History Buzz July 4, 2011: Obamas & Nation Celebrate Independence Day 2011

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

INDEPENDENCE DAY: JULY 4TH, 2011

STATS & POLLS

  • Celebrating Independence Day: Americans come together for Fourth of July festivities in the District and throughout the region…. – WaPo
  • How well do you know the Declaration of Independence? Take our quiz: Every Fourth of July, Americans celebrate the independence of the United States with fireworks, parades, and picnics. But how much do people know about the 1776 events that are being cheered? Here’s a quiz to test your knowledge of the Declaration of Independence…. – CS Monitor, 7-4-11

IN FOCUS

  • Obama thanks troops at July 4 party on South Lawn: Telling U.S. troops that “America is proud of all of you,” President Barack Obama marked the Fourth of July holiday by hosting a barbecue and concert for military members and families on the South Lawn of the White House.
    The president and his family – wife Michelle and daughters Sasha and Malia – greeted more than 1,200 guests from a White House balcony Monday evening. After brief remarks, the first couple stood in the driveway and shook hands with visitors.
    “You represent the latest in a long line of heroes who have served our country with honor, who have made incredible sacrifices to protect the freedoms that we all enjoy,” Obama said. “You’ve done everything we could’ve asked of you,” he said, also recognizing the “families that serve alongside of you with strength and devotion.”… AP, 7-4-11

THE HEADLINES….

  • Fireworks, parades, 62 hot dogs: US celebrates 4th: The U.S. marked the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence with parades, fireworks, barbecues — plus presidential campaigning, a White House birthday and competitive eating….
    The holiday is celebrated as the nation’s birthday, but it also was Malia Obama’s 13th birthday. The president’s eldest daughter had to share her parents with hundreds of others as Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama invited troops and their families to attend a special barbecue and USO concert on the South Lawn.
    Some of the Republicans hoping to replace Obama in the White House spent part of the day campaigning in states where presidential politics are as much a part of the holiday as fireworks and barbecues…. – AP, 7-4-11
  • A Fireworks Show for the Nation: Fireworks will be illuminating the skies in cities across the country on this July 4 holiday.
    Among the classic destinations for Independence Day displays, the fireworks show on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., has long been a go-to for pyrotechnic enthusiasts.
    A Tennessee-based company called Pyro Shows is on its ninth year of designing Washington’s fireworks celebration. We talked to Tom Stiner about what goes into pulling a pyrotechnic show of this magnitude.
    Set against the backdrop of the Washington monument, the event includes “A Capitol Fourth” concert, which you can watch on many PBS stations starting at 8 p.m. ET…. – PBS, 7-4-11
  • Fourth of July Celebrations Draw Families, Troops and Presidential Hopefuls: SUMMARY Americans at home and abroad celebrated Independence Day with parades, barbeques, and fireworks. Judy Woodruff reports on how Americans celebrated Independence Day here and abroad.
    JUDY WOODRUFF: The United States marked its birthday today, the 235th anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, with parades and fireworks, plus competitive eating, presidential campaigning, and a new teenager at the White House.
    The party started late last night, midnight, to be exact, in Gatlinburg, Tenn. The tiny mountain town kicked off the Fourth of July in classic fashion, with banners, music, and plenty of kids up past their bedtime.
    Today, in cities across the country, preparations were under way for a robust celebration, unpacking fireworks and prepping the stages…. – PBS Newshour, 7-4-11Mp3

QUOTES

The President and First Lady watch the fireworks

The President and First Lady watch the fireworks over the National Mall, White House Photo, Pete Souza, 7/4/10

Barack Obama: Today we are celebrating our country, honoring our troops, and enjoying a little BBQ. From all of us at Obama 2012, have a wonderful Fourth.

George W. Bush: Laura and I wish our fellow Americans a happy 4th of July. On this anniversary of our independence, we give thanks for our freedom. We salute the men and women in uniform who defend it. And we ask for God’s continued blessings on the United States.

John McCain: Independence Day Message: I was honored to join General David Petraeus today at a re-enlistment ceremony in Afghanistan for 235 of our brave troopers on this, America’s 235th Independence Day. It was both humbling and inspiring to share this day with so many young Americans who have committed their lives to a cause greater than themselves — the freedom and security of our nation.
As we gather today for backyard barbecues and community events this 4th of July, let us pay tribute to our troops in harms way, their families who miss and love them so dearly, and all the heroes who have paid the ultimate sacrifice to defend the nation we love.
Have a safe and joyful 4th of July, and God Bless America!

Michelle Obama: What You Can Do to Support Military Families: Good morning, This Independence Day, I hope you’ll join me and my family in recognizing both our brave men and women in uniform and their families for everything they do to protect our country and our way of life.
We know that when our troops are called to serve, their families serve right along with them. For military kids, that means stepping up to help with the housework and putting on a brave face through all those missed holidays, bedtimes and ballet recitals. For military spouses, it means pulling double-duty, doing the work of both parents, often while juggling a full-time job or trying to get an education.
That’s why, a few months ago, Dr. Jill Biden and I started Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to recognize, honor, and serve our military families. Our troops give so much to this country and they ask us for just one thing in return: to take care of their families while they’re gone. So we’ve put out a call to action. We’re urging all Americans to ask themselves one question: What can I do to give back to these families that have given so much?
To answer that question you can go to JoiningForces.gov and learn more about how you can get involved. And you can get started right now through Operation Honor Card by pledging to spend a certain number of hours serving military families in your community. – WH, 7-4-11

HISTORIANS & ANALYSTS’ COMMENTS

An illustration shows Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams reviewing a draft of the Declaration of Independence.

Thomas Jefferson (left), Benjamin Franklin, and John Adams draft the Declaration of Independence in 1776.

Illustration courtesy Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, Library of Congres

