History Buzz October 25, 2010: Carol Sheriff & the Virginia Civil War Textbook Controversy

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor/Features Editor at HNN. She has a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University. Her blog is History Musings



  • Local schools use history book with error about black soldiers: “Our Virginia: Past and Present” is published by Five Ponds Press in Weston, Conn.
    An elementary-school textbook that asserts many black soldiers fought for the South during the Civil War is circulating in some area schools. That claim has been widely discredited, according to historians. Moreover, they say, it is often made by groups looking to rewrite history. The book is being used by fourth-graders in Norfolk and fourth- and fifth-graders in Chesapeake. In Suffolk, it is not the official textbook, but it is used as a resource for fourth grade. Virginia Beach schools also use it as an optional resource for fifth grade, and Tuesday the School Board considered adopting it as a primary text. Now the board is backing away…. – The Virginian-Pilot, 10-21-10
  • Professor’s discovery leads to national story on Virginia textbook: When Carol Sheriff looked through her daughter’s social studies textbook, the William & Mary history professor had no idea she would soon find herself a central player in a national story.
    A section of the fourth-grade textbook on the Civil War claimed that two battalions of African American soldiers fought under Confederate General Stonewall Jackson.
    Sheriff, who teaches about the Civil War at the College and has authored a book on the subject, knew the passage in the textbook to be factually inaccurate. Historians, Sheriff said, universally agree African Americans did not fight in any organized way for the South. In fact, the Confederacy made it illegal until the last year of the war – and well after Jackson’s death, she said. Even then, there is no record of battalions of African Americans serving in battle, according to the professor…. – William & Mary,
  • Interview with Carol Sheriff, Class of 2013 Professor of History: What mistake/gaffe did you find in “Our Virginia: Past and Present”? How did you stumble upon it?
    The textbook says, “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” It is true that there were instances of African Americans taking up arms for the Confederacy. Precisely how many fought is not a question that can be easily answered, because these African Americans were usually body servants who had accompanied their masters to the front and who, in the heat of battle and on an ad hoc basis, picked up arms to protect their masters and themselves. But it is simply not true that Stonewall Jackson commanded two black battalions. Jackson died in 1863, and the Confederacy did not authorize the use of black soldiers until the waning months of the war, in early 1865. Before any of the black soldiers recruited under such terms could see battle action, the Confederacy had surrendered. I came upon the mistake when my daughter, who is in fourth grade, brought home her new social studies textbook…. – Virginia Gazette, 10-22-10
  • Ervin Jordan: Virginia textbook claims “false”: As Kevin Sieff reported in The Washington Post on Wednesday, historians are wondering how a fourth-grade textbook in Virginia was approved despite including the spurious claim that “Thousands of Southern blacks fought in the Confederate ranks, including two black battalions under the command of Stonewall Jackson.” Asked about her sources, the textbook’s author, Joy Masoff — whose other books include “Fire!” and “Oh Yikes! History’s Grossest, Wackiest Moments” — cited Ervin Jordan, a University of Virginia historian who is the author of “Black Confederates and Afro-Yankees in Civil War Virginia.” Like other noted historians, Mr. Jordan told The Post that while there is documentary evidence that some African- Americans fought for the Confederacy, “There’s no way of knowing that there were thousands…. And the claim about Jackson is totally false.”… – NYT (10-20-10)
  • Textbook clash in Virginia over Civil War: Live Chat with Carol Sherriff: A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict. The issue first came to light after College of William and Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter’s copy of “Old Virginia: Past and Present” and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers. “It’s disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship,” said Sheriff. Sheriff was online Wednesday, Oct. 20, at Noon ET to discuss the controversy…. – WaPo (10-20-10)
  • Virginia 4th-grade textbook criticized by historians over claims on black Confederate soldiers: A textbook distributed to Virginia fourth-graders says that thousands of African Americans fought for the South during the Civil War — a claim rejected by most historians but often made by groups seeking to play down slavery’s role as a cause of the conflict.
    The passage appears in “Our Virginia: Past and Present,” which was distributed in the state’s public elementary schools for the first time last month. The author, Joy Masoff, who is not a trained historian but has written several books, said she found the information about black Confederate soldiers primarily through Internet research, which turned up work by members of the Sons of Confederate Veterans….
    The issues first came to light after College of William & Mary historian Carol Sheriff opened her daughter’s copy of “Our Virginia” and saw the reference to black Confederate soldiers.
    “It’s disconcerting that the next generation is being taught history based on an unfounded claim instead of accepted scholarship,” Sheriff said. “It concerns me not just as a professional historian but as a parent.”…
    “It’s more than just an arcane, off-the-wall problem,” said David Blight, a professor at Yale University. “This isn’t just about the legitimacy of the Confederacy, it’s about the legitimacy of the emancipation itself.”
    Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James McPherson of Princeton University said, “These Confederate heritage groups have been making this claim for years as a way of purging their cause of its association with slavery.”… – WaPo (10-19-10)


