History Buzz August 16-30, 2010: Hurricane Katrina 5 Years Later


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



  • Douglas Brinkley: What Happened To Our National Conversation On Race And Poverty?: Later Brian Williams asked historian Douglas Brinkley “what happened to that national conversation we were all supposed to have about what was exposed by Katrina?” Brinkley says we “got amnesia” and “forget quickly.” One might suggest the country would be less apt to get “amnesia” and “forget” if powerful media folks like NBC and it’s uber popular anchors were more apt to shine a consistent light on the problem in the intervening years between big anniversaries. One might also suggest that we are in fact embroiled in a national conversation about race, it just simply does not look like what anyone imagined or hoped it would five years ago…. – mediaite.com, 8-29-10
  • Edward Kohn: Before Katrina, There Was New York’s 1896 Heat Wave What the government can learn from perhaps America’s most forgotten natural disaster: Long before Americans could retreat into air conditioning to escape the worst of the summer, a 10-day heat wave claimed the lives of about 1,300 New Yorkers in “the deadliest, urban heat disaster in American history,” writes historian Edward Kohn. The year was 1896, when poor laborers living in crowded tenements had few options for relief from the heat. In Hot Time in the Old Town: The Great Heat Wave of 1896 and the Making of Theodore Roosevelt, Kohn recounts how Roosevelt, then New York City police commissioner, came to the aid of the working masses. Kohn, an assistant professor of American history at Bilkent University in Turkey, recently spoke with U.S. News. Excerpts…. – US News, 8-27-10


  • Carlos E. Cortes: ‘Dora The Explorer’ may change a whole generation: So producers turned to such experts as historian Carlos E. Cortes, author of “The Children Are Watching” and “The Making — and Remaking — of a Multiculturalist.” “He was absolutely instrumental in helping us find the best way to put Dora forward in terms of culture,” said Gifford. Cortes advised that Dora should always be inclusive, so producers decided not to give her a particular country of origin.
    “I am delighted with the way ‘Dora’ has come out, particularly the impact it seems to be having in young people,” said Cortes, professor emeritus of history at the University of California, Riverside. “The Latino kids take pride having Dora as a lead character and non-Latino kids can embrace someone different.”… – AP, 8-27-10
  • Harold Seymour, Dorothy Jane Mills: Author Credit for Widow of Baseball Historian: In baseball terms you might describe it as a walk-off hit deep into extra innings. Dorothy Jane Mills, the widow of the revered baseball historian Harold Seymour, has been belatedly recognized by Oxford University Press as co-author, along with Mr. Seymour, of three landmark scholarly works on the history of baseball, Publishers Weekly reported. Tim Bent, Oxford’s executive editor, said that Ms. Mills, 81, formerly Dorothy Z. Seymour, would be given formal credit and that her name would now accompany her late husband’s on the covers and title pages of “Baseball: The Early Years” (1960); “Baseball: The Golden Age,” (1971); and “Baseball: The People’s Game” (1991)…. = NYT (8-22-10)
  • New OAH Membership Dues Structure Adopted: In conjunction with the recently adopted strategic plan, the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians has enacted a simplified dues structure for individual members. After studying the dues structures of other learned societies, the Board concluded that the organization needed fewer membership categories. The new structure is not only simpler, but creates a lower-priced membership category for professional historians who are in the first three years of their careers. In addition, the revised structure will reduce paperwork in the OAH office, and it will allow staff to concentrate on improving member service, develop new member benefits, and better promote the organization…. – OAH (8-12-10)
  • Darrell Lewis: Historian writes about Leichhardt findings: A historian studying the life of Ludwig Leichhardt has begun collating findings about the famous explorer. National Museum of Australia spokesman Dr Darrell Lewis has been tracking Leichhardt’s trail through Queensland and central Australia. Leichhardt and his expedition party disappeared in 1848 and Dr Lewis has been looking for trees marked with an “L” to trace the journey…. – abc.net.au (8-17-10)
  • Katherine Rowe, Dan Cohen: Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review: For professors, publishing in elite journals is an unavoidable part of university life. The grueling process of subjecting work to the up-or-down judgment of credentialed scholarly peers has been a cornerstone of academic culture since at least the mid-20th century. Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career- making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience…. – NYT (8-23-10)
  • Historians Join Effort To Preserve Federal K-12 History Education Funding: In July, the National Coalition for History (NCH), and ten other NCH members joined forces with over 20 educational organizations representing other K-12 academic disciplines in issuing a statement to Congress and the Administration calling for the continued robust funding of core academic subjects including history. This includes maintenance of discrete budget lines—such as the Teaching American History grants—for each discipline…. – Lee White at the National Coalition for History (8-6-10)


