Historians in the News Historians in the News articles brought to you by History News Network. Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 Zend_Feed_Writer 2 (http://framework.zend.com) https://blog.hnn.us/article/category/54 Doris Kearns Goodwin Profiled: It is a Wild Time to Be a Presidential Historian Presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin cozies up to Abraham Lincoln so warmly, you could almost forget that he’s a man 134 years her senior, cast in bronze, and attached to the stairs outside the New York Historical Society. “Isn’t he great?” she purrs, touching his cold, hollow cheek. 

If anyone has a sense of humor about her well-documented Lincoln obsession (NBD, Barack Obama apparently has one too), it’s Kearns Goodwin herself. The 16th president has been her most noteworthy relationship next to her marriage to lauded presidential adviser and speechwriter Richard Goodwin, who died last May. 

Kearns Goodwin spent 10 years with Abe while writing Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln and several more while advising Steven Spielberg and Daniel Day-Lewis on the 2012 biopic Lincoln. She and Abe were reunited for her latest book, Leadership in Turbulent Times, which explores the transformational presidencies of Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, whom Kearns Goodwin served as a young aide in the 1960s.

Thanks to her new best-selling book, frequent TV interviews, and near-constant public appearances, her profile as a public intellectual has climbed even higher. Not many historians are recognized by strangers on the street — even fewer have cameos on The Simpsons — but Kearns Goodwin, 76, handles the attention with affable ease. “Most of the time,” she says, “I’m meeting with people who have read my books, and you get energy from them.”

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170950 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170950 0
New Edition of "Lies My Teacher Told Me" Receives Praise In the introduction to his magnificent critique of American historical education, James Loewen starts provocatively: “High school students hate history. When they list their favorite subjects, history always comes in last. They consider it ‘the most irrelevant’ of twenty-one school subjects commonly taught in high school. Bo-o-o-oring is the adjective most often applied.”

Since the initial publication of “Lies My Teacher Told Me” in 1995, I have regularly read this passage to my UCLA students in my course on the history of social protest. The overwhelming majority of my students have enthusiastically concurred with Loewen.

Many decades ago, I too sat in my high school history class, listening to Mr. Jones drearily reciting an unremittant litany of historical facts, mostly without context, intended to be memorized and regurgitated for future examinations. I also drifted off into my own world, thinking about things that teenage boys think about.

This book is subtitled “Everything Your American History Textbook Got Wrong.” In this third edition published last year, the text retains sociologist Loewen’s sharp critique of the 12 American history textbooks he surveyed in his first edition as well as the six books he examined for the second edition. He found, as he describes, “an embarrassing blend of bland optimism, blind nationalism, and plain misinformation, weighing in at an average of 888 pages and almost five pounds.” He showed persuasively how American history textbooks—these ponderous tomes—lied to millions of American students by sugarcoating historical events and persons, encouraging mindless patriotism and faith in unending American progress, and negated any serious critical thinking.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170948 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170948 0
John Salter Jr., demonstrator in 1963 Mississippi lunch-counter sit-in and professor, dies at 84 When John Salter Jr. arrived in Mississippi in 1961, he was 27 and had already served in the Army, worked as a labor organizer in Arizona, received a master’s degree in sociology and taught at a college in Wisconsin. He was taking a new job as a professor at Tougaloo College, a historically black institution a few miles outside the state capital of Jackson.

Mr. Salter did much more than teach at Tougaloo. He became a close associate of Medgar Evers, the NAACP’s Mississippi field secretary, and helped organize what became known as the Jackson Movement.

Mr. Salter, who later changed his name to John Hunter Gray to honor his American Indian heritage, was perceived as white at the time.

Mr. Salter — as he was known throughout his career as an activist and academic — died Jan. 7 at his home in Pocatello, Idaho, at age 84. He had recovered from systemic lupus, said a son, John Salter III, who could not cite a specific cause of death.

In Mississippi, the home of Mr. Salter and his wife became an informal headquarters for civil rights activists.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170941 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170941 0
Leo Ribuffo's Obituary Appears in the Washington Post Leo P. Ribuffo, a scholar of American political history who specialized in examining the rise of the far right, arguing that mainstream historians had underestimated and misunderstood its influence, died Nov. 27 at his home in Washington. He was 73.