  • Pro-Israel historian barred from Irish Middle East debate: Asked and then unasked: Geoffrey Alderman Professor Geoffrey Alderman is to lodge a formal protest against Queen’s University, Belfast after the withdrawal of an invitation to be a speaker at a Middle East debate on Monday night. The staunchly pro-Israel JC columnist and historian, who is a guest professor at Ariel College on Israel’s West Bank, had been invited to join the panel at a discussion on “Conflict in the Middle East” as part of the Belfast Festival. But last Friday festival director Graeme Farrow told Professor Alderman that the invitation had been a “mistake” as he had not consulted the other panellists about it…. – The JC.com, 10-21-10
  • China scholars enter Okinawa fray: …More than a few Chinese scholars are beginning to claim Okinawa as Chinese land by writing numerous academic papers in Chinese journals, though they are still in a minority among historians. Xu Yong, noted professor of history at the Beijing University, is among scholars whose work presents the Chinese case. Xu was a member of the Japan-China Joint History Research Committee, set up in 2006 under an agreement between then-prime minister Shinzo Abe and Chinese President Hu Jintao. This was an attempt to salvage bilateral relations that dived during the time of Abe’s predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi, and his regular visits to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine memorializing Japan’s war dead (including Class A war criminals such as Hideki Tojo)…. – Asia Times (10-23-10)
  • Brooklyn College historian resigns from search panel after referring to it as “lily-white”: A Brooklyn College history professor who panned members of an influential faculty committee as “lily white” has resigned after being elected to the panel, The Post has learned. Associate professor Jocelyn Wills sent an e-mail to colleagues voting for members of four faculty-search committees to recruit new deans to the college. She criticized the administrative appointees on the panel as racially wrong.
    “Please spread the word among your colleagues and friends on Faculty Council, that we need to correct the lily-white imbalances of the Dean’s search committees, all four of them,” Wills wrote. She then urged votes for four black and Latino faculty members…. – NY Post (10-17-10)