  • Valerie Strauss: Top 5 myths about July 4: Back by popular demand (well, I like them), here are the top five myths about Independence Day, adapted from George Mason University’s History News Network:
    1. Independence was declared on the Fourth of July.
    2. The Declaration of Independence was signed July 4.
    3. The Liberty Bell rang in American Independence.
    4. Betsy Ross sewed the first American flag.
    5. John Adams and Thomas Jefferson both died on the Fourth of July…. – WaPo, 7-4-11
  • Fourth of July: Nine Myths Debunked Paul Revere didn’t ride solo, for one: Many time-honored patriotic tales turn out to be more fiction than fact. On the Fourth of July—today marked by a continent-spanning Google doodle—here’s a look at some memorable myths from the birth of the United States.
    1. The Declaration of Independence Was Signed on July 4
    2. Paul Revere Rode Solo
    3. July 4, 1776, Party Cracked the Liberty Bell
    4. Patriots Flocked to Fight for Freedom
    5. The Declaration of Independence Holds Secret Messages
    6. John Adams Died Thinking of Thomas Jefferson
    7. America United Against the British
    8. Betsy Ross Made the First American Flag
    9. Native Americans Sided With the British… – National Geo, 7-4-11
  • E.J. Dionne Jr.: What our Declaration really said: Our nation confronts a challenge this Fourth of July that we face but rarely: We are at odds over the meaning of our history and why, to quote our Declaration of Independence, “governments are instituted.”
    Only divisions this deep can explain why we are taking risks with our country’s future that we’re usually wise enough to avoid. Arguments over how much government should tax and spend are the very stuff of democracy’s give-and-take. Now, the debate is shadowed by worries that if a willful faction does not get what it wants, it might bring the nation to default.
    This is, well, crazy. It makes sense only if politicians believe — or have convinced themselves — that they are fighting over matters of principle so profound that any means to defeat their opponents is defensible.
    We are closer to that point than we think, and our friends in the Tea Party have offered a helpful clue by naming their movement in honor of the 1773 revolt against tea taxes on that momentous night in Boston Harbor…. – WaPo, 7-4-11
  • Special: Independence Daze – A History Of July 4th: Everybody knows that July 4th celebrates our nation’s beginnings. But for the first 94 years of our existence, the 4th wasn’t an official holiday at all. The Declaration of Independence itself sat untended in a dusty archive for 150 years. So how did Independence Day become the holiest day on our secular calendar? And why do we observe it with hot dogs, fireworks and mattress sales?
    In this hour, the History Guys explore the origins and curiosities of July 4th. They reveal the holiday’s radical roots, and look how the Declaration’s meaning has changed over time. They also consider how the Declaration’s messages about liberty and equality have been embraced by the descendents of slaves. And, as always, they take calls from BackStory listeners looking to the past to understand the America of today.
    Highlights Include:
    Historian Pauline Maier (“American Scripture: Making the Declaration of Independence”) contrasts the sections of the Declaration of Independence that mattered to the Founders with the sections that matter today.
    July 4th chronicler James Heintze (“The Fourth of July Encyclopedia”) recounts the early days of celebrating independence, with a special focus on explosives.
    Historian David Blight (“Frederick Douglass’ Civil War: Keeping Faith in Jubilee”) analyzes Frederick Douglass’ 1852 speech, “The Meaning of the Fourth of July for the Negro,” widely known as one of the greatest abolitionist speeches ever…. – KUOW, 7-4-11
  • On the Fourth, a declaration we still must live up to: MORE THAN 130 British ships had set sail from Nova Scotia on June 9, on their way to the rebellious American colonies. The king of England had hired thousands of German mercenaries. The British penalty for treason was death and confiscation of one’s estate. These were some of the things on the minds of members of the Continental Congress as they met in Philadelphia to debate independence 235 years ago.
    “And yet,” writes the historian Pauline Maier, “as the British began to bring the greatest fleet and the largest army ever assembled in North America into action against the Americans, Congress devoted the better part of two days to revising the draft declaration of Independence. Wars, it understood, were not won by ships and sailors and arms alone. Words, too, had power to serve the cause of victory.”
    The Declaration of Independence, which we celebrate today, wasn’t even an official act of government. The Continental Congress had voted for independence on July 2. The July 4 Declaration, drafted mostly by Thomas Jefferson, was meant as inspiration for the soldiers and to justify and explain a drastic action against the crown to a divided and worried public. To be cynical about it, it was in some ways an early exercise in spin control, especially in its over-the-top excoriation of King George III’s alleged offenses. But in time it became — to use the title of Professor Maier’s 1997 book on the subject — “American Scripture,” with an impact on the national consciousness that far exceeded its revolutionary role….. – WaPo, 7-4-11
  • Victor Davis Hanson: America trusts its citizens: Putting confidence in individuals, and not the state or the bureaucracy, is what makes the U.S. an exceptional nation.
    For the last 235 years, on the Fourth of July, Americans have celebrated the birth of the United States, and the founding ideas that have made it the most powerful, wealthiest, and freest nation in the history of civilization.
    But today, there has never been more uncertainty about the future of America – and the anxiety transcends even the dismal economy and three foreign wars. President Obama prompted such introspection in April 2009, when he suggested that the United States, as one of many nations, was not necessarily any more exceptional than others. Recently, a New Yorker magazine article sympathetically described our new foreign policy as “leading from behind.”
    The administration not long ago sought from the United Nations and the Arab League – but not from Congress – authorization to attack Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya. Earlier, conservative opponents had made much of the president’s bows to Chinese and Saudi Arabian heads of state, which, coupled with serial apologies for America’s distant and recent past, were seen as symbolically deferential efforts to signal the world that the United States was at last not necessarily preeminent among nations.
    Yet there has never been any nation even remotely similar to America. Here’s why. Most revolutions seek to destroy the existing class order and use all-powerful government to mandate an equality of result rather than of opportunity – in the manner of the French Revolution’s slogan of “liberty, equality and fraternity” or the Russian Revolution’s “peace, land and bread.”… – PA Inquirer, 7-4-11
  • Around America, a spirited Fourth: In the nation’s capital, revelers celebrated the Fourth at the Mall in Washington. Festivities included a parade and fireworks.
    President Barack Obama thanked U.S. service members and their families Monday by hosting them on the South Lawn of the White House for a patriotic cookout and fireworks display.\ “After all that you do for our country every day, we wanted to give you guys a chance to get out of uniform, relax and have some fun,” Obama said.
    And fun was the order of the day as Americans celebrated Independence Day around the nation with flags, fireworks and food.
    Monday evening, revelers along the Hudson River readied for the Macy’s annual fireworks show, which usually attracts around 2 million people each year.
    In Washington, a display on the National Mall was scheduled to light up the night sky with the Lincoln Memorial as a backdrop.
    In key states around the nation, GOP presidential hopefuls for 2012 spent the day meeting with supporters at various events.
    Meanwhile, the rest of us settled in for a summer day as, well, American, as apple pie…. – CNN, 7-4-11
  • July 4th Menus in Years Past: July 4th cake Our idea of what types of food to serve on July 4th is pretty clear: hamburgers, hot dogs, salads, and a red-white-and blue dessert, perhaps, like the festive cake pictured.
    But how was Independence Day celebrated in the early days of the new republic? Food historian Sandra Oliver has delved into the past for answers, and was happy to share her findings with Epicurious.
    The news of Independence took time to trickle down through the country, she says, and celebrations were low-key local observances. “That’s pretty much the case for the first 30 or 40 years or so,” says Oliver…. – Epicurious, 7-4-11
  • Charles Cohen: History Bits About the Declaration of Independence and Its Main Author: For this July 4th Independence Day, we asked a historian to share a few stories about the Declaration of Independence and the people who drafted it.
    Charles Cohen, a professor of history and religious studies at U-W Madison, says there was genius behind Thomas Jefferson and others who crafted the document establishing the United States.
    But Cohen says misconceptions have also arisen about the Declaration and its authors…. – WUWM, 7-4-11Download Mp3
  • Some of the signers are obscure but Declaration of Independence endures: When you set off fireworks this holiday, remember to say “thanks” to William Whipple. Or tip your hat to Caesar Rodney as you throw hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. William who? Caesar what? Not exactly household names are they? But without them, and 54 other men like them, people wouldn’t have July 4 off from work, much less a country.
    At a crucial time 235 years ago, those 56 men signed their names to the Declaration of Independence, telling King George III theywere “mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.” The document was a momentous step, and the signers were the movers and shakers of their time. Yet, history has not been kind to many of them.
    “Some are well remembered, but the rest of them unfortunately go down in history as footnotes,” said Broome County Historian Gerald Smith…. – Press Connects, 7-3-11
  • What does our “Declaration of Independence” really mean?: Shocked again! Did YOU hear the news report that only 58% of us (Americans) know when our Declaration of Independence was signed on TV news last evening? The TV report continued to announce that a quarter of us (Americans) do NOT know from whom our founders declared INDEPENDENCE! Do YOU know?
    And now it is dawning the 4th of July 2011, the 235th anniversary of our DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE from GREAT BRITIAN. Did YOU know 1776 was the year? Did YOU know that GREAT BRITAIN was the “mother country” from which we did declare our INDEPENDENCE?
    The BRITISH “Daily Mail” online specifically puts its focus on our lack of knowledge as to whom we declared our INDEPENDENCE from, “While 76 per cent correctly said Great Britain, 19 per cent were unsure, and 5 per cent mentioned another country.”… – Gazette Extra, 7-4-11
  • Eric Slauter: Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness: How did these words become the most important in the Declaration of Independence? The answer starts with a small band of motivated Americans.
    In America’s revolutionary history, no document is more iconic than the Declaration of Independence, the short but sweeping statement issued by Congress on July 4, 1776, severing bonds with Britain and launching the Colonies on their path to independence.
    But what does the Declaration of Independence actually declare? For most Americans today, the answer is embodied in the opening sentence of the second paragraph: “We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness.�
    Perhaps no sentence in American history is better known or has had a greater impact than these powerful words about equality and rights. It is no wonder then that schoolchildren memorize this sentence, that adults consider it the founding creed of America’s civil religion, or that this and other newspapers will highlight these words on their editorial pages tomorrow…. – Boston Globe, 7-3-11
  • Steven Greiert: History lesson Nation’s Founding Fathers had plenty of blemishes: Dr. Steven Greiert, a history professor at Missouri Western State University, said a surprising number of people confuse the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution, which came more than a decade later.
    “I think it’s very important that Americans spend time looking at the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution to really understand what went on at that time,” Dr. Greiert said. “Know the difference between the two documents.”
    The document that declared the states independent from British rule meant something different to the men who drafted it than what it means to citizens today. “All men are created equal” was written by men who owned slaves, and nearly 100 years before the 15th amendment, which prohibits denying a person (male) the right to vote on “account of race, color or previous condition of servitude.”
    “What they really were saying was that all white men should have equal opportunity,” Dr. Greiert said of the drafters, many of whom were wealthy landowners. Women wouldn’t be considered “equal,” where voting was concerned, until 144 years after the Declaration of Independence was written…. – News Press Now, 7-4-11
  • Michael Steiner: History lesson Nation’s Founding Fathers had plenty of blemishes: Dr. Michael Steiner, a history professor at Northwest Missouri State University, references the study of historian Richard Shenkman, who said the public has a hard time accepting that the Founding Fathers “stooped to playing politics.” The public might also have a hard time swallowing that the founders didn’t approve of a popular vote for presidential elections.
    “Less well known is that the Founding Fathers didn’t particularly want the Electoral College to make the decision either,” wrote the author. “The expectation was that in most cases the electors would deadlock, throwing the contest into the House of Representatives.”
    Dr. Steiner said the more his students read about the Founding Fathers, the more human the drafters become.
    “And I believe that’s a good thing,” he said. “We create this mythic infallibility around them that is simply inaccurate. We want them to be better than they were. But they were normal living and breathing human beings like you and me. Thank goodness.”… – News Press Now, 7-4-11

