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Teaching with #DigHist: Introducing a New Series on Using Digital Projects in the Classroom

In the past two decades historians have entered the digital age, designing a host of exciting projects that use technology to better understand, analyze, and visualize the past. These projects offer outstanding avenues for instructors at every level—from kindergarten to graduate school—to engage their students in the study of the past. This series will examine a wide range of digital projects on subjects that span both the globe and three millennia, and discuss ways to use them in the classroom.

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Hero, Villain, or Anti-Hero? Archival Records and Dealing with the Contradictions of the Past

I was wrapping up the second to last chapter of my MA thesis when I received a call from a local historian from Holly Springs, Mississippi. During our conversation, my colleague read out an excerpt from a short biographical sketch about Dr. William M. Compton that she’d found in a local history book published in the 1930s. What struck me about the sketch was that it named Compton as the founder and “Grand Cyclops” of Marshall County’s chapter of the Ku Klux Klan.

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Lines of people at the Baltimore City Welfare Office, Maryland (1975), Library of Congress.

Welfare Reform and the Politics of Race: 20 Years Later

By Premilla Nadasen

Twenty years ago this month, President Bill Clinton signed into law the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA). The act transformed Aid to Families with Dependent Children (AFDC), a federal entitlement program for poor single parents and their children, into block grants, or Temporary Assistance to Needy Families with the aim of removing people from the welfare rolls. Passed with bipartisan support, the 1996 act reflected a liberal/conservative consensus around the racialized nature of welfare and the need to encourage work rather than dependency.

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AHA Member Spotlight: Nathalie Belkin, Archivist

AHA 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 features a regular AHA Member Spotlight series.

Nathalie Belkin is an archivist in the Department of Records at the New York City Municipal Archives. She lives in Brooklyn, New York, and has been a member since April 2016.

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Searching for the Quotidian in the Archives: Trade, Fraud, and Intercultural Relations in the Early Modern Mediterranean

This is the final post in a series by Jesse Hysell, one of this year’s AHA Today blog contest winners. His posts examine material exchanges between Venice and Egypt in the early modern period. Previous Posts include: Cultural Encounters and Material Exchanges in the Venetian ArchivesThe Politics of Pepper: Deciphering a Venetian-Mamluk Gift Exchange, and The Gift Thieves: Interpreting a Scandal in Early Modern Venice

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Stephanie Young

What I Do: Stephanie Young, Policy Analyst

As part of the Career Diversity for Historians initiative, the AHA is producing and making available short videos of historians working in unusual places talking about what they do. The newest video features Stephanie Young, policy analyst at RAND Corporation, a nonprofit think tank with offices in California and Washington, DC.

Few historians imagine that their research skills would prepare them to spend three months in Afghanistan doing research and supporting the staff of the US military forces. Indeed, it’s a work environment far from a traditional archive.

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How the Culture of “Welfare Reform” Changed the US Army

 By Jennifer Mittelstadt

August 22, 2016, will mark the 20th anniversary of Bill Clinton’s signing of the 1996 welfare reform act, the law that “ended welfare as we knew it.” The Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act (PRWORA) marked a historic break from the federal government’s commitment to aid poor women and children. It imposed strict employment requirements on recipients of public funds and limited lifetime eligibility for support to no more than five years. As historical retrospectives and evaluations emerge, few recognize the extraordinary impact of the welfare reform agenda beyond the low-income single mothers it targeted.

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