  • Justin Snider: Diane Ravitch questions lasting impact of “Waiting for Superman”: In a segment called “Waiting for Superman: Fact or Fiction?” on the BAM! Radio Network, education historian Diane Ravitch and four members of the media (including yours truly) discussed Davis Guggenheim’s latest documentary, Waiting for ‘Superman’. Our host, Errol St. Clair Smith, wanted to know whether we thought the film would lead to productive discussions about how to reform public education in this country. Is there an emerging consensus in education reform today? If so, Diane Ravitch suggested it’s not a good one. She said that the reforms now being undertaken by the Obama administration aren’t terribly different from reforms that date back to the presidencies of Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush. Ravitch, who’s been a fierce critic of Waiting for ‘Superman’, says the film pushes the “conservative, right-wing [education] agenda” of the Obama administration…. – The Huffington Post (10-19-10)
  • Professor Phyllis Chesler: Anti-Semitism Cannot be Equated with Islamophobia: Even as Chancellor Angela Merkel pronounces the failure of “multiculturalism” in Germany, the English-language German newspaper reporter, Marc Young, writing for the English-language German news at The Local, proclaims that “bigotry towards Muslims is the new anti-Semitism.”
    As the author of a book with the title The New Anti-Semitism (with an edition in German), allow me to remind Mr. Young that one of the things that is “new” about this most ancient of hatreds is that it is pandemic in the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West and that the multicultural relativists in the world’s universities, media, and political leadership, are collaborating with it in the name of “political correctness.”
    Thus, what both Young and those who run the state-subsidized Center for Research on Anti-Semitism at the University of Berlin have learned from the Nazi Holocaust is that Europeans should not discriminate against Muslims as they once did against Jews…. – Arutz Sheva, 10-19-10
  • Andrew McCarthy invokes Bernard Lewis in the National Review: Who says Islam is a totalitarian doctrine? Well, Geert Wilders does, of course. As the editors point out in Monday’s superb National Review Online editorial, the Dutch parliamentarian has even had the temerity to compare Islam with Nazism. Strong stuff indeed, and for speaking it, Wilders has earned the disdain not just of the usual Muslim Brotherhood satellite organizations but even of many on the political right….
    I wonder what he’d make of Bernard Lewis’s take on this subject. Professor Lewis is the distinguished scholar widely and aptly admired, including by Wilders’s detractors, as the West’s preeminent authority on Islam. At Pajamas Media, Andrew Bostom has unearthed a 1954 International Affairs essay in which Professor Lewis quite matter-of-factly compared Islam with Communism. The essay, in fact, was called, “Communism and Islam.”… – National Review (10-19-10)