History Buzz June 14, 2011: K-12 Students Score Low on Nation’s Report Card US History Tests

HISTORY BUZZ: HISTORY NEWS RECAP

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY NEWS:

“The history scores released today show that student performance is still too low. These results tell us that, as a country, we are failing to provide children with a high-quality, well-rounded education.” — Education Secretary Arne Duncan

  • Report: Students don’t know much about US history: U.S. students don’t know much about American history, according to results of a national test released Tuesday.
    Just 13 percent of high school seniors who took the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress — called the Nation’s Report Card — showed solid academic performance in American history. The two other grade levels tested didn’t perform much better, which just 22 percent of fourth-grade students and 18 percent of eighth-graders scoring proficient or better.
    The test quizzed students on topics ranging from colonization, the American Revolution and the Civil War to the contemporary United States. For example, one question asks fourth-graders why it was important for the U.S. to build canals in the 1800s…. – AP, 6-14-11
  • U.S. Students Remain Poor at History, Tests Show: American students are less proficient in their nation’s history than in any other subject, according to results of a nationwide test released on Tuesday, with most fourth graders unable to say why Abraham Lincoln was an important figure and few high school seniors able to identify China as the North Korean ally that fought American troops during the Korean War.
    Over all, 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders and 12 percent of high school seniors demonstrated proficiency on the exam, the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Federal officials said they were encouraged by a slight increase in eighth-grade scores since the last administration of the history test, in 2006. But even those gains offered little to celebrate, because, for example, fewer than a third of eighth graders could answer even a “seemingly easy question” asking them to identify an important advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolution, the government’s statement on the results said…. – NYT, 6-14-11
  • Less than a quarter of students proficient in history: U.S. students are making some gains in their knowledge of American History, but less than a quarter are scoring at or above the proficient level, according to a report released on Tuesday.
    The results of the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress showed just 20 percent of fourth graders, 17 percent of eighth graders, and 12 percent of twelfth graders were performing at or above the proficient level.
    The study defines the proficient level as representing solid academic performance and competency.
    Even so, for students in the fourth and eighth grades, average scores were the highest since 1994, when the study was first conducted.
    The average score for high school seniors, which had been rising in the period from 1994 to 2006, showed a two points drop since then on the 500 point scale used for the tests…. – Reuters, 6-14-11
  • History-Test Scores Show Scant Progress: Fewer than a quarter of American 12th-graders knew China was North Korea’s ally during the Korean War, and only 35% of fourth-graders knew the purpose of the Declaration of Independence, according to national history-test scores released Tuesday.
    The results from the National Assessment of Educational Progress revealed that U.S. schoolchildren have made little progress since 2006 in their understanding of key historical themes, including the basic principles of democracy and America’s role in the world.
    Only 20% of U.S. fourth-graders and 17% of eighth-graders who took the 2010 history exam were “proficient” or “advanced,” unchanged since the test was last administered in 2006. Proficient means students have a solid understanding of the material.
    The news was even more dire in high school, where 12% of 12th-graders were proficient, unchanged since 2006. More than half of all seniors posted scores at the lowest achievement level, “below basic.” While the nation’s fourth- and eighth-graders have seen a slight uptick in scores since the exam was first administered in 1994, 12th-graders haven’t…. – WSJ, 6-14-11
  • Federal report shows history scores rising slowly: Most fourth-graders who took a national U.S. history test last year were likely to be stumped if asked to identify a picture of Abraham Lincoln and give two reasons why he was important.
    A majority of eighth- graders would have had trouble articulating an advantage American forces had over the British during the Revolutionary War. And most 12th-graders were likely to miss if asked why the United States entered World War I.
    Those findings were included Tuesday in the first federal readout on history achievement in four years.
    Average scores for history on the National Assessment of Educational Progress — the federally funded series known as the nation’s report card — have risen slowly since 1994. But the portion of students who fail to reach a basic level of achievement remains larger than the share rated as proficient or advanced, particularly for high school seniors…. – WaPo, 6-14-11
  • Many Children Still Don’t Know Much About History: The good news: “At all grades, the average U.S. history scores in 2010 were higher than the scores in 1994, and the score for eighth-graders was also higher than in 2006.”
    The bad news: “Less than one-quarter of students perform at or above the ‘proficient’ level in 2010.”
    That’s the word this morning from the National Assessment of Educational Progress, part of the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics…. – Huff Post, 6-14-11
  • David Driscoll, chair of the National Assessment Governing Board in his Statement: “We are encouraged by the progress of our fourth and eighth graders, particularly by the gains being made by students who traditionally have been among the lowest performers. We need to bring even more of these students up to the Proficient level, and we want to see more progress overall by our twelfth graders, who will soon be active citizens.”
  • Diane Ravitch, an education historian who was invited by the national assessment’s governing board to review the results, said she was particularly disturbed by the fact that only 2 percent of 12th graders correctly answered a question concerning Brown v. Board of Education, which she called “very likely the most important decision” of the United States Supreme Court in the past seven decades. “The answer was right in front of them,” Ms. Ravitch said. “This is alarming.”
  • Diane Ravitch, a research professor at New York University and former U.S. assistant education secretary: “We need to make sure other subject like history, science and the arts are not forgotten in our pursuit of the basic skills.”
  • Sue Blanchette, president-elect of the National Council for Social Studies, a national association of K-12 and college social-studies teachers: “Everyone is going to participate in civic life by paying taxes, protesting against paying taxes, voting, and we must teach our children how to think critically about these issue. Clearly, we are not doing that.”

