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: LA Times (2-12-11)
For more than half a century, biographers have treated Franklin Delano Roosevelt with Rushmore-like reverence, celebrating the nation's 32nd president as a colossus who eased the agony of the Great Depression and saved democracy from Nazi Germany.
Which never sat right with historian Burton Folsom Jr.
Growing up in Nebraska, Folsom remembers, his dad, a savings and loan executive, griped about high taxes and Roosevelt's voracious ambition. FDR was dead, but his legacy — deficit spending, an activist federal government, an expansive social safety net — lived on.
About 15 years ago, Folsom read another of those historical surveys, this one placing Roosevelt on par with Abraham Lincoln and George Washington. "As a matter of my professional integrity," Folsom said, "I had to respond."
The result was "New Deal or Raw Deal?," a scathing 300-page counter-narrative that has made Folsom a conservative hero and placed him squarely in the midst of a roiling debate over America's past, the nature of history and, some say, its manipulation for political ends....
SOURCE: ThyBlackMan.com (2-11-11)
He may be deep in the groove of his Presidency. But we do know he has given thought to what happens next. Before he even sat at the Resolute Desk, he inked a deal to deliver a post-presidency book, raking in hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Millions will follow, no doubt, because after you’ve pulled the nation back from the brink of economic disaster, and perhaps even a second Great Depression, what you do for an encore will be worth paying for.
He’ll rack up on the speakers’ circuit. He’s one of the world’s most gifted orators, so money won’t be an issue.
Neither will his age. When he leaves the White House — in either 2013, or 2017, at the age of 52 or 56, depending on the outcome of the next election — he will still have a dangerous jump-shot and a bop in his walk, and his children will still be youngsters.
“He’ll be a relatively young ex-President, so he’ll have a long career,” said Alan Brinkley, a historian at Columbia University. “I think we’ve had somewhat younger Presidents fairly recently, and also people are living longer now, so ex-Presidents seem to be around for a longer time. Some of them are very active, like Clinton and Carter, and others seem to just disappear. I doubt that Obama will disappear.”...
SOURCE: CNN.com (2-11-11)
Hosni Mubarak, 82, survived would-be assassins and ill health, crushed a rising Islamist radical movement, and maintained the peace with neighboring Israel that got his predecessor killed. His government's continued observance of the Camp David accords was the cornerstone of what peace has been achieved in the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict....
Mubarak was a Soviet-trained pilot who was chief of staff of Egypt's air force during the 1973 Mideast war. The early success of Egyptian pilots against Israel made him a national hero, and then-President Anwar Sadat made him vice president in 1975.
Six years later, Sadat died in a hail of gunfire at a military parade, killed by Islamic militants from within the army's own ranks after he took the dramatic step of making peace with Israel. Upon assuming office, one of Mubarak's first acts was to declare a state of emergency that barred unauthorized assembly, restricted freedom of speech and allowed police to jail people indefinitely.
He made extensive use of those powers in the ensuing decades. The Egyptian army put down riots by disgruntled police officers in 1986, and he threw an estimated 30,000 people in jail when jihadists carried out a string of attacks on tourists.
"He pretty much wiped them out," University of Michigan Professor of History Juan Cole said. "It's not an accident that they were in Afghanistan instead of Egypt." The government penetrated opposition movements so thoroughly that "if five people (sat) down to plot something, the fifth person (wrote) a report to Hosni Mubarak about it," he said....
SOURCE: Deutsche Welle (2-13-11)
The book, entitled "The Foreign Ministry and the Past," was commissioned in 2005 by then Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer, after a minor scandal surrounding his decision not to pay the customary retirement honors to diplomats with Nazi pasts.
The 800-plus-page study documents the general lack of resistance by diplomats to Nazism and, in some cases, their active participation in Nazi crimes. It also described how many diplomats with Nazi backgrounds were quickly reintegrated into the reformed post-war German Foreign Ministry in West Germany.
The book has sold surprisingly well to a broad audience. But even four months after publication, it continues to attract critics, who say that it offers nothing new or doesn't present a nuanced portrait of diplomats' ability to act during the Third Reich.
Deutsche Welle talked to one of the authors, Norbert Frei, Professor of History at the University of Jena.
DW: The commission's work was both to collect facts about and offer a general analysis of the German Foreign Ministry. Can you tell us about that and the discussions and perhaps disagreements between the individual committee members?
Norbert Frei: Right from the very beginning, there was a lot of agreement about what the commission's job was: not just to investigate how the foreign office functioned and became complicit during the Third Reich, but also to look at continuities beyond 1945 in terms of personnel and mentality. In this sense there was consensus about how we organized our work....