  • JONATHAN ALTER: The State of Liberalism: It’s a sign of how poorly liberals market themselves and their ideas that the word “liberal” is still in disrepute despite the election of the most genuinely liberal president that the political culture of this country will probably allow. “Progressive” is now the self-description of choice for liberals, though it’s musty and evasive. The basic equation remains: virtually all Republican politicians call themselves conservative; few Democratic politicians call themselves liberal. Even retired Classic Coke liberals like Walter F. Mondale are skittish about their creed. “I never signed up for any ideology,” he writes in his memoirs…. – NYT, 10-24-10
  • CHRISTOPHER CALDWELL: The State of Conservatism: American conservatives, most notably the activists who support various Tea Party groups, have a great variety of anxieties and grievances just now. But what unites them all, at least rhetorically, is the sense that something has gone wrong constitutionally, shutting them out of decisions that rightfully belong to them as citizens. This is why many talk about “taking our country back.”… – NYT, 10-24-10
  • Hunting for the Dawn of Writing, When Prehistory Became History: One of the stars of the Oriental Institute’s new show, “Visible Language: Inventions of Writing in the Ancient Middle East and Beyond,” is a clay tablet that dates from around 3200 B.C. On it, written in cuneiform, the script language of ancient Sumer in Mesopotamia, is a list of professions, described in small, repetitive impressed characters that look more like wedge-shape footprints than what we recognize as writing. A Sumerian clay tablet from around 3200 B.C. is inscribed in wedgelike cuneiform with a list of professions. In fact “it is among the earliest examples of writings that we know of so far,” according to the institute’s director, Gil J. Stein, and it provides insights into the life of one of the world’s oldest cultures. The new exhibition by the institute, part of the University of Chicago, is the first in the United States in 26 years to focus on comparative writing. It relies on advances in archaeologists’ knowledge to shed new light on the invention of scripted language and its subsequent evolution…. – NYT, 10-20-10
  • Condoleezza Rice’s family memoir, reviewed by Patricia Sullivan: EXTRAORDINARY, ORDINARY PEOPLE A Memoir of Family Readers looking for insights into Rice’s thinking and actions as national security adviser and secretary of state under George W. Bush will not find them in “Extraordinary, Ordinary People.” The subtitle, “A Memoir of Family,” describes the focus and scope of this engaging book. While the last third provides a cursory account of the academic and professional trajectory that culminates with Rice’s appointment in the Bush administration, the book, at its core, is a coming-of-age story during the final years of segregation and its aftermath. Rice’s account of her parents and her family life in Alabama and later in Denver complicates what many think they know about one of the most prominent women in recent history and provides a compelling portrait of the life of a middle-class Southern black family during these transitional decades. WaPo, 10-24-10
  • Ron Chernow’s “Washington,” reviewed by T.J. Stiles: WASHINGTON A Life Ron Chernow describes this dental hell in “Washington,” and rarely have missing bicuspids been used to such effect. Here we see the strengths of this biography: the interweaving of the inner and outer man; a sensitivity to the impact of a seemingly minor matter; the juxtaposition of a civic saint with the trade in human flesh (or calcium, in this case). But the very intimacy of the story hints at this book’s limitations. Like Washington’s teeth, his life as told here is less than fully rooted in its surroundings…. – WaPo, 10-24-10
  • Review of “Empire of Dreams,” Scott Eyman’s biography of Cecil B. DeMille: EMPIRE OF DREAMS The Epic Life of Cecil B. DeMille DeMille (1881-1959) poured his considerable gusto into learning the art of motion pictures, and how to make them bigger and better than anyone else at the time. He displayed immediate command of the cinematic language, especially in vigorous pacing and flamboyant scope. He helped expand the possibilities of the medium and push the boundaries of what the moviegoing experience could be, and he was Hollywood’s master of spectacle and bombast for four decades. “Empire of Dreams,” Scott Eyman’s biography of DeMille and the first written with complete access to the filmmaker’s archives, provides a compelling window into the rise of Hollywood as a movie capital…. – WaPO, 10-24-10
  • GIL TROY on Gal Beckerman: The struggle to save Soviet Jews – Book Review quixotic protests for freedom eventually triumphed: When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry When the Soviet secret police detained the dissident Anatoly Scharansky, one of his KGB interrogators mocked the movement to free Soviet Jewry as limited to students and housewives. Scharansky -today Natan Sharansky -a chess master constantly outwitting his tormentors, feigned surprise. The KGB provided photos of rallies. Scharansky demanded more evidence, thereby getting the KGB to update him about the grassroots protests that saved his life.
    Soviet dissidents like Scharansky, along with the students and housewives the KGB disdained, star in Gal Beckerman’s compelling new book When They Come for Us, We’ll Be Gone: The Epic Struggle to Save Soviet Jewry. Beckerman, a young journalist, shows how scattered American and Soviet-Jewish protests in the 1950s and 1960s gradually gained momentum, until Soviet Jews’ fate became a central U.S. political issue, a diplomatic Cold War hot potato, and the symbol of “all that was repressive and evil about Soviet society.”… – Montreal Gazette, 10-23-10
  • Sean Wilentz: the great magpie of American song Historian Sean Wilentz examines Bob Dylan’s deep roots: Bob Dylan in America “A musical modernist with strong roots in traditional forms … beholden to no particular performance or recording style,” excelling “in numerous genres, including amalgamated genres of his own devising.” Clearly, Sean Wilentz, Princeton history professor and resident historian at Bob Dylan’s official website, has his subject nailed in the pages of his new book, right? Well, yes, although the words above refer not to Dylan, but to the mid-20th century bluesman and self-styled “songster” Blind Willie McTell, a musician pulled out of obscurity when Dylan made him the title figure of an epic dystopian ballad. Identifying the impulse behind that song -no mere tribute, it’s an acknowledgment of deep affinity across time and cultures -typifies the kind of sleuthing Wilentz is up to. “There isn’t an inch of American song that (Dylan) cannot call his own,” Wilentz claims, and by the end of this free- ranging study, even confirmed Dylan skeptics may be convinced…. – Montreal Gazette, 10-23-10
  • In a Digital Age, Students Still Cling to Paper Textbooks: They text their friends all day long. At night, they do research for their term papers on laptops and commune with their parents on Skype. But as they walk the paths of Hamilton College, a poster-perfect liberal arts school in this upstate village, students are still hauling around bulky, old-fashioned textbooks — and loving it. “The screen won’t go blank,” said Faton Begolli, a sophomore from Boston. “There can’t be a virus. It wouldn’t be the same without books. They’ve defined ‘academia’ for a thousand years.” Though the world of print is receding before a tide of digital books, blogs and other Web sites, a generation of college students weaned on technology appears to be holding fast to traditional textbooks. That loyalty comes at a price. Textbooks are expensive — a year’s worth can cost $700 to $900 — and students’ frustrations with the expense, as well as the emergence of new technology, have produced a confounding array of options for obtaining them…. – NYT, 10-20-10
  • Sara L. Sale: Book stops here: Local author writes biography of Bess Truman: Local author has shed new light on Harry Truman’s wife Bess, who despite her traditional conventions in public was, like Harry, one for whom the buck stopped in private. Neosho native Sara L. Sale became interested in Harry Truman in Jack Johnson’s history class at Neosho High School. She went on to become a historian and college professor who specialized in the Truman Era. Most recently, she taught at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M College.
    Having ordered a few titles from the “Modern First Ladies” series published by University of Kansas Press, Sale noticed no one had written about Bess Truman. She contacted the director, and by 2007 had an advance contract for “Bess Wallace Truman: Harry’s White House ‘Boss.'” It was published in hardcover this week…. – The Joplin Globe, 10-24-10
  • Wills Writes Collection of Well-Crafted Essays ‘Outside Looking In’ is collection of well-crafted essays by Pulitzer winner Gary Wills: “Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer” (Viking, $25.95), by Garry Wills: Having dared to try to explain Jesus, the Gettysburg Address and John Wayne in previous books, is Garry Wills slacking off a bit by gazing inward? Not if examining one’s own life is a writer’s greatest test. Wills meets the challenge with his usual literary aplomb. This collection of well-crafted essays, in which he revisits people he has encountered and events he has witnessed as a journalist, professor and historian, might be the only later-in-life memoir we will see from the busy Pulitzer Prize winner…. – AP, 10-13-10