The cause was hypertensive atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, said a friend, Bruce Rich.

Dr. Ribuffo, a professor at George Washington University, was widely known among academic historians for his 1983 book, “The Old Christian Right: The Protestant Far Right From the Great Depression to the Cold War.” It won the Merle Curti Award from the Organization of American Historians for the best book of the year in American social or intellectual history.

Writing in the New York Times in 2017, historian and journalist Rick Perlstein called Dr. Ribuffo foremost among a handful of historians to counter long-prevailing views in academia about the far right and its appeal.

“Irascible, brilliant and deeply learned,” Perlstein wrote, “Ribuffo argued that America’s anti-liberal traditions were far more deeply rooted in the past, and far angrier than most historians would acknowledge, citing a long list of examples from ‘regional suspicions of various metropolitan centers and the snobs who lived there’ to ‘white racism institutionalized in slavery and segregation.’ ”

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170934 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170934 0
Historian Lucy Worsley on Royal Weddings, Queen Victoria and the 'Big Mistake' People Make About the Past Lucy Worsley enjoyed history when she was at school, but her father had other ideas. “He is a scientist, and he really wanted me to be one too,” the British historian tells TIME, ahead of the U.S. publication of her new biography, Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life. “He said that if you do a history degree, you will be cleaning toilets for a living.”

Of course, this discouragement only made her more determined. Worsley eventually studied the subject at the University of Oxford — and now jokes that she takes great pleasure in telling her father that, after everything, she pays her bills with that degree. Chief Curator of Britain’s Historic Royal Palaces by day, Worsley wears many other hats as a prolific biographer, children’s novelist and popular television presenter. British audiences will recognize her from her detailed recreations of eras and events of the past, delving into British suffragette campaigns and the lives of King Henry VIII’s six wives in her historical documentaries.

Now, Worsley is turning her attention to the life and reign of Queen Victoria ahead of the 200-year anniversary of the royal’s birth this May. With her new show Victoria & Albert: The Wedding airing on PBS January 13 and 20, TIME spoke to Worsley about royal weddings, what history can teach us about the future and what her own biography might say.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170931 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170931 0
Historian Susan Schulten on How Maps Provide a Special View of American History When people use maps, they are usually seeking directions to a place they want to go.

But Susan Schulten sees much more in maps, like history, culture and art. She shares some of those findings in her book, A History of America in 100 Maps.

Schulten travels back in time, using maps of the past. Her book explores the hopes, dreams and fears of ordinary people dating back to before the United States came to be.

“There is practically no area of American history where maps don’t sort of enrich our understanding," Schulten said. “Maps record past scenarios, past situations, past relationships of power, but they also influenced people at the time in terms of future decision making.”

Schulten is a history professor at the University of Denver, in Colorado. She studies cartography, the making of maps. During her research, she became very interested in a series of maps made by American schoolgirls in the early 1800s. The detailed maps appealed to her not only for their beauty, but also because of what they taught about a little-known period in American education.

“New schools educating young women for the first time outside the home prepared a curriculum that involved teaching them not just geography but map drawing," she says. She says the girls studied technical methods of art, writing and understanding geography by creating their own maps.

The schools for girls were open for only a short time. Knowledge of them might have been lost if not for the maps they left behind.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170928 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170928 0
Historian Keri Leigh Merritt On Poverty and Privilege Keri Leigh Merritt is a 38-year-old mother of two. She lives in a spacious 4-bedroom home she and her husband designed in Decatur.

She has a good life. She’s married to a good man and has enjoyed a fruitful career as an author and historian.

She has lived on both sides of the same coin and looked hard at her life. As the daughter of white southerners, she knows what it’s like to be poor despite working multiple jobs, to get annual medical check-ups at Planned Parenthood because she had no health insurance, to worry about how to pay for groceries. But without the benefits of white privilege, she knows her life might look completely different.

From the time she was old enough to cross a street alone, she said, she noticed how poverty made life hard, could send you to prison or to an early grave.

