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: Columbia University Press (9-22-09)
Q: Is there any need for a new book on Japanese Americans and World War II? Many have already been written, including one by you. Hasn’t everything important already been said about Executive Order 9066 and the camps?
Greg Robinson: Actually, this book contains a great deal of recently discovered material about Japanese Americans. Part of it is that new documents have been released on the wartime events, and books have not studied the period before and after World War II as an integral part of them. It changes your view of official policy toward Japanese Americans, for example, if you consider that the Army and Justice Department were already preparing to hold masses of enemy aliens—and building a set of what they called “concentration camps” for them—months before the United States entered the war. But what is even more new and vital about the book, I think, is that it is the first transnational study of the subject. It covers the removal and confinement of Japanese not just in the United States but in Canada and Mexico as well and also tells the story of the Japanese Latin Americans who were sent to the United States and placed in camps.
Q: Why should we care about the treatment of ethnic Japanese in other countries?
GR: What happened to Japanese Americans is part of a larger history, and it is useful to look at their experience alongside that of their counterparts elsewhere. Moreover, if we study events and official policies in Canada and Mexico, which are neighbors with certain similarities in their politics, culture and economies, we get a clearer idea of the causes and results of confinement in the United States. For example, in Canada the Army and Navy chiefs opposed mass removal, but it was ordered nonetheless. This tells us something about the importance of military opinion in the decision making process in those countries. In Mexico ethnic Japanese were ordered off the west coast in the beginning of January 1942, more than a month before Washington took similar action and several months before Mexico even declared war on Japan. If the Mexicans did this so quickly, why did the Americans wait?
Q: What do you feel is the most important single contribution of this book
GR: I think that the section on wartime Hawaii is particularly compelling, because it tells a story that is unknown to most Americans yet has direct parallels with the present. After Pearl Harbor the U.S. Army pushed through a declaration of martial law in what was then the Territory of Hawaii, abolished the U.S. Constitution, and suspended the elected government. The Army also closed down the courts and created instead a set of military tribunals to judge all criminal cases, even those involving American civilians. Defendants had no due process or legal protections. Virtually all those accused were found guilty and often given harsh sentences. Eventually these military tribunals were challenged in a case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court. While there was no mass removal of Japanese Americans in Hawaii, the Army held on to arbitrary power long after any threat of invasion from Tokyo had ceased and justified its rule by claiming that Japanese Americans needed to be controlled. So the events in Hawaii not only relate in fascinating ways to the removal of ethnic Japanese on the mainland, but they also offer a prelude for thinking about the current situation at Guantanamo and the military tribunals there...
SOURCE: DailyRecord.co.uk (9-22-09)
The arrogant academic said devolution had turned Scotland into a "medieval" nation more obsessed with itself than the outside world...
... In his latest interview, he defended the earlier slur.
He said: "I would say that Scotland's decisions with the Libyan bomber confirms everything I said about them.
"If you want to see what happens when a country becomes 'little', when you have a government that wouldn't make county councillors in England and a minister of justice that is an underemployed solicitor - that's what you get.
"Scotland's greatness took place not in medieval history, when it was a catastrophe of a place, but in its long, long association with England and Britain.
"It has become exactly like medieval Scotland - the clannishness, the introversion."
Culture minister Mike Russell described Starkey's comments as "unfortunate and silly".
He added: "We would be delighted to welcome Dr Starkey to Scotland, so that he can discover the truth about our country...
SOURCE: DesMoinesRegister.com (9-22-09)
The $500,000 fellowships are to be announced today by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation in Chicago.
For Timothy Barrett, 59, the grant means more research into how paper was made centuries ago, further unlocking the secrets of the process.
"It's hard to get research funds because I'm not in a traditional field," he said.
SOURCE: Jacksonsun.com (Jackson, TN) (9-22-09)
Deaton, a Republican, said he wants to put the discussion on October's commission agenda.
Jones, a University of Tennessee Martin and Jackson Central-Merry High School graduate, stepped down this month, saying he did not want criticism about his past political stances and causes to distract from the Obama administration's agenda.
Jones has said he became a communist after he met several anarchists and communists while working for the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights in San Francisco during the aftermath of the Rodney King police brutality trial. He eventually walked back his philosophy in fear that being considered part of the left-wing counterculture undercut his ability to get results in his work, Jones told the East Bay Express newspaper in 2005.
Before joining the White House in the spring, Jones, an attorney, wrote a bestselling book and founded an organization aimed at creating environmentally friendly jobs for the disadvantaged.
Jones also had signed a petition circulated by "Truthers" - or those who allege government involvement in the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Higgins, who is appointed by the commission, spoke to The Jackson Sun days after Jones' resignation about how she was disappointed and frustrated with the conservative uproar over Jones' past. Her comments were used in a story in The Sun and in its "Motion Carried" politics blog.
She said she was deeply frustrated with how Jones was portrayed by conservative pundits such as Fox News' Glenn Beck and concerned about some comments posted on articles on newspaper Web sites.
Higgins said that any past comment Jones made about being a communist was "little-C communism" - that is, the egalitarian political philosophy, not the Russian Communist dictatorship - from when he was a younger man feeling out his personal politics. She said she was shocked by the misinformation being spread about his background.
"He's not a Communist," Higgins said in a post on the "Motion Carried" blog. "He wasn't ever in prison."
But Deaton said that Higgins should clarify what she said to the commission, particularly her "little-C communism" comment. He said after the meeting he would not have voted for her to hold the historian job if he knew she was sympathetic to any form of communism...
SOURCE: Palisades Post (9-17-09)
Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, on March 27, 1926, Bill graduated from high school in 1943 and earned an accelerated B.S. degree in naval science from the University of South Carolina in 1945. He served in the Navy as an ensign, then began a career that included working at the General Electric Aircraft Engine Division in Cincinnati, Ohio, and Lynn, Massachusetts and at Northrop Aviation in Los Angeles. He later started W.A. Schoneberger Communications...
... He served four terms as president of the Aero Club of Southern California, and in the late 1970s helped arrange with the estate of Howard Hughes to have the club display the giant Hughes Flying Boat, nicknamed 'the Spruce Goose,' in a large dome on the Long Beach waterfront. In the early 1990s, Bill headed a team from the club that arranged for the enormous wooden aircraft to be relocated to its present home in a new museum in Oregon. He also worked with the Hughes Estate to create the Aero Club's Howard Hughes Memorial Award, which for 30 years has honored lifetime achievements in aviation and aerospace.
In 1998, Bill was presented the aerospace industry's prestigious Lyman Award, given to him for 'Outstanding Achievement in Aviation Writing.' Last year, the Flight Path Learning Center at LAX, of which he was one of three founders, named its research library after him and filled it with a large collection of his documents and books...
SOURCE: Turkish Weekly (9-19-09)
In his new book, "Wilderness Warrior," Douglas Brinkley portrays President Roosevelt as a crusader for the cause of protecting America's wild heritage, in the form of national parks, forests and grasslands. Brinkley teaches at Rice University in Houston...