  • John B. Judis: Defending ‘The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama’: In the week since my story on “the unnecessary fall of Barack Obama” came out, I have been accused of being “hysterical” and “ahistorical,” of glorifying Ronald Reagan, of “moving away from” my “previously clear-eyed stance on the primary source of Obama’s troubles,” and of relying on the same “white-working-class Theory of Everything” I have been “peddling … ever since summer 2008.” And that’s just in public. Privately, the criticism has been far more withering and has included words far too incendiary to print in a family magazine. But I’ve spent a lot of time considering some of the (quite thought-provoking and reasonable) counter-arguments to my piece, and I’d like to take the opportunity to respond to them here…. – The New Republic (8-25-10)
  • John B. Judis: The Unnecessary Fall of Barack Obama: On April 14, 2009, as Barack Obama’s standing in the polls was beginning to slip, and as Tea Party demonstrators were amassing in Washington for tax day protests, the president gave a lengthy address at Georgetown University explaining the “five pillars” of his economic policies. The speech was intended to promote a memorable slogan for Obama’s program that would evoke comparisons with Theodore Roosevelt’s Square Deal, Franklin Rooseveltind’s New Deal, and Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society…. – The New Republic (8-12-10)
  • Alan Brinkley: ‘Mad Men’: A Conversation (Season 4, Episode 5): Much of episode 5 was about competition — a particularly deceitful kind of competition that manipulated what was supposed to be a strictly regimented process of finding an advertiser for Honda. After Roger’s implausible explosion of anti-Japanese bigotry (20 years after the end of World War II), Don tricks his competitors to violate the rules of the competition — leaving Don (and Cooper, Sterling, Draper, Pryce) one of the only competitors still standing. Don recognizes the damage done to their bid by Roger’s explosion, but he also knows that the Japanese will respond to presenting himself as the honorable man as opposed to the cheating of his rivals, which Don had tricked them into doing. (In the end, Draper’s deceit is outdone by the Japanese, who apparently never had any intention of changing agencies.) This was a clever plot line, despite Roger’s ugliness, and it revives our image of Don as the man who can always find a way out of a dilemma — a talent he seemed to have lost in the last few episodes…. – WSJ, 8-23-10
  • Daniel J. Flynn: An FBI History of Howard Zinn: In the late 1940s and early 1950s, as Joseph Stalin entered the final years of his reign of terror in the Soviet Union, twentysomething Howard Zinn served as a foot soldier in the Communist Party of the United States of America—this according to recently declassified FBI files. Zinn, the Marxist historian and progressive hero who died in January, may also have lied to the FBI about his Communist Party membership. Is it at all surprising that someone who got history so wrong stood on the wrong side of history?…. – City Journal (8-19-10)


