What We’re Reading: February 5, 2009 Edition

BBC News AushwitzWe’ve collected links on a variety of topics for this week’s What We’re Reading, and begin with one historian’s suggestion for President Obama: a new Federal Writer’s Project. Then, an article being considered for the American Historical Review shows up in the New York Times? We also note the progress being made in the creation of the National Museum of African American History, a report on the preservation crisis at Auschwitz, and the fear of losing our online memories. Finally, read about one professor’s words of caution for potential PhDs, historians’ picks for the best presidential biographies, and new video on the Poplar Grove project.

  • A Call for a New Federal Writer’s Project
    Larry Cebula at his Northwest History blog has an interesting post on creating a 21st-century Federal Writer’s Project as a part of the economic stimulus package. The idea is, if Obama is taking inspiration from FDR, he should copy one of FDR’s greatest legacies for the history profession. See also Mark I. Pinsky’s related article, “Write Now.”
  • John Dean’s Role at Issue in Nixon Tapes Feud
    Curiously, an article merely submitted to the American Historical Review for consideration made it to the front page of the New York Times last Sunday. The Times article (and the manuscript under consideration by the AHR, apparently) discuss problems in the transcription of some Watergate recordings. Here in the Washington office we do not know anything more about the article than the rest of the Times‘s readership. But Jeremy Young and a number of his readers pose some interesting questions about what effect the Times article might have on the peer review process.
  • 6 Finalists Vie to Design Black History Museum
    Last Thursday, January 29, the National Museum of African American History and Culture released the names of the six architecture teams they’ve picked to compete to design this new museum.
  • Cash crisis threat to Auschwitz
    BBC News investigates the deteriorating state of Auschwitz and how “conservation work is hampered by a shortage of funds.”
  • We’re in danger of losing our memories
    British Library head Lynne Brindley argues that we’re in danger of losing our digital memory, leaving a "black hole" for future historians. But she is committing herself, and the library, to preserving those records. Hat tip.
  • Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go
    William Pannapacker, an associate professor at Hope College who writes under the pen name Thomas H. Benton, argues that those who pursue a PhD in the humanities are undertaking “an enormous personal risk” due to the limited number of jobs. He states that “[n]early every humanities field was already desperately competitive” and with the current economy “the situation is becoming even worse.”
  • The Presidential Bookshelf
    Publishers Weekly turns to some professional historians (and a few others) for an assessment of the best presidential biographies.
  • Poplar Grove event video and documents now online
    The Poplar Grove project, which we blogged about last summer, has announced that a video featuring discoveries made by researchers is now available online.

Contributors: David Darlington, Debbie Ann Doyle, Elisabeth Grant, Miriam Hauss, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend.

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  1. Larry Cebula

    Thank you for linking to my post A Call for a New Federal Writer’s Project. As special interests rally together to get a piece of the stimulus, I am disappointed not to see the historical community being more aggressive.

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