European Union With Turkey
Saturday, 19 September 2009
Theodore RooseveltIn an age when "green," as in environmentally friendly, is all the rage, one of the most prominent U.S. historians has written a book about a man who provided the foundation for much of the conservation movement, former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt.
In his new book, "Wilderness Warrior," Douglas Brinkley portrays President Roosevelt as a crusader for the cause of protecting America's wild heritage, in the form of national parks, forests and grasslands. Brinkley teaches atf Rice University in Houston.
The wilderness has been a feature of the American experience since the nation's beginnings, but present generations might not have had much opportunity to enjoy such natural splendors had it not been for a sickly easterner who went to live on a ranch in North Dakota in 1883.
Theodore Roosevelt overcame illness and mental depression by roughing it in the Dakota badlands, according to Historian Douglas Brinkley.
"So Roosevelt came to a very modern conclusion ... that we needed to save nature, not just because it is pretty, but because it had redemptive spiritual value and was the great replenisher of the soul. And he felt that urbanization was destroying souls," he said.
Douglas BrinkleyIn his book, Brinkley focuses on Theodore Roosevelt's lifelong commitment to preserving nature by reserving large areas as national parks and protected zones.
"Although my book, 'The Wilderness Warrior,' is about history, it is about Theodore Roosevelt's life from 1858 to 1919. It resonates today because all over the country people are looking to save land, to rehabilitate endangered species, to clean up rivers and lakes and create a sustainable environment for us to live," he said.
Roosevelt was a Republican, but his appeal crosses modern party lines and Brinkley thinks Republicans of today are beginning to reconnect with the conservationist policies he triumphed.
"There are many Republican conservationists who are saying what the modern Republican Party has lost is T.R.'s vision of the environment. In fact, Newt Gingrich, of all people, is saying that the modern Republican Party should be the leader on environmentalism," he said.
At the same time, Brinkley says some of the people who call themselves environmentalists today need to look at Roosevelt's practical side and his promotion of economic development.
"There are people who are stopping building over a snail darter. That is taking the endangered species act in a kind of anti-development extreme," he said.
In addition to the books he has written about such historic persons as Theodore Roosevelt, Brinkley has written about contemporary figures like writer Hunter S. Thompson, newsman Walter Cronkite and rock singer and poet Bob Dylan, all of whom he met personally.
"There are huge boons and advantages because you actually get to know the human being, you are not just writing out of the cardboard boxes of letters," he said.
But in the end, he says, whether the subject is from a century ago or today's world his task is to share what he learns about them.
"When you are a historian you feel a bit of an obligation to communicate your findings to the public at large and hopefully get them interested. I am an enthusiast for history, so part of my job is to get people excited about it," he said.
Brinkley shares many of his insights on a regular basis on television news programs, where he is a frequent guest. But he says his own celebrity is sometimes a burden, taking him away from what he really loves, which is researching and writing.
SOURCE: post-gazette.com (Pittsburgh Post Gazette) (9-20-09)
Howard Zinn's"A People's History of the United States" has changed the way millions of Americans think about their country's past and present. Zinn has been on the front lines of political protest for nearly a century. He is critical of many government and business policies that will dominate G-20 discussions this week.
Zinn is a central inspiration for"The People's Summit" in Pittsburgh this weekend (Sept. 19, 21, 22). It will offer alternative views and discussions on topics including poverty, labor rights and environmentalism. (See www.peoplessummit.com)
This week Dmitri caught up with Zinn and Pittsburgh-born filmmaker Lisa Smith who are collaborating with a galaxy of Hollywood stars on a Zinn-themed documentary,"The People Speak," that will air on cable television this year. Zinn and Smith talked about his work, the summits and why Pittsburgh is the perfect place for a debate on how to run the world.
THIS WEEK, we bask in the glow of Pittsburgh's selection for the G-20 summit. We pontificate on how the outcomes, decisions on free trade and global finance, could influence our country's future.
In his underground best-selling book"A People's History of the United States," Howard Zinn describes a less celebrated event that occurred in our city over a century ago. It too played a decisive factor in how millions of Americans would live and work for decades to come.
It was the Homestead Steel Strike of 1892. The historian chronicles the face-off between Carnegie Steel and its employees over wages and the right to organize. Henry Clay Frick, tasked with running the company while Andrew Carnegie was in Europe, ordered the creation of three miles of barbed wire fence to keep strikers away from the mills. Gun-carrying Pinkerton detectives were brought in to protect company property and introduce of replacement workers.
A bloody siege ensued. Strikers took control of the whole town of Homestead, battling the Pinkertons when they tried to enter the shore from barges on the Monongahela. After killings on both sides of the conflict, the state government intervened to assist Carnegie Steel. Militia reinforcements poured in and arrested resisting workers. The strike was defeated and there were no unions in the mills for the next 40 years until the Great Depression.
The Homestead Strike is one of many episodes in Zinn's underground classic that show us the rawer, more controversial side of our nation's past than we may have learned about in our high school curriculum. Zinn says that in writing the book, he wanted to"awaken a great consciousness" in his readers, challenging them to consider controversial issues in our past and present -- issues like war, class, inequality and race -- so that we'd be inspired to get civically engaged and create a better future.
The tale is also an example of his gift for storytelling that makes"A People's History" a gripping read and unlikely publishing sensation. Since its initial printing with little fanfare in 1980,"A People's History" has climbed out of obscurity and sold more than 2 million copies. It is one of the only titles in entire book industry that has consistently increased sales year after year -- for almost three decades.
At the age of 87, Zinn is a pivotal source of inspiration for"The People's Summit," a series of political and economic discussions that began Saturday and will continue on Monday and Tuesday, preceding the official G-20 summit. Though Zinn will not be able to travel to Pittsburgh for health reasons, he has videotaped a keynote address.
Asked about the success of his writing, Zinn expresses surprise and humility."It shows that millions of American people are hungry for a new view of our country," he said over the phone from his home in Boston. They are seeking"a more critical view that examines our economic policy, racial policy, environmental policy."
For most of Zinn's life, if he wasn't writing about history then he was in the middle of it. Growing up as the son of Jewish immigrants in New York, he participated in shipyard strikes of the Great Depression and then served in World War II flying combat missions in Europe.
As a political activist he was on the front lines of the civil rights movement in the South and the anti-war protests of the 1960s. As a white professor at a black woman's college in the South, Zinn documented the Freedom Rides. As part of his opposition to the Vietnam War, Zinn travelled to Hanoi to lobby for the release of POWs and collaborated with Daniel Ellsberg to get the Pentagon Papers published.
Zinn's legacy is poised to become more visible in the public mind later this year, when the film"The People Speaks" -- a documentary featuring spoken-word performances from the sources of his book -- is aired on the History Channel. The film includes performances by many of Zinn's admirers in the entertainment world, including Matt Damon, Bruce Springsteen, Josh Brolin and Marisa Tomei...