  • Of Thee He Sings Historian Sean Wilentz claims Bob Dylan as one of his own: Sean Wilentz, a Princeton history professor and author of Bob Dylan in America, has agreed to lead a tour of Dylan’s Greenwich Village, a place he knows better than any other. We visit the singer’s former apartment on West 4th Street, above what’s now a sex shop; the clubs he played along Macdougal Street; the building where he first encountered Allen Ginsberg. “This whole neighborhood has such a long history that there is a sense—for some of us, anyway—of revenants, of ghosts,” says Wilentz, better-heeled than your average tour guide, in Brooks Brothers and custom-made shoes. “Dylan talks about walking around here and thinking that it really is 1880. I don’t mean to be mystical or spooky, but if you know what’s going on, you can’t help but feel it.” Although Wilentz has done plenty of journalism, the Dylan book is a departure from his hardbound oeuvre, which includes a 1,100-page tome on American democracy and biographies of Andrew Jackson and Ronald Reagan. Bob Dylan in America may be an unusually rigorous Dylan book, but “it was easier to do than the others,” he says, “because in effect I’ve been doing the research all my life.”… – NY Mag, 8-22-10
  • Alex Heard: Where Hatred Ruled: THE EYES OF WILLIE MCGEE A Tragedy of Race, Sex, and Secrets in the Jim Crow South First, the facts. Willie McGee, an African-American driver of a ­grocery-delivery truck, was accused of raping a white woman, Willette Hawkins, in November 1945 in Laurel, Miss. After deliberating for less than three minutes, an all-white jury sentenced him to death, and the “small-town crime,” as Alex Heard writes, “became famous around the world.” Bella Abzug, long before she became a congress­woman, served as McGee’s defense lawyer during the appeals process, working on a case that today evokes the story line of Harper Lee’s “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Albert Einstein, Norman Mailer and Paul Robeson supported McGee, and left-wing journalists ranted about the trial in The Daily Worker. In contrast to their reports, “The Eyes of Willie McGee” does not crackle with rage, despite its horrific ending: on May 8, 1951, McGee was electrocuted in the local courthouse, leaving an odor of burned flesh in the room…. – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Richard Rhodes: Nuclear Family: THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons …So ends the first paragraph of the first book in Richard Rhodes’s four-volume epic. In that book, “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1988, Rhodes explained how exactly the United States came to build atomic weapons. His next volume, “Dark Sun,” traced the early years of the cold war. “Arsenals of Folly” told the story of its end. And now “The Twilight of the Bombs” describes the fate of nuclear weapons since the Soviet Union ­collapsed…. – NYT, 8-29-10
  • Alex Butterworth’s “The World That Never Was,” a history of anarchism: THE WORLD THAT NEVER WAS A True Story of Dreamers, Schemers, Anarchists and Secret Agents Arguably, no single act produces a more immediate and lasting effect on history than a political assassination. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, such deeds were frequently the work of the anarchist movement, which rose from the anger and frustration of the working class. However, as British historian Alex Butterworth demonstrates in “The World That Never Was,” too seldom was it acknowledged that these killers were also moved by the highest ideals and dreams of utopia…. – WaPo, 8-27-10
  • Carolyn Warner: Review of “The Words of Extraordinary Women,” a book of quotations: THE WORDS OF EXTRAORDINARY WOMEN Selected and Introduced Perhaps Shirley Temple Black said it best: “Nothing crushes freedom as substantially as a tank.”
    Or maybe Lady Bird Johnson said it best: “The clash of ideas is the sound of freedom.”
    So many women have said it so well on so many subjects — politics, the arts, humor, success, family, faith, education — that businesswoman Carolyn Warner has collected their pithy thoughts and compiled them in a slim, useful volume, “The Words of Extraordinary Women.” Useful because as Warner, founder of Corporate Education Consulting, says, the right quotation can nail home your point in just about any setting…. – WaPo, 8-27-10
  • Kevin Starr: The Building of a Symbol: How It Got There, and Why It’s Orange: GOLDEN GATE The Life and Times of America’s Greatest Bridge …Despite the many existing odes to the Golden Gate Bridge, Kevin Starr seems particularly well equipped to write a biography of that famous orange bridge. The author of more than half a dozen histories of California, Mr. Starr — a professor of history at the University of Southern California and state librarian of California emeritus — has written frequently about the myths and metaphors that festoon the Golden State, and he seems to instinctively understand the place that the Golden Gate Bridge has come to occupy in the national imagination as a symbol of American enterprise and the gateway to the Pacific…. – NYT, 8-24-10
