Monthly Archives: February 2012

How to Write a History of Information – Audio of the 126th Annual Meeting Plenary Session

Opening of the 126th Annual Meeting plenary sessionAt the Opening of the 126th Annual Meeting last month, reported on here, Anthony Grafton and Ann M. Blair chaired “How to Write a History of Information: A Session in Honor of Peter Burke.”

Panelists at this plenary session explored how information travels and is organized in archives, as well as the origins of the terms “data” and “information.”

A complete audio recording of this session is now available. Listen through the player below, or download an MP3 version.



Fulbright-Hays: 2012 Group Projects Abroad Program

Fulbright-Hays 2012 Group Projects Abroad ProgramThe Fulbright-Hays Group Projects Abroad Program for 2012, part of the larger Fulbright-Hays Programs, is accepting applications until April 23, 2012. This program “provides grants to support overseas projects in training, research, and curriculum development in modern foreign languages and area studies for teachers, students, and faculty engaged in a common endeavor.”

The estimated available funds for this program are $2,990,000. The estimated range of awards is $50,000–$125,000 for short-term projects and $50,000–$375,000 for long-term projects. Read the full program announcement here.

You may remember that we appealed to readers last October to contact Congress about saving the Fulbright-Hays Programs from budget cuts. While the Fulbright-Hays Programs weren’t eliminated (like the Teaching American History Grants), they were reduced, from $75.7 million to $74.1 million.

AHA Member Spotlight: Joseph F. Patrouch

Joseph F. PatrouchAHA members are involved in all fields of history, with wide-ranging specializations, interests, and areas of employment. To recognize our talented and eclectic membership, AHA Today will, beginning today, feature a regular “AHA Member Spotlight” series. Members featured in the first few posts of this series were randomly selected and contacted by AHA staff, but future posts will be based on nominations. Would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight? Contact Nike Nivar for more information.

AHA Member Spotlight
Joseph F. Patrouch is a professor of history and classics at the University of Alberta and director of the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies. Patrouch first joined the AHA in 1989.

1. Alma mater/s: BA: Boston University; MA and PhD: University of California, Berkeley

2. Fields of interest: early modern Europe, Habsburg Dynasty, material culture, folklore

3. When did you first develop an interest in history?

As a child: I grew up in a household piled with books (my father is a retired English literature professor) and talk of the past was common there (my mother had and has a keen interest in family history). I had a grandmother who took her grandchildren on walks in the Ohio countryside and asked us to imagine how things used to be.

4. What projects are you working on currently? 

A lot of my time is spent administering an interdisciplinary research and cultural institute at the University of Alberta. This institute, the Wirth Institute for Austrian and Central European Studies, concentrates on the study of seven different countries: Austria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, Slovakia, and Slovenia. I am currently working on bibliographical and historiographical projects dealing with the early modern history of the Habsburg Dynasty and have recently started a new monograph project which concentrates on the imagined spaces of the Holy Roman Empire in the later sixteenth century.

5. What books or articles are you currently reading?

I am currently reading the biography of the Austrian violinist Fritz Kreissler after having read his memoirs of his experiences in World War I and have also started the war memoirs of the Austrian submarine commander Georg von Trapp. (He was an Austro-Hungarian nobleman who is probably better known as the patriarch of the large family singing group featured in the musical and movie The Sound of Music.)

6. What do you value most about the history profession?

The variety of topics, approaches, and themes with which historians deal. Even though we can study topics centuries and continents apart, there is something about the appeal of the past which brings us all together.

7. Do you have a favorite AHA annual meeting anecdote?

I met my wife at an AHA annual meeting in NYC! We chatted in the hotel hallway outside of an interview suite while I waited to be interviewed for my first academic position.

8. Any final thoughts? 

After two decades as a professional historian in the US, I am enjoying the opportunity to become acquainted with the academic scene in Canada. It seems to me that the ties between the historical professions in the two countries could be closer than I think they are (or at least than I experienced them!). It was rather a strange feeling to see my name listed for the first time this year in the annual meeting program in the “Scholars from Other Countries Index”!

Editor’s Note: Are you an AHA member? Would you like to nominate a colleague for the AHA Member Spotlight? Contact Nike Nivar for more information.

Grant of the Week: Scholarships and Seminars for Graduate Students

The European Studies program at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars has two scholarship opportunities for graduate students:  Summer Research Scholarships (application deadline March 1) and a Junior Scholars’ Training Seminar (application deadline April 15). Graduate students working towards an advanced degree in the fields of the social sciences and humanities including, but not limited to, Anthropology, History, Political Science, Slavic Languages and Literatures, and Sociology, with a regional emphasis on Central and Eastern Europe, are invited to apply.

What We’re Reading: February 23, 2012

In the news this week, President Obama helped break ground for the National Museum of African American History and Culture, the U.S. marked the 50th anniversary of American space flight, and three finalists have been announced for the George Washington Book Prize. We also link to articles about a “hacker historian,” the upcoming 1940s Census web site, a look back at silent films, and more.


