Perspectives on History – May 2009

Perspectives on History - May 2009 - Intersections: History and New MediaThe theme of the May 2009 issue of Perspectives on History centers on how new media (web sites, wikis, Google, and more) intersect with history. AHA president Laurel Thatcher Ulrich begins this exploration with her article “Erasing History.” In it she explains how the “digital revolution not only offers new ways of researching and disseminating history… [i]t is also creating new topics for historical inquiry.”

Intersections: History and New Media
Robert B. Townsend
introduces the broad array of new media articles in this issue in “Viewing History at the Intersection of Past and Future,” and comments that these “essays consider how the new media of the internet are changing the practice of history in our capacities as scholars, teachers, and general disseminators of knowledge of the past to the general public.”

The essays in this issue take up the theme from different angles. Some ask broad questions and look at how new media affects general concepts (narratives, data) and whole disciplines (public history), while other articles concentrate on specific new media projects and programs.

New Media – Broad Looks
Essays with a broad take on new media include:

New Media – Projects and Programs
Sometimes the best way to discuss a topic is to point to concrete examples. The authors of the following articles deconstruct new media projects they’ve been a part of.

The History Engine allows students to work like a historianThe History Engine
A number of articles in this issue address the History Engine, a web site (that we’ve covered on AHA Today in the past) that allows students to create articles in a way that teaches them how to do the work of a historian.

Believe it or not, there are even more (non-new-media) articles in the May issue of Perspectives on History. The News section covers salaries, degree numbers, missing newspapers, new prizes, a German resource, and a “counterfactual” movie on JFK.

We also continue the Timelines series by presenting the Minutes of the 1909 Business Meeting.

John Hope Franklin continues to remain in many historians’ hearts and minds, and three articles in this issue remember him: Leon F. Litwack’s “Remembering John Hope Franklin,” Mary Frances Berry’s “Franklin, the Quintessential Scholar Activist,” and David Barry Gaspar’s Franklin: The Mentor in My Memory.”

In AHA and coalition news, read an Open Letter from Robert A. Schneider, Guggenheim Fellowship winners, a look at openness and transparency in government, and more.

Finally, four historians are recognized in the “In Memoriam” column: Robert I. Burns, S.J., Miriam Usher Chrisman, Charles Adams Hale, and Henry Ashby Turner Jr.

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  1. Sharon E. Williams

    Looking forward to reading the online issue. Another issue that might be explored is whether non academics who blog about history help or hinder the study of history. There are many of us who just love our topics and want to share.

  2. Laurie Kubitz-Maness

    The Denver Public Library’s Western History department is looking forward to communicating with the world using new media and sharing the hidden treasures of our Library. We hope that you will participate by sharing your knowledge with us.

    Sharon, that is an interesting point you bring up. In the library world, we look at Web 2.0 as an opportunity to educate people about how to find reliable, quality information. I say, share away!

  3. John Sadberry

    This issue of Perspectives is the best and most broadly encompassing to come out since I’ve been a member of the AHA. The implications of information technology on the future of historical research go far beyond mere mechanics, but in the very way that the study of history is conducted. The efficient availability of information will change fundamentally the kinds of questions we are able to ask and from sources. I hope to see the AHA and the many organizations of history continue to genuinely explore these implications, and treat them as more than mere novelties.