What We’re Reading: April 29, 2010 Edition

Edwin Smith papyrusWe start off this week with a selection of articles on history and new media. First up, Slate magazine looks at how historians may use the Twitter archive in the future. Then, listen to a Digital Campus podcast on “social history,” read Sharon Leon’s series on "21st Century Public History,” and check out a new document on the National Library of Medicine’s Turning the Pages site. Following this are a number of American history related articles: K.C. Johnson looks at what’s “deemphasized” in the teaching of U.S. history, Inside Higher Ed looks at the Tea Party movement and the misconstruing of American history, the Legal History Blog notes a new journal on Civil War history, and more. Finally, a historian admits to dissing his competition on Amazon and NPR looks at “land bought by newly freed slaves in the 1860s and 1870s” seven generations later.

New Media

American History


  • Historian Orlando Figes admits posting Amazon reviews that trashed rivals
    The Guardian reports on historian Orlando Figes’ admission that he’s used Amazon to negatively comment on other’s books.
  • Photographer Finds Kinship With A Black ‘Homeplace’
    Sarah Hoskins captures small “hamlets” right outside of Lexington, Kentucky that “were built on land bought by newly freed slaves in the 1860s and 1870s. They have names like Frogtown, Maddoxtown, Zion Hill. Many of these towns still survive today, six or seven generations later, though some are fading fast into history.” Make sure to watch the video clip recounting the history of these small communities and listen to the story from NPR’s Weekend Edition.  

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

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  1. Shelley

    The Skewing of American History sounds right on track. My college students know nothing about American history; since that’s my interest in writing, I find that heartbreaking. I think there should also be a required course in Citizenship Activism: understanding elections, corporate influence, how to volunteer, how to email in support or opposition of an issue—these are unknowns to many young people today.

  2. Shane McGrath

    To the point that American college students are becoming increasingly ignorant about various aspects of American history, it should be noted that the preponderance of college students in the United States are simply becoming more ignorant about history in general. While it may be appalling that the typical US college student cannot rattle off the complete list of US Presidents, it should be equally as disconcerting that these students cannot analyze events such as the World Wars outside of their purely American context. How many American college students (especially non-history majors) have even an inkling of who represented the various nations at the 1919 Peace Conference? As such, the comments concerning swelling ignorance regarding US History are often tired and far too narrow.