“My grandmother had a brother who died of hunger during the depression,” she said. “And one of my uncles died in Angola, a Louisiana prison.”

She noticed, too, during summers she spent in South Carolina with her grandmother, the dividing line between the middle and upper-middle class sections of town. At the same time, the mill village where her mother grew up was completely integrated, though not the way you might think.

“It wasn’t that the whites were progressive,” she said. “They weren’t. They were racists who simply made exceptions for the people they knew or worked with.”

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170927 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170927 0
Lamin Sanneh, pioneering historian who studied Christianity‚Äôs spread, dies at 76 Lamin Sanneh, a Yale Divinity School professor who was raised a Muslim, converted to Christianity and became a leading scholar of both religions, most notably as a pioneer in the study of Christianity’s transformation from a Western institution into a world-spanning faith, died Jan. 6 at a hospital in New Haven, Conn. He was 76.

The cause was complications from a stroke, said his son Kelefa Sanneh, a staff writer at the New Yorker.

Raised in the tiny West African nation of the Gambia, Dr. Sanneh had a dignified, even regal bearing that betrayed his royal lineage. He traced his ancestry to the rulers of Kaabu, a successor state of the Mali Empire, although by the time he was born that empire had given way to years of British colonial rule.

While his father made a modest living working for the British government, Dr. Sanneh was “summoned from the margin,” as he put it in the title of his 2012 autobiography, pulled by God or fate or sheer force of will from a Gambian backwater to college in the United States, and later to graduate school in Britain and teaching posts at Harvard and Yale.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170921 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170921 0
Using 'Big Data' And AI To Understand The Patterns Of Our History And Tell Us About Our Future One of the driving forces behind much of my work over the past quarter century has been how we can use massive datasets and computing platforms to help us understand global society, from the patterns that underlie our behavior to the narratives and emotions that make us human. From cataloging our past and visualizing our history to finding the patterns of history and weaving all of those narratives and stories together, I’ve long been fascinated with what becomes possible when our digital and digitized history is coupled with massive computing power and directed at the grand challenge questions around who we are, where we’ve been and where we’re heading. What might the future of data-driven exploration of humanity hold?

Perhaps the greatest contribution of the web era has been the speed with which it has ushered in the digital revolution. By creating a medium and business model for the production and curation of born-digital content at global scale, the web has reshaped the way we think about the production and consumption of information, encouraging everyone from businesses and governments down to ordinary citizens to publish their thoughts, beliefs, emotions, ideas, information and experiences to the world. The web collects all of this, serving as a single access point to society’s present thoughts and past knowledge. Simultaneously, the consumer orientation of the web and ease of publication means our past is increasingly being digitized into computerized existence.

Simultaneous to this data revolution, the cloud revolution that has underpinned the web’s rise has transformed the economies of scale in storing and processing all of this data, giving us access to the computing environments and tools necessary to extract patterns from petabytes.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170919 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170919 0
'The Dictator's Playbook' looks at history, with an eye on today "The Dictator's Playbook" might look like history, with much of the imagery in grainy black and white. But this PBS documentary series also provides modern-day resonance -- a guide to tyrants of the past, conveying lessons on how those tactics can be employed in the present.

Consisting of six hour-long installments, the program kicks off with Kim Il Sung, the founder of the North Korean dynasty now ruled by his grandson, Kim Jong Un. Profiles of other infamous leaders -- Benito Mussolini, Francisco Franco, Saddam Hussein, Manuel Noriega, Idi Amin -- follow.

What might strike the strongest chord -- at least, for that part of the audience that has been expressing alarm about the Trump administration -- are point-by-point references to common strategies that appear to echo Trump's actions, particularly toward media and journalists.

Highlighted items include seeking to discredit the independent press, controlling the public's perception of reality through propaganda, establishing a "cult of personality," and using "a culture of fear" to stoke popular support.

The prevailing message serves as a reminder that the methods on display carry a not-so-subtle warning that while America has been shielded from dictatorships, it is not necessarily immune from forces that have shaped and defined them.