  • Film historian David Kiehn discovers truth about iconic SF film: An iconic silent film starring San Francisco made its debut on “60 Minutes.” “A Trip Down Market Street” has riveting black and white scenes of life in the city before the Big One in 1906. Back then, Market street was little more than a dusty road filled with horse drawn carriages, men in hats and women in Victorian gowns bustling about. One for the archives, right? Not quite. According to the Library of Congress, the film was shot in September 1905. But film historian, David Kiehn, who oversees the Niles Essanay Silent Film Museum in Fremont, noticed some inconsistencies when he began to research the film…. – Yahoo News (10-19-10)
  • Wash. U historian estimates “50,000 to 60,000” Muslims live in STL: …Forty years ago, Asif came to St. Louis. Then, there was one Nation of Islam mosque, traditionally attended by black American Muslims, in the city. Now, the St. Louis area has at least nine Muslim community centers, which include masjids, also called mosques, for worship, classroom space for instruction and meeting space for social gatherings. Those centers are in Manchester, Overland, Glen Carbon, Ill., and Belleville, Ill., among others. Hasic says people tend to attend the mosques closest to where they live. Hasic, president of the Islamic Community Center, estimates that about 100,000, Muslims live in the area, about half of them Bosnian, like him. They also come from Pakistan, India, Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Sudan, and from America…. – St. Louis Beacon (10-11-10)


  • Garry Wills’ Adventures As An ‘Outsider Looking In’: Journalist and historian Garry Wills is a professor emeritus at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill. He says he’s currently reading John Spike’s Young Michelangelo and Garry Trudeau’s 40: A Doonesbury Retrospective. “Most of the good things that have happened in my life happened because of books,” says Pulitzer Prize-winning author, journalist and historian Garry Wills — and that includes meeting his wife. They met on a plane — he was a passenger, she was a flight attendant. She took one look at his book and told him that he was too young to be reading French philosopher Henri Bergson.
    “I was a bookworm from the very beginning and to this day,” Wills tells NPR’s Robert Siegel. “There’s practically no minute of the day that I don’t have a book in hand.” Wills has written many books of his own — about Richard Nixon, Abraham Lincoln, the Declaration of Independence, Christianity and more. His latest work is a memoir called Outside Looking In: Adventures of an Observer…. – NPR, 10-19-10
  • Chris Hedges: Staughton and Alice Lynd: Heroes for the Beaten, Foreclosed on, Imprisoned Masses: Staughton Lynd could have built an enviable career as an academic but for his conscience. His conscience led him as a young undergraduate disgusted by the elitism around him to drop out of Harvard, and tortured him when he returned to finish his degree. It plagued him after he received his doctorate from Columbia and saw him head to the segregated South to join his friend Howard Zinn in teaching history at the historically black Spelman College. It propelled him to become the director of Freedom Schools in the Mississippi Summer Project of 1964. It prodded him a year later to chair the first march against the Vietnam War in Washington, D.C., and join Tom Hayden and Herbert Aptheker on a trip to Hanoi…. – Truthdig (10-18-10)