SOURCE: School Library Journal (9-21-09)
A five-time National Book Award finalist, Meltzer’s nonfiction works have long been a staple in library collections, helping to support the history curriculum of schools around the country. Meltzer’s books addressed such subjects as crime, ancient Egypt, the immigrant experience, labor movements, photography, piracy, poverty, racism, and slavery.
In Brother Can You Spare a Dime (Fact on File, 1991), he wrote about the stock market crash that led to the Great Depression; in Never to Forget (HarperCollins, 1991) he dealt with the Holocaust, and in There Comes a Time (Random House, 2001), he addressed the Civil Rights movement.
His many biographies included champions of social justice like Mary McLeod Bethune, Lydia Maria Child, Samuel Gridley Howe, Dorothea Lange, Margaret Sanger, and Thaddeus Stevens, as well as American writers like Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allan Poe, Henry David Thoreau, and Mark Twain.
Meltzer continued publishing books through 2008. Among his last titles were Up Close: John Steinbeck (Viking, 2008), and his second historical novel, Tough Times (Clarion, 2007).
According to his biographer, Edward T. Sullivan , “Among Milton's many groundbreaking contributions to nonfiction for young people was his "warts and all" approach to portraying historical figures. He offered young readers the best and least admirable sides of such giants as Andrew Carnegie, Christopher Columbus, and Andrew Jackson.”
For his body of work, Milton received the 2000 Regina Medal presented by the Catholic Library Association and the American Library Association’s 2001 Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, both of which recognize someone who has made a substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature.
“Milton Meltzer's contribution to American literature for children spans five decades and continues to be a model for informational writing today,” says Pat Scales, chair of the 2001 Wilder Committee. "Over the years, children have read his books and expanded their knowledge of social issues and historical events.”
SOURCE: Jacksonsun.com (9-21-09)
SOURCE: USA Today (9-21-09)
Taylor Branch, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author and civil rights historian, would pick up a notepad of questions and two microcassette recorders and drive his truck down Interstate 95 to Washington. Parking on the South Lawn, he would head to the White House family quarters for interviews so secret Clinton stored the tapes of them in his sock drawer.
What followed sometimes seemed like one of the bull sessions the two had two decades earlier when they shared an apartment in Austin, running George McGovern's 1972 presidential campaign in Texas.
In these interviews and a new book that has followed, Branch says he tried to capture Clinton's unvarnished perspective on the events swirling around his presidency, from the consequential to the occasionally comic...
... Clinton may be having some second thoughts about the 79 oral history interviews he gave to Branch during his presidency, their contents not yet released. The transcripts are in binders that fill a long shelf in the office he converted from a garage behind his home in Chappaqua, N.Y.
The former president has been on the phone with Branch for hours since he got page proofs of Branch's new book, The Clinton Tapes: Wrestling History with the President (Simon & Schuster), running"hot and cold" about the account based on Branch's recollections of their conversations.
"I think it's fair to say he's nervous," Branch, 62, said last week at his Victorian house here. Clinton didn't respond to several requests for comment.
The portrait that emerges from the 707-page tome is a president who reveled in policy and delighted in politics but"always thought he was trapped in the personal issues," Branch says. The description of Clinton's goals and thinking is more candid and more complex than in Clinton's 2004 memoir, My Life.
Still, Branch's book is more of a one-man show than a three-dimensional perspective: The world of the moment as seen through the president's eyes.
Branch waited until his civil-rights trilogy was done and Clinton's memoirs were published before turning to this book. Clinton didn't know Branch was making his own set of contemporaneous tapes, Branch says,"but I don't think he'd be surprised" that a historian would do so.
As he drove back to Baltimore after each interview, Branch would put a fresh tape in his recorder and recap what the president had just said. If he didn't finish during the hour-long drive, he would sit in his tree-lined driveway in the pre-dawn quiet, stifling yawns and talking into the recorder until he was done.
Declining to detail Clinton's concerns, he says:"The only thing I can say is that I didn't change anything that he asked me to change." ...
Behind the headlines
Sitting with Branch on the second floor of the White House, Clinton would rail against the news media and his Republican opposition for what he saw as pursuing the personal and the inconsequential rather than the substantive and important. At times he would admit that his own actions played a part in all that, especially in the Lewinsky affair, stoking the controversies that risked overshadowing everything else.
Branch, who kept a daily account of Clinton's schedule from news accounts, would set up two small recorders and pose questions he had written on a notepad, probing for details and insights beyond what was on the public record.
They often would meet in the Treaty Room but sometimes sat in the small family kitchen or on the Truman Balcony. In July 2000, during the Middle East peace negotiations, Branch was summoned for a session at the presidential retreat at Camp David.
Once done, Branch would rewind the tapes, label them and give them to Clinton. After several years, he learned the president was tucking them behind his socks in a chest of drawers, where they remained until he moved out of the White House.
Branch has never heard the tapes. Besides the president's scheduler, almost no one on the West Wing staff knew the interviews were taking place.
"I walked in on the two of them talking one night late in the residence and they both acted a little funny," remembers then-White House press secretary Joe Lockhart."A year later in the Chappaqua house, after he'd left the White House, I saw a box of tapes sitting out and asked the president what they were, and he told me they were the Taylor conversations."
There was a roller coaster quality to some of the evenings, Branch recalls. Clinton, often exhausted, was a study in multi-tasking. One interview in 1995 was interrupted by then-Secretary of State Warren Christopher calling about air strikes in Bosnia; Clinton had been filling in a crossword puzzle and then began to deal a game of solitaire while continuing both conversations.
On the night of the Oklahoma City bombing in April 1995, the topics between Clinton and Branch included not only that catastrophe but also then-Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto's appeal to win delivery of more F-16 fighter jets and the legislative strategy of the new GOP House speaker, Newt Gingrich.
Then Chelsea, the Clintons' daughter, hovered at the door. She was writing a paper for her sophomore English class to describe the best and worst qualities of Dr. Frankenstein in Mary Shelley's famous novel, but she couldn't make her points fit on a single page, as assigned.
"He's reading it, and then he asked me to read it and what did I think? And where could it be shortened?" Branch recalls."I've got the tapes going and I'm wondering, 'Am I going to be able to get back to the stuff I'm supposed to be doing? And will historians of the future think I'm an idiot for getting sidetracked off of these things with the president of the United States to be critiquing this homework assignment on … Dr. Frankenstein?'"
From the beginning, the interviews were designed to provide Clinton's perspective on his presidency as it was happening...
... The former president had planned to use the interviews he had given when he wrote his book, but there is little sign he did. As he neared the deadline to submit his manuscript in 2004, he invited Branch to Chappaqua to read the first 700 pages. Branch was stunned to find that with only a month or two to go until his deadline, Clinton was just beginning to write about his time in the White House.
In one of their few arguments, Branch urged him to delay publication or split the memoir into two volumes — one now, a second later. Clinton refused. In the end, My Life"skims the surface" of his presidency like a hovercraft, Branch says.