  • TOM SEGEV on Jonathan Schneer: ‘View With Favor’: THE BALFOUR DECLARATION The Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict In this comprehensive study, richly documented by diplomatic correspondence, Jonathan Schneer concludes that the famous declaration seems to have just missed the sidetrack of history: in contrast to a common myth, Britain’s support for Zionism was not the result of an inevitable process. In fact, as Schneer reveals, shortly after Balfour’s promise to the Jews, the British government offered the Ottoman Empire the opportunity to keep Palestine and to continue to fly the Turkish flag over it. Schneer, a professor at Georgia Tech’s School of History, Technology and Society, is a talented writer…. – NYT, 8-22-10
  • Richard Rhodes: The unmaking of the atomic bomb: THE TWILIGHT OF THE BOMBS Recent Challenges, New Dangers, and the Prospects for a World Without Nuclear Weapons No one writes better about nuclear history than Rhodes does, ably combining a scholar’s attention to detail with a novelist’s devotion to character and pacing. He began his exploration in 1987 with “The Making of the Atomic Bomb,” which won the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. He also earned praise for “Dark Sun,” the story of the hydrogen bomb’s creation. “Arsenals of Folly” tackled the beginning of U.S. and Soviet cooperation to end the arms race.
    In “The Twilight of the Bombs,” Rhodes documents events from the end of the Cold War to 2003 that, he believes, point toward the feasibility of eradicating nuclear weapons. He chronicles the underpublicized drama of the era: the efforts to contain the spread of nuclear weapons after the Soviet Union’s collapse, the nuclear disarmament of South Africa, the fallout from India’s and Pakistan’s nuclear tests, and the negotiations with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions. In Rhodes’s telling, big personalities clash and cooperate, jokes and epiphanies punctuate the debate, and offbeat details energize the narrative…. – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Ilyon Woo’s ‘The Great Divorce: A 19th-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight’: THE GREAT DIVORCE A Nineteenth-Century Mother’s Extraordinary Fight Against Her Husband, the Shakers, and Her Times The title of historian Ilyon Woo’s provocative book certainly sparks curiosity and debate. Which of our many American divorces merits the epithet “great”? In this case, it’s the legislative decree won in New York by Eunice Chapman in 1818, a victory for maternal custody rights in an era when children legally belonged to their fathers. And what about the challenging subtitle?.. – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Lucy Worsley’s “The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue at Kensington Palace” As inspiration for this account of life in the 18th-century Georgian court, Lucy Worsley takes the “portraits of forty-five royal servants that look down upon palace visitors from the walls and ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase” in Kensington Palace, best known today as the final residence of Princess Diana. This palace was “the one royal home that George I and his son [George II] really transformed and made their own,” a place where the servants “witnessed romance and violence, intrigue and infighting, and almost unimaginable acts of hatred and cruelty between members of the same family.”… – WaPo, 8-20-10
  • Diane Ravitch reviews Three books about education reformWaPo, 8-20-10
  • Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus: Why Johnny’s College Isn’t What It Used to Be: HIGHER EDUCATION? How Colleges Are Wasting Our Money and Failing Our Kids — and What We Can Do About It Andrew Hacker and Claudia Dreifus have written a lucid, passionate and wide-ranging book on the state of American higher education and what they perceive as its increasing betrayal of its primary mission — for them, the teaching of undergraduates. That both are academics — one a well-known professor (Mr. Hacker) and the other consigned to the adjunct, or what they call “contingent,” faculty (Ms. Dreifus, who is also a frequent contributor to The New York Times) — provides them with memorable, often acerbic anecdotes that neatly offset their citations of statistics and (it must be said) their sometimes rather sweeping generalizations… – NYT, 8-19-10
  • Andrew Pettegree: Start the Presses: THE BOOK IN THE RENAISSANCE “The humanist mythology of print.” With this phrase the British scholar Andrew Pettegree indicates the cultural story his book amends, and to some extent transforms. In an understated, judicious manner, he offers a radically new understanding of printing in the years of its birth and youth. Print, in Pettegree’s account, was never as dignified or lofty a medium as that “humanist mythology” of disseminated classics would suggest…. – NYT, 8-15-10
  • Richard Toye: The Two Churchills: CHURCHILL’S EMPIRE The World That Made Him and the World He Made Winston Churchill is remembered for leading Britain through her finest hour — but what if he also led the country through her most shameful one? What if, in addition to rousing a nation to save the world from the Nazis, he fought for a raw white supremacy and a concentration camp network of his own? This question burns through Richard Toye’s superb, unsettling new history, “Churchill’s Empire” — and is even seeping into the Oval Office…. – NYT, 8-15-10Excerpt


