Friday, May 4, 2012

History in the News

Some stories about American history from around the internet:
  • The New York Times covers book conservator Marie Malchodi's discovery of a rare Paul Revere engraving tucked into a book in the Hay Library at Brown University. In college, I worked (briefly) in this book conservation lab, but I never found anything cool there. I did, however, find a copy of the regimental history of the 116th Pennsylvania signed by St. Clair Mulholland and inscribed with a message donating it to the George G. Meade chapter of the G.A.R. in Philadelphia. That was in the regular stacks, though, not the rare books library.
  • Also from the NYT, an old map reveals a new clue to "one of early America's oldest secrets": the fate of the Roanoke colony. The story is actually pretty cool — someone found a patched map and under the patch are some markings indicating a possible location for a previously unidentified fort or settlement. The whole tone of the story made me laugh a bit, though. Perhaps I'm just not convinced that there's anything all that "mysterious" about the "disappearance" of the Roanoke colonists. Yes, it's true that we don't know exactly which of two or three possible fates befell them. But surely the fact that 100 underprepared civilians left on the American coast for three years without resupply "vanished" does not require some sort of extraordinary explanation. My favorite part of this article is the last line, where historian Karen Kupperman is quoted as saying, "To my mind, the most interesting question at this point is why were the patches put on, and who put them on, and when."
  • From the Washington Post, a collector and historian of 20th-century radio history catches a thief at the National Archives. And it turned out to be one of the archivists. Yikes.
  • Not strictly history related, but Harvard just announced the winners of the 2012 Hoopes Prize (awarded for excellent undergraduate theses). Two of the winners were my students in History 97 (the intro course required of all sophomore history concentrators). Congrats!

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