  • Peniel E. Joseph on whether black face is “ever okay”: While Peniel E. Joseph, award-winning author and Professor of History at Tufts University, doesn’t believe Will.i.am intended to put on a minstrel show, he does point out that the Grammy winner, “is emblematic of a new generation that doesn’t feel as connected to historic symbols of racism and don’t really have an understanding of the history. There is this resurgence of white supremacy groups and economic anxiety, and these are all connected whether Will.i.am sees it or not,” he says…. – Black Book Mag (10-19-10)
  • Democrats Are at Odds on Relevance of Keynes, Say Historians: “Not until World War II, with the need for revenue so large and the unity around winning the war so strong, was that ambivalence pushed aside,” said Gary Gerstle, a historian at Vanderbilt University….

    “The president has this year been proposing historically bipartisan policies that would help stand up the private sector and accelerate our recovery,” said Austan D. Goolsbee, who succeeded Ms. Romer as chairman of the council. “I hope that at some point opposition, for the sake of opposition, is going to lessen.”

    But that seems unlikely, as long as the recovery plods along slowly. “It would be a mistake to attribute the distancing from Obama’s stimulus entirely to political caution or opportunism,” said Robert S. Weisbrot, a historian at Colby College. “As much as those factors may be important, it is dismaying how little evidence there is to show for it. Maybe we need even more, but surely $800 billion should have counted for something.”… – NYT (10-18-10)

  • Sean Wilentz cited in op-eds in NYT, WaPo – NYT (10-18-10)


  • Publisher to Remove Black Confederate Textbook Reference: James Loewen on NPR [3 minutes 35 seconds, audio]: James Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and co- editor of The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader: The Great Truth about the Lost Cause, appeared on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition on Oct. 22 to discuss the controversy over the claims about black Confederate soldiers in Our Virginia: Past and Present, a textbook distributed to Virginia fourth graders…. – National Public Radio (10-22-10)
  • Q&A With Sean Wilentz on Time.com: Princeton professor Sean Wilentz has forgone his usual subjects — the political historian and occasional journalist has written books such as The Age of Reagan and The Rise of American Democracy — to focus instead on something entirely different: Bob Dylan. His new book, Bob Dylan in America tackles the legendary musician with the same amount of meticulous attention to detail as one might expect from one of Wilentz’s uber-historical tracts. He traces Dylan’s influences across wide swaths of 20th-century history and culture — from the socialist movement of the 1930s to Bing Crosby’s Christmas carols — to explore his place in America, and America’s place in his music…. – Time.com (10-21-10)
  • ‘The Lost Soul of Higher Education’: IHE interviews Ellen Schrecker: To begin an article by saying that American higher education is in a state of crisis would be — at least to most readers of this site — so familiar as to border on tautology. “Well, sure,” the reader can be imagined thinking. “But is she referring to the years of economic turmoil and drastic budget cuts? The adjunctification of the faculty? The neglect of the liberal arts and humanities? The watering down of academic standards?” In this case, the answer would be, “Yes, for a start.” And the author of that answer would be Ellen Schrecker, whose recent book The Lost Soul of Higher Education: Corporatization, the Assault on Academic Freedom, and the End of the American University (The New Press) counts all of the above among a host of critical issues confronting academe. The book grew out of an opinion piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education in which Schrecker, a professor of history at Yeshiva University, wrote that the “assault on the academy” by conservative critics such as David Horowitz poses a greater threat to academic freedom than did McCarthyism in the 1950s…. – Inside Higher Ed (10-20-10)
  • James Thurber: Top Historian Views 111th Congress as One of The Most Productive: In this Part One of a two-part ‘Power Breakfast’… assessing the productivity – and/or lack thereof – of the 111th Congress. The director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies, American University Professor James Thurber, takes the long view. He views the session’s economic stimulus package, health care overhaul and financial regulatory reform legislation to be some of most monumental accomplishments since LBJ or FDR…. – Capitol News Connection, 10-19-10