SOURCE: Tulsa World (2-13-11)
Scharff, a historian, novelist and professor of history at the University of New Mexico, had just been appointed to be the chair of the Women of the West studies at the Autry's Institute for the Study of the American West.
"I was brought in specifically to do exhibits about women's role in Western history," she said, "and I remember someone asking me how would I change the gallery we were walking through so that it would better reflect the influence and impact of women.
"I just looked around for a moment, and said, 'I'd just add the word "Women" to the title over the entrance,' " Scharff said, laughing....
SOURCE: WaPo (2-10-11)
Foner, the DeWitt Clinton professor of history at Columbia University, wrote in Fiery Trial about the evolving attitude of Lincoln toward slavery and slaves as the Civil War unfolded. The 16th President, who always said he abhorred slavery, initially sought to eradicate it by promoting colonization of other countries by former slaves. Later he changed that opinion and sought full citizenship for African Americans in this country.
A Kirkus review said, “Foner is particularly impressive in explaining the hesitations, backward steps and trial balloons …that preceded [Lincoln’s] embrace of emancipation.” The Library Journal wrote, “To Foner, Lincoln both operated within and transcended the politics of slavery in his day. His capacity for growth was the lodestar of his greatness as an instrument for freedom.”...
SOURCE: CNN.com (2-10-11)
"He's trying to preempt a call for a general strike tomorrow," Ibrahim told CNN Thursday in a telephone interview, noting that workers began joining the demonstrations early this week and were calling for demonstrations throughout Egypt on Friday. "Usually, after the Friday prayer, people congregate, so he was trying to preempt that."...
James Gelvin, a professor of history at UCLA, said Mubarak had little choice but to act on Thursday. "He had to do something," Gelvin said in a telephone interview. "Today followed on the biggest demonstrations in Egypt's recent history. It's not just in Tahrir Square, it's up and down the country, and it's labor unrest as well. You've got a perfect storm of economic grievances and political grievances at the same time."
The timing of the next move is up to the military, which both supports the protesters and wants order, he said. "They can't have it both ways."...
SOURCE: The Times Leader (MD) (2-11-11)
Howard B. Fedrick of Laflin, a prolific member of the downtown festival who pioneered the fiesta’s Internet audience, and a member of the history department at King’s College, passed away Wednesday at the Wilkes-Barre General Hospital. He was 67.
David Kerr, president of the board of the Fine Arts Fiesta, had known Fedrick since they met at a board meeting nearly 25 years ago. He said Fedrick’s lasting impression on those he met in the community was one of unconditional kindness and generosity....
SOURCE: Crosscut (Seattle) (2-9-11)
That applies to the conference, the content, the organization, and the extremely humble Ed Diaz.
Black history in the Pacific Northwest has rarely been as visible as in other parts of the country, but the Association for African American Historical Research and Preservation’s conference held at the Northwest African American Museum proved over and over that black history is American history. Saturday’s conference theme was, "Black History at Home and Abroad: Uncovering the Past." There was plenty to uncover....
SOURCE: Jerusalem Post (2-10-11)
For decades Harsegor taught history at Tel Aviv University and was considered an expert on Late Middle Ages European History. He was most well-known to the Israeli public for hosting the long-running Army Radio program "historical hour"....
SOURCE: BusinessWeek (2-10-11)
Some Cairo protesters have spoken ill of Sawiris, and looters have vandalized the shops, including an HSBC (HBC) branch, on the ground floor of his massive Nile City Towers complex. Yet he's been lucky so far. Unlike many Egyptian businessmen who rushed to serve in Mubarak's National Democratic Party or sought ties to the President's son, Gamal, the tart-tongued Sawiris isn't known publicly as a close ally of the regime. Before the crisis, he spoke openly about Egypt's ills and helped bankroll an independent newspaper, Al-Masry al-Youm. "He has maintained his distance from the ruling Establishment, not alienating them but not courting them," says Khaled Fahmy, a professor of history at the American University in Cairo....
SOURCE: WaPo (2-9-11)
"Golden Harvest," by Princeton academics Jan Gross and Irena Grudzinska Gross, argues that rural Poles sometimes sought financial gain from Jewish misfortune in a variety of ways, from plundering Jewish mass graves to ferreting out Jews in hiding for rewards.