For historians wanting to plunge into the Clinton presidency, the unprecedented interviews will be invaluable, says Russell Riley, head of the Presidential Oral History Program at the University of Virginia's Miller Center of Public Affairs. He calls their existence"a major historical event," though Clinton hasn't said when and under what conditions they might be available to scholars.
"There is a poverty of original-source accounts of what truly is happening in the White House (because) people are afraid to put things down on paper," Riley says. The recordings"hold a great deal of promise for us in getting a better picture of at least what President Clinton's mentality and understanding were at critical moments of his presidency."
He likens it to the scene in The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy goes from black-and-white Kansas to full-color Oz:"The richness of the portraiture of what you're seeing around you and the way it engages your senses about history are profoundly enhanced."
SOURCE: 2theadvocate.com (9-20-09)
“My grandmother … showed me a little table,” Norwood said. “She said, ‘You see this little table? You see all those ring stains in the top of the table? Those are whiskey glasses, and that was the bar table for my great-great grandfather, who was a leader in this republic. This was the table where the bar was set up so they could get their courage up.’ ”
But, while this bit of Louisiana history was the stuff of family legend, Norwood encountered blank stares when he spoke about it to others.
“I thought everybody knew about this, and nobody knows about this,” he said.
With his paint brush and other efforts, Norwood is part of an effort to change that.
At 2 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 27, in St. Francisville, the Bicentennial Commission for the Republic of West Florida will kick off a year-long celebration of the republic, which shed Spanish rule with the Sept. 23, 1810, capture of Fort San Carlos in Baton Rouge.
SOURCE: Total Politics (9-20-09)
ID: How did you first get into history?
DS: Almost accidentally. It was by no means the subject I was most interested in. Most people thought I was going to be a scientist. My best subjects were physics and chemistry. The reason I made the choice I did is simple: I am not a natural mathematician. Numbers only mean something to me when they have a pound or dollar sign before them, which is when I become quite good with them. From a very early age I had very high verbal skills. The only thing I was ever any good at at school outside of the curriculum was acting and in particular, our public speaking competition - in those days called elocution. By the time I was 15 I was a competent performer in what was then called 'the stump speech'. Once you'd done that, you were never ever frightened of public speaking.
Perhaps your next TV thing should be the 'X-Factor' of public speaking?
It would be interesting wouldn't it! And most people are so bad at it, including those who are supposed to be good at it. Most university lecturers and teachers are awful.
What do you think of politicians as public speakers?
Very few are any good at all. I can't really think of any current ones who are. I was never impressed with Blair. Cameron is all right.
Blair was quite a good platform speaker because he could act.
Yes, but if you are to be a really impressive public speaker, there's got to be content, and of course there never was. There was blather of common places. And also, I don't think with really good public speaking you should be too keen to please. Blair has a labrador quality.
Isn't that endemic in politics though?
It's endemic in current politics. I don't think Churchill fell over himself in his desire to please. I suppose what has really happened is that the idea of the major political speech as sustained exposition - explanation, policy - that has largely vanished, because most of them don't have any policies to explain. By no means are all the 'great' 19th century speeches really great, but some of them are.
Wasn't that because they had no other way of explaining things, whereas nowadays there are?
But how often are they used? How often is there any real exposition of policy at all? What's astonishing is that we have a Prime Minister who is supposed to be an intellectual - I've never seen any evidence of this, but we are told all the time that Brown was a brilliant student and briefly held a university position. I've never heard one word from him that suggests connected thought. If you look at the alleged 'great rescue' of the economy there are two ways you can explain it. One is that he was grounded in serious understanding of Keynesianism and all the rest of it, and the other is that Brown is doing what he's always done best which is throw money at things. And nothing he has said has persuaded me that it was anything other than the latter.
Is there a figure in Tudor history you would liken Gordon Brown to?
Gordon Brown actually reminds me more of a figure of modern literature. There is a real feeling of Kenneth Widermerpool about him from Anthony Powell's Dance to the Music of Time. Widmerpool is the dreadful, plodding figure, who's only good sport at school is cross-country running. While all his brilliant, charming contemporaries bugger it up, Widmerpool rises! It seems to me that with Brown there is a complete sense of humour and charm bypass. There is that relentless bludgeoning quality with his alleged 'brilliant performances' as chancellor, the machine-gun fire of statistics that were always at least ten degrees from the point. But no charm, no wit.
When did you first become entranced with the Tudor period?
Very early. When I was at Cambridge there were two really dominant figures in the history faculty: Jack Plum and Geoffrey Elton. Plum had already handpicked Simon Schama at that point, and so I suppose I gravitated to Elton. And in many ways I discovered myself by doing history seriously in my third year, when Geoffrey supervised my special subject class and was a wonderful teacher.
Some people have always wondered why you tend to stick with the Tudors and don't do any 20th century history. Does contemporary history not appeal to you?
I am mildly into it. The real problem is that there are loads of people who are very widely learnt - from Anthony Beevor to Andrew Roberts - in 20th century history. Why start from scratch? Whereas what I can do, is use some of the insights and patterns of knowledge that you have from the Tudor period to illuminate certain aspects of 20th century history. I have after all, written quite widely on the twentieth century monarchy, where I think my understanding of the earlier period can give me different sorts of insights that are useful. The real test of how good you are as a historian is how much easier you find it to remember the privy council members of the 1540s than the current cabinet! I wouldn't want to present myself at all as a specialist in modern history. There are good reasons to stick with the Tudor period. It's a kind of Goldilocks period, in which you've got just enough information, but not too much.
When you started writing books about the period and doing television, did you set out to popularise it, because that's what you've achieved. People have settled on that period as one of the most interesting in British history, I think in large part because of what you've done.
Well that's very nice of you to say so. Obviously if you're doing something on television, you expect to be getting an audience of a couplemillion plus and when we started we very comfortably exceeded that. I've been looking at my own dissertation, which I wrote in 1972-73. And what struck me about it was that I was quite pleased with it - he said smugly!
Did you feel as if you were reading something by someone else?
I am very masculine in my approach to writing. Writers fall into either two groups: you're either a mother or a father. If you're a mother you remember every word, you care passionately about them. But if you're a father, once it's done it's done. There was a wonderful remark by Elizabeth Russell - that's Conrad Russell the last Earl Russell's wife - that"old Conrad views the responsibilities of fatherhood as ending at the moment of conception". That is pretty much my view of writing - once it's done, it's done. Most of it was written in six weeks. That's how I write most things - like a railway train. Once I get going...
Do you do all the research and then start writing?
No, I find huge holes. It's why I think it's so important with kids at any stage - but particularly at university and particularly research students - to get them writing. It's only once you've started to connect the material that you realise what you need to know. And you invariably discover huge gaps and things that you thought you knew you don't know, and I am very sceptical of these people who claim before they write a book to have structured every paragraph.
You've made the period very popular in one sense, but what about shows like the Tudors, that in some senses...
Vulgarise it! The nice line of division between popularisation and vulgarisation!
