December 25, 2008
Are you warm and toasty on this December 25th? George Washington sure wasn’t when crossing a half-frozen Delaware River today over 200 years ago. What else happened on this day in history? We link to the Library of Congress’ American Memory site for more. Then, in the news, archiving Bush administration e-mails may be delayed, due to technical and legal issues. We’re also reading about using Lincoln-Obama comparisons, Google Books for research, two Boston Tea Party tea chests on display, what writer-historians should check out at the annual meeting, a recent history hoax in the name of education, and finally, a report on maintaining digital resources.
This Day in History
- Washington Crosses the Delaware
Visit the Picturing American site to see the iconic painting of George Washington crossing the Delaware on Christmas in 1776. (Picture is 4a on bottom navigation)
- Today in History: December 25
The Library of Congress’ American Memory site links to items in its collections like the nativity scene on an illuminated manuscript page, a film of Theodore Roosevelt calling on his neighbors on Christmas in 1917, and railroad maps from 1828-1900 (because on “December 25, 1830, the first regularly scheduled passenger train in the United States began operation.”)
What Else We’re Reading
- Bush E-Mails May Be Secret a Bit Longer
The Washington Post reports that “technical glitches, lawsuits and lagging computer forensic work” may delay the transfer of Bush administration e-mails to the National Archives. AHA executive director Arnita Jones also weighs in.
- Historian sees lessons, Lincoln parallels for Obama
Former AHA President Jim McPherson considers the historical parallels between Lincoln and the new president-elect
- Using Google Books to Research Publishing History
The scan-quality issues can still be frustrating, but Lisa Spiro at Digital Scholarship in the Humanities offers a terrific case study in the value of "Using Google Books to Research Publishing History" focusing on one particular 19th-century bestseller, Donald Grant Mitchell’s Reveries of a Bachelor (1850).
- Rare Pieces of Protest History on Display
One of only two surviving tea chests from the Boston Tea Party is now on display at the Constitution Center in Philadelphia.
- AHA sessions for writer-historians
The Making History Podcast blog notes a couple of AHA annual meeting sessions for “writer-historians.”
- Teaching by Lying: Professor Unveils ‘Last Pirate’ Hoax
GMU professor T. Mills Kelly course, "Lying about the Past," is a novel way to teach historical methodology and strategies for evaluating sources. The AHA staff is divided about whether this was a good idea or not. Some members of staff appreciate the energy and enthusiasm he elicited from his students. Others worry that it is self-defeating to encourage other faculty to get over their ambivalence about letting their students use internet sources, and then turn around and provide a case study in why the internet can’t be trusted. Also see T. Mills Kelly’s own post about the project.
- Sustaining the Digital Investment (PDF)
A blue ribbon panel exploring the long term problem of maintaining and sustaining digital resources offers a preliminary reading of the "urgent" challenge of maintaining the digital materials of today for scholars and the general public of tomorrow.
Contributors: Kelly Elmore, David Darlington, Elisabeth Grant, Vernon Horn, and Robert B. Townsend