Special: Japan’s Earthquake & Tsunami, Obama & the World React

HISTORY BUZZ SPECIAL

History Buzz

By Bonnie K. Goodman

Ms. Goodman is the Editor of History Musings. She has a BA in History & Art History & a Masters in Library and Information Studies from McGill University, and has done graduate work in history at Concordia University.

HISTORY BUZZ SPECIAL: JAPAN’S EARTHQUAKE & TSUNAMI: THE HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

IN FOCUS:

Kyodo News, via Associated Press

  • 2011 Japanese Earthquake and Tsunami: A massive 8.9/9.0 magnitude earthquake hit the Pacific Ocean nearby Northeastern Japan at around 2:46pm on March 11 (JST) causing damage with blackouts, fire and tsunami. On this page we are providing the information regarding the disaster and damage with realtime updates. The large earthquake triggered a tsunami warning for countries all around the Pacific ocean…. – Google Crisis Response
  • EARTHQUAKE AND TSUNAMI HITS JAPAN
    On March 11, 2011, a huge earthquake struck Japan, churning up a devastating tsunami that swept over cities and farmland along the northern part of the country and threatened coastal areas throughout the Pacific.
    Walls of water whisked away houses and cars in northern Japan, where terrified residents fled the coast. Trains were shut down across central and northern Japan, including Tokyo, and air travel was severely disrupted. A ship carrying more than 100 people was swept away by the tsunami, Kyodo News reported. A fire broke out at the nuclear plant in Onagawa, but Japanese officials said it was extinguished.
    Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the disaster caused major damage across wide areas. Several hours after the quake, Kyodo News reported 59 deaths, but with rescue efforts just getting under way, the extent of injuries and damage is not yet known. The United States Geological Survey said the earthquake had a magnitude of 8.9, and occurred at about 230 miles northeast of Tokyo and at a revised depth of about 17 miles. The Japanese Meteorological Agency said the quake had a magnitude of 8.8, which would make it among the biggest in a century.
    The quake occurred at 2:46 p.m. Tokyo time and hit off Honshu, Japan’s most populous island. The quake was so powerful that buildings in central Tokyo, designed to withstand major earthquakes, swayed…. – NYT: Tidal Waves and Tsunamis
  • How people can help Japanese earthquake recovery: The U.S. government and other nations were sending personnel to assist Japan in its response to the earthquakes and tsunami that have devastated the country. U.S. aid groups were accepting private donations for relief efforts…. – AP, 3-13-11
  • Strength of deadly Japan quake increased to 9.0: …U.S. government scientists originally put the Japan quake at 8.9. The change to 9.0 means that the quake was about 1.5 times stronger than initially thought. The Japan quake is now the fourth largest in the world since 1900 behind the 2004 magnitude-9.1 Sumatra quake. – AP, 3-14-11
  • Earthquakes 101: How they happen Columbia University seismologist explains in simple terms; Says we’re in period of frequent mega-quakes:
    It all has to do with plates that make up the Earth’s crust moving around, seismologist James Gaherty, a Lamont associate research professor at Columbia University explained to “Early Show on Saturday Morning” co-anchor Rebecca Jarvis.
    “Most earthquakes occur on the boundaries of the very large tectonic plates that make up the outer rigid crust of the earth,” Gaherty said. “These plates are all shifting around relative to each other, in many places moving fairly rapidly, inches per year relative to each other, and they push against each other, some places going underneath, other places rubbing past each other. So, the western part of the Pacific Ocean, for example, the ‘Ring of Fire’ (earthquake hotbed along the Pacific Rim) — that all takes place on these tectonic boundaries. That’s where we get these earthquakes.
    “In this part of Japan, basically, the Pacific Plate is trying to move underneath the Earth’s crust where Japan sits. … It’s moving down underneath, constantly building up pressure as it tries to move underneath and, in this case, it releases that pressure, and these very large earthquakes occur in a very large area along the entire length of the coastline of Japan … on the order of 200 miles along the length… – CBS News, 3-12-11

HEADLINES:

