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What I Learned from Visiting a Historical Site: An Undergraduate’s Experience at Gettysburg

A recent report from Humanities Indicators, a project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, showed that less than a quarter of Americans aged 18 years or older visited a historical park or monument in 2012—a 13 percentage point drop from 1982. As a student from Brigham Young University (BYU) in Utah, I traveled to Washington, DC, in January to intern with the American Historical Association for the spring semester. Having taken advantage of opportunities to explore the city’s many historic sites and museums, the report made me wonder about the nation’s declining interest in visiting historical sites.

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Googling History: The AHR Explores Implications of Using Digital Sources for Historians

The April issue of the American Historical Review inaugurates a new listing of digital primary sources. This feature serves as a preliminary guide to freely accessible online collections that will grow with each issue. We encourage readers to use this form to submit their own favorite digital primary-source archival collections for listing in future issues. As Lara Putnam argues in her article “The Transnational and the Text-Searchable: Digitized Sources and the Shadows They Cast” in the same issue, historians should be more aware of the implications of using these kinds of sources for the stories we tell about the past.

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Pasts in Public: Presenting the May Issue of Perspectives on History

The unofficial slogan of the American Historical Association is “Everything has a history.” Introduced by executive director James Grossman in the December 2015 issue of Perspectives, the phrase now appears on staff business cards and, in its hashtag form, has begun to spread on Twitter. As Grossman put it, “Instead of lamenting the decline of public intellectuals, I propose that most historians ought to be capable of functioning in public arenas, ought to be capable of at least reminding our neighbors that everything has a history.”

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Seminar from the Institute for Constitutional History: Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic Constitutionalism

The Institute for Constitutional History is pleased to announce another seminar for advanced graduate students and junior faculty: Thomas Jefferson’s Democratic Constitutionalism. This seminar will survey Thomas Jefferson’s career as a lawyer, statesman, and political and constitutional theorist. We will explore Jefferson’s thought about provincial and state as well as imperial and federal constitutions, with a particular focus on his evolving conceptions of natural rights and justice, citizenship, property rights, and slavery. Assigned readings in primary documents will illuminate his collaboration and quarrels with fellow founders, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Marshall; selected secondary sources will introduce participants to the legal and constitutional history of the early American Republic.

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AHA Member Spotlight: Bethany Antos

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.

Bethany Antos is an archivist at the Rockefeller Archive Center in Sleepy Hollow, New York. She lives in Ossining, New York, and has been a member since 2008.

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Slavery on Film: Why Now?

By Justene G. Hill

Over the past few years, several movies and television shows have delved into the history of slavery in the United States. From the dramatic (12 Years a Slave and Django Unchained) to the comedic (Key & Peele), slavery has been re-introduced as a theme in American popular culture. In January 2015, NBC announced that it would air an eight-hour miniseries called Freedom Run, based on Betty DeRamus’ 2005 book Forbidden Fruit: Love Stories from the Underground Railroad.

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