But there is a positive to programmes like that isn't there, because it means if people are fascinated by them - even if they're historically inaccurate - they think, oh, actually I'd quite like to find out a bit more about that.
They write to David Starkey and say, is it really true that Anne Boleyn slept with her father?! And you reply no, but if you are interested in finding out whom she did sleep with, then see David Starkey's Six Wives of Henry VIII, pages so-and-so to so-and-so!
So they clearly didn't employ you as an adviser!
No no! It's the higher tosh. But the real question is, why does it work? And what is the foundation of this interest? I was actually asked this question by a schoolteacher yesterday and I said I thought there were two reasons, and the first - The Tudors simply is this - it is a most glorious and wonderful soap opera. It makes the House of Windsor look like a dolls house tea party, it really does. And so these huge personalities, you know, the whole future of countries turn on what one man feels like when he gets out of bed in the morning - just a wonderful, wonderful personalisation of politics.
Compared to how you learnt your history, do you think today's school age kids and students are being short-changed in how history is taught today?
Yes I do. The core of history is narrative and biography. And the way history has been presented in the curriculum for the last 25 years is very different. The importance of knowledge has been downgraded. Instead the argument has been that it's all about skills. Supposedly, what you are trying to do with children is inculcate them with the analytical skills of the historian. Now this seems to me to be the most goddamn awful way to approach any subject, and also the most dangerous, and one, of course, that panders to all sorts of easy assumptions - 'oh we've got the internet, we don't need knowledge anymore because it's so easy to look things up'. Oh no it isn't. In order to think, you actually need the information in your mind. It's going back to what we were saying about the construction of an argument on paper - it's only once you've got all those pieces together, and see the holes I was describing.
The skills basis misunderstands what education should be about. I am really old fashioned and think that education is about the introduction of the young to the best of what is known. In other words it's a cumulative process, and that's not in the least conservative or sterile. If I were made God of the curriculum, I would want people to do a really broad course in the history of the last two thousand years in general, and the last thousand years of British history in particular.
They should have a sense of a map of time - know where you place yourself, know the broad intellectual, economic, political movements. You should realise that to assume democracy and freedom are synonyms is the mistake of a tyro. You should know that there were free societies that weren't remotely democratic, and many democratic societies that were certainly not free. To do that you need broad patterns of both comparisons in time and comparisons in places.
Do you think we're now seeing the results of that type of education, where very few politicians seem to have any sort of historical knowledge or perspective at all?
That's absolutely right and it also goes along with a particular type of society - if you like the Californisation of the world. One of my American friends said many, many years ago - decades ago - that what you've got to understand in California is that with that blue sky and eternal sunshine and lonely beaches, the concept of the past can't exist. We're all Californians now! And I think a very interesting example was someone like Princess Diana - from the grandest, upper-crust English background - and yet her references, modes of behaviour, appearance and dress suggested she was born in Orange County. Didn't she think that Duran Duran were more or less the best thing since sliced bread?
And she was right! Couldn't you actually come up with a character from any age of whom you could say that about?
Well, the airhead isn't a new phenomenon. But what was still particularly interesting was what sort of fecundity she represented. And most of the young women on television it seems to me seem to belong in this kind of Orange County 'never never land'.
Talking of women in history, you've come in for some flak recently for your comments about the so-called feminisation of history.
I can't imagine why. It seemed to me such a sensible, gentle comment. If you have a large number of women historians, writing for a readership where a very large percentage are women, you will get a certain kind of editing and presentation of history. It was no more than that.
Couldn't you make the counter argument that men writing about history put a particular slant to it also?
Of course you can. That's precisely what I was saying: that certain sorts of things are put into the foreground like personal relationships, the role of the wives and so on - and I have after all written the defi nitive book on Henry and his wives - but certain other things are put into the background, like war and religion.
But aren't you impugning the ability of female academics and historians?
I wasn't talking about academics at all really. What 99 per cent of academics do doesn't make any difference outside of their own university, let alone have any impact in the wider world...
SOURCE: Taegan Goddard's Political Wire (9-19-09)
"Meeting late at night and sometimes through the night, Clinton and Branch embarked on a series of seventy-nine conversations about politics, the presidents, the Whitewater investigation, and yes, even Monica -- recording every word for posterity. Acutely aware that their tapes could be subpoenaed at any moment and desperate to avoid making them public, Clinton squirreled away the cassettes in his sock drawer and has never spoken of them nor made them public. But this month, Branch releases a 670-page mammoth tome, The Clinton Tapes, that mines those conversations and delves into Clinton's presidency and state of mind through a tumultuous and historic eight years."
Although they're unlikely to be as controversial as the Nixon tapes, this book promises to be very interesting.
SOURCE: Recordnet.com (9-19-09)
Sept. 16, Mexican Independence Day, and other observances such as Cinco de Mayo were elaborate celebrations in the mid- and late 1800s.
That snapshot of the past has surfaced from research conducted by a local historian and a cemetery manager.
Ruben Sanchez, manager of Stockton Rural Cemetery, recently sifted through the old records of deceased Mexicans and Mexican-Americans and collaborated with Stockton historian Grant Louis Ashley to bring to life some of the city's history that has been overlooked.
Ashley and Sanchez will present an educational program based on their research - "Mexican Pioneers of the 1800s Stockton" - today at St. Mary's Church. Proceeds will go to the church's youth program.
"It's important to show the real history of what happened during that time," Sanchez said. "We're doing this so it doesn't get lost in the future."
Sanchez, who also teaches catechism at St. Mary's, said his goal is to provide Latino young people with a more positive picture of pioneering Mexicans than what has been recorded. He wants this and future generations to better understand their ancestors' contributions to the shaping of Stockton...
SOURCE: NYT (9-17-09)
Keynes also had, paradoxically, the sensitive soul of a poet. He was a member of the Bloomsbury group and a favorite of Virginia Woolf’s. He collected modern art and rare manuscripts. He married a Russian ballerina. He was an early environmentalist, given to utterances that stick in the mind. “We are capable of shutting off the sun and the stars,” he warned in 1933, “because they do not pay a dividend.”
These things matter about Keynes because his economic ideas, relevant again amid the rubble of the global financial crisis, had a humane and moral dimension, one that Robert Skidelsky underlines in “Keynes: The Return of the Master.”
Mr. Skidelsky is the author of a magisterial three-volume biography of Keynes (the final volume was published in 2000) and is emeritus professor of political economy at the University of Warwick in England. He knows more about Keynes than anyone alive, but his new book is not a pocket-size distillation of his earlier biography. It’s an attempt to translate and update Keynes’s ideas for a sleek, turbulent era.
This is not an obviously simple task. Keynes’s most influential book, “The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money,” (1936) published during the Great Depression, is famously impenetrable. But its central idea held sway for nearly 30 years after World War II: that markets are not self-correcting.
In “Keynes: Return of the Master,” Mr. Skidelsky surveys the vast body of Keynes’s work. But he boils the thinking down to a few essential points. Central among them is that market economies are fundamentally uncertain; large shocks like the recent meltdown are not anomalies but normal if unpredictable events. Government should intervene in a crisis — as the Obama administration has since the fall of Lehman Brothers last year — supplying a judicious but firm hand on the tiller.
