By Christopher M. Babits
On a warm autumn night, at an Olive Garden outside Dallas, I prayed with a psychiatric doctor and his wife. We had met a year earlier at the same conference we were at now—the Alliance for Therapeutic Choice and Scientific Integrity (ATCSI). This annual meeting brings together people who practice and support sexual orientation change and gender identity therapies, and me—a historian of religion, gender, and sexuality in modern America. In between bites of breadsticks and chicken parmigiana, I asked the couple about their support for what’s often called “conversion therapy.”
Years ago, while preparing for a lecture, I ran across a GIF depicting the territorial expansion of the United States. While I am unsure of its origins, I’ve seen similar maps in textbooks, Wikipedia articles, and Google images. The GIF—a simple rotating set of maps of the contiguous 48 states—swiftly changes color as the United States expands its territorial claims throughout the 19th century. Behind this series of images lies tremendous suffering; the projection of one on top of the other makes this effect especially jarring.
By Anna Leigh Todd
In 1818, John Adams reflected on the founding of the nation, asking, “But what do We mean by the American Revolution? Do We mean the American War?” His response signaled otherwise: “The Revolution was in the Minds and Hearts of the People.” According to Adams, the people put aside their natural allegiance to Britain once it was clear that their liberties were under attack. “This radical Change in the Principles, Opinions Sentiments and Affection of the People,” affirmed Adams, “was the real American Revolution.”
By Ibram X. Kendi
This year marks the 150th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1866. I must ask: should we be celebrating or lamenting the sesquicentennial of this inaugural civil rights act?
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.
On a warm afternoon in late February 1871, Dr. William M. Compton found himself in what he would later call “a fix.” Before him stood his wife, Ernestine, furious and demanding to know what he was doing napping on a young nurse’s bed. To make matters worse, she was confronting him in front of an entire ward of psychiatric patients, staff members, and a party of elite Jacksonians who were touring the asylum.
I admit it: I stalk dead drug traffickers in libraries, archives, newspapers, databases, films, photos, literature, and documents. One of my favorite tools, however, is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which is turning 50 years old on July 4, 2016. While the FOIA is useful for historians, over the years I have found that it takes substantive prior research for a request to be successful or for it to prove an asset for a historical project.
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.