Michael Rosenfeld, a co-executive producer on the program, lived for a time as a child in Franco's Spain, where his father was an NBC News correspondent. The idea for the series was born out of PBS' desire to offer a history show focusing on the 20th century.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170908 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170908 0
Civil War expert Kevin M. Levin objected to journalist Paul Duggan's profile of a neo-Confederate. Duggan called Levin to discuss his critique. Kevin M. Levin, a writer and educator, has long been interested in how cultural influences cause Americans to view the Civil War in different ways. So he was eager to read my recent cover story about a descendant of Confederate soldiers who is devoted to defending the legacy of Old Dixie.

But Levin found the piece disappointing. On his blog, Civil War Memory, he wrote: “If you do make your way through the entire piece you may end up feeling like I did. I finished reading it convinced that 30 minutes of my life had just been wasted.” The story, he argued, “offers nothing new.” As for its central character, a Virginian named Frank Earnest, Levin declared: “We need to stop taking these people seriously.”

When I called him at his home in Boston to talk about his criticism, Levin echoed a complaint expressed by other readers: Earnest is a fringe figure who shouldn’t be given a national platform to espouse his beliefs. “Frank Earnest is irrelevant to the discussion in America today” about the Civil War, Levin said on the phone. “Certainly we should acknowledge him in some way. But he’s a relic. He tells us much more about where we’ve been as a country than where we are and where we’re going.”

To Earnest and his comrades in the Sons of Confederate Veterans, the Civil War was a righteous uprising by Southern patriots to throw off the yoke of federal tyranny. Slavery had almost nothing to do with it, in their minds. As I noted in the story, this myth of the Lost Cause was fixed in popular thought for much of the 20th century. Levin told me that publishing 7,000 words on the topic “reinforces the stereotypes many people have about Southerners. When you ask about the South, they immediately picture a Frank Earnest.” In reality, he said, “there’s a diversity of voices” in the New South “that are now defining the public conversation” about the sins of the past and the hurtful racial message of Confederate iconography, especially statues. “We should pay more attention to them,” he argued.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170903 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170903 0
How Historian Jill Lepore Found a Whole New Story to Tell About American History Harvard historian and New Yorker writer Jill Lepore’s latest book, These Truths: a History of the United States, is an epic, sweeping and often disquieting look at the nation’s past. The 800-page opus, starting in the 1500s and moving along briskly to Donald Trump, also serves as a liberal cri de coeur – an answer to conservative claims on the stewardship of our history, our founding principles and especially the Constitution.

Lepore, and Thomas Jefferson, argue that three central principals bind the American experiment: political equality, natural rights and popular sovereignty. But disputes and differing interpretations about these founding truths are present at the creation: religiosity vs. secularism, urban vs. rural, local control vs. a strong federal government. “It’s a call for inquiry,” Lepore says. “A big argument of the book is that history is an inquiry. It’s not a form of tourism. It’s not something sacred. It’s an obligation for all of us to figure out where we came from and get our bearings and figure out a good direction to go in, and that requires being honest.”

Despite all the weighty ideas in the book, it is also delightfully populated by forgotten characters from our past. For example, there’s the hunchback abolitionist who changed Ben Franklin’s views on slavery, or the strikingly tall 19th century suffragette populist leader who railed against Wall Street and probably would have loved a MAGA hat, or the African American war widow suing for her deceased husband’s pension from the war of 1812. Lepore, who has previously written a biography of Benjamin Franklin’s kid sister and about the secret life of Wonder Woman’s creator, brings as much life and import to these people as she does to John Locke. “It’s a lot of work to research because we don’t have as much of a record,” Lepore says, “but it’s also the super fun part.” By acknowledging the common person, These Truths is a history book that’s not just about decisive battles and lofty notions but one that gives voice to the powerful social movements that have churned our collective past.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170890 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170890 0
Yes, Women Also Know History: Online Resources Identify and Highlight Women Experts ...Women Also Know Stuff has also directly inspired other groups, including Women Also Know History (WAKH) a media and curriculum tool I co-founded with Keisha N. Blain, a historian of 20thcentury United States, and a professor at the University of Pittsburgh (also Senior Editor of Black Perspectives, the blog for the African American Intellectual History Society, which I profiled for the Kitchen in 2017) and Emily Prifogle, a JD and a PhD student in history at Princeton specializing in legal history, social movements, and the history of the American Midwest. Women Also Know History began with email exchanges among the three of us, and with Christina Wolbrecht, a Professor of Political Science at Notre Dame, editorial board member of Women Also Know Stuff (and crucially, the friend of a friend) about whether an homage site in history might be feasible and how much we could learn from the site structure and experience of WAKS. The WAKS team was fully supportive, and gave us some insight into their site development and their governance. The program committee for the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians in June of 2017 gave us a late breaking session slot. The session produced a lively discussion among a very engaged group of attendees, and we launched our social media right there. After a year in development, we launched the website in June of 2018. Profiled in the Chronicle of Higher Education and elsewhere, Women Also Know History now lists over 3,300 historians.

