What We’re Reading: August 27, 2009 Edition

Back to School in the 1950s from the Baltimore SunIn the news this week, Senator Ted Kennedy has lost his fight against cancer, local officials will allow Walmart to build next to the Wilderness Battlefield, and a new historic preservation program is available at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Then we link to articles on historians and online identity theft, and best practices dealing with “orphan works.” We’ve collected a variety of book-related links this week, including,  a review of Noralee Frankel’s Stripping Gypsy,  Humanities E-book celebrating its 10th anniversary, History Today seeking your book reviews, news of sales of books on military history remaining steady, and the Wells Fargo staff’s history book picks. And finally, for fun, check out the history behind the FBI flags, learn about presidential vacations, and take a peek at decades old back-to-school photos.

News

  • Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project
    In light of Ted Kennedy’s death this week, we note a project of the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia: the Edward M. Kennedy Oral History Project. See also the center’s resources on Ted Kennedy.
  • Officials OK Walmart near Virginia battlefield
    After much debate, the Orange County Board of Supervisors voted 4-1 to allow the construction of a Walmart Supercenter next to the Wilderness Battlefield, a notable Civil War Battlefield. “Historians and Civil War buffs are fearful the Walmart store will draw traffic and more commerce to an area within the historic boundaries of the Wilderness, where generals Ulysses S. Grant and Robert E. Lee first met in battle 145 years ago and where 145,000 Union and Confederate soldiers fought and more than 29,000 were killed or injured.”
  • New program in Historic Preservation
    A news release from the University of Massachusetts Amherst announced last week that “Hancock Shaker Village and the University of Massachusetts Amherst have announced they will collaborate to create a new two-year master’s degree in historic preservation and architectural conservation…A unique highlight will be the special focus on Shaker ideals, building methods and historic craft and trade knowledge as they apply to modern life.”

Articles and Documents

  • The Accidental Celebrity
    This article, by Timothy Wood, an assistant professor at Southwest Baptist University, describes how easy it is for a historian to become a victim of "online identity theft."  
  • Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices (PDF)
    Members who work on the history of the 20th century should review the recently released "Orphan Works: Statement of Best Practices" from the Society of American Archivists. In the absence of a sensible legislative solution, this lays out the best possible strategy for dealing with materials that are potentially in copyright, but for which there is no rightsholder to be found.
  • Books: A plan to scan
    Also on the topic of orphaned works, the Financial Times offers a useful article on the larger issue of orphaned books and how the Google Books settlement potentially fits into the larger picture.

Books

  • Ron Briley: Review of Noralee Frankel’s Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee
    Ron Briley at HNN reviews Noralee Frankel’s (the AHA’s assistant director, women, minorities, and teaching) book Stripping Gypsy: The Life of Gypsy Rose Lee.
  • Ten Years Later: The Future is Past (PDF)
    Humanities E-Book marks its tenth anniversary with a discussion of the "tipping point" for print publications in our field, news that another Gutenberg-e title (Willeen Keough’s The Slender Thread: Irish Women on the Southern Avalon, 1750-1860) is now available, and that their collection has been growing more 20 percent per year.
  • Send us your review for your chance to win one of the latest history books
    Every Monday and Wednesday the History Today Books blog reviews recently published history books. They’ve just announced that they will now be accepting reviews from readers to also be posted on the blog.
  • Words of War: Military History and Memoirs
    Despite the current economic climate, publishers have noticed that book sales remain steady in the genres of military history and memoirs, which may partially result from the number of Americans affiliated with the military. Additionally, this article discusses the publishing industry against the contemporary backdrop of the blogosphere; however, “most publishers find that the stories posted online are far too brief” and do not pose a serious threat to the publishing industry. Not yet, at least.
  • Boy, Do We Read!
    The Wells Fargo blog rounds up what some of its staff is reading. With books on the Civil War, the Pony Express, the Great Influenza, even a "historical-sci-fi-epic-pirate-comedy-punk-love-story."

For Fun

  • Glorious History (or Myths) Behind FBI’s U.S. Flags
    Outside of the J. Edgar Hoover FBI Building in Washington, DC fly 12 unofficial American flags. John Kelly, a Washington Post columnist, explores the evolution of the American flag and the various patterns of the stars over history.
  • A History of Presidential Vacations
    Discover the summer vacation spots of some of history’s most notable U.S. presidents–Lincoln, FDR, LBJ, and more.
  • Back to School
    The Baltimore Sun presents a look back at back-to-school.

Contributors: David Darlington, Elisabeth Grant, Jessica Pritchard, and Robert B. Townsend

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