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: Springfield State Journal-Register (6-4-11)
The advent of the Internet has revolutionized genealogy. Records by the millions are available with the twitch of a finger. But, often, when African-Americans research their genealogy, they run into a huge obstacle. It’s called slavery.
The state of Illinois has compiled a little-known database that can help.
Archivists working under the auspices of the secretary of state’s office maintain the Servitude and Emancipation Record Database (www.ilsos.gov/GenealogyMWeb/servfrm.html) that contains historical records, many of them documenting freed slaves who settled in Illinois.
Karl Moore, an archivist who has worked on the database for years, explains that a freed slave was required to carry a certificate to prove he or she was free and not a runaway. Those certificates, called “free Negro bonds,” had to be submitted to the county and, today, provide some of the information for the database.
The information has been added gradually over the past decade as more Illinois counties contributed. There are about 20 counties participating now, all in southern Illinois. The casual browser may just select a county in the database search menu to see all documents from that county....
SOURCE: Guardian (UK) (6-5-11)
University lecturers and students reacted with dismay on Sunday after a group of leading British academics took a step towards the establishment of an elite US-style university system in the UK by launching a new private college offering £18,000-a-year courses.
AC Grayling, a professor of philosophy at the universities of London and Oxford, will welcome next year the first students to the New College of the Humanities to study for degrees in English, philosophy, history, economics and law taught by academics from Harvard, Princeton, Oxford and Cambridge.
There is a starry lineup of professorial talent: Richard Dawkins will teach evolutionary biology and science literacy; Niall Ferguson will lecture on economics and economic history; and Steven Pinker will teach philosophy and psychology.
Inspired in part by the business model of American Ivy League universities where $40,000 (£24,000) annual fees are not unusual, New College will cost double the maximum tuition fee allowed in government-funded universities. It is set up to deliver a profit to its shareholders who include the professors and a team of wealthy businessmen who have bankrolled the plan....
SOURCE: Telegraph (UK) (6-2-11)
The president made the ominous prediction following the Cuban Missile Crisis, after he had successfully negotiated the peaceful withdrawal of Russian missiles from the island with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, in November 1962.
"(JFK) said to Mrs Kennedy after his success in the Cuban Missile Crisis: 'If anyone's going to kill me, it should happen now,"' said Professor Robert Dallek, who has examined unreleased audio interviews with Jackie Kennedy, the former first lady.
Kennedy was shot dead on November 22, 1963 in Dallas.
Prof Dallek said Kennedy had previously been told by the historian David Herbert Donald that Abraham Lincoln's reputation may not have been as great had he lived long enough to become embroiled in domestic politics.
"At that lecture, Kennedy asked Professor Donald if Lincoln had lived, would his reputation be as great as it currently is in the United States? And predictably, Donald said probably not because he would have had to have wrestled with the problems of reconstruction, the post Civil War era," he said.
SOURCE: NYT (6-1-11)
Richard L. McCormick, a self-described “faculty brat” at Rutgers University who learned to swim at a campus pool on College Avenue in New Brunswick, N.J., and grew up to become the university president, announced on Tuesday that he would step down from that post at the end of next year to return to teaching — at Rutgers, of course — and writing.
“I used to be a scholar of American political history, and I fancy I can do that again,” he said at a news conference.
Dr. McCormick, 63, who still recalls tagging along to campus events with his mother, an administrator, and his father, a history professor and dean, taught at Rutgers for 16 years before leaving to become provost of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and then president of the University of Washington in Seattle. Since returning to Rutgers as president in 2002, he has engineered a historic reorganization of the university, increased fund-raising and overseen new building projects and academic programs — all during a period of painful state budget cuts....
SOURCE: Slate (6-1-11)
If a century seems like a long time for a culture of racism to persist, consider the findings of a recent study on the persistence of anti-Semitism in Germany: Communities that murdered their Jewish populations during the 14th-century Black Death pogroms were more likely to demonstrate a violent hatred of Jews nearly 600 years later. A culture of intolerance can be very persistent indeed....
The authors of the new study, Nico Voigtländer of UCLA and Joachim Voth of the Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Spain, examine the historical roots of the virulent anti-Semitism that found expression in Nazi-era Germany. In a sense, their analysis can be seen as providing a foundation for the highly controversial thesis put forth by former Harvard professor Daniel Goldhagen in Hitler's Willing Executioners. Goldhagen argued that the German people exhibited a deeply rooted "eliminationist" anti-Semitism that had developed over centuries, which made them ready accomplices in carrying out Hitler's Final Solution....