  • Bryan McNerney: Historian uses ancient maps to block ramblers: Bryan McNerney, who presented several successful history series on ITV, has been accused of blocking a footpath through the grounds of his country home. But the 57-year-old insists that a mistake by a map maker half a century ago wrongly showed the right of way through the property – ironically called “Garden of Eden”…. – Telegraph (UK) (8-24-10)
  • Old Irish bones may yield murderous secrets in Pa.: Young and strapping, the 57 Irish immigrants began grueling work in the summer of 1832 on the Philadelphia and Columbia railroad. Within weeks, all were dead of cholera. Or were they murdered? Two skulls unearthed at a probable mass grave near Philadelphia this month showed signs of violence, including a possible bullet hole. Another pair of skulls found earlier at the woodsy site also displayed traumas, seeming to confirm the suspicions of two historians leading the archaeological dig…. – Washington Times (8-16-10)


  • Forever Young: Staughton Lynd at 80: Suddenly Staughton Lynd is all the rage. Again. In the last 18 months, Lynd has published two new books, a third that’s a reprint of an earlier work, plus a memoir co-authored with his wife Alice. In addition, a portrait of his life as an activist through 1970 by Carl Mirra of Adelphi University has been published, with another book about his work after 1970 by Mark Weber of Kent State University due soon…. – Center for Labor Renewal (8-25-10)


  • Jonathan Sarna: Black and Jewish, and Seeing No Contradiction: “Everyone agrees that the numbers have grown, and they should be noticed,” said Jonathan D. Sarna of Brandeis University, a pre-eminent historian of American Jewry. “Once, there was a sense that ‘so-and-so looked Jewish.’ Today, because of conversion and intermarriage and patrilineal descent, that’s less and less true. The average synagogue looks more like America. “Even in an Orthodox synagogue, there’s likely to be a few people who look different,” Professor Sarna said, “and everybody assumes that will grow.”… – NYT, 8-28-10
  • Julian Zelizer: Pressure mounts for ‘Sheriff’ Elizabeth Warren: “The administration is hesitating because they’re faced with the traditional problem that Obama has faced,” said Julian Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton University. If the White House passes Warren over, Zelizer says, they disappoint liberals whose support has been key throughout the administration. If Warren gets the nod, the White House must deal with “political difficulties on Capitol Hill where centrists have quite a lot of power and Republicans are becoming quite obstinate,” Zelizer said. – CNN.com (8-26-10)
  • David A. Moss: Income inequality may contribute to financial crises, says Harvard economic historian: David A. Moss, an economic and policy historian at the Harvard Business School, has spent years studying income inequality. While he has long believed that the growing disparity between the rich and poor was harmful to the people on the bottom, he says he hadn’t seen the risks to the world of finance, where many of the richest earn their great fortunes. Now, as he studies the financial crisis of 2008, Mr. Moss says that even Wall Street may have something serious to fear from inequality — namely, another crisis….
    “I could hardly believe how tight the fit was — it was a stunning correlation,” he said. “And it began to raise the question of whether there are causal links between financial deregulation, economic inequality and instability in the financial sector. Are all of these things connected?”… – NYT (8-21-10)
  • Julian Zelizer: Obama Just Like Jimmy Carter: Is Barack Obama really like Jimmy Carter? Julian Zelizer, author of the forthcoming Jimmy Carter, part of Henry Holt & Co.’s American Presidents series, thinks so. Both are smart, both promised reform, and both, he adds, “entered office at a time Republicans were in bad condition as a result of previous presidents … and found it difficult to capitalize on this situation.” Other similarities: “There was a sense, that became worse over time, that Carter was cold and distant, and not very personable,” Zelizer told our Suzi Parker. Also, the right succeeded in demonizing Carter’s successes. And Obama should heed this Carter lesson: “Being straight with voters and telling them the reality of a situation is fine, but voters also need to know how you will make things better.” – US News, 8-18-10
  • David Kennedy: Happy 75th Birthday, Social Security: Social Security was a centerpiece of FDR’s New Deal reforms that helped this country recover from the Great Depression. These programs provided Americans a measure of dignity and hope and lasting security against the vicissitudes of the market and life. FDR therefore accomplished what the venerable New Deal historian David Kennedy says is the challenge now facing President Obama—a rescue from the current economic crisis which will also make us “more resilient to face those future crises that inevitably await us.”…. – The Nation, 8-13-10


  • Red Menace: David Gentilcore Talks the Tasty History of the Tomato: In his new book, “Pomodoro! A History of the Tomato in Italy,” Gentilcore traces the tomato from its origins in the New World, where it was domesticated by the Maya, then cultivated by the Aztecs. It likely entered Europe via Spain, after conquistador Hernan Cortes’s conquest of Mexico. When it arrived on the scene in Italy, it was strictly a curiosity for those who studied plants — not something anyone faint of heart would consider eating. In 1628, Paduan physician Giovanni Domenico Sala called tomatoes “strange and horrible things” in a discussion that included the consumption of locusts, crickets, and worms. When people ate tomatoes, it was as a novelty. “People were curious about new foods, the way gourmets are today with new combinations and new uses of high technology in preparation,” Gentilcore said. Yesterday’s tomato is today’s molecular gastronomy…. Boston Globe (8-15-10)
  • William Jelani Cobb: The Root Interview: William Jelani Cobb on Obama and Black Leadership: William Jelani Cobb: Initially they made it more difficult because I’m accustomed to writing about things that are more static. This was an attempt to place the election into a context in terms of history, and in some ways in terms of irony. But this was also a rapidly changing subject. The result was that I wrote about three-quarters of the book and then threw it all out and started again from scratch. It was much more difficult to decide what story I wanted to tell…. – The Root (8-19-10)
  • Obama’s Teachable Mosque Moment: FrontPage Interviews Victor Davis Hanson: Frontpage Interview’s guest today is Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and the author, most recently, of The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern…. – FrontPageMag (8-23-10)
  • Talking About Brazil with Lilia Schwarcz: On a recent trip to Brazil, I struck up a conversation with Lilia Moritz Schwarcz, one of Brazil’s finest historians and anthropologists. The talk turned to the two subjects she has studied most—racism and national identity…. – NYRBlog (8-17-10)
  • Q. & A.: Sean Wilentz on Bob Dylan: The historian Sean Wilentz, the author of “The Rise of American Democracy” and “The Age of Reagan,” has a long-standing interest in the songs of Bob Dylan, going back to his childhood in Greenwich Village. His father and uncle ran the Eighth Street Bookshop, an important gathering place for the Beats and other downtown literary spirits; it was in his uncle’s apartment, above the store, that Dylan first met Allen Ginsberg. Wilentz has synthesized his memories, musical impressions, and historical analysis in a striking new book entitled “Bob Dylan in America,” which Doubleday will publish next month; newyorker.com runs an excerpt this week. As a sometime Dylan obsessive—in 1999 I wrote a long piece about Dylan, which will reappear in my forthcoming book “Listen to This”—I approached Wilentz with some questions about his latest work…. – New Yorker (8-16-10)


  • Kenneth M. LudmererWash U professor receives honor: Kenneth M. Ludmerer, MD, has been named the Mabel Dorn Reeder Distinguished Professor in the History of Medicine at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. Ludmerer, a renowned medical historian and educator, is professor of medicine at the School of Medicine and professor of history in the College of Arts & Sciences…. – Globe Democrat, 8-25-10
  • Elaine Chalus: Bath historian finds diaries of woman who nursed Nelson: A Bath historian is hoping to give an admiral’s wife – who tended to a wounded Lord Nelson – “her rightful place in history”. Dr Elaine Chalus has won a major research grant of more than £100,000 to investigate diaries kept by Elizabeth Wynne…. – BBC News (8-24-10)



  • September 17-18, 2010 at Notre Dame University: Conference aims to bring medieval, early modern and Latin American historians together: An interdisciplinary conference to be held at the University of Notre Dame this fall is making a final call for papers to explore the issue surrounding similarities between late-medieval Iberia and its colonies in the New World. “From Iberian Kingdoms to Atlantic Empires: Spain, Portugal, and the New World, 1250-1700” is being hosted by the university’s Nanovic Institute for European Studies and will take place on September 17-18, 2010. Medieval News, 4-29-10
  • 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.




  • Christopher Tomlins, Freedom Bound: Law, Labor, and Civic Identity in Colonizing English America, 1580-1865 (Paperback and Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Holger Hoock: Empires of the Imagination: Politics, War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750-1850, (Hardcover), September 1, 2010
  • Anna Whitelock: Mary Tudor: Princess, Bastard, Queen, (Hardcover), September 7, 2010
  • James L. Swanson: Bloody Crimes: The Chase for Jefferson Davis and the Death Pageant for Lincoln’s Corpse, (Hardcover), September 28, 2010
  • Timothy Snyder: The Red Prince: The Secret Lives of a Habsburg Archduke (First Trade Paper Edition), (Paperback), September 28, 2010
  • Ron Chernow: Washington: A Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • George William Van Cleve: A Slaveholders’ Union: Slavery, Politics, and the Constitution in the Early American Republic, (Hardcover), October 1, 2010.
  • John Keegan: The American Civil War: A Military History, (Paperback), October 5, 2010
  • Bill Bryson: At Home: A Short History of Private Life, (Hardcover), October 5, 2010
  • Robert M. Poole: On Hallowed Ground: The Story of Arlington National Cemetery, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Robert Leckie: Challenge for the Pacific: Guadalcanal: The Turning Point of the War, (Paperback), October 26, 2010
  • Manning Marable: Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention, (Hardcover), November 9, 2010
  • Elizabeth White: The Socialist Alternative to Bolshevik Russia: The Socialist Revolutionary Party, 1917-39, (Hardcover), November 10, 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
  • Edmund Morris: Colonel Roosevelt, (Hardcover), November 23, 2010
  • Michael Goldfarb: Emancipation: How Liberating Europe’s Jews from the Ghetto Led to Revolution and Renaissance, (Paperback), November 23, 2010


  • David Weber, Southwest Expert, Dies at 69: David J. Weber, whose groundbreaking works on the American Southwest under Spain and Mexico opened new territory for historians, died on Aug. 20 in Gallup, N.M. He was 69 and lived in Dallas and Ramah, N.M. The cause was complications from multiple myeloma, said his wife, Carol…. – NYT (8-27-10)
  • David Weber, Vice-president of the AHA’s Professional Division, Dies at 69: David J. Weber, historian of the Borderlands, the American West, and Latin America and vice-president of the American Historical Association’s Professional Division, died on Friday, August 20, after a long struggle with multiple myeloma…. – Debbie Ann Doyle at the AHA Blog (8-23-10)
  • Bernard Knox, distinguished classicist, dies at 95: Bernard M. W. Knox, an authority on the works of Sophocles, a prolific scholar and the founding director of Harvard’s Center for Hellenic Studies, died July 22 at his home in Bethesda, Md. He was 95. The cause was a heart attack, said his son, MacGregor…. – NYT (8-17-10)
  • Professor Ray Beachey, 94, of Makerere University: Professor Ray Beachey, who died on July 10 aged 94, encouraged the hopes of a generation of East African leaders as head of History at Makerere University in Uganda during the 1950s and early 1960s…. – Telegraph (UK) (8-13-10)

Tulane: Caught in the Middle of a Disaster



HNN, 9-02-05

Tulane: Caught in the Middle of a Disaster

By Bonnie Goodman

Ms. Goodman is a graduate student at Concordia University and an Assistant Editor at HNN.

This past week hurricane Katrina ripped through Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama with New Orleans suffering some of the worst devastation as water levels rose throughout the city, leading to an unprecedented peace-time order to evacuate the entire area.. Students at Tulane University were set to start classes this week. At first the university was hopeful that it would be possible to resume classes on September 1. Soon that date was pushed back to September 7, but with 80 percent of the city flooded the university is uncertain now when the school will reopen. However, with the entire city being evacuated hope seems gone for this semester, if not longer.

Presently the university has relocated, and is now making its administrative headquarters in Houston, Texas. The university’s regular web server is down but Tulane University president Scott Cowan has been managing an emergency page on the Tulane site updating the university community and the public on the school’s status.

Starting last Saturday Tulane officials ordered students to evacuate the university. Tulane arranged for twelve buses to take students to nearby Jackson State University in Mississippi, where it was believed they would be safe. Students had just arrived for the academic year and were reluctant to leave; only 700 of the university’s 13,000 students chose to evacuate. Most stayed on campus never believing the magnitude of the disaster about to befall the city. The situation was no better at Jackson State where the Associated Press reported on August 31 that the university “suffered power outages, darkening the wood-floored gymnasium where the Tulane students were staying. On Tuesday, the gym’s bathrooms went out of service.” Students relocated again on Wednesday to Atlanta’s Georgia Tech University and Dallas’s Southern Methodist University; universities in the two closest cities not affected by Katrina.

University President Cowan reported on September 1, 2005 that there were faculty and staff who remained on campus, living in unsatisfactory conditions. The entire uptown campus was evacuated with only a “core team of public safety and facilities personnel” remaining. Cowan reported that “All of the students who were evacuated to Jackson State University in Mississippi have returned to their homes or are in the process of returning to their homes.”

Campus buildings themselves survived the storm nearly intact, accordimng to the president:”The campus did sustain some damage, though it generally fared very well during the storm. There are many downed trees, some buildings sustained water damage, and some roofing tiles were damaged. The necessary repairs are manageable. The dorms are intact and students’ belongings are safe.”

HNN has been paying special attention to the situation for students and faculty of Tulane’s history department. HNN has set up the Katrina Blog for Tulane History Students & Faculty to help students and professors to communicate. Lists of missing professors and students have been posted along with offers from volunteers ready to offer assistance and housing.

History Department chairman Jim Boyden, safe in Baton Rouge, notified HNN about the history department’s current status. Boyden sadly confessed that he has ” no two-way communication with Tulane administrators,” but added, “I’m very confident that we’ll have answers to basic questions and be able to begin reconstituting the department soon.”

With Tulane’s undergraduate and graduate students having no place to attend classes and with faculty having nowhere to teach; universities across the country are offering to take in Tulane students and faculty for the fall semester, and perhaps the rest of the academic year if need be. Many of these universities will be waiving tuition for the fall semester, while others are offering in-state tuition rates. Early offers were from Atlanta’s Georgia Tech and Dallas’s Southern Methodist University. Approximately 275 Tulane students chose to go to Atlanta, and another 140 went to Dallas including the football team, coaches and training staff. According to the AP “Georgia Tech and Southern Methodist were providing rooms, food, telephones, computer access and free airport shuttle services to the Tulane students and staff.”

Both Cornell University in New York and Texas A&M University have notified HNN via the blog of their offers to admit Tulane students. Cornell University President Hunter R. Rawlings announced that the university will take in some of Tulane’s undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral fellows, and will possibly allow Tulane faculty to teach as visiting professors. Cornell has set up a site with more information. Texas A&M will let in students from Tulane and surrounding universities in New Orleans including Dillard, Southern, Xavier, and Loyola Universities and the University of New Orleans. Additional universities extending offers include: Yale University in Connecticut; Loyola University in Chicago, Syracuse University in New York; Rice University in Texas; Boston University in Massachusetts; and McGill University in Montreal, Canada among others.

In his most recent post on the Tulane site University President Cowan expressed his gratitude for exterior support for the university writing “When possible, I’ve been trying to scan the student web blogs and am deeply touched beyond words by your support and passion. Your loyalty to Tulane University is touching and vital to our recovery plan.”

Related Links

HNN Katrina Blog for Tulane History Students & Faculty
Hot Topics: Katrina
Tulane University Emergency Information
Cornell Special Katrina Admission Information

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