What We’re Reading: April 22, 2010 Edition

National Park WeekIn the news this week, 1,000 historians send a letter to the Texas State Board of Education, historians are among the 2010 Guggenheim Fellows, the Library of Congress archives Twitter (yes, all of it), the New Yorker reports on Stephen Ambrose’s faked interviews with Eisenhower, a new report reveals private colleges give out higher GPAs, and the military says school lunches are a threat to national security. Then, some thoughts on the history profession: economic history, fellowships and mobility, making history more interesting, and what to do with a history major. We also bring you links to three web sites: the Digital Humanities Now blog, a spoof academic news site, and the Miller Center’s site on presidents and their tax policies. Finally, learn about National Park Week, new National Park quarters, the Virginia Wartime Museum, connecting the present to the past through photos, and a history-centered cell phone walking tour.


  • Historians Protest Texas Board’s Proposed Social-Studies Revisions
    Over 1,000 historians sent a letter to the Texas State Board of Education this month in an effort to stop controversial textbook changes. The Chronicle interviews one of the letter organizers, Keith A. Erekson, an assistant professor of history at the University of Texas at El Paso.
  • And They’re Off! Historians On The Guggenheim List
    The 2010 Guggenheim Fellows have been announced and Tenured Radical has put together a list of the historians who’ve been included. Meanwhile, Mary L. Dudziack specifies further by noting the legal historians in the pack.
  • How Tweet It Is!: Library Acquires Entire Twitter Archive
    Is there any worth to archiving the millions of tweets sent out through Twitter? Whether you think so or not, that’s exactly what the Library of Congress is doing. “Every public tweet, ever, since Twitter’s inception in March 2006, will be archived digitally at the Library of Congress.” The Chronicle weighs in as well.
  • Channelling Ike
    The New Yorker looks into the shocking news that Stephen Ambrose faked interviews with Dwight D. Eisenhower. “Eisenhower saw Ambrose only three times, for a total of less than five hours.” And while the “footnotes to Ambrose’s first big Eisenhower book, ‘The Supreme Commander,’ published in 1970, cite nine interview dates; seven of these conflict with the record.” Hat tip.
  • Want a Higher G.P.A.? Go to a Private College
    The data cited in this New York Times article shows that private colleges give out higher GPAs than public universities, and have for the past 50 years. 
  • Report links school lunches to national security
    The U.S. military is calling the obesity problem in America a National Security threat, due to the fact that “27 percent of all Americans ages 17 to 24 are too fat to join the military.” It’s interesting to note (as mentioned in this article) that the military also got involved in school lunches in 1946 after WWII, because of “the opposite problem, reporting that many recruits were rejected because of stunted growth and inadequate nutrition.”
  • Barbara Naddeo, winner of a 2010-11 Rome Prize
    AHA member Barbara Naddeo, professor in the Department of History, CUNY, is a recipient of one of this year’s Rome Prizes from the American Academy in Rome.

Thoughts on the History Profession

  • Economic History: State of the Field in Historically Speaking
    Over at the Historical Society’s blog, Randall Stephens previews an interesting forum on the state of economic history in Historically Speaking. Readers may be interested in relevant AHA data on faculty specializations (covering the period from 1975 to 2005), which showed a decline of 50 percent in the number of faculty teaching economic history and 42 percent in the number of departments with an economic historians. Also, be sure to check out Peter A. Coclanis’ rather more upbeat perspective on the issues in his article, “The Audacity of Hope: Economic History Today,” from the January 2010 Perspectives on History.
  • Mobility Fellowships
    Jean Smith at History Compass Exchanges highlights the challenges historians face in trying to balance the need to travel to archives (often for extended periods) with family and other responsibilities.
  • Why Isn’t History More Interesting?
    Tom Bartlett at The Chronicle takes a look at the history of Kidnapped by Robert Louis Stevenson, and considers why historians often avoid writing narratives.
  • So What CAN You Do With a History Major: Part 26
    Check out part 26 (!) of the “What CAN you Do With a History Major” series on The Way of Improvement Leads Home blog. See all past entries here.

Web Sites

Museums and Parks

The Past in Public

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

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