What We’re Reading: April 1, 2010

50th Anniversary of LasersBeware, beware, today is April Fools’ Day! Check out Wikipedia for a look back at some well known pranks. But while the pranksters are going to be rampant today (especially online), know that the following links and news are all legit. In the news this week, the NEH announces $16 million in available grant money, the BBC reports on the Connected History project, Eric Foner weighs in on the Texas textbooks debate, and a new report finds students retain print information better than material read online.  It seems fitting to recognize other notable dates on a day like today, so check out articles on Ada Lovelace Day, Easter at the White House, and the anniversary of lasers.  We also take a look at the lives of two people: a former slave/possible saint and a 106 year old woman and her look back on history. Finally, read about the future of Wikihistory, a look at public historians, and maps through time.


Notable Dates


  • A Former Slave’s Long Road to Sainthood
    The Archdiocese of New York continues its efforts to make Pierre Toussaint the Catholic Church’s fourth black saint. Toussaint was a Haitian slave before his French master brought him to New York in 1787 where he became a popular hairdresser and eventually took over his master’s business despite his social status. There is also evidence that he cured a five-year old boy of scoliosis, which the Vatican accepted as a miracle in 2003.
  • Ella Mae Johnson: Her Story Was History, Too
    Ella Mae Johnson passed away last week at the age of 106. She witnessed firsthand more than a century of civil rights and left behind a legacy through her compassion and perseverance. Hear also the story from NPR’s Morning Edition.


  • The Future of WikiHistory
    Mills Kelly at edwired points to an interesting new phenomenon–the printed collection of Wikipedia articles (in this case of Slovak history), and ponders what it means for the dissemination of historical research.
  • XLVI: The History PhD as Public Historian
    The often thorny problem of defining just who is a public historian and where they are employed is taken up by Nicholas Evan Sarantakes at In the Service of Clio.
  • Roundup: Maps through Time
    The Historical Society blog rounds up a number of map resources.

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Jessica Pritchard, Pillarisetti Sudhir, and Robert B. Townsend

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