Sourcelist was another of the projects mentioned in Leonhardt’s “I’m not quoting enough” pieces. Launched last spring by scholars associated with the Brookings Institution, Sourcelist is ultimately a hub for associated lists of women experts but has begun with a focus on Women in Technology Policy. Susan Hennessey, a Brookings Fellow in National Security Law, announced Sourcelist in a post on the Lawfare blog, where she is Executive Editor. She noted that the purpose of Sourcelist “is to facilitate more diverse representation by leveraging technology to create a user-friendly resource for people whose decisions can make a difference,” but also that the project team hoped to “take away the excuse that diverse experts couldn’t be found to comment on a story or participate on a panel.” Unlike the Women Also Know sites, Sourcelist does not have an associated social media presence.

Cite Black Women began in 2017, when Anthropology Professor Christen Smith of the University of Texas created and starting selling “Cite Black Women” t-shirts at a meeting of the National Women’s Studies Association (the proceeds are used to support the Winnie Mandela School in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil). Smith’s impetus was frustration with seeing and hearing work that should be citing women scholars, particularly the scholarship of women of color; Cite Black Women is a call to recognize and call out politics of citation, and the experiences of citation erasure that has been described and analyzed by generations of black feminists. The social media work that followed with this simple yet profound statement landed Smith and Cite Black Women on Essence magazine’s list of Trending Topics for April, 2018. Also profiled in Times Higher Education last year, the Cite Black Women Collective launched their website in late December, 2018 along with a biweekly podcast that “will feature interviews and coversations about the critical praxis of citing black women, its history, its potential, and its future.” As Smith told me, “seeing the ways this movement has been inspiring to others has been so rewarding.”

 

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170889 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170889 0
"Choice" Magazine Names "Digital National Security Archive" an Outstanding Academic Title for 2018 Choice Magazine, the publishing arm of the Association of College & Research Libraries (ACRL), has named the Digital National Security Archive an “Outstanding Academic Title” for 2018.  The annual award goes to publications deemed especially worthy of attention from academic librarians seeking to build research collections.

The Digital National Security Archive (DNSA) is the Archive’s flagship publication series featuring declassified documents obtained through in-depth archival research and targeted requests under the Freedom of Information Act. It was launched in 1989 and includes 54 collections as of the end of 2018.  It is published by the academic publisher ProQuest.

Curated by foreign policy specialists with guidance from former officials and top academic experts, the materials are indexed by librarians using extensive item-level metadata and an in-house database of over 100,000 controlled authority terms. 

Documentation consists of White House records, international summit meeting transcripts, top-level briefing papers, CIA assessments and covert action reports, military planning documents, State Department telegrams, and other high-level, previously classified materials resulting in what the Washington Journalism Review has called “a state-of-the-art index to history.”

Researchers can easily browse or search and identify specific records via multiple points of access (title, date, origin, destination, keyword, etc.), and go straight to facsimiles of the individual records.  Transcriptions of difficult-to-read items are provided, as are separate versions of materials that have been excised differently by government authorities at various times.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170885 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170885 0
Do historians miss the ideals of assessment, as some have suggested? 2018 paper by members of the Stanford History Education Group called out historians for failing to value evidence of student learning as much as they value evidence in their historical analyses.

The authors’ occasion for rebuke? Their recent finding that many students don’t learn critical thinking in undergraduate history courses -- a challenge to history’s sales pitch that its graduates are finely tuned critical thinkers.

