Entering the World of e-History Textbooks

When I left the classroom last year I was still wedded to the traditional history textbook.  I supplemented my text with a wide range of digital tools and resources, but the text itself had not changed.  My experience with e-textbooks has been very limited until now.  For the next four months I will be working on an exciting e-history project providing supplemental materials for a text focused on the Civil War and Reconstruction.  The text itself is being written by two very well known and talented historians.  Some of the things I will be working on include:

  • Review chapters and suggest themes and content for digital animations (e.g., maps) and video content (e.g., bio of Lincoln).
  • Write copy for videos and animations (up to two 2-3 minute videos and one animation per chapter).
  • Create assignments or “tasks” (we are calling all digital assets tasks that students have to complete before moving on in their textbook) for each of the chapters.
  • Write copy for 1-2 “mini-challenges” (e.g., poll question, 4-6 reading comprehension quiz questions) for each chapter.
  • Write definitions for glossary terms (5-10 per chapter).

Some of what I am doing is geared to connecting the text to a history simulation that allows students to role play real historical characters. I should be able to share more details about this project in the coming months.

For now I am hoping that those of you with more experience in this area might be able to suggest examples of best practices.  What should I look at to get a feel for what’s been done already in the field of e-texts?  What do you want to see as supplemental resources for an e-history textbook?  Thanks.

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Vandalism at the Shaw Memorial

Like many of you I was saddened and outraged to hear that the Shaw Memorial here in Boston had been vandalized.  The alleged perpetrator is a 38 yr. old black woman from nearby Quincy.  While she admitted to having an interpretive issue with the memorial, following her arraignment yesterday it was learned that she will undergo a psychiatric evaluation.  I decided to write a little something for my column at the Atlantic, which you can now read, but before doing so I posted some questions about the possible racial implications of this act on my personal Facebook page.

Thanks to Brooks Simpson, Harry Smeltzer, James Percoco, Donald Shaffer, and John Rudy for sharing their thoughts.  The thread went on for some time and it gave me quite a bit to think about.  Brooks is right that the thread is a good example of the “usefulness of social media in advancing historical discussion.”

Click here for the rest of my posts at the Atlantic.

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New To the Civil War Memory Library, 08/01

It’s been a while since I last updated my list of books received as review copies and those purchased.  As always, thanks to those of you who have gone through my affiliate account with Amazon to purchase items.  Thanks to you I rarely have to shell out my own money for new titles.  This list reflects a good deal of reading outside of Civil War history.

George Bernard, Civil War Talks: Further Reminiscences of George S. Bernard and His Fellow Veterans (University Press of Virginia, 2012).

James Downs, Sick from Freedom: African-American Illness and Suffering during the Civil War and Reconstruction (Oxford University Press, 2012).

Amanda Foreman, A World on Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War (Random House, 2011).

Ronald P. Formisano, Boston Against Busing: Race, Class, and Ethnicity in the 1960s and 1970s (University of North Carolina Press, 2003).

Gary W. Gallagher and Rachel Shelden, eds. A Political Nation: New Directions in Mid-Nineteenth-Century American Political History (University Press of Virginia, 2012).

James Green, Death in the Haymarket: A Story of Chicago, the First Labor Movement and the Bombing that Divided Gilded Age America (Pantheon, 2006).

Jill Lepore, The Mansion of Happiness: A History of Life and Death (Knopf, 2012).

Peter D. Norton, Fighting Traffic: The Dawn of the Motor Age in the American City (MIT Press, 2011).

Richard Slotkin, The Long Road To Antietam: How the Civil War Became a Revolution (Liveright, 2012).

Jill Ogline Titus, Brown’s Battleground: Students, Segregationists, and the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia (University of North Carolina Press, 2012).

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A Massacre of Biblical Proportions

Listening to these two knuckleheads talk Civil War history on a recent show is both entertaining and disturbing at the same time. By the way, David Barton’s new book on Thomas Jefferson was recently voted “Least Credible Book in Print” at the History News Network.  I have no doubt that the recognition is well deserved.

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Gray, Maine’s Confederate Stranger

This is the first I’ve heard of this story.  What follows is a story that was published in the 1969 issue of Yankee magazine:

Click to continue

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