  • National Museum of African American History and Culture groundbreakingNational Museum of African American History and Culture groundbreaking
    Yesterday, President Obama took part in the groundbreaking ceremony for the National Museum of African American History and Culture with Laura Bush and a number of other representatives. Read a full transcript of President Obama’s remarks, view a photo gallery the event, watch video of the ceremony, or checkout a slideshow of the planned design for the museum.
  • Washington College Announces Finalists for $50,000 George Washington Book Prize
    Three books, John Fea’s Was America Founded As A Christian Nation?: A Historical Introduction (Westminster John Knox Press), Benjamin H. Irvin’s Clothed in Robes of Sovereignty: The Continental Congress and the People Out of Doors, (Oxford University Press), and Maya Jasanoff’s Liberty’s Exiles: American Loyalists in the Revolutionary World (Knopf) are in the running for this year’s George Washington Book Prize, which recognizes "a single recent work on Washington or his times that stands above the others” with a $50,000 award. Last year, AHA Member Pauline Maier won the George Washington Book Prize for 2011.
  • New Journal of Belgian History*
    Two Belgian scholarly journals, Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Nieuwste Geschiedenis and Revue Belge d’Histoire Contemporaine have merged to create the new Journal of Belgian History. Beginning in March, visit the new journal’s website (not yet available), to learn more and submit articles for the first English issue.

50th anniversary of American space flight50th Anniversary of American Space Flight
Fifty years ago this week, on February 20, 1962, John Glenn orbited the earth, the first American to do so, in the Friendship 7 spacecraft. Both C-SPAN’s American History TV and the National Archives have posted videos of the historic event:

Digital History


  • The Artists
    Inspired by the Oscar nominated silent film The Artist, The New Yorker looks back at the era of silent films in this article and slideshow.
  • Marge Simpson
    Historian Jessamyn Neuhaus, associate professor of history at SUNY Plattsburgh, offers a serious look at Marge Simpson, one of our favorite cartoon characters.

Contributors: Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, Matthew Keough

*Update: In the post above we state, “Two Belgian scholarly journals, Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Nieuwste Geschiedenis and Revue Belge d’Histoire Contemporaine have merged to create the new Journal of Belgian History.” Thanks to David J. Hensley, who has pointed out this statement is not accurate. He explains: “The Journal of Belgian History is actually the English name of the Belgisch Tijdschrift voor Nieuwste Geschiedenis/Revue Belge d’Histoire Contemporaine, which are just the Dutch and French versions of the same title. The JBH, which will have one English issue and three Dutch/French issues per year, was formed from a merger of the BTNG/RBHC and another journal, the Bijdragen tot de Eigentijdse Geschiedenis/Cahiers d’Histoire du Temps Présent (again, one journal but with a bilingual name).”

Apply to be a Part of the History Tuning Project

History Tuning Project ApplicationLast week we announced that the AHA is initiating a History Tuning Project, supported by a grant from Lumina Foundation, to define what a student should understand and be able to do at the completion of a history degree program. The announcement received a great response and was featured in articles at Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle.

Many history professionals contacted us to express their desire to be involved, and today we have information on how to do so.

The AHA seeks an enthusiastic group of 60 history faculty who represent institutions of diverse types in terms of size, source of funding (public/private), populations served, curricular emphases, location, and degrees offered to be a part of the History Tuning Project. Interested parties should fill out this application by March 16, 2012.

Professional Organizations and Political Engagements: An OAH Discussion

OAH forum Professional Organizations and Political EngagementsIn advance of its upcoming annual meeting, the Organization of American Historians held an online forum on “Professional Organizations and Political Engagements.” Current and former members of the OAH Executive Board discussed the various complex issues related to requests for a scholarly society to support causes that might or might not be part of the mission of their organizations. The discussion will continue at a plenary session at the OAH annual meeting on Friday, April 20, 4:30 p.m.

AHA President William Cronon and Executive Director Jim Grossman were among the participants in the forum, which also included Jon Butler, Albert Camarillo, William Chafe, David Hollinger, Alice Kessler-Harris, Nancy MacLean, and Vicki Ruiz.

Topics explored in the forum included:

  • Core principles by which organization leaders can be guided when they, or a substantial segment of their membership, believe that a particular cause is worthy of support.
  • Issues that an organization could or should support even if such support carries some financial risk.
  • The idea of a “division of labor” among the various organizations to which scholars belong.
  • The concept of “fiduciary responsibility” as an aspect of decision-making by governing boards of scholarly membership organizations.

The forum engaged both abstract issues and such concrete examples as deciding whether or not to break hotel contracts because of labor disputes or other objections to a venue. Readers are invited to contribute their thoughts on this discussion online.

Celebrating Presidents’ Day

Last year on Presidents’ Day we explored the holiday’s beginnings: starting in 1880 as a celebration of George Washington’s Birthday, modified in 1971 to fall on a Monday in accordance with the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, and finally broadened in the 1980s from Washington’s Birthday to Presidents’ Day (learn more in the National Archives Prologue magazine article, “By George, IT IS Washington’s Birthday!”).

This Presidents’ Day, we look back at past president-related posts featured here on AHA Today.