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History News Network

History News Network puts current events into historical perspective. Subscribe to our newsletter for new perspectives on the ways history continues to resonate in the present. Explore our archive of thousands of original op-eds and curated stories from around the web. Join us to learn more about the past, now.

Editor's Choice, 2021: 25 Articles Showing How HNN Covered Another Tumultuous Year

The Cult of the Lost Cause and the Invention of General Pickett (1/13)

by Ann Banks

George Pickett – Major General George E. Pickett – was our family’s marquee Confederate relation, distant cousin though he was. For a long time what I knew about him was pretty much what everyone learned in 8th grade.

The Free Press and Democracy in a "Murder the Media" Age (1/17)

by Wendy Melillo

Journalism as a profession needs to embrace its historical role as a guardian of democracy and refuse to let objectivity work as a shield for authoritarianism; authoritarians won't accept a free press anyway.

The Assault on Congress and the GOP Faustian Trump Bargain: Notes from German History (1/31)

by Jeffrey Herf

It does not seem that even facing the prospect of death at the hands of a Trumpist mob will convince the Republican Party to abandon its bargain with Trump. German conservative elites made a choice to stay the course in the 1930s that led to national ruin and defeat. 

The 1776 Presidential Commissioners Forgot That Dissent is as American as Hero Worship (1/31)

by David Wippman and Glenn C. Altschuler

After insisting that educators avoid “political agendas,” the 1776 Commission Report authors simply assume that their simplistic hero-worship version of history is “accurate, honest, unifying, inspiring, and ennobling.”

History (and Historians) Need a New Deal (2/7)

by Shannan Clark

Only a program of direct public employment for historians, along with other academics, can lead to a vibrant future for the discipline in which access to careers is expanded, with greater diversity and equity.  The history of the WPA cultural projects shows us the way.

With Her Fist Raised: Dorothy Pitman Hughes and Transformative Community Activism (2/28)

by Laura L. Lovett

Recovering the legacy of New York activist and organizer Dorothy Pitman Hughes means writing "a history of the women’s movement with children, race, and welfare rights at its core, a history of women’s politics grounded in community organizing and African American economic development."

Attacking Critical Race Theory: A Modern Campaign of Conversion? (3/14)

by Guy Lancaster

There is a recurrent idea among political elites that particular ideas are the wellspring of social discord and strife, and that ridding society of the idea will usher in unity. The Talmud and the 1619 Project have filled similar roles in different eras.

The Women Who Fought Tooth and Nail for the Flint Sit-Down Strikes (3/14)

by Edward McClelland

Genora Johnson and the women of Flint, Michigan were the backbone of the sit-down strike campaigns that secured union recognition at General Motors. 

What Comes Next? (4/4)

by Stephanie Hinnershitz

In 1979, Asian American leaders testified to Congress about problems of discrimination, opportunity and hostility facing their communities. The official response largely enshrined a "model minority" myth that obscured ongoing problems behind a celebratory narrative of inclusion. Waves of anti-Asian violence in the 1980s belied that story, and warn us not to minimize the climate of hostility Asian Americans face today.

Hidden Stories of Jewish Resistance in Poland (4/4)

by Judy Batalion

I was fascinated by the widespread resistance efforts of Polish Jews, but equally by their absence from current understandings of the war. Of all the legions of Holocaust tales, what had happened to this one?

Law, Politics and Public Health: John Fabian Witt on “American Contagions” (4/16)

by Robin Lindley

Legal historian John Fabian Witt studies the evolution of public health regulation in the US, and says recent Supreme Court decisions to empower religious exceptions to COVID precautions are an unprecedented rejection of public health as duty of the state. He discusses this and more with HNN. 

HNN Turned 20 This Month! Revisit the First Edition (6/13)

by HNN Staff

HNN turned 20 this month! Help us celebrate by checking out our inaugural issue through the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine. 

Experts Beware: Is America Headed for a Scopes Moment over Critical Race Theory? (6/20)

by Charles J. Holden

William Jennings Bryan wasn't trying to win a debate in the Scopes Trial. He tried – successfully – to draw cultural battle lines. The fact that today's opponents of "Critical Race Theory" are often poorly informed is similarly beside the point. 

Escape as Resistance for Enslaved Women during the American Revolution (6/27)

by Karen Cook Bell

Historians have, for too long, failed to recognize how Black women imagined and pursued freedom by escape from slavery during the American Revolution. 

The National Bicentennial Erased Antiwar Activism by Vietnam Veterans (7/4)

by Elise Lemire

The United States Semiquincentennial Commission is preparing for July 4, 2026 as an opportunity for educating the public about the nation's history. It should avoid repeating the whitewash of recent history in the 1976 Bicentennial celebration.

The History of Systemic Racism that CRT Opponents Prefer to Hide (7/18)

by Clyde W. Ford

The importation of African people to Virginia in 1619 spurred the process of establishing racial hierarchy through law, a historical reality the right seeks to deny.

Time to Revisit the History of School Integration in the North (8/1)

by Zoë Burkholder

The history of school integration in the North shows that Black northerners have viewed quality education and democracy as core goals, while disagreeing about which educational policies serve those goals best.

Drug Prohibition and the Political Roots of Cartel Violence in Mexico (8/8)

by Benjamin T. Smith

Violence is not so much in the DNA of the drug trade as the DNA of drug prohibition. And until both American and Mexican police forces stop treating it like a war, the violence won’t stop.

Educating Teen Holocaust Survivors Holds Lessons for Teaching after Trauma (8/15)

by Bernice Lerner

The author's mother survived Bergen-Belsen and was relocated to an experimental school in rural Sweden. Can her experiences and those of other young women students (and their teachers) shed light on the challenges of educating traumatized children?  

Memo From Irish History: Welcome to Your Future, American Women (9/12)

by Laura Weinstein

After sustained public outcry, the Republic of Ireland looked to its history of horrific treatment and preventable death of girls and women under its draconian abortion laws and said "enough." Will this example change the course American states like Texas are poised to follow? 

How Evangelical Conversion Narratives Feed "Free Choice" Rhetoric at Your School Board (10/3)

by Rebecca L. Davis

Evangelical Christianity grew in America by emphasizing the power of individual conversion as a "choice for Christ." This frame explains not only the prominence of Evangelicals among anti-mask and anti-vaccine protesters, but also the frequent rhetorical connections they make between COVID policy and LGBTQ tolerance. 

Recovering Women's Reproductive Lives, One Mutilated Record at a Time (10/10)

by Catherine Prendergast

"Far too often, archives resemble graveyards with marked tombs for men in which a few bones of women are scattered. It’s time to dig up all of the bones and ask them what story they tell."

Kyle Rittenhouse's Trial Will End in a Verdict. The Nation's Trial By Ordeal Won't (11/14)

by Thomas Lecaque

"A trial by ordeal was not about miracles or superstition. It was, in effect, about the community making a decision on the innocence or guilt of the party, and then bringing it about."

Fashion and Freedom from Suffrage to AOC (11/14)

by Einav Rabinovitch-Fox

Fashion, freedom, and American independence have been and are still connected to ideas of women’s rights and equality.

Veracity or Virality? How Social Media are Transforming History (12/19)

by Jason Steinhauer

History is a growing content category on social media, but history content going viral has very little to do with its quality or reliability. The author of a new book on history on social media says historians and readers need to understand how political agendas and content algorithms are shaping history on the web.