  • Obama: US will stand by longtime ally Japan: President Barack Obama said Monday the U.S. will stand by long-time ally Japan as it recovers from last week’s earthquake and tsunami and the nuclear crisis that those twin disasters spawned. The White House said that despite the emergency, nuclear power remains “vital” to U.S. energy policy…. – AP, 3-14-11
  • Japan earthquake accelerated Earth’s rotation, study finds: By changing the distribution of mass on the earth, Japan’s earthquake sped up the planet’s rotation, shortening the day by 1.8 microseconds, a new analysis has found…. – CS Monitor, 3-14-11
  • For Elderly, Echoes of War’s Horrors: Hirosato Wako stared at the ruins of his small fishing hamlet: skeletons of shattered buildings, twisted lengths of corrugated steel, corpses with their hands twisted into claws. Only once before had he seen anything like it: World War II.
    “I lived through the Sendai air raids,” said Mr. Wako, 75, referring to the Allied bombings of the northeast’s largest city. “But this is much worse.”… – NYT, 3-15-11
  • Big quake is latest in cluster that began in ’04: The massive earthquake that shook Japan yesterday, creating a destructive tsunami, is the latest in a series of especially fierce temblors since 2004 — after four decades without such large quakes.
    No one knows, however, if the recent run of extreme earthquakes — including the 9.1 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean in 2004 and last year’s 8.8 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Chile — portends more large earthquakes around the Pacific Rim in the near future, because there is no way to predict exactly where, when, and how big an earthquake will be.
    There was a cluster of extremely large earthquakes from 1946 to 1964, a period that ended with the 9.2 magnitude Alaskan earthquake, the second largest since 1900.
    Now, after 40 years of less powerful seismic activity, there have been a dozen earthquakes of 8.0 magnitude or greater. Yesterday’s 8.9 magnitude earthquake was the fifth strongest since 1900…. – Boston Globe, 3-12-11
  • Powerful Quake and Tsunami Devastate Northern Japan: Rescuers struggled to reach survivors on Saturday morning as Japan reeled after an earthquake and a tsunami struck in deadly tandem. The 8.9-magnitude earthquake set off a devastating tsunami that sent walls of water washing over coastal cities in the north. Concerns mounted over possible radiation leaks from two nuclear plants near the earthquake zone.
    The death toll from the tsunami and earthquake, the strongest ever recorded in Japan, was in the hundreds, but Japanese news media quoted government officials as saying that it would almost certainly rise to more than 1,000. About 200 to 300 bodies were found along the waterline in Sendai, a port city in northeastern Japan and the closest major city to the epicenter.
    Thousands of homes were destroyed, many roads were impassable, trains and buses were not running, and power and cellphones remained down. On Saturday morning, the JR rail company said that there were three trains missing in parts of two northern prefectures…. – NYT, 3-12-11First Person: Reporter Describes Massive Quake

QUOTES:

  • The Earthquake in Japan and Tsunami Preparedness: Michelle and I send our deepest condolences to the people of Japan, particularly those who have lost loved ones in the earthquake and tsunamis. The United States stands ready to help the Japanese people in this time of great trial. The friendship and alliance between our two nations is unshakeable, and only strengthens our resolve to stand with the people of Japan as they overcome this tragedy. We will continue to closely monitor tsunamis around Japan and the Pacific going forward and we are asking all our citizens in the affected region to listen to their state and local officials as I have instructed FEMA to be ready to assist Hawaii and the rest of the US states and territories that could be affected. WH, 3-11-11
  • The Ongoing Response to the Earthquakes and Tsunami in Japan: White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has released an overview of the United States’ reponse in support of our friends in Japan.
  • * For information on how you can help directly, USAID has pulled together options for donating to support the response effort. * Any U.S Citizens in need of emergency assistance should send an e-mail to
  • JapanEmergencyUSC@state.gov with detailed information about their location and contact information, and monitor the U.S. Department of State website at travel.state.gov. Statement from the Press Secretary on the Ongoing U.S. Response to the Earthquakes and Tsunami in Japan
    Our thoughts and our prayers remain with the people of Japan. The President has been kept fully briefed on developments and the response throughout the weekend. As directed by the President, we have offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed as America will stand with Japan as they recover and rebuild. – WH, 3-13-11
  • Joseph Lieberman: “My thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan and all those affected by this devastating natural disaster, including the thousands of American citizens in Japan. America has no better friend and ally in Asia than Japan, and we in the United States must stand ready to mobilize any assistance we can to help as quickly as possible. The people of the United States stand in solidarity with the people of Japan through the difficult days ahead.
    “As chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, I am also monitoring closely the tsunami warnings that have been issued for parts of the United States, including Hawaii, Alaska, and parts of the West Coast. I urge all Americans in areas potentially affected to heed these advisories, follow the warnings that have been issued, and listen carefully for updates from authorities.” — Senator Joseph Lieberman (CT) – LIEBERMAN STATEMENT ON JAPANESE DISASTER
  • The President’s Press Conference: The Causes, Government Response, and Long-Term Solutions to Rising Gas Prices: But the bottom line is this. We’ve been having this conversation for nearly four decades now. Every few years, gas prices go up; politicians pull out the same old political playbook, and then nothing changes. And when prices go back down, we slip back into a trance. And then when prices go up, suddenly we’re shocked. I think the American people are tired of that. I think they’re tired of talk. We’ve got to work together – Democrats, Republicans, and everybody in between –- to finally secure America’s energy future. I don’t want to leave this for the next President, and none of us should want to leave it for our kids…. – WH, 3-11-11
  • News Conference by the President, South Court Auditorium: THE PRESIDENT: Good morning, everybody. Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier today.
    First and foremost, our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Japan. This is a potentially catastrophic disaster and the images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking. Japan is, of course, one of our strongest and closest allies, and this morning I spoke with Prime Minister Kan. On behalf of the American people, I conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families, and I offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed.
    We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan, and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed. The Defense Department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan. U.S. Embassy personnel in Tokyo have moved to an offsite location. And the State Department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens who are in the country.
    Tsunami warnings have been issued across the Pacific, and we’ve already seen initial waves from the tsunami come ashore on Guam and other U.S. territories, in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as on — along the West Coast. Here in the United States, there hasn’t been any major damage so far. But we’re taking this very seriously, and we are monitoring the situation very closely. FEMA is fully activated and is coordinating with state and local officials to support these regions as necessary. And let me just stress that if people are told to evacuate, do as you are told.
    Today’s events remind us of just how fragile life can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region and we’re going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy…. – WH, 3-11-11
  • The Earthquake in Japan and Tsunami Preparedness: Good morning, everybody. Before I begin, I want to say a few words about the terrible earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan earlier today.
    First and foremost, our thoughts and our prayers are with the people of Japan. This is a potentially catastrophic disaster and the images of destruction and flooding coming out of Japan are simply heartbreaking. Japan is, of course, one of our strongest and closest allies, and this morning I spoke with Prime Minister Kan. On behalf of the American people, I conveyed our deepest condolences, especially to the victims and their families, and I offered our Japanese friends whatever assistance is needed.
    We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan, and another is on its way. We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed. The Defense Department is working to account for all our military personnel in Japan. U.S. Embassy personnel in Tokyo have moved to an offsite location. And the State Department is working to account for and assist any and all American citizens who are in the country.
    Tsunami warnings have been issued across the Pacific, and we’ve already seen initial waves from the tsunami come ashore on Guam and other U.S. territories, in Alaska and Hawaii, as well as on — along the West Coast. Here in the United States, there hasn’t been any major damage so far. But we’re taking this very seriously, and we are monitoring the situation very closely. FEMA is fully activated and is coordinating with state and local officials to support these regions as necessary. And let me just stress that if people are told to evacuate, do as you are told.
    Today’s events remind us of just how fragile life can be. Our hearts go out to our friends in Japan and across the region and we’re going to stand with them as they recover and rebuild from this tragedy…. – WH, 3-11-11