Gross said the starting point of the book is a photograph showing Polish peasants digging up human remains at the Treblinka death camp just after the war in a search for gold or other treasures that Nazi executioners might have overlooked. Scattered in front of the group are skulls and bones....
SOURCE: Lee White at the National Coalition for History (2-1-11)
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) has announced that historian Allison Blakely has been appointed to the National Council on the Humanities. Blakely was nominated by President Barack Obama on August 5 and confirmed by the Senate December 21.
Blakely is a professor of European and Comparative History at Boston University and previously taught at Howard University for 30 years. He is the author of Blacks in the Dutch World: The Evolution of Racial Imagery in a Modern Society; Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought and numerous scholarly articles on Russian populism and the various European aspects of the Black Diaspora.
The immediate past President of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, Blakely serves on its governing Senate and the Editorial Board of its journal, The American Scholar. He was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart for his service in Vietnam, was a Woodrow Wilson Fellow in 1962-63, and an Andrew Mellon Fellow in the Humanities at the Aspen Institute for Humanistic Studies, 1976-77. He received the Outstanding Faculty Leadership Award from Howard University in 1992.
Blakely received his Ph.D. and MA from the University of California, Berkeley, and his B.A. from the University of Oregon. Fluent in Russian, Dutch and French, he is currently working on an overview of the history of blacks in modern Europe.
The National Council is the 26-member advisory body of the NEH. Blakely replaces entertainment executive Craig Haffner, whose term had expired. He will serve until Jan. 26, 2014.
SOURCE: Christian Chronicle (2-6-11)
West, a professor of church history emeritus at Harding University Graduate School of Religion in Memphis, died Friday, Feb. 4. He was 90....
SOURCE: NewsMax (2-4-11)
“One of the things I learned in editing 'The Reagan Diaries' is to never say what Reagan would do, because he surprised people,” Brinkley told Newsmax in an exclusive interview Thursday night.
However, there’s little doubt how Reagan would have reacted to the mayhem in the streets of Cairo, "The Reagan Diaries” author said.
“If Reagan had intelligence information that showed that the upheaval in Egypt is actually Democratic in spirit, then he would have, I believe, turned his back on Mubarak, even though there’s a long friendship between the United States and Egypt,” Brinkley said. “And [he would have] supported the Democratic movement.”...
SOURCE: BBC News (2-8-11)
Tristram Hunt is inordinately proud of his cup and saucer.
The Labour MP displays the delicate china pieces in the corner of his Westminster office - behaviour more reminiscent of a maiden aunt or a local museum curator than a hardened politician.
He explains that the blue-and-white patterned crockery comes from "his" city - Stoke-on-Trent.
Part of England's historic potteries, the area has been hit hard by the decline of the UK ceramics industry. Once it employed 50,000 people in the area - now the figure is nearer 6,000.
With the air of a Cambridge-educated TV historian - which he is - Mr Hunt discusses the mindset he has found since being elected to represent Stoke-on-Trent Central in Parliament last May....
SOURCE: Media Newswire (2-7-11)
The Corey Prize recognizes the best book on Canadian-American relations or on the history of both countries. The prize is awarded every two years by the American Historical Association and the Canadian Historical Association, the two premier professional organizations for historians in the United States and Canada....
SOURCE: AP (2-7-11)
An amateur Virginia historian is denying allegations by the National Archives that he changed the date on a presidential pardon issued by President Abraham Lincoln.
Seventy-eight-year-old Thomas P. Lowry of Woodbridge, Va., said Monday that he was pressured by federal agents to confess. The Archives says Lowry has confessed to using a fountain pen to change the date on a pardon by Lincoln from 1864 to 1865.
The change made it appear that Lowry had discovered a document languishing in the Archives that was likely Lincoln's final official act before he was assassinated....
SOURCE: JHU Gazette (2-7-11)
Author of The Progress of Experiment: Science and Therapeutic Reform in the United States, 1900–1990 and numerous articles, Marks was an internationally recognized authority on the history of 20th-century medicine, clinical trials and public health.
In addition, his wide-ranging scholarly interests and breadth of knowledge made him an active participant in the Krieger School of Arts and Sciences’ departments of History, Anthropology and History of Science and Technology, and the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Department of Epidemiology, where he held joint appointments....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (2-6-11)
Ever alert, Dorothy probed beneath the outer surface of evidence. The results were innovatory. The documents she edited in The Early Chartists (1971) brought to life the intense and dangerous interior world of working-class meetings, conventions and newspapers, while The Chartists (1984) revealed greatly neglected areas such as middle-class involvement, women's role and schemes for land settlements. Her collection Outsiders: Class, Gender and Nation (1993) demonstrated a mix of exacting scholarship and conceptual clarity which led to her being admired by specialists and grateful A-level history students alike.
