the Iberian Atlantic World," by Stuart B. Schwartz (Yale University Press)
This year's jury included President of the Beaverbrook Canadian Foundation, Timothy Aitken; Canadian writer Denise Chong; Canadian Senator Serge Joyal; professors Angela Schottenhammer (Munich); Roger Chartier (Paris); and Natalie Zemon Davis (Toronto).
The Cundill International Prize in History at McGill was established in April by McGill alumnus and renowned investment manager Peter Cundill. It is administered by McGill University's Dean of Arts, with the help of the McGill Institute for the Study of Canada
SOURCE: WaPo (12-7-08)
American-Made, by Nick Taylor (Bantam). A succinct survey of the Great Depression and particularly its consequences for workers. -- H.W. Brands
American Transcendentalism, by Philip F. Gura (Hill and Wang). From 1830 to 1850, a group of New England intellectuals confronted the great polarizing tension in American history, that between hyperindividualism and brotherhood. -- MD
Capitol Men, by Philip Dray (Houghton Mifflin). Devotes the majority of his pages to a significant minority: some of the first African Americans ever to serve in Congress. -- Jabari Asim
The Day Freedom Died, by Charles Lane (Henry Holt). The story of the single most egregious act of terrorism during Reconstruction. -- Eric Foner
Defying Dixie, by Glenda Elizabeth Gilmore (Norton). Readers will come away with a renewed appreciation for the complex origins of a freedom struggle that changed the South, the nation and the world. -- Raymond Arsenault
Hitler, the Germans, and the Final Solution, by Ian Kershaw (Yale). A splendid summary of Kershaw's conviction that ordinary Germans were what he calls "morally indifferent" to mass murder. -- James J. Sheehan
Lincoln and Douglas, by Allen C. Guelzo (Simon & Schuster). Guelzo, author of the best book about the Emancipation Proclamation, has now written an important one about this legendary campaign. -- Michael F. Bishop
Prague in Danger, by Peter Demetz (FSG). Demetz places his own unique experience against the catastrophe of World War II. -- Bradley Abrams
Sarah Johnson's Mount Vernon, by Scott E. Casper (Hill and Wang). While innumerable books have been written about the Founding Fathers, it's refreshing to read one in which slaves play a central part. -- W. Ralph Eubanks
This Republic of Suffering, by Drew Gilpin Faust (Knopf). The extent to which the Civil War found America unprepared to deal with its carnage at the most basic levels is fascinatingly horrifying. -- Stephen Budiansky
Throes of Democracy, by Walter A. McDougall (Harper). A rollicking trip through America's past self-deceptions and a laudable exploration of the American character. -- Heather Cox Richardson
Vermeer's Hat, by Timothy Brook (Bloomsbury). Uses pictorial elements to describe the economic entanglements between the Netherlands and China in the 17th century. -- Michael Dirda
Waking Giant, by David S. Reynolds (Harper). Reynolds's depiction of an exploding popular culture during the Jacksonian era makes this an unmitigated delight. -- Douglas Brinkley
SOURCE: Scotsman (12-9-08)
The first five episodes of the history show wrapped up last night with the final parts to be screened late next year.
A series of top historians contacted by The Scotsman yesterday said they had not bothered to watch the show or had disliked what they had seen.
Several, including Professor Allan Macinnes and the leading historian Tom Devine, questioned why Mr Oliver, a broadcaster and journalist but not a professional historian, was presenting the programme.
But last night Mr Oliver responded: "Every time I hear those two men's names it makes me think of the two grumpy old men on The Muppet Show. They truly are the Statler and Waldorf of Scottish history."
Statler and Waldorf are the two elderly men making caustic comments from the box at the Muppet theatre.
SOURCE: Lee White at the website of the National Coalition for History (NCH) (12-9-08)
On December 7, historian Allen Weinstein, Archivist of the United States, submitted his resignation to the President, effective December 19, 2008. Professor Weinstein, who has Parkinson’s disease, cited health reasons for his decision. Deputy Archivist of the United States, Adrienne Thomas, will serve as Acting Archivist until a new Archivist is appointed. It is anticipated that Bush administration will not try to seek to name a successor and that President-elect Obama will nominate the new Archivist sometime after he takes office in January.
In his letter to the President, Weinstein said “During my tenure as Archivist, my team of colleagues and I have made substantial progress in achieving virtually all of our goals. Moreover, we at the National Archives have worked diligently and successfully on our primary mission of maximizing public access to the records of all three branches of government while protecting at all costs this agency’s rock-solid nonpartisan integrity.” The Archivist says that the time has come for him to address fresh challenges.
Weinstein was nominated by President Bush on April 8, 2004, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on February 10, 2005. Under the National Archives statute there is no specific term of office and the position is not intended to change hands automatically with the election of a new President.
