The Week in Early American History

TWEAHLast week, we heard the news that Mitch Daniels, formerly governor of Indiana and now president of Purdue University, apparently tried to keep “terrible anti-American academic” Howard Zinn’s People’s History out of Indiana’s schools and universities. This week, Indiana University’s Carl Weinberg revealed how he actually used Zinn’s text in a training course for Indiana high school teachers.

This week, the AHA also brewed up controversy with a statement encouraging universities to allow new history PhDs to embargo their completed dissertations for up to six years. Some of the ensuing debate, including brief responses and links to longer commentaries, is cataloged here.  Rebecca Rosen, Jason Kelly, Eric Rauchway, Scott Jaschik, Jennifer Guiliano, Timothy Burke, Adeline KohHarvard University Press, and AHA past president William Cronon are among those who have offered their thoughts.

In early American real-estate news, archaeologists digging in a playground have located a nineteenth-century African-American cemetery once owned by Philadelphia’s Mother Bethel Church. The Girls Scouts of Eastern South Carolina have sold “Camp Low Country,” a former rice plantation near Charleston. And in western North Carolina, archaeologists have located Spain’s Fort San Juan, the earliest European fort in the U.S. interior.

In news about visualizations of early American real estate, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has purchased Jan Mostaert’s early sixteenth-century Discovery of America. The museum denies that it paid the onetime asking price of $14 million for the painting.

On the subject of another art, Will Robin has written about the influence of early American hymns on music produced in the decades since.

In recent discussions of writing, Stephen King has explained why he spends “weeks and months and even years” on an opening paragraph. Anthony Grafton has explained why he writes with a crocodile hanging from the ceiling. And in case you need inspiration for effective invective, check out Mark Mancini’s list of seven of John Adams’ greatest insults.

In interviews about books, Marie Arana has discussed Bolívar: American Liberator. Stephen Kantrowitz has discussed his More than Freedom: Fighting for Black Citizenship in a White Republic, 1829-1889. And Edward Blum and Paul Harvey have talked about The Color of Christ: The Son of God and the Saga of Race in America.

Planning to work at an American college soon? You should take a look at the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s 2013 list of Great Colleges to Work For.

Finally, in news involving people we defeated in battle in order to put a stop to this sort of nonsense, some well-known young people in England have apparently just had a baby. Daniel Kilbride, author of Being American in Europe, 1750-1860, asks whether Americans should care.

2 responses

  1. I’ve never read Zinn. My perception is that its a catalogue of every nasty, negative thing the US government and business has ever engaged in, and that it’s accurate as far as it goes. But, that it lacks perspective – the truth perhaps, but not the whole truth – and can be very distorting if improperly used, e.g. as a primary text on US history generally rather than as a supplement.


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