HISTORIAN VIEWPOINTS:

  • Kerry Smith: History of Earthquakes in Japan: Earthquakes and tsunamis are woven into the psyche of Japan. Kerry Smith, professor of history at Brown and author of “A Time of Crisis: Japan, the Great Depression, and Rural Revitalization,” talks about the immediacy of watching disaster unfold and the effect that may have on contemporary Japanese society. He also remembers how the natural history of the country has become embedded in the social and political history of the country…. – The Takeaway, 3-11-11Download Mp3
  • Ken Osgood: FAU Professor stranded on train during Japanese earthquake Dr. Osgood felt the train rock “like a boat.”: Some South Florida residents found themselves caught right in the middle of the calamity in Japan. An FAU history professor and his wife experienced one of the worst natural disasters in history when the massive quake struck. Dr. Ken Osgood teaches in Palm Beach County; however, he’s in Massachusetts right now, working as a visiting professor. On Friday, he and his wife, Rachel, were on a bullet train outside of Tokyo when everything came to a stop.
    “The train starts rocking and it feels like a boat on the tracks,” said Dr. Osgood. “When you look out the window, it just looked like our train was rocking,” he said, “like a really strong wind was blowing a car on the freeway.”
    “It’s one of those weird things where you’re seeing it on the screen and the announcer is talking in a language you don’t understand,” he said. “We still had a difficult time comprehending the magnitude of this thing.”
    “We were in the 7th floor of a hotel so we definitely experienced them,” he explained. “At one point, while I was taking a shower, my wife saw the whole room shake and was deeply panicked by the whole thing.”
    “That sent my heart rate soaring,” Osgood admitted. “Both my wife and I nearly went into a panic. We said, “We’ve got to get the hell out of here.”
    “We didn’t breathe a sigh of relief until we felt the wheels come off the ground and everyone on the plane cheered and clapped,” he said. “The only thing we could think about was our kids,” Osgood said. “There were moments when each of us thought we might not see them again.”
    “They must have thought we were nuts because we came in through security bawling our eyes out and held them tight like they were going to blow away,” he said… – WPTV, 3-14-11
  • FAU professor tells of horror in Japan: “We had a harrowing 36 hours — easily the most stressful and frightening of our lives. We were on a bullet train to Tokyo when the earthquake struck. The train stopped. All power off. It rocked like a boat on the tracks. Then we were stuck on the train for five hours, much of it without power.
    “Because of the language barrier, and the general confusion, only gradually did we learn that Japan had been struck by the largest earthquake in its history, the fifth largest ever recorded anywhere. Slowly, very slowly, we began moving again. When we finally pulled into Tokyo, we were among thousands of stranded people.
    “After walking the city for several hours in search of a place to go, we spent the night sleeping in a hotel lobby. The staff graciously fed us soup and provided us showers. That night, Tokyo experienced one aftershock after another, some 50 of them, many above 6.0. All trains and buses were stopped. Phone lines were jammed. We didn’t know if we could make it to the airport, or if, upon arriving there, we would be stranded with throngs of other passengers seeking a way out.
    “I called my Dad in the U.S. time and again, while he made call after call to the airlines seeking a way for us to get home. Holding on to what I was sure was a very vain hope, we headed to the subway the next day in the hopes of finding some way home. With a throng of people, we boarded one of the very first trains to go north towards Narita airport.
    “It was a slow ride. En route we received word that the nuclear reactor to the north of us was releasing radioactivity to prevent it from going critical. The previous day we had visited Hiroshima, and the news sent our heart rates soaring. We imagined the worst.
    “Then miracles happened. We made it to the airport without incident. With Rachel crying away at the ticket counter, and me barely keeping it together, we got tickets on the next outbound flight to the US. We breezed through security, customs, and passport control, arriving at our gate minutes before boarding began. We loaded the plane quickly, and we ended up on a virtually empty aircraft all to ourselves.
    “Earplugs, eye masks, and sleeping pills did the trick — woke up about an hour before landing. I was never so happy to be on a plane, and never has anyone been so happy to be in Detroit.
    “Many people helped along the way. So many kind Japanese stopped to see if we, the foreigners, were OK. Many offered help or gave us food or water. Many helped translate. Many gave directions. Many expressed concern for our well being. I still can’t believe the incredible kindness of strangers, the remarkable calmness and friendliness of the Japanese.
    “We feel so fortunate to be home, and we hugged our kids to the point of tears when we arrived in Albany. We are still shaken by the stress of it all. We send many prayers to our Japanese friends, and we send even more thanks to the many of our friends here who prayed for us too.
    “Today we went to church, and the closing hymn had the chorus: “Bring us home.” Amen to that.” – Sun Sentinel, 3-14-11
  • Joseph Laker: Local Professor Reflects On Living In Japan, Earthquake Devastation: Joseph Laker, a history professor at Wheeling Jesuit University, said Japanese are excellent at responding to natural disasters, but this is on a whole different level. Laker taught English and lived in Japan for about four nonconsecutive years and has been back many times. Recently, he received an e-mail from a friend and former student in Tokyo, miles away from the disaster but still affected.
    “Their traffic was considerably disrupted. Planes, trains, car traffic. He found it was impossible to get a way to get home except by walking. It took him seven hours to go from his office to walk home,” Laker said. “The magnitude of the disaster can only become apparent over a long period of time,” he said…. – WTOV9, 3-14-11
  • Kerry Smith; James McClain: Students, Brown University professor safe in Japan: Kerry Smith, chair of the East Asian Studies Department and associate professor of history, said he believes a comparison will be drawn between national relief efforts today and the response to the 1995 Hanshin earthquake in Kobe, Japan. “The response appears to be much better organized,” Smith said, adding that aid appears to be moving at a “relatively quick pace.”
    James McClain, a professor of history who is on leave this academic year to teach at the Kyoto Consortium, wrote in an e-mail to The Herald that CNN coverage of the earthquake and tsunami appears “needlessly alarming” thus far. But Japanese media coverage of the tsunami appears “dispassionately objective,” he wrote…. “The Japanese prime minister, a person not given to exaggeration, said that this is the worst disaster to strike Japan since World War II,” he wrote. “Indeed, to me, some of the scenes of the damaged cities bear an eerie resemblance to the Japanese cities destroyed by American fire-bombing in WWII.”
    Because of the damage inflicted by the earthquake and tsunami, several nuclear reactors located near Tokyo are in danger of leaking radiation. McClain wrote that the Japanese rely on these power sources for one-third of their electrical energy, and these reactors are mostly concentrated in areas at risk for earthquakes.
    “The Japanese themselves have long debated the wisdom of following such an energy policy,” he wrote, adding that “many — remembering that the Japanese are the only persons who have experienced an atomic bombing — have been deeply apprehensive about the accidental release of radioactivity.” – Brown Daily Herald,
  • History proves Japan can rebound: “They have lived through such big disasters in the past,” University of Regina International Studies professor Nilgun Onder said. It was the same kind of scene in 1945, after two atomic bombs were dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima.
    History professor Philip Charrier makes his living studying Japan, and believes the country will once again be able to find its tracking. “Certainly by 1950, the country was advancing quickly,” Charrier explained. “Economic performance was already quite impressive.”
    Japan is no stranger to devastation. The country has seen its fair share of earthquakes over the decades. Yet, according to Charrier, the people will still approach this disaster with a positive attitude.
    “The people are trained and conditioned to deal with (disasters)” Charrier said…. – Global TV BC, 3-14-11
  • History Lesson: Massive Earthquake in Pacific Northwest Triggered Japan Tsunami in 1700: About 300 years before the current earthquake/tsunami disaster in Japan, another wave of water swept the Island nation, wreaking havoc and laying waste to entire coastal villages. That tsunami was caused by a massive quake–estimated to have been a magnitude 9.0–that rocked the entire Pacific coast from British Columbia to northern California. According to a U.S. Geological Survey expert and a former University of Washington scientist, the great tremor of 1700 and ensuing “orphan tsunami” could happen again, and Americans should learn from both it and the present situation in Japan.
    David Yamaguchi and Brian Atwater are the authors of “The Orphan Tsunami of 1700–Japanese Clues to a Parent Earthquake in North America,” published in 2005 by University of Washington Press. The tome details a giant–yet, prior to their research, unconfirmed –earthquake that struck the Washington coast and Puget Sound area in the year 1700.
    RYamaguchi says the current chaos in Japan is keeping him glued to the TV. About a decade ago, when he was researching the book, he traveled to some of the same coastal cities that have been hit by the tsunami. Back then he saw evidence of previous tsunamis–things like “sand sheets,” mud and silt deposits left by the waves sweeping over normally dry land–but had a difficult time envisioning the same thing happening in the present.
    “It’s just as fascinating and scary to us as it is to you,” says Yamaguchi, formerly a professor of dendrology at UW. “All of this stuff we’ve been studying for years. Now, to see it unroll on video footage on TV it’s just amazing.”
    Back in the mid-1990s, Yamaguchi and Atwater, a USGS researcher, suspected that a massive quake had struck the Puget Sound at some point in the past three centuries. Although no scientific evidence existed at the time, they had several oral accounts from Native Americans, such as this one, from the diary of explorer James Swan:
    “The water receded and left Neah Bay dry for four days and became very warm. It then rose again without any swell or waves and submerged the whole ofthe cape and in fact the whole country except the mountains . . . many canoes came down in trees and were destroyed and many lives were lost.”
    They teamed up with a Japanese geologist, Satake Kenji, who combed meticulously kept Japanese records for description of tsunamis in that era. That yielded stories like this one, from the town of Miyako in 1700 — the same place where more than 1,000 bodies reportedly washed ashore today:
    “The waters drove villagers to high ground, damaged salt kilns and fishing shacks, drowned paddies and crops, ascended a cattle moat, entered a government storehouse, washed away more than a dozen buildings, and spread flames that consumed twenty more. Return flows contributed to a nautical accident that sank tons of rice and killed two sailors. Samurai magistrates issued rice to afflicted villagers and requested lumber for those left homeless.”
    The American scientists then analyzed tree rings from stumps submerged in shallow coastal waters in Washington, and used radiocarbon dating to pinpoint where and how the 1700 quake occurred. What the record shows is tremendous activity on the fault line between the Cascadia and Juan de Fuca tectonic plates…. – Seatlle Weekly, 3-14-11

