How are historians adapting to the latest research tools and the expanding role of digital archives? In the current issue of Perspectives, Robert Townsend reports on an Ithaka S+R study that seems to suggest, according to Townsend, “that historians are deeply individualistic, and poorly trained in one of the most fundamental areas of their work.
This month’s Perspectives on History, now in the mail and online, features a look back, through articles and photos, at the 127th annual meeting in New Orleans.
Responding to the high level of interest in the article on History Harvests in Perspectives on History, we are opening it to all readers ahead of schedule.
Because of the encouraging feedback we’ve received, because it fits so well into conversations started during the annual meeting and continuing on blogs and Twitter, and because it’s one of the most honest and revealing articles on teaching we’ve seen in some time, we are taking Richard Bond’s “Failing Lessons: Tales of Disastrous Assignments” out of the members only section of Perspectives Online.
Last night’s debate began with a reference to the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. My inner (or perhaps not so inner) AHA geek immediately jumped to recent efforts to make accessible to the public government documents relating to that event that are still classified. But I also was drawn to recent reflections (here, and here) on whether flawed historical interpretations have yielded equally flawed policy lessons – conventional wisdoms that were on display once again last night. It’s all about manhood and steely resolve, rather then the subtleties and occasional humility of collaboration and negotiation.
January 22, 2013, will mark the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. On that day, the annual ritual of protests and counter-protests in front of the Supreme Court, just a few blocks from AHA headquarters, will likely be larger than ever before. The national conversation about this decision will ripple out from these and other demonstrations, into print, television, and online media, and even into classrooms.
Anthony Grafton, president of the AHA in 2011, wrote in his inaugural column in Perspectives on History that “Historians of everything from drought in ancient Egypt to the economy of modern China do, in fact, have knowledge that matters—knowledge based on painstaking analysis of hard sources, which they convey to students and readers as clearly and passionately as can be managed.”
Do Vice Presidential debates matter? That seemed to be the question of the day, the one that dominated the airwaves before and after last night’s debate. From our perspective as historians, we are certain that they do matter, even if they don’t generate a bump in the polls or a defining moment in the campaign. For the historian, they are responses to long-standing trends and further evidence of the importance of understanding the past.