She was born Dorothy Towers in Greenwich, south-east London. From 1942 she studied history at Girton College, Cambridge, where she was active in the Communist party and attended meetings of the Communist party historians' group. In 1945 she began a lifelong love affair with a fellow historian, Edward Palmer (EP) Thompson. After helping to build the railroad in Tito's Yugoslavia, they married and settled in Halifax, West Yorkshire, where they taught in extramural adult education. Dorothy's first organisational endeavour was a campaign to keep wartime nurseries open in the late 1940s....
SOURCE: ABC 7 (San Francisco) (2-8-11)
"I graduated from high school and the next year there was the shipyards," said World War II shipyard worker Edythe Esser.
That's how World War II changed Esser's life. She joined the thousands of women in Richmond doing traditionally male jobs - women who proudly called themselves "Rosie the Riveter."
"In 1941, they were hiring in the shipyards and I was married, but I wanted to work," said Esser.
She's putting her memories down on video, for a history project at UC Berkeley....
SOURCE: NYT (2-7-11)
The sleepover, along with its cousin the slumber party, has apparently become an essential part of childhood, for boys as well as for girls.
“My impression is that sleepovers are a phenomenon of the suburbs and they started taking off in the ’50s and ’60s,” said Paula Fass, a professor of history at the University of California, Berkeley, and the editor of the Encyclopedia of Children and Childhood. In their big new suburban homes, she suggested, children for the first time had their own bedrooms, suitable for entertaining....
“By the 1980s, you had to sleep over; otherwise your parents were oppressing you,” Professor Fass said. “It was already, by the 1980s, not a privilege but a right.”...
SOURCE: NYT (2-7-11)
That critique is incomplete. As Justice John Paul Stevens acknowledged in his dissent, the court had long recognized that “corporations are covered by the First Amendment.” Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, writing for the majority, listed more than 20 precedents saying that.
But an old and established rule can still be wrong, and it may be that the liberal critique is correct. If it is, though, it must confront a very hard question. If corporations have no First Amendment rights, what about newspapers and other news organizations, almost all of which are organized as corporations?...
Eugene Volokh, a law professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, has reviewed the historical evidence. The bottom line, he said, is this: “If ordinary business corporations lack First Amendment rights, so do those business corporations that we call media corporations.”...
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (2-4-11)
"I've never been to Saudi Arabia," Dr Kennedy said. "It's not the easiest country to break into."
Dr Kennedy told New Scientist that he had verified the images showed actual archaeological sites by asking a friend working in the Kingdom to photograph the locations.
The use of aerial and satellite imaging has been used in Britain to locate Iron Age and Roman sites in Britain, as well as Nazca lines in Peru and Mayan ruins in Belize....
SOURCE: Atlanta Journal-Constitution (2-3-11)
The university’s slave legacy doesn’t end with the antebellum era. In 1902, the college forced a professor to resign for an article he wrote condemning lynching.
Fast forward to 2003 when a professor’s use of a racial slur led to campus-wide debates.
That incident spurred self-reflection.
Emory leaders created a program to research the university’s past and talk about race. The program's work will be discussed during a four-day conference – beginning Thursday evening on campus – where about 30 public and private colleges will examine the role of slavery at institutions of higher learning in America. And, as the private college marks its 175th anniversary, the Board of Trustees released a statement of regret over Emory's involvement with slavery....
SOURCE: Kansas City Star (2-3-11)
His widow, Nancy Reagan, will lay a wreath at the Reagan library in California, where the 40th president was buried when he died in 2004 at the age of 93. A group of F-18s from the USS Ronald Reagan will salute him from the air.
In Washington, the city where he made his greatest impact, politicians will salute his tenure. One of them is President Barack Obama, who, though a liberal who yearns to undo much of Reagan's domestic record, admires the way Reagan changed the course of history....
Sean Wilentz is a professor of history at Princeton University and the author of the book "The Age of Reagan." He wrote there that while he was sometimes critical of Reagan's leadership, after deep study of his record, "my views have ripened over time."
In an interview, Wilentz said Reagan was the most important political figure of the last 30 years.
He includes him in august company.
"In American political history, there have been a few leading figures ... who for better or worse have put their political stamp indelibly on their time," Wilentz wrote in his book. "They include Thomas Jefferson, Andrew Jackson, Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt - and Ronald Reagan."...