American Historical Association’s (AHA) 125th Annual Meeting / Conference: Daily Recaps

125th Annual Meeting

Daily Updates Available at http://blog.historians.org/

On Twitter: @AHA2011

Related blogs about American Historical Association

AHA Today

Also, be sure to follow the AHA on Twitter (@AHAhistorians) to stay up-to-date with AHA news!

blog.historians.org/

Related blogs about American Historical Association Annual Meeting…

Boston, MA
January 6–9, 2011

Theme: History, Society, and the Sacred

2011 Logo

The 2011 Annual Meeting will be held January 6–9, 2011 in Boston with events scheduled in the John B. Hynes Memorial Veterans Convention Center, the Boston Marriott Copley Place (headquarters), and the Westin Copley Place Boston.

Meeting Program

125th Annual Meeting Concludes

Sunday Overview – 125th Annual Meeting

By Elisabeth Grant

USS Constitution Museum shipIt’s the last day of the 125th Annual Meeting but there are still quite a few sessions and events going on today.

Sessions
Here are just a few of the sessions taking place today. See a list of all of today’s sessions in the online Program.

The 2011 General Meeting – Presidential Address and Prizes Recipients

By Elisabeth Grant

Presidential Address
Barbara D. Metcalf presented her presidential address: “Islam and Power in Colonial India: The Making and Unmaking of a Muslim Prince(ss)” at the AHA’s General Meeting last night. In her address she told of Shah Jahan Begam, the third female ruler of the Bhopal state of India, and how she navigated Islamic religious traditions, colonialism, and the complexities of power. The address will be printed in the February 2011 issue of the American Historical Review, or you can listen to the audio of it here now:

Audio of Barbara D. Metcalf’s presidential address,
“Islam and Power in Colonial India: The Making and Unmaking of a Muslim Prince(ss)”

Awards
Preceding the presidential address, AHA President-Elect Anthony Grafton presented 20 book prizes, numerous teaching prizes, awards for scholarly distinction, and other honors…. See the complete list of recipients, as noted in the November issue of Perspectives on History.

All Clear at Hynes After Alarm

Around 10 a.m. this morning an air conditioning unit on the 4th floor triggered an alarm at the Hynes Convention Center. The fire department investigated and an all clear was given at 10:10 a.m.

Saturday Overview – 125th Annual MeetingBeacon Hill

By Elisabeth Grant

AHA members are welcome to attend the AHA’s Business meeting at 4:45 p.m. this evening, to hear reports from members of the AHA’s Council, divisions, and committees. Also going on tonight is a free screening of The Conspirator (just register to attend), followed by a panel discussion with the film’s consulting historians, as well as a reception. Read on for more about today’s sessions, films, and receptions…..

Opening of the 125th Annual Meeting

By Elisabeth Grant

AHA President Barbara D. Metcalf warmly welcomed attendees at the Opening of the 125th Annual Meeting last evening in the Marriott’s Grand Ballroom. She began by taking a moment to acknowledge the untimely death of David Weber, a “cherished human being and distinguished historian,” who’d served as vice president of the AHA’s Professional Division….

Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award
After the opening words, the first event of the evening was the presentation of the Seventh Theodore Roosevelt-Woodrow Wilson Public Service Award to Lee H. Hamilton, former Congressman, vice chair of the 9/11 Commission, and retired president and director of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.

