It’s been a few weeks since a regular What We’re Reading post has gone up, due to the schedule around the recent 2010 annual meeting. But we’re back, with a number of links collected throughout this month. We start with some newsy items, including coverage of the participation of historians George Chauncey and Nancy Cott in the Perry v. Schwarzenegger trial, a look at Haiti’s tumultuous history, the opening of a history center at the Decatur House, and a look at “How to Teach the Writing of History” in this month’s issue of Historically Speaking. Then, in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, this past Monday, we have two links: an EDSITEment feature and the discovery of a long lost recording. Read on for more articles on the sub-fields of history (military history and the history of religion), history and new media, textbook revision and digitization, and history throughout the states.
- Chauncey and Cott testify in California Prop. 8 Trial
The Legal History Blog notes that historians George Chauncey and Nancy Cott were called to testify two weeks ago in the California Proposition 8 trial of Perry v. Schwarzenegger. See also coverage from the New Yorker, Claire B. Potter , and Slate magazine.
- Haiti’s History: Revolution, Subjugation
The tiny island of Haiti has persevered through numerous trials and tribulations, so in the wake of last week’s earthquake, CBS’s Anthony Mason revisits the country’s turbulent history.
- White House History Center at Decatur House
Built in 1818, the Decatur House will now serve as a history center that “will support research related to White House history, store historical documents, offer expanded educational programs for children, and host lectures and other programs that explore the history of the White House and the surrounding area.”
- Teaching the Writing of History Roundtable in January Issue of Historically Speaking
From a roundtable on “How to Teach the Writing of History,” read essays by Stephen Pyne, Jill Lepore, Michael Kammen, and John Demos.
Martin Luther King Jr.
- I Have a Dream: Celebrating the Vision of Martin Luther King, Jr.
This month’s EDSITEment feature is on the vision of Martin Luther King, Jr. See also two new lesson plans: Birth of a Nation, the NAACP, and the Balancing of Rights and the NAACP’s Anti-Lynching Campaigns: The Quest for Social Justice in the Interwar Years.
- Lost King Speech To Be Heard After 50 Years
Although Bethel College in Newton, Kansas thought that the speech given by Martin Luther King on campus in January 1960 had never been recorded for future generations to enjoy, they recently found a recording by alumnus Randy Harmison, who plugged “his tape recorder into the public address system.”
Sub-fields of History
- Why Military History Matters: Another Perspective
Wayne Wei-siang Hsieh, on the U.S. Naval Academy, offers a compelling case that military history needs to remain “a distinct sub-field, with its own distinctive body of knowledge and methods to master, because war itself represents a peculiar and distinctive form of human activity.”
- Religion and the historical profession
The Social Science Research Council offers a very interesting forum about the recent AHA study on the rising interest in the history of religion. The historians commenting on the report includes AHA members John Butler, David A. Hollinger, Jonathan Sheehan, and Grant Wacker.
- On the Origin of Species: The Preservation of Favoured Traces
This site on Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is a remarkable visualization of the writing process, and a brilliant display of the kind of textual analysis made possible by new media.
- A wired life with room to think
In this blog post Laura Mitchell makes observations about finding time to reflect in our hyperconnected world.
- Digitization project aiming to preserve Louisiana’s history
The University of Louisiana at Monroe is currently working with other Louisiana libraries to collect, organize, and furthermore digitize photographic collections that retell the state’s history. You can find this collection at the LOUISiana Digital Library.
- California Law Encourages Digital Textbooks by 2020
The Chronicle’s Wired Campus blog reports on Senate Bill 48 just passed in California that requires, beginning January 1, 2020, “all textbooks used in public and private postsecondary institutions be made available in electronic form.”
- Revisionaries: How a group of Texas conservatives is rewriting your kids’ textbooks
A perhaps controversial article on the fear that Texas is having an outsized influence on textbook standards. Because the Texas decides what textbooks to use on a statewide basis, rather than local school districts, publishers try their hardest to get their books used in Texas, because it means big money. However, if partisanship comes into play, this could be problematic for the teaching of history.
History by States
- Virginia’s Heaven for History Lovers
Rick Rogers of the Oklahoma newspaper, NewsOK, explains why Virginia’s slogan should read, “Virginia is for History Lovers” after his visit to Prince William County.
- Saving Texas Dance Halls, One Two-Step at a Time
During the golden era of the 1920s and 30s, dance halls peppered much of central Texas, most of which have fallen into disrepair over the years. However, Texans are now trying to renovate and reopen these historic gems, which were originally built by “Czechs and Germans who migrated to Texas from the 1830s through the end of the 19th century, looking for freedom and cheap farmland.” Listen to the story from NPR’s Morning Edition.
- Civil War History in Oklahoma
If you ever find yourself in Oklahoma, make sure to visit one of its numerous Civil War sites.
- Be surrounded by history of freedom
Rochester, New York is chock-full of history and home to some of the country’s most famous emancipators: Frederick Douglass, Susan B. Anthony, and Austin Steward. Be sure to check out one of the many historic sites located in the northern-most part of the state.
Contributors: David Darlington, Elisabeth Grant, Jessica Pritchard, and Robert B. Townsend