Attending OAH ‘21? We’d love to “see” you there! Macmillan Learning will have a virtual booth where we’ll have info on new offerings (print and digital), on-demand videos, a chance to win prizes, and more!
Macmillan Learning Speakers Include:
Mia Bay (Freedom on My Mind Author)
Fitz Brundage (Bedford Series Author)
David Blight (Bedford Series Author)
Ernesto Chavez (Bedford Series Author)
Kathi Kern (Bedford Document Collection Author)
Stephen Mihm (Bedford Series Author)
Kevin Mumfort (forthcoming Bedford Document Collection Author)
Elizabeth Shermer (forthcoming Bedford Document Collection Author)
Request an exam copy:
Learn More about OAH: https://www.oah.org/
Watch our latest webinar: Crisis in Context: Teaching American History Virtually From Past To Present
Macmillan History: We've Got You Covered!
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APRIL 01 | 12:00 PM ET
Americans are presently enduring at least five overlapping crises: political representation; racial justice; public health; economic crisis due to the pandemic; and the climate crisis.
American history scholars and Macmillan authors Rebecca Edwards, Eric Hinderaker, and Robert Self explore American crises throughout our nation's history raising questions like: What have other moments of political, economic, and epidemiological crisis looked like? How did we get here? Using historical context to make sense of these "unprecedented times," our panelists discuss these questions and pedagogical techniques to help students learn remotely.
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In a January 2019 blog titled “Making Connections: History & Medicine” I wrote about the importance of incorporating the history of health care into survey history courses. At the time I was deeply entrenched in sabbatical research on women and the treatment of the mentally ill, which afforded me the opportunity to explore lots of sources that were new to me as someone who had not previously studied the history of medicine. Fast forward two years and healthcare in the United States has become even more central to the narrative of general US and world history. Thankfully, there are numerous online sources that can supplement our courses as we navigate the constantly changing world of science and medicine. As we have now entered the vaccination stage of the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s useful to encourage students to look at the long and controversial history of vaccines in the United States. The College of Physicians of Physicians of Philadelphia has a fabulous interactive site that allows students to examine the history of vaccines worldwide through 2018 as well as an article titled “The Scientific Method in Vaccine History” that enables comparison of earlier practices in the development of vaccines to what we as a society have witnessed over the last twelve months. Ask students to think about the time frame that today’s scientists and public health officials have worked with in comparison to early efforts against smallpox and measles. Film footage of mass-vaccination efforts are another interesting way to connect what students are seeing in news reports to historical events. Internet Archive enables students to search internationally-produced government films on vaccination efforts. Of particular interest to today’s students is “Unconditional Surrender,” which documents the story of the first child to be vaccinated against polio in the United States in 1954. The American Social History Project has created “Epidemics in US History” as a gathering point for primary sources on smallpox, cholera, influenza, and AIDS. The site provides links to online exhibits by the United States Library of Medicine, the National Archives and Records Administration, and the Museum of the City of New York, each of which enable students to consider how American society has dealt with infectious disease in earlier periods. Finally, the advertising industry’s long-standing relationship to healthcare is illustrated by the nearly 600 examples of health-related ads curated by the Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, & Marketing History at Duke University. Who knew, for example, that Scott Tissue was once marketed as a protective face mask? Encouraging students to study such healthcare-related advertisements is yet another innovative way to advance discussion of our historical understanding of germs and disease, health and wellness.
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What was it really like to travel as a Black American during the era of Jim Crow laws and segregation? Award-winning journalist Alvin Hall and social justice trainer Janée Woods Weber hit the road to find out on Driving the Green Book, a living history podcast from Macmillan Podcasts. Over the course of 12 days and 2,021 miles, the two drove from Detroit to New Orleans collecting personal stories from Black Americans who used the historic Negro Motorist Green Book travel guide to navigate trips safely and with dignity, patronize Black-owned businesses, and come together in the face of institutionalized racism. Driving the Green Book sheds light on what has (and hasn't) changed for Black travelers since segregation and honors the stories of those who lived through the era, supported and uplifted each other, and fought for equality.
Listeners can also gain a deeper appreciation of the historic, but often forgotten, locations that helped Black Americans to travel safely across the United States with Driving the Green Book's custom Apple Maps Guide. They can also enjoy a playlist on Apple Music highlighting the songs that came out of the era, many of which were written in response to the injustices faced by Black Americans all over the country. Educators can use the podcast and addiotional resources as supplemental tools in a variety of history courses to explain how the Negro Motorist Green Book was a seminal publication in the ongoing fight for racial and social justice.