Plenary SessionArnita Jones
Following the award presentation was the plenary session: “History and the Public: A Session in Honor of Arnita Jones’ Commitment to the Public Work of Historians.” New AHA Executive Director James Grossman chaired the session, which honored his predecessor Arnita Jones. Grossman spoke of Americans appetite for history, and how historians need a more active role in public culture to bring in the historical perspective….

Council Decisions January 6, 2011

At the semi-annual meeting of the Council of the American Historical Association yesterday, the governing board made the final decisions…

Friday Overview – 125th Annual Meeting

By Elisabeth Grant

Custom House, BostonToday’s culminating event is the General Meeting, which includes the presentation of this year’s awards, prizes, and honors and Barbara D. Metcalf’s presidential address. The winner of this year’s John O’Connor Film Prize is The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, it will be screened this morning at 9:30 a.m. in room 210 of the Hynes Convention Center. Read on for a round up of other sessions, open forums, films, and events taking place today at the 125th Annual Meeting…

Thursday Overview – 125th Annual Meeting

By Elisabeth Grant

Today is the first day of the 125th Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, being held in Boston. This year’s theme, “History, Society, and the Sacred,” is appropriate for Boston, which is “a location redolent of numerous sacred sites and practices.” Over 300 sessions will be presented at this year’s meeting, covering a wide variety of time periods, locations, and topics. Find them all in the online Program of the 125th Annual Meeting.

For those attending the meeting, welcome to Boston! And for those reading from home, you can stay up-to-date with Annual Meeting sessions and events over the next few days (January 6th through 9th) with daily morning overviews right here on AHA Today….READ MORE

From the 125th Annual Meeting column of the November 2010 issue of Perspectives on History


Highlights of the 125th Annual MeetingFaneuil Hall

The 125th annual meeting of the American Historical Association will be held January 6–2011, in Boston at the Boston Marriott Copley Place (headquarters), Sheraton Boston (co-headquarters), Hynes Convention Center, and Westin Copley Place Boston. More

By Sharon K. Tunethan 1,700 scholars, including 236 from other countries, will participate in 397 AHA and affiliate sessions. Fifty-seven specialized affiliated societies and other groups will cosponsor sessions or hold separate luncheons, sessions, and meetings. AHA and affiliate events are summarized in the front portion of the Program, beginning on page 16 and 19, respectively, with details of sessions listed in the main body of the program. AHA-sponsored session details begin on page 39 with affiliated society sessions following in alphabetical order in each time period…READ MOR

Sessions of Interest to H-Net Groups and Others

By Elisabeth Grant and Matthew Keough

The discussion lists at H-Net are much like the sessions at the AHA’s annual meetings, in that they both focus on a wide variety of specific topics in history, covering nearly every time period, region, and theme that historians study. With this in mind, the AHA’s Matthew Keough sat down and found sessions at the 125th Annual Meeting and organized them into the same categories as a number of H-Net lists. See below for a few examples from his exhaustive spreadsheet. These of course aren’t all the sessions in each of these categories, but rather just a sampling….READ MORE

Theodore Sorensen, top JFK aide, dies at 82

George Tames/The New York Times

Theodore C. Sorensen with President John F. Kennedy in the Oval Office in 1961. More Photos »

  • Theodore Sorensen, top JFK aide, dies at 82 in NY: Theodore C. Sorensen, the studious, star-struck aide to President John F. Kennedy whose crisp, poetic turns of phrase helped idealize and immortalize a tragically brief administration, died Sunday. He was 82. He died at noon at Manhattan’s New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center from complications of a stroke, his widow, Gillian Sorensen, said. Sorensen had been in poor health in recent years and a stroke in 2001 left him with such poor eyesight that he was unable to write his memoir, “Counselor,” published in 2008. Instead, he had to dictate it to an assistant. President Barack Obama issued a statement saying he was saddened to learn of Sorensen’s death.
    “I know his legacy will live on in the words he wrote, the causes he advanced, and the hearts of anyone who is inspired by the promise of a new frontier,” Obama said.
    Hours after his death, Gillian Sorensen told The Associated Press that although a first stroke nine years ago robbed him of much of his sight, “he managed to get back up and going.” She said he continued to give speeches and traveled, and just two weeks ago, he collaborated on the lyrics to music to be performed in January at the Kennedy Center in Washington — a symphony commemorating a half-century since Kennedy took office. “I can really say he lived to be 82 and he lived to the fullest and to the last — with vigor and pleasure and engagement,” said Gillian Sorensen, who was at his side to the last. “His mind, his memory, his speech were unaffected.” Her husband was hospitalized Oct. 22 after a second stroke that was “devastating,” she said…. – AP, 10-31-10
  • Theodore C. Sorensen, Kennedy Counselor and Wordsmith, Dies at 82: Theodore C. Sorensen, one of the last living links to John F. Kennedy’s administration, who did much to shape the president’s narrative, image and legacy, died Sunday in Manhattan. He was 82.
    He died in NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital from complications of a stroke he suffered a week ago, his wife, Gillian Sorensen, said. A previous stroke, in 2001, had taken away much of his eyesight, but in its aftermath “he led a very full life, speaking, writing, creating new enterprises and mentoring many young people,” she added.
    Mr. Sorensen once said he suspected the headline on his obituary would read: “Theodore Sorenson, Kennedy Speechwriter,” misspelling his name and misjudging his work, but he was much more. He was a political strategist and a trusted adviser on everything from election tactics to foreign policy.
    “You need a mind like Sorensen’s around you that’s clicking and clicking all the time,” President Kennedy’s archrival, Richard M. Nixon, said in 1962. He said Mr. Sorensen had “a rare gift”: the knack of finding phrases that penetrated the American psyche.
    He was best known for working with Mr. Kennedy on passages of soaring rhetoric, including the 1961 inaugural address proclaiming that “the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans” and challenging citizens: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.” Mr. Sorensen drew on the Bible, the Gettysburg Address and the words of Thomas Jefferson and Winston Churchill as he helped hone and polish that speech…. – NYT, 10-31-10
  • JFK Adviser Theodore Sorensen (1928-2010): A Remembrance: When I first told my Uncle Ted that I was engaged, he asked without hesitation, “Is she a Democrat?” He was only half joking. It’s not that Theodore C. Sorensen, my father’s brother and the man known as the “intellectual blood bank” of President John F. Kennedy was an ideologue; he merely believed to his core that the vision of his party was crucial to the future of his family, his country and his world. And well he should — it was he, through his collaboration with Kennedy, that most elegantly and timelessly gave voice to the Democratic ideals that have come to shape modern American politics. The last of the Kennedy old guard, Sorensen was a tireless defender of his legacy. Never, privately or publicly in the years since, did he take credit for the words or actions that made the 35th President an icon of the office. The many accounts of his intimacy with the political, personal and policy decisions of Kennedy’s tenure are a testament both to the humility of the man, and his unwavering belief that what he accomplished was far more than professional triumph…. – Time, 10-31-10
%d bloggers like this: