What We’re Reading: July 21, 2011 Edition

In the news this week, a bill has been introduced to eliminate the NHPRC, the Minnesota Historical Society has closed due to a state shutdown, and Borders bookstores are no more. Then, the negative news continues with teacher performance bonuses being eliminated in New York, a new research report showing low numbers for the humanities, and research libraries facing limited resources. Read on for thoughts on Skype interviews and the expectations of history grad students. Finally, we round up a number of posts on preserving the past: smells from history, archiving the Internet, collecting oral histories, a Spokane History mobile app, an exhibit of U.S. presidents’ ailments, and a look back at bicycles.

News

  • Bill to Abolish the NHPRC Introduced in the House
    Lee White, executive director of the National Coalition for History, reported Tuesday that Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) has introduced legislation in the House of Representatives to eliminate the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC), the grant-making arm of the National Archives.
  • Minnesota Historical Society closed due to state shutdown

  • Not-Yet-Approved Funding Renders the Minnesota Historical Society Closed
    In what may be an indicator to come for history institutions at the federal level, the Minnesota Historical Society announces it is temporarily closed for business due to a state shutdown.
  • Borders Closing All Stores
    The Wall Street Journal reports on the demise of the Borders bookstore chain. Some may rejoice in the end of a store that drove many independent booksellers out of business, while others will lament the loss of a place to find a large selection of history books.
  • City Ends Teacher Performance Bonuses
    According to the New York Daily News, a three-year, $56 million performance pay program for teachers in NYC “flopped,” offering a hard lesson for other efforts to link test results to teacher pay.
  • Academic Research and Development Expenditures: Fiscal Year 2009
    A new report from the National Science Foundation finds that $54 billion was spent on research at colleges and universities in 2009, but just $253 million of that was spent on the humanities (including history). Their data also shows that from 2006 to 2009 the proportion of humanities funding from the feds declined (from 25.8 to 23.7 %), which highlights our high dependence on four-year institutions and foundations for research support.
  • ARL Profiles: Research Libraries 2010
    The Association for Research Libraries reports that limited resources and changing user needs are prompting many libraries to consolidate and reorganize their services.

Jobs

    Inside Higher Ed Skype Interviews
  • Skype vs. In-Person Interviews
    Are Skype interviews "much more humane and effective method of seeing who is best for the [history] job"? Lynn Lubamersky at Inside Higher Ed advocates for using Skype over in-person interviews at conferences, at least for initial screening purposes.
  • Digital Dreams: A Case For Producing More History PhDs
    Claire Potter, who now blogs under the Tenured Radical moniker at the Chronicle of Higher Ed, argues that the problem with graduate history training is in the norms that are conveyed, not just the job opportunities for students.

Preserving the Past

  • Smells as Historical Artifacts
    What if when you visited a museum you didn’t just read about events or look at artifacts, but you actually smelled the past? The Boston Globe discusses some techniques for analyzing, recreating, and preserving scents, and how historians can even look to texts to gather olfactory info.
  • Smells of history

  • Old Dominion U. professor is trying to save Internet history
    Meet Michael Nelson, an Old Dominion University computer science professor who’s studying how the Internet is being archived.
  • Port Chicago Disaster Oral Histories
    An upcoming memorial service for the victims of the 1944 Port Chicago Disaster is an opportunity for the University of California, Berkeley’s Regional Oral History Office to collect oral histories.
  • The Spokane History Mobile App
    Larry Cebula celebrates the soon to be released Spokane History Mobile App, and notes his students created a series of historical tours last quarter, which he will be posting on his site soon.
  • New Exhibit Features U.S. Presidents’ Ailments
    The Washington Post Express profiles the American Urological Association’s new exhibit, “Chief Complaints: Health of the American Presidents,” which “uses the multitude of medical woes of our commanders in chief to explore the evolution of health care” in the U.S.
  • Historic Bicycles
    Smithsonian magazine looks at five bicycles and bicycle-related items on display in the National Museum of American History, National Air and Space Museum, and the National Museum of American Art.

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant and Robert B. Townsend

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