Fake News Meets Fake History

I am happy to share with you my first piece to appear at Smithsonian.com on the influence of fake news stories on the 2016 presidential election and its implications for how we teach history. Like many of you I am troubled, though not surprised, by the inability of seemingly smart people to spot fake news or distinguish between reputable and problematic websites. [click to continue…]


The Decline of Civil War Round Tables

Update: I thought this editorial about the Augusta Civil War Round Table in Georgia was worth reading in light of the post and discussion below.

My good friend John Hennessy posted some thoughts earlier today about his recent experiences presenting in front of Civil War Round Tables. While John references the decline in membership and graying of those who have remained, he rightfully resists concluding that it reflects a lack of interest in history among young people or society in general. There is little evidence to justify such a conclusion. [click to continue…]


David Blight, Frederick Douglass, and the 2016 Election

Some of you may know that David Blight is close to completing a biography of Frederick Douglass that is slated for publication late next year. This talk on Douglass at Harvard Law School took place the day after the presidential election. I think it is safe to say that Professor Blight was in a state of shock while delivering this talk. At times it really is unclear as to whether he is talking about Douglass and the Civil War or the current state of the nation.

Perhaps that is the important lesson.


AASLH Reconsiders Confederate Memorials and Monuments

The next issue of the AASLH‘s quarterly magazine, History News, will focus on the ongoing debate about Confederate monuments and memorials. The organization has focused a good deal of attention on this issue in recent years. Last year I took part in a panel discussion at their annual meeting in Louisville and helped out with a webinar shortly thereafter. The collection of essays that I am currently editing is a partnership between the AASLH and Rowan & Littlefield.

You can read the lead article by Madupe Labode here or the PDF version at the bottom of the page, which includes a little sidebar that I wrote on the origins of the Lost Cause narrative. Professor Labode’s piece is a nice introduction to the history and memory of Confederate monuments and the current debate. The issue also includes essays by the Civil War Institute’s Jill Ogline Titus and F. Sheffield Hale from the Atlanta History Center.


Dylann Roof’s Civil War Memory

This week I am busy reading through drafts from the contributors to my book on how the Civil War is currently being interpreted at museums and historic sites. It involves a good deal of work, but I am learning a great deal and excited about how the project is beginning to come together. [click to continue…]


New to the Civil War Memory Library, 11/30

Thanks to those of you who offered suggestions for further reading on the Vietnam War. Keep them coming.

Mark Snell Peter Cozzens, The Earth Is Weeping: The Epic Story of the Indian Wars for the American West (Knopf, 2016).

D.H. Dilbeck, A More Civil War: How the Union Waged a Just War, (University of North Carolina Press, 2016).

Ibram X. Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (Nation Books, 2016).

John H. Matsui, The First Republican Army: The Army of Virginia and the Radicalization of the Civil War, (University Press of Virginia, 2016).

Mark A. Snell, My Gettysburg: Meditations on History and Place (Kent State University Press, 2016).

Richard Snow, Iron Dawn: The Monitor, the Merrimack, and the Civil War Sea Battle that Changed History (Scribner Publishing, 2016).

John Strasbaugh, City of Sedition: The History of New York City during the Civil War (Twelve Publishers, 2016).


The President-Elect’s Tweets

One final thought: What opportunities are there to use the president-elect’s embrace of social media to encourage smart civic engagement among our students? What responsibilities come with having such access to the future president and how can we encourage students to do so in a productive way?

I follow and, on occasion, respond to Donald Trump’s tweets. There, I said it. In fact, the more I do the more I consider it a form of healthy civic engagement. President Obama and other elected officials use twitter, but it is not always clear when their tweets are published by staffers. There is no question that Trump’s output is his own and this both thrills his supporters and horrifies his detractors. [click to continue…]


Landscape and Memory in Vietnam

I trust that all of you had a Happy Thanksgiving with friends and family. My Thanksgiving included an invitation to join a team of educators and historians from the United States and Vietnam to develop an interactive, inquiry-based set of instructional materials that will align with the upcoming commemorations and anniversaries of the American Vietnam War for use in the secondary and post-secondary classroom. The project is being organized by the National Humanities Center in Durham, North Carolina. [click to continue…]


Meet Mose, Our Little “Gray Ghost”

Say hello to Mose, named after Col. John S. Mosby and for you “Office” fans, Dwight Schroot’s curious cousin. We picked up Mose, along with his sister, Clara, yesterday at a shelter in Hopkinton, just outside of Boston.

MoseThis pic was taken just after an intense 15 minute ear washing from his sister. Mose will be out of action for the rest of the afternoon.

Unfortunately, we lost our cat, Felix, this past September from cancer. He was an incredibly kind kitty. JEB and Felix have been with us for 14 years. While his brother, JEB, is adjusting well he is still an incredibly active and playful cat. We thought he might like some new playmates. Introductions will be made tonight and hopefully, if everything works out well, JEB and Mosby will soon be planning their next offensive.


Recognizing an Imperfect Past at the Georgia Historical Society

Undergraduate instructors, public historians, and independent scholars that have an interest in the continuing and often bitter debates about how American history is remembered and commemorated throughout the country should definitely consider applying to this NEH funded workshop, Recognizing an Imperfect Past, at the Georgia Historical Society. This Summer Institute will take place over a 2-week period (June 11-23) in Savannah, Georgia. [click to continue…]