Environmental History

AHA Member Spotlight: Martha Chaiklin

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.

Martha Chaiklin is currently affiliated with Zayed University. She lives in Dubai and has been a member since 2004.

Teaching Environmental History in US and World History Survey Courses

By Allison Frickert-Murashige

Thermohaline circulation, Aedes aegypti, sodium nitrate, and CO2 uptake are all terms that four years ago I would not have envisioned using in my US and world history survey course classrooms. Let’s face it—even though some of us may have a hidden science nerd lurking within—most historians are not formally trained in biological, environmental, climate, and meteorological sciences. Moreover, historians, with our emphasis on human agency, tend to be a bit leery of environmental determinism. And yet, as a participant in the AHA’s three-year program “American History, Atlantic and Pacific,” supported by a grant from the NEH’s Bridging Cultures initiative, I found myself completely hooked by our environmental history presentations.

Transforming the US History Survey by Expanding Its Geographical Focus

By Lesley Kawaguchi

The AHA’s Bridging Cultures program, “American History, Atlantic and Pacific,” was geared toward providing an opportunity for community college history faculty to globalize their US history survey courses by engaging with innovative scholarship on the Pacific and Atlantic worlds. It also provided research opportunities at the Huntington Library and the Library of Congress, and culminated in presentations at the 2015 AHA annual meeting.

The “Depression Disease”: What the United States’ First National Lead Poisoning Crisis Can Teach Us about the Flint Water Disaster

By Leif Fredrickson

In 1932, a young girl showed up at the Johns Hopkins Hospital with dire symptoms suggesting lead poisoning. A physician who went to the girl’s home to locate the source initially suspected lead paint, but couldn’t find any. When a neighbor suggested that the source could be the battery casings that families in the neighborhood were burning for fuel and warmth, the physician tested them and found that they were saturated with lead. In the months following the discovery of that first case of lead poisoning, dozens more children showed up in Baltimore and other cities’ hospitals with similar symptoms.