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From mask wearing and individual rights to Black Lives Matter and police reform, acquaintances, friends, and family have found an infinite supply of topics on which to disagree on social media over the last twelve months. As I write this blog, votes are still being counted in the state of Georgia and protesters have stormed the US Capitol building. The political stakes are high and partisan rhetoric and uncivilized debate have taken over Facebook, Twitter, and other popular online platforms. As an historian I’m particularly fascinated by the use of sources. Students in my January intensive course this week are choosing two article-length sources to use as supporting evidence in their short research projects. It is essential that they identify vetted, historically-accurate materials. In my introductory level courses the Works Cited page is submitted as a draft at the project’s start to make sure that students are on the right track with their research. And yet … every single day I read something on social media, often written by someone I know, that has origins in a problematic source … Case in point: a recent Facebook discussion about election fraud. “Friends” of mine were engaged in a spirited debate about accusations of voter fraud throughout history. The friends, all of whom are college-educated professionals, were using Wikipedia articles to substantiate their claims -- sharing, at various points, brief segments copied and pasted from the site as evidence. Sadly, there was not enough time in the day for me to verify whether the Wikipedia articles my friends were citing were factually accurate. It took all of my strength, however, not to interject a comment about their poor choice of sources. I do not allow my students to use non-academic sources such as Wikipedia or history.com as references for their history research. I know that some historians do, and that others use studies of the sites as opportunities for students to correct inaccuracies that are posted online. I tell my students that Wikipedia is a great source for information that -- right or wrong -- will not adversely affect the outcome of anything significant; what year did “Mission Impossible II” hit theaters or how tall is Formula 1 world champion Lewis Hamilton? (2000 and 5’7½ respectively) Nowadays, however, I’m feeling a sense of personal responsibility as a historian to tell people they are citing unreliable sources. I’m trying really hard to not destroy personal relationships by footnoting “friends’” Facebook posts but the situation begs the question: is it impolite to correct friends’ and families’ historically inaccurate opinions online? Where do we as historians draw the line between being right and being polite?
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We’ve just hit the mid-way point in fall semester so it’s a reasonable time to consider how my first all-remote semester has progressed. When the semester started I was definitely gloomy as I imagined the 3 ½ months ahead (see First Day of School Blues ). I was correct in my assumption that I would dearly miss my daily interaction with colleagues and students. Conveying information via email and learning management system is not the same as reading expressions and body language during face-to-face lessons. One positive experience I’ve had this semester has been an increase in students’ attendance at office hours. I’ve approached my office hours as a “by appointment only” practice this semester. My college uses a program called Starfish where students book an appointment with me during times that I have preestablished. The system notifies me when an appointment has been made and I send the student a link for our virtual meeting. I’m keeping an office hours log with the names of students I meet with, times and topics of conversation. Prior to this semester I never kept track of student visits to my office because they often seemed so casual. Now, however, I see the benefit of being able to review conversations and follow-up when necessary. I’m definitely concerned about the students’ ability to stay committed to online classes for the entire school year. Here at the semester’s half-way point I’m hearing from students who are debating whether they can or should continue with the fall term. Many are overwhelmed by the challenges of family members also needing the home WiFi and technology to attend school remotely. One of my students this week told me that the daily pressure of helping his children with their school work has completely drained him of the motivation he once had to finish his associate’s degree. I’m worried about the long-term impact the pandemic will have on those students who have been struggling with economic difficulties while trying to keep up with their school and family responsibilities. And, of course, I’m stressed about the election. As I write we are less than a week away from November 3rd. Many of my students are voting for the first time this year and these young men and women want to feel as though their votes will make a difference. The historian in me knows that voters are often disappointed and this election more than others in recent memory has the potential, especially for new voters, to yield a great deal of disappointment and frustration. I would hate to see that disappointment turn into apathy. Questions about the Electoral College, the importance of voter turnout, and the ramifications of the recent ascent of Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court are weighing heavily on engaged students’ minds. Given the current pandemic, answering these questions with any certainty based on historical precedent is more difficult than ever before. I’m hopeful that we, as historians, can continue to encourage our students to engage politically and intellectually no matter the outcome on November 3rd. One more scattered thought before I close: if you haven’t already, please encourage your students and colleagues to submit an entry to Macmillan’s “Black History, Black Stories” contest. I offered my students five points "extra credit" on their lowest test score of the semester if they entered and it was amazing how inspired they suddenly were to think about their own relationship to black history! In this year of ups and downs, disappointments and frustrations, my motto regarding student engagement is “whatever it takes!”