Mr. Skidelsky is righteous in his thunder about how Keynes’s ideas have been spurned in recent decades. He scolds the free-market ethos of the Reagan and Thatcher eras as well as the thinking of anti-Keynesian New Classical economists. He does not entirely blame the usual suspects (banks, hedge funds, credit-rating agencies, the Fed) for the current crisis. He indicts laissez-faire philosophy.
“The root cause of the present crisis lies in the intellectual failure of economics,” Mr. Skidelsky writes. “It was the wrong ideas of economists which legitimized the deregulation of finance, and it was the deregulation of finance which led to the credit explosion which collapsed into the credit crunch. It is hard to convey the harm done by the recent dominant school of New Classical economics. Rarely in history can such powerful minds have devoted themselves to such strange ideas.”...
SOURCE: Missoulian (9-17-09)
The milestone comes as the landmark environmental law faces continued pressure from legislators, motorized recreationists and others who seek to weaken safeguards for some of the nation's most pristine areas, said George Nickas, executive director of Wilderness Watch, which is sponsoring Nash's talk.
"The wilderness system is in serious trouble" because of efforts to chip away at protections and because federal agency leaders have failed to fully monitor wilderness areas and enforce existing rules, Nickas said.
Nash's lecture, titled "The Meaning of Wilderness and the Rights of Nature," is slated for 7 p.m. at Hamilton City Hall. The event is free.
Nash, author of "Wilderness and the American Mind," is considered a national leader in wilderness history, management and education.
"He's one of America's foremost scholars on wilderness and conservation issues," said Dawn Serra, communications and outreach coordinator for Wilderness Watch.
The Missoula-based national nonprofit group, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary, works to protect lands and waters in the National Wilderness Preservation System.
Nash, who helped to create the modern conservation movement in the United States in the 1960s, is retired from the University of California at Santa Barbara. He lives in Colorado.
Both a wilderness scholar and explorer, Nash advocates for the preservation and management of wilderness areas.
"He understands what wilderness is and what the wilderness system means from the perspective of an educator and historian, but also from his personal experience as a river guide and adventurer," Serra said.
Nash's book, "Wilderness and the American Mind," explores the cultural history of America's relationship with wilderness.
"It's a seminal book on how Americans' attitudes and ethics about wilderness have evolved over the years," Serra said. "It's considered the Bible on American wilderness and what it means today."
SOURCE: Newsweek (8-12-09)
The students in Kathleen Canning's senior seminar at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, are often grateful that they have a week between sessions to reflect—and, sometimes, to cool off. What gets Canning's students riled up aren't the usual hot-button issues like race relations or abortion, though. It's history, specifically the politics of the Weimar Republic and World War II and how they are studied and understood today. Armed with primary texts, period artwork, and a heavy dose of enthusiasm, Canning presents a vivid picture of Germany at the end of World War I, then helps her students care about those long-ago people, places, and events. "She teaches us how mistakes from the past can be relevant today," explains Jordan Friedland, '09. Every week Canning lectures for an hour, then steps back to allow discussion. "It's key to listen, to let the students grab the material, work with it, and get as far as they can," she says. After two decades at U-M, she's learned that can be pretty far. Discussion of topics like "what qualifies as a war crime" can get emotional, but her students rarely complain. Instead, they ask difficult questions like, "Was the rape of a German woman by a Russian soldier different from the rape of a Jewish woman in Auschwitz?" In a class of history buffs (some with personal ties to the Holocaust), Canning helps students find their voice, knowing full well that those voices are likely to be raised. Rigorous debate is a good thing, Canning says, but when things get too hot she intervenes. She summarizes what was said, reframes the question, and then steers the discussion back to more neutral ground with a skill that continually amazes her students. Fittingly, it seems, this professor is also a diplomat.
SOURCE: todaysthv.com (9-16-09)
The Clinton School invited Presidential Historian Richard Norton Smith to come speak on "Lincoln 200". It has been 200 years since Abraham Lincoln was born.
Smith is an expert, having at one time been the first director of the Lincoln Presidential Library. He has also headed up the Reagan and Eisenhower Museums. He is currently a lecturer, author, and network TV analyst and consultant. He took time to talk with us about the how the current administration compares.
While the Obama administration started off by comparing itself to the challenges of Lincoln's Presidency, Smith points out that the crises were entirely different. Obama didn't have eight states trying to secede like Lincoln did. However, Smith doesn't lose sight of the historical significance of the Obama election.
As to Obama vs Franklin Roosevelt, here again there is a stark difference. The country under Roosevelt had gone deeper into depression, and fuindamental changes were made in government as a result...
SOURCE: Nola.com (9-16-09)
Mr. Clay, of Algiers, was a popular faculty member at Our Lady of Holy Cross College, said Susan O. van Loon, a faculty member.
"It was not unusual for students to 'major' in Dr. Clay, taking whatever history course he was teaching that semester, " she said.
Van Loon said she recruited Mr. Clay to teach in the college's first international study program, held abroad, because she knew he would attract a number of students to sign up, ensuring the program's success...
... Before joining Our Lady of Holy Cross College, Mr. Clay had taught at the University of New Orleans, Delgado Junior College and at the University of Arkansas.
He authored two books, "Coozan Dudley LeBlanc: From Huey Long to Hadacol, " published in 1973, and "A Century on the Mississippi: A History of the Memphis District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers 1876-1976, " published in 1976...
SOURCE: News 8 Austin (9-17-09)
Updegrove has written two books on the presidency, one of which published this year. He is also a political commentator on television and radio.
Updegrove has lectured at the University of Pennsylvania and other colleges. He currently directs business development at the communications firm Rawle Murdy.
SOURCE: American Historical Association (9-2-09)
Editor’s Note: This is the first in a series of articles analyzing results from the 2008 Survey of Public History Professionals. This article will also appear in Public History News, the newsletter of the National Council on Public History
Public history is one of the least understood areas of professional practice in history because the majority of public history jobs are outside of academia. The federal government collects an enormous amount of information about history teachers from school through university, which makes it relatively easy to assess the contours of their work. Unfortunately, however, we lack similar sources of data for most public history workplaces.
In order to get a better picture of public history as a profession, the National Council on Public History organized 10 historical organizations to survey their members about the demographics, training, employment conditions, and expectations of public history practitioners.1 The survey elicited almost 4,000 responses from the United States, Canada, and other English-speaking countries, providing a substantial base for assessing who is drawn to this area of employment, and what their concerns were, as we headed into the recent economic recession.
This survey replicated portions of a similar study from 1980, in an effort to facilitate some comparisons to the founding era of public history.2 The earlier study was conducted using similar methods (a mailing to the members of a number of historical organizations), but the new survey relied on e-mail and an online response form. The 1980 survey received 2,347 valid responses; providing the best, and in many ways only, snapshot of public history to date. Wherever possible, this analysis of the results of the new survey draws comparisons to that earlier study.
Defining Public History
One of the most significant challenges for public history as a field is ambiguity about the definition of the term. That came through in the responses to the survey. Of the 3,856 people who responded to the survey, just 2,946 were willing to identify themselves as public historians—the remainder expressed some uncertainty about the term and whether it applied to them.
In fact, 364 of the respondents who appeared to be employed as public historians (with long-term or professional positions in history outside of academia) declined to accept the label. They offered a range of reasons for avoiding the term. Some found it too confining. As one observed, “A historian is a historian whether working in government, academia, or private industry.” Others said they were not specifically trained in public history, noting that, “I don’t have the qualifications for that title” or “I view it as a sharply-defined, credentialed occupation or profession.” Others felt their work was more precisely described in other ways, preferring to describe themselves as “preservationists,” “records managers,” or “archivists” at historical organizations. And many noted that they were not actually “producing,” “practicing,”or “using” history, and worked more as “administrators” or otherwise in support of others who do the historical work. A surprising number of these respondents emphasized the public character of public history, noting that they “don’t deal with the public domain,” “do not directly disseminate information to the public,” have “little or no public interaction,” or that they work for private institutions.
Conversely, 641 of the respondents who accepted the label were either employed at, or were students in, a college or university. In some cases, these were faculty who teach public history, in other cases they were archivists and librarians at those schools. Other full-time faculty who embraced the term were also employed as consultants or digital historians. Digital history, in fact, seems to provide a new avenue for academic historians to enter the realm of public history.
Setting aside some of these ambiguities, we took an expansive definition of public history practices, and included all those who either defined themselves as public historians or were employed in a historical activity outside of academia. This raised the level of respondents included in our tabulation of the survey to 3,492.
Public History in the Workplace
Not surprisingly, the survey revealed that public historians were employed in a diverse range of workplaces. Almost a quarter of the respondents were employed in a museum (23.8 percent), while faculty and students at colleges and universities accounted for another 16.6 percent of the respondents (Figure 1).
Government—at the federal, state, and local level—was a significant employer for the remaining public historians in the survey. State/provincial governments employed 9 percent of the respondents, the federal government another 8.5 percent, and local governments employed another 3 percent. Beyond those broad categories were a rich array of employers, including historical organizations (8.9 percent); research organizations, archives, and libraries (5.1 percent); nonprofit organizations (4.5 percent); and consulting firms (3.4 percent). Another 6.1 percent reported themselves as self-employed, while 7 percent indicated that they were either semiretired or that their employer did not fit into one of the other categories.
Due to variations in the labeling of particular work areas in the new study, we could not draw direct comparisons to the 1980 survey. But there was a notable increase in the number of academic historians adopting the public historian label in the new survey (up from less than 7 percent in the earlier survey). And in relative terms, there appeared to be a significant decrease in the proportion of public historians employed by federal, state, or local governments. With the rise of graduate programs in public history creating MAs moving into other areas of activity, and better dissemination of the concept of public history into the wider historical profession, the employment picture has become considerably more complex.
Most of the respondents who were not currently students were employed full-time. Of those who provided information, 81.3 percent reported they were employed full time, 11.8 percent said they were employed part time, and 0.9 percent indicated they were unemployed. The remainder were either retired or working as a volunteer (often after retirement). This marked a modest change since the 1980 survey, when 86.9 percent of the respondents reported they were employed full time, and just 7.6 percent reported they were employed part time.
In general, however, public historians appeared to be doing fairly well economically. Their average income was modestly higher than that of other Americans last year, as 61.4 percent of the respondents employed full time earned more than $45,000, while 20.0 percent earned more than $75,000. Most of the respondents (71 percent) said they are satisfied or very satisfied in their jobs (though 47.0 percent felt they were “underpaid” in their jobs). In comparison, the Conference Board found that less than half of all American were satisfied with their jobs in 2007...
SOURCE: al.com (9-14-09)
AJB: Almost half a century ago, I had my first introduction to the American South. My father had a book on his shelves from the 1930s by Sir Anthony Jenkinson."America Came My Way" was the story of an English baronet's travels across the United States, and it included a meeting with Huey Long. As a young boy in Bristol, England, I could not help but be impressed by the colorful antics of the senator from Louisiana, so different from the more prosaic politics of England.
But in 1959 what really stuck in my mind was the footnote that told me that Senator Long had subsequently been assassinated. Seven years later as a Cambridge undergraduate taking a survey course in American history, I read William E. Leuchtenburg's book on Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal and discovered that the exotic figure who had stayed in my memory was indeed a significant figure in the 1930s. In 1966 I regaled my fellow students with tall tales of Louisiana politics in a paper written for my college undergraduate history society. Huey Long and Bill Leuchtenburg made me want to study how the New Deal operated in the South...
... JS: What are the lessons from FDR's first term that most apply to our current situation?
AJB: First, the situation in 1933 was different from today. The Depression had lasted over three years. Unemployment was up possibly to a third of the industrial workforce. Agriculture (a third of the nation) was destitute. There were none of the stabilizers there are today to soften the blow -- no guarantee of bank deposits, no welfare system (private charities and local governments had been unable to cope), no Social Security. There was a sense of desperation that even in today's climate is missing. No wonder in 1933 that there were so many analogies with wartime conditions. No wonder there was so much talk about the desirability of dictatorship.
That talk is absent today. The key effect is on Congress. In 1933 politicians in both parties heard that they had to support the president -- particularly the normally conservative Southern Democrats, farmers desperate for relief, and the sizable bloc of progressive Western Republicans. Today it is clear that centrist Democrats and Republicans feel no such pressure.
In 1933 Congress was not air-conditioned. There was great pressure in a Washington summer to pass legislation in order to get home. Today there is not.
Second, I think 1933 shows that the free-market alternatives advocated by both economic historians and right-wing ideologues assume that the American people had an infinite capacity for endurance. Violence in rural America indicated that the patience of farmers was rapidly being exhausted in the early 1930s. Much has been made of the stoicism of the unemployed, but New Dealers going round the country were in no doubt as to the potential for violence and disorder. The notion that a government could simply reopen the banks and allow devaluation to take effect in the way that an Andrew Mellon or a Calvin Coolidge or a Grover Cleveland would have preferred completely ignores political reality and the danger of catastrophic social breakdown and the unleashing of anti-democratic forces. It is true, however, today that you don't see the ideological radicalism and grass-roots activism that could be found in the 1930s, although it is important to remember that the New Deal stimulated, as much as it defused, grass-roots activism...
SOURCE: OAH website (9-15-09)
This then is the broad context within which this Strategic Plan has been developed. The plan sets forth an ambitious agenda for the OAH for the next five years, one that aims to address contemporary challenges and move the organization in new directions. In doing so, it builds upon the organization’s historic commitment to excellence, its achievements during the past several years, and the successes of the previous strategic plan, adopted by the OAH in 2003 [link]. The plan articulates strong support for the organization’s core mission and programs, including the JAH and the annual meeting, and for its growing commitment to history teaching at all levels. It also seeks to move the organization to respond more fully to the challenges and opportunities afforded by new technologies; and more actively to advocate for its mission and communicate its accomplishments both to members and the broader intellectual community. ...