Even among juniors and seniors in a sample of public university students in California, just two out of 49 explained that it was problematic to use a 20th-century painting of “The First Thanksgiving” to understand the actual 1621 event, wrote lead author Sam Wineburg, Margaret Jacks Professor of Education and professor of history at Stanford University, and his colleagues.

The paper, which included other similar examples, was distressing. But it wasn’t meant to damning -- just a wake-up call, or, more gently, a conversation starter. And that conversation continued Thursday at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association. A panel of professors here urged a sizable crowd of colleagues to embrace not just grades but formative, ongoing assessment to gauge student learning or lack thereof in real(er) time.

Suggested formative assessments include asking students to engage with primary-source documents such as maps, paintings, eyewitness event accounts, newspaper ads and unconventional historical artifacts via specific prompts. Others include asking students to examine a symbol of American nationhood, a local historical site or how pundits use history to advance arguments.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170884 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170884 0
'Unexampled Courage' Is The Civil Rights Book About the 1940s You Need to Read Now Americans have begun to talk once again about Atticus Finch, the heroic small town Alabama lawyer in To Kill a Mockingbird. The Aaron Sorkin play based on the classic 1960 novel by Harper Lee is the biggest hit on Broadway. It stars Jeff Daniels as the attorney moved by his conscience, human decency, and faith in the rule of law to defend a black man wrongly accused of rape in the 1930s.

Good. We need reminding in today's America that lynch law—which we like to think is a thing of the past—always had another side: the kind of taken-for-granted easy-to-live-with racism white people were used to in the South of “Mockingbird.” And we should be aware as well that those attitudes never were limited to Southerners. A lot of Donald Trump’s followers clearly wish they could return to a world where white men were men, and all others were something less.

But for all the virtues of Harper Lee’s novel or its new Broadway incarnation, they are fiction. And history can teach us more if the stories are well told and the facts are clear. 

A book to be published later his month, Unexampled Courage by Richard Gergel, does just that. 

It’s set in Charleston, South Carolina, which used to be a city so deeply steeped in racism it started the American Civil War in 1861 to defend slavery. After that cause was lost, for generation after generation Charleston settled into what white folks came to accept as matter-of-fact Jim Crow repression.

Gergel’s book tells the story of huge miscarriages of justice in the years following World War II, and one of the central characters, a federal judge born and bred in Charleston, was not just a real-live Atticus Finch moved by conscience, decency, and faith in the law, he was a jurist who changed American history forever.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170882 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170882 0
100 Years On: The Day They Read the Riot Act as Chaos Engulfed Glasgow One hundred years ago, on 31 January, 1919, Glasgow’s George Square witnessed one of the most astonishing outbreaks of civic violence in modern history. Tens of thousands of striking workers, many accompanied by their families, were baton-charged by police. A battle erupted, heads were broken and for one of the last times, civic officials read the Riot Act. A panic-stricken cabinet in London sent in troops and tanks, and for a moment revolution looked set to sweep western Scotland.

“The Russian revolution had been an unambiguous demonstration that the forces of reaction could be defeated and the political establishment was very afraid that could happen here,” says the Scottish historian Tom Devine. “They thought a Bolshevik uprising was about to begin in Glasgow.”

In fact, the Battle of George Square was not so much an outburst of revolutionary fervour as the outcome of hostile policing and a loss of nerve by the cabinet. It did not trigger the downfall of UK capitalism – although it did have an impact on the British political landscape. The myth of the Red Clydesider was created that day, and its impact is still felt. So how did the authorities let that happen? What went wrong in George Square a century ago?

Glasgow was at the time a centre for heavy goods manufacture, and demobbed soldiers were returning in search of work. Factory owners wanted to maintain the 47-hour working week, while workers wanted a 40-hour week so that everyone could get a job, says John Foster, an emeritus professor at the University of the West of Scotland. “The factory owners wanted them to do more work so there would be fewer jobs and they would have a permanent unemployed workforce at their beck and call.”