  • Loyal Jones: ‘The grandfather of Appalachian studies’ receives honor Founder of Berea’s Appalachian studies center is honored for his work”: Loyal Jones grew up in a tenant-farming family, growing corn and hay in western North Carolina, near the Georgia and Tennessee state lines. He went to Hayesville High School and the Baptist church in town. But he also got interested in another area institution, the John C. Campbell Folk School, which brought in traditions from outside western North Carolina but also aimed to emphasize and deepen students’ understanding and appreciation of their own culture…. – Lexington Herald-Leader, 10-24-10
  • Pelosi Appoints Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as New House Historian: Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced today the appointment of Dr. Matthew Wasniewski as the new Historian of the House of Representatives. Dr. Wasniewski, who currently serves as the historian in the House Clerk’s Office of History and Preservation, received the unanimous recommendation of the House Historian Search Committee appointed by Speaker Pelosi with the input of House Republican Leader John Boehner who concurred on the appointment…. – PR Newswire (10-20-10)


  • Prominent University of Chicago historian will deliver annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture: Historian Ramón Gutiérrez — an award-winning author and director of the Center for the Study of Race, Politics and Culture at the University of Chicago — will visit Northern Illinois University later this month to deliver the seventh annual W. Bruce Lincoln Lecture. The lecture, titled “Thinking About Race in a Post-Racial America: From Plessy v. Ferguson to Barack Obama,” will be held at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 28, in the Altgeld Hall Auditorium. The event is free and open to all. It is sponsored by the NIU History Department and the W. Bruce Lincoln Endowment…. – NIU, 10-15-10
  • THE NEW-YORK HISTORICAL SOCIETY MAKES ITS MOST IMPORTANT COLLECTIONS RELATING TO SLAVERY AVAILABLE ONLINE: Rich trove of material becomes easily accessible at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollection The New-York Historical Society is proud to announce the launch of a new online portal to nearly 12,000 pages of source materials documenting the history of slavery in the United States, the Atlantic slave trade and the abolitionist movement. Made readily accessible to the general public for the first time at www.nyhistory.org/slaverycollections, these documents from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries represent fourteen of the most important collections in the library’s Manuscript Department….
  • Understanding the Iran-Contra Affairs,” is the only comprehensive website on the famous Reagan-era government scandal, which stemmed from the U.S. government’s policies toward two seemingly unrelated countries, Nicaragua and Iran. Despite stated and repeated denials to Congress and to the public, Reagan Administration officials supported the militant contra rebels in Nicaragua and sold arms to a hostile Iranian government. These events have led to questions about the appropriateness of covert operations, congressional oversight, and even the presidential power to pardon…. – irancontra.org
  • Thousands of Studs Terkel interviews going online: The Library of Congress will digitize the Studs Terkel Oral History Archive, according to the agreement, while the museum will retain ownership of the roughly 5,500 interviews in the archive and the copyrights to the content. Project officials expect digitizing the collection to take more than two years…. – NYT, 5-13-10
  • Digital Southern Historical Collection: The 41,626 scans reproduce diaries, letters, business records, and photographs that provide a window into the lives of Americans in the South from the 18th through mid-20th centuries.