The National Archives has seen many major accomplishments under Weinstein’s leadership over the past four years, including:
- An increase in the annual appropriated budget for the National Archives from $318.7 million for fiscal year 2005 to $411.1 million for fiscal year 2008;
- Successful deployment of two National Archives Electronic Records Archives systems, including the EOP (Executive Office of the President) system, launched on December 6, 2008, which enables the transfer, ingest and reliable storage of unprecedented volumes of Presidential electronic records;
- Restoration of public trust through the declassification and release of interagency agreements, an audit of purported reclassification activity, the return of previously withdrawn materials to public access, and the implementation of stringent new procedures to stem withdrawal of previously declassified and released records, reducing the number of withdrawn documents from more than 25,000 between 1995 and 2006 to only 7 to date;
- Preparation for the move of George W. Bush Presidential materials to Dallas, TX;
- Implementation of plans to replace the National Personnel Records Center, which houses four million cubic feet of records, in St. Louis, MO;
- Establishment of the National Declassification Initiative to begin to address the very serious challenges the National Archives faces with the policies, procedures, structure, and resources needed to create a more responsive and reliable executive branch-wide declassification program, particularly with respect to referrals of classified equities between executive branch agencies;
- Inclusion of the once-private Nixon library into the National Archives system of Presidential libraries. Approximately 320,000 pages and 363 hours of audio recordings related to the Nixon Presidency have been opened for research since 2005;
- Launching a major initiative to eliminate the enormous backlog of unprocessed records. In 2006, the backlog consisted of 1 million cubic feet of records; within two years, the backlog has been reduced by 20%;
- Expanding greatly public outreach of the National Archives, in partnership with the Foundation for the National Archives, through the creation of the Digital Vaults and the Boeing Learning Center;
- The establishment of three partnerships with non-governmental organizations to digitize and index major portions of National Archives holdings and make them available to the public at minimal cost to the taxpayer.
- Creating, in the aftermath of hurricane Katrina, the “First Preservers” program which offers support and guidance to state archives and local records repositories to preserve vital records;
- Continued growth of the Federal Records Center program. The Centers currently store 27 million cubic feet of Federal agency records, an increase of more than 7% since 2005;
- Developing leadership in the international arena, hosting delegations of foreign archivists and other foreign dignitaries and cooperating in international programs and agreements with foreign archives.
- Professor Weinstein has drawn on his vast network of friends and colleagues to raise the profile of the agency, creating a popular new public program series entitled “American Conversations”. His guests included Sen. Hillary Clinton, Mrs. Lynne Cheney, historian John Hope Franklin, and noted journalists and public officials who discussed all aspects of American history. He has forged new relationships with the professional archival and historical communities and has been lauded in the media for his courage in making access to archival materials a priority of his tenure at the National Archives.
SOURCE: David Debolt in the Chronicle of Higher Ed (12-12-08)
"I think they would expect us to parachute in to Lansing and then hitchhike to wherever else we needed to go," Mr. Drake says.
Finally came the copy machine. When the toner ran out, the department had to finish the semester without it.
In the midst of this economic mini-crisis, one of the professors, Kyle G. Volk, came up with a bright idea: Get a local business to sponsor a course. After all, advertisements and sponsorships have become commonplace on campuses, so why not in the classroom?
Mr. Volk cut a deal with El Diablo, a locally owned taqueria, to sponsor his course, "The Americans: Conquest to Capitalism." In exchange for $250, Mr. Volk plastered the restaurant's logo on the syllabus, handed out the stickers to the course's 250 students and, on the first day of class, projected its stick-figure devil image, with horns, tail, and pitchfork, on one of the classroom's walls. His plan was to use the sponsorship as seed money for a department newsletter and other projects....
Back in Montana, students seemed unfazed by the ads in Mr. Volk's classroom and, for the most part, did not mention them. One student told the professor the partnership was "strange" but not a distraction.
But the sponsorship with El Diablo did not last long. The university informed the professor that the agreement violated a campus policy adopted in 1977 that states, "the use of paid advertising relevant to academic programs or offerings shall be limited to the dissemination of information rather than solicitation." Officials said Mr. Volk's arrangement with the restaurant was a "good-faith mistake," though, and did not punish him.
The professor no longer promotes tacos and burritos in class, but advertising persists. It's just more subtle. When he opens up PowerPoint, he's saying, "go Microsoft." The computers in his class whisper, "I'm a Dell."
"I'm not intentionally doing it," he says, "but still."
SOURCE: David Van Biema in Time (12-8-08)
TIME: So Augustine is not the bad guy regarding the Jews that historians so often conjure?
Fredriksen: Let's say that Augustine was much more benign socially - at least toward Jews - than people have usually thought.
What caused you to question the received wisdom?
Back in 1993 I was reading a work of Augustine's attacking a Christian heretic. Usually when ancient orthodox Christians said terrible things about heretics, they found even worse things to say about Jews. Until 395, Augustine had not been much different, but here he was, writing about one of the flashiest heresies of his time, and marshaling as arguments unbelievably positive things about Jews. As I read further, my scalp tingled. I had been working on Augustine for 20 years and I'd never seen anything like this before. Not only could I establish that he had changed his position, but I could locate this shift in his thinking very precisely, to the four-year period when he also wrote his monumental Confessions.
He just flip-flopped on the topic?
It was more complicated. Imagine if all our public discourse was conducted in the language of legal combat. His was. Learned argument did not aim to represent an opponent's position fairly, but to make it look as ridiculous as possible. Part of his rhetoric regarding Jews reflected this. Also, Christians using harsh language against Jews were often actually aiming at Christian opponents whom they painted as darkly as possible by comparing them to hostile caricatures of Jews.