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170881 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170881 0
Lois Weber, Hollywood's Forgotten Early Pioneer, Has 2 Films Restored As Hollywood continues to struggle with the underrepresentation of women behind the camera, most people have forgotten that 100 years ago, one woman ruled.

Her name was Lois Weber. Counting shorts and feature-length movies, she directed at least 138 films — all before 1940. She became the first American woman to direct a feature-length dramatic film with The Merchant of Venice in 1914.

"In her day, she was considered one of the three great minds of the early film industry, alongside D.W. Griffith and Cecil B. DeMille," says Shelley Stamp, a film historian at the University of California, Santa Cruz.

Today, most of her works are virtually impossible to see. But two of her most important films have now been restored and released to theaters and on disc.

Shelley Stamp wrote a book about Weber and the notes for the new DVDs. She says the filmmaker often took a different tack from her contemporaries.

"She was a very vocal advocate for cinema's ability to portray complex social issues in a popular narrative form," Stamp says. "She considered cinema what she called 'a voiceless language.' And by that I think she meant cinema had an ability to convey ideas to anybody, regardless of their educational level, regardless of their command of English, right, at a period when there were many immigrants to the U.S. who did not speak English as a first language."

Weber was born in 1879 outside Pittsburgh to a religious middle-class family. She was a child prodigy pianist who spent two years playing organ and evangelizing around the city.

"She started preaching on shop corners, and when she went to New York, she started working at these Salvation Army-type places to help people," Dennis Doros says. With his wife Amy Heller, Doros co-founded and runs Milestone Films, which is releasing the restored version of Weber's movies. "She was never really a preacher, but she was always an activist for the poor."

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170877 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170877 0
Historian seeks help in identifying boy photographed in Freedom in 1940 For the past 13 years, Joe Manning, a retired social worker and historian from Northampton, Mass., has viewed photos taken in the Depression years to document American life and now part of a Library of Congress collection to find out what happened to the people profiled and their descendants.

Images grip the heart, sear the psyche.

Stark black-and-white photographs document American life in the Depression years — poor migrant workers; hungry children, heads buried in their mother’s shoulders, huddled in a lean-to tent; a farmer and his two young boys caught in a dust storm in Oklahoma. And an unidentified boy who climbs a snowy hillside in Freedom.

The pictures, part of a vast portfolio of close to 195,000 taken from 1935 to 1944 for the Farm Security Administration to illustrate and combat rural poverty, are now part of the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.

Though compelling, the photographs give but a glimpse of their subjects’ — many anonymous — circumstances.

Joe Manning delves deeper, and wants to know more.

For the past 13 years, the retired social worker and historian from Northampton, Mass., has viewed these pictures — what he calls a “treasure chest of unfinished stories” — and those of photographer Lewis Hine, who documented child labor in the early 1900s, to find out what happened to the people profiled and their descendants.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170872 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170872 0
What the Numbers Can Tell Us About Humanities Ph.D. Careers Imagine, Maureen McCarthy asked a room full of faculty members, if you could know where all of the Ph.D. graduates from your program are working, right now.

Not only that, she told a packed session at the annual Modern Language Association conference here in Chicago. Imagine if you could know how satisfied they are with the training they’d received in their Ph.D. program. Imagine if you could know if they’d do it again, and why.

Until recently, that type of data was hard to come by, said McCarthy, director of best practices at the Council of Graduate Schools. The council conducted two surveys last year — one geared toward current Ph.D. students and their career aspirations, one geared toward Ph.D.-program graduates — to fill in those gaps.

But holes still exist. For instance, there isn’t much information about what happens to the people who drop out of Ph.D. programs, said Robert B. Townsend, who directs the Humanities Indicators project for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. We don’t have much data about the admissions process, he said, or what happens to people as they go through their doctoral programs.

Townsend and McCarthy both presented during a session called “Diving Into the Data:What the Numbers Tell Us About the Careers of Humanities Ph.D.s.” Those in attendance were well acquainted with the death knell often sounded about the academic job market in the humanities. Since the Great Recession, there’s been a steep drop-off in academic jobs advertised, while the number of Ph.D.s continues to increase.

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Wed, 16 Jan 2019 09:55:06 +0000 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170868 https://historynewsnetwork.org/article/170868 0