SOURCE: HNN Staff (9-16-09)
The Council's action restores the more liberal policy in effect prior to the 2009 conference. HNN had vigorously objected to the new restrictions, which hampered coverage of the annual meeting. HNN Editor Rick Shenkman protested at the 2009 Business Meeting that the requirement of obtaining written permission prior to the conference was inconsistent with the AHA's own vigorous defense of the First Amendment in numerous cases.
Mr. Shenkman noted that the television mainstream media would be far less likely to cover the planned panels on gay and labor history at the upcoming San Diego conference if advance permission were required for filming. The panels were specifically authorized by the Council after gays and labor representatives objected to the staging of the conference at the San Diego Manchester Grand Hyatt. The hotel's local owner helped fund the California proposition rolling back gay rights (Prop 8). He has also been accused of imposing onerous conditions on service employees. Gay and labor groups have backed a boycott of the hotel. This summer the AHA responded to critics upset with the organization's decision not to honor the hotel boycott.
Below is a copy of the AHA's new press policy.
Press Policy for the AHA Annual Meeting
Representatives of local or national newspapers (including local student newspapers); reporters for wire services; TV and radio reporters, producers, and crews; and representatives of news-oriented web sites are eligible for gratis press registration. When signing in, members of the press should present an official press badge, a business card with their name and title and the name of their employer, or an original copy of a masthead with their name on it. Freelance journalists are welcome, but should provide a letter from an assignment editor or evidence that they have written two recent articles on a related topic.
Policy for Filming or Recording Sessions
The AHA does not allow audio or video recording of sessions or events without written permission from each participant on a session or event. Permission must be obtained prior to recording, not after the fact.
Journalists will need to obtain approval and signatures from panel members, using the Association’s “Permission to Record Session” form. This permission can be obtained on-site, immediately prior to the session, but we encourage journalists to obtain this permission earlier. Original signed copies of the permission forms must be dropped off at the AHA headquarters office before the conclusion of the Annual Meeting (no later than 12 noon on Sunday).
AHA staff cannot release room numbers, hotel information, and/or cell phone numbers for participants in the meeting or officers of the American Historical Association. Journalists should therefore leave ample time to contact participants before the scheduled start of the session.
Official meetings of the Association, such as the General Meeting and open forums, are open to attendance by the press. Normally, advance, written permission is required to audio and/or video record these events. Press should contact the executive director in writing (e-mail is acceptable) prior to the start of the annual meeting (Thursday, 12 noon). Onsite requests will be considered in a case-by-case basis.
In order to encourage open debate and allow members to speak as freely as possible, the AHA does not permit audio and/or video recording of its Business Meeting.
Approved by AHA Council June 2008, and amended June 2009.
Sound and Electric
Journalists requiring electrical access, lighting, or use of the sound system are responsible for their own audio-visual costs and must order directly from the in-house vendor. Vendors may require a credit card to secure the order.
The AHA does not order microphones for all sessions. Journalists may not be able to patch in to house sound in certain meeting rooms. Journalists with further questions should contact the venue directly.
I have read and will abide by this policy. X_______________________________
Permission to Record Session
It is the policy of the American Historical Association that your presentation cannot be filmed or disseminated without your permission. If you are amenable to having your presentation recorded (audio and/or video), we ask that you indicate your approval by signing below. This agreement does not address your intellectual property rights to the materials presented in any way, but it does grant the individual or organization recording the event a perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free right to record and distribute your presentation in electronic or other media formats. The requesting organization listed below bears responsibility to obtain your approval and to provide the original signed copy of this from to the AHA headquarters office before the conclusion of the Annual Meeting (no later than 12 noon on Sunday).
Distributed on: Internet/Television/Other: ________________________
Number: _______________ Date/time: _____________________________
Grant of Permission from:
Chair: ___________________________ ___________________________
Presenter: ___________________________ ___________________________
Presenter: ___________________________ ___________________________
Presenter: ___________________________ ___________________________
Presenter: ___________________________ ___________________________
Comment: ___________________________ ___________________________Signature Date
SOURCE: Robert Townsend in the AHA magazine, Perspectives on History (9-1-09)
Inside Higher Ed: The Economic Freeze on History
Heading into the new academic year, history departments across the country are struggling through a wide range of cuts and general uncertainty about their departmental budgets. The effects of the current down economy seem to be affecting most departments—whether large, medium, or small, and at private as well as public institutions. But the specific effects on individual departments and the strategies adopted for coping with them seem widely varied.
To try to get a better picture of the actual toll the economy is taking on departments, AHA staff wrote to 110 department chairs in all 50 states; asking about the size and source of any cuts to their budgets, the effects (if any) such cuts might be having on personnel and the execution of their mission; and finally, their strategies for dealing with current economic realities.1 More than half of the department chairs responded, offering frank and detailed assessments of the situation in their departments. Collectively, they painted a grim picture of the financial state of most history departments.
Since the situation is still in flux for most departments, most were reluctant to speak on the record. Given that reluctance, and to avoid doing them any further harm, this report offers an anecdotal summary of the responses, and does not quote any of the chairs by name....
SOURCE: Inside Higher Ed (9-14-09)
The AHA sent surveys to 110 departments and received responses from 63, in an attempt to measure the impact the current economic downturn is having. Only five departments reported being relatively untouched, and another 15 characterized their cuts as "modest." (Those two groups generally assumed things were about to get worse.) Most departments already saw the cuts as significant.
Citing the anxieties in many departments about their relative position within their institutions, the AHA did not identify any of the colleges or universities involved. But the report on the survey said that "[g]iven the range of programs surveyed, and their spread across the country, the effects of the cuts seemed remarkably consistent."
Among those impacts:
Hiring: Most departments reported freezes on hiring, although some said that they were still hoping for selected openings to be approved. Faculty members are seeing larger classes as a result of having fewer scholars available to teach. "A significant number noted that they currently have a backlog of unfilled faculty lines in their department as faculty have retired or left over the past few years -- some reported losses of as much as 10 percent of their departments’ tenure-line faculty. Among the departments that are continuing to hire, a significant number said they were often only adding short-term visiting faculty to plug holes in their subject coverage," the AHA study said. "A few noted that critical subject areas, including large periods of American history, could not be taught due to the lack of faculty to teach the subject. Others noted that specialized subject areas that had been traditional strengths of their departments had been weakened (and in one case simply eliminated) as specialists in those subjects retired and were not being replaced."
Graduate students and teaching assistants: Those departments with graduate programs generally said that they had cut slots for students, and that that was having a notable impact on the use of graduate students as teaching assistants. "For a number of graduate departments, it appeared that these cuts have highlighted their dependence on teaching assistants. As one chair conceded, 'we have fewer grad lines, which means bigger classes.'"...