  • Reed Opera House’s 140th birthday celebration: The Reed Opera House celebrated its 140th birthday at a reception in the Trinity Ballroom on Oct. 13. Everyone was buzzing about the attendance of opera house founder Gen. Cyrus Reed’s great-grandson Professor Roger Paget, a professor at Lewis and Clark College. Owner Roger Yost proudly shared the history of the property and reminded me that the Reed was the center of Salem’s social life during its first three decades.
    The building was graced by many famous people such as Susan B. Anthony, Samuel Clemens and John Philip Sousa. Reed’s Opera House opened its doors on Sept. 27, 1870, for the inaugural ball of Gov. LaFayette Grover. Since I was a girl, the Reed Opera House was a unique shopping and event destination. Later, it had undergone some hard times. Today, with Yost’s investment, the 66,000-square-foot structure has been restored, and it is full of retail space and the popular Trinity Ballroom.
    This event was a historian’s dream, with Paget and John Ritter, a professor at Linfield, as the featured speakers. Suzie Bicknell of Go Downtown Salem! was there to lend support…. – Statesman Journal, 10-24-10
  • Historian, professor Holton lectures on Abigail Adams: Abigail Adams was not just a First Lady, but was also an early feminist, learned audience members at Woody Holton’s lecture on Sunday afternoon. The lecture, which took place in the Brown-Alley room, was sponsored by the Friends of Boatwright Memorial Library in honor of “Abigail Adams,” the new book by the historian and associate professor of history and American studies.
    Holton told the audience of about 50 people that he had a very canned lecture prepared, which he had already given about 60 times, and so was going to speak about something different, which was Abigail’s relationship with the other women in her life…. – U Richmond Collegian, 10-6-10




  • David Eisenhower: Going Home To Glory: A Memoir of Life with Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1961-1969, (Hardcover), October 26, 2010
  • Joseph J. Ellis: First Family: Abigail and John Adams, (Hardcover), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Hazel Rowley: Franklin and Eleanor: An Extraordinary Marriage (First Edition), (Hardcover), October 26, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Helen J. Burn: Betsy Bonaparte, (Hardcover), November 1, 2010
  • Noah Feldman: Scorpions: The Battles and Triumphs of FDR’s Great Supreme Court Justices, (Hardcover), November 2010
  • Gerald Blaine: The Kennedy Detail: JFK’s Secret Service Agents Break Their Silence, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Greg Farrell: Crash of the Titans: Greed, Hubris, the Fall of Merrill Lynch, and the Near-Collapse of Bank of America, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Charles Rappleye: Robert Morris: Financier of the American Revolution, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Karl Rove: Courage and Consequence: My Life as a Conservative in the Fight, (Paperback), November 2, 2010
  • Charles HRH The Prince of Wales: Harmony: A New Way of Looking at Our World, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Simon Winchester: Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Steven E. Woodworth: Manifest Destinies: America’s Westward Expansion and the Road to the Civil War, (Hardcover), November 2, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Adam Richman: America the Edible: A Hungry History From Sea to Dining Sea, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Rodney Stark: God’s Battalions: The Case for the Crusades, (Paperback), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 2010
  • G. J. Barker-Benfield: Abigail and John Adams: The Americanization of Sensibility, (Hardcover), November 15, 2010
  • Laura Hillenbrand: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
  • Mike Huckabee: A Simple Christmas: Twelve Stories that Celebrate the True Holiday Spirit, (Hardcover), November 16, 2010
  • Gary Ecelbarger: The Day Dixie Died: The Battle of Atlanta, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Linda Porter: Katherine the Queen: The Remarkable Life of Katherine Parr, the Last Wife of Henry VIII (First Edition), (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Alison Weir: The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn, (Paperback), December 28, 2010
  • Donald Rumsfeld: Known and Unknown: A Memoir, (Hardcover), January 25, 2011


  • Robert Katz, writer about the Holocaust, dies: Robert Katz, an Italy-based American author, journalist and screenwriter who wrote extensively about the World War II fate of Jews in Rome, has died. His wife told The Associated Press that Katz, who had lived in Tuscany for many years, died Thursday of complications from cancer surgery. He was 77…. – Jewish Telegraph Agency (10-21-10)
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