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I won't sugarcoat it: 2020 has been brutal in many different ways. I remember when the pandemic was really in full swing, there were so many public figures comparing COVID to 9/11. They meant to imply that this would be a defining moment for the new generation. They signaled that this would be so impactful that nobody could forget the experience; that it would be etched in our collective memory. Then, I remember hearing about Ahmaud Arbery and seeing that footage for the first time and just being shattered and thinking the same thing: I may not remember the date, but I'll always remember how crushing that footage was to watch. The problem is: then came George Floyd and Breonna Taylor. Problem is: then I started thinking about Freddie Gray and Trayvon Martin and Sandra Bland and the many other names that I was struggling to recall. All of these senseless killings happened within my lifetime and those events have already gotten fuzzy. Where was I when I first heard? Who told me? Perhaps most important of all: how much sadness can one heart hold?
I don't have answers to all the above questions. I know and understand those that cannot continue to watch these crippling images of black bodies being destroyed on a devastating news cycle loop, yet I don't want to forget either. We must not forget! I came across "Voices from The Black Lives Matter Protests (A Short Film)" Running 8 minutes and 45 seconds, this video montage composed of audio and visual snapshots in the 14 days after George Floyd's murder put together by Vanity Fair crystallized both my memories of those days, as well as pivotal voices of the movement. For me, the toughest part of all may be the closing screens with the many names that the video is meant to honor. I don't even know all of them, or maybe there were some I forgot. We must remember. This helps me to remember, no matter how painful.
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I'm not a fan of being asked by students for "extra credit" assignments. Finally, however, this semester, I've found a reason to adopt a form of the practice in hopes that my students will gain some extra knowledge along the way to their coveted extra points. A continuously evolving result of the rise in civil rights activism prompted by the death of George Floyd in May has been new attention by the media and public on the history of black Americans. Most recently, as our nation marked the one-hundredth anniversary of the 19th amendment to the Constitution, mainstream publications highlighted the participation of black women in the suffrage movement. As a historian it has been heartening for me to see non-academic friends post articles about the work of Ida Wells on social media, among other courageous black women who were previously relegated to footnotes. As we approach what is likely to be a uniquely different fall semester, I want to encourage my students to take note of new spaces where they are seeing black history acknowledged. It’s not February, after all -- “Black History Month” -- and the sad reality is that prior to the tumultuous summer of 2020 most Americans did not know anything about Juneteenth or the Greenwood (Tulsa) Massacre of 1921. As a historian I want to see this new public fascination with black history find its way permanently into our K-12 curriculum so that the first time a student learns about the horrors of slavery and Jim Crow is not in my college classroom. One of my goals, however, is also to help students to recognize that understanding black history means more than knowing the ideological differences between Malcolm X and Martin Luther King, Jr. Our students need to acknowledge with the help of history the level to which racism and stereotyping have infiltrated all aspects of American society. We each have to start somewhere so my simple plan for this fall is to share an article -- weekly or bi-weekly -- that will encourage deeper reflection by my students and not just memorization of famous names and speeches. The article I’ve chosen to share to start the semester is “The Penn Museum Moves Collection of Enslaved People’s Skulls into Storage” ( Smithsonian , 4 August 2020). To those unfamiliar with the work of physician Samuel George Morton I invite you to read the article (and the various sources linked within) to learn about the Museum’s display of skulls, including at least 50 that critics argue were used by Morton and others “as pseudo-scientific evidence of a racial hierarchy and justification for slavery.” Students at the Ivy League school were instrumental in pushing for removal of the skulls from the Museum’s display. My plan is to create an extra-credit generating discussion board that will provide space for students to respond to the articles, share perspectives, and ask questions. I will encourage them to reflect on how the subject matter enlightens their personal understanding of black history as well as the way that the particular topic informs us how racism came to be so deeply ingrained in the American psyche. It is my hope that this first article, for example, will encourage students to begin thinking about scientific racism several weeks before we reach the subject matter in the textbook and simultaneously expand on whichever topic we are covering during a particular week in a no-stakes environment of extra-credit discussion. Extra credit: yay or nay? New assignments to help your students engage in the world around them while learning new course content? Please share.
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Like most of you, no doubt, I’m bracing for a (hopefully) healthy dose of uncertainty during this coming fall semester. As faculty at a community college with a large number of nursing, health science, dental hygiene and engineering students, most of us who teach in the humanities and social sciences have given up our on-campus classroom space so that those professors who need to be face-to-face with students can do so safely. For the first time in my twenty-plus year teaching career, all of my classes will be completely online. I will admit to feeling overwhelmed by this reality in spite of the fact that I have taught online for more than ten years. I was an early adopter to the practice -- flexibility for working students and the creation of classroom space where students who are uncomfortable participating in person can find and share their voices are just two of the many positives of online learning. That being said, I never intended to move to a completely online teaching load and I’m feeling really sad about it. First and foremost, I will miss my students’ energy in the classroom. It’s reasonable to assume that the majority of us who teach -- at any level -- do so because we truly enjoy being with learners. We enjoy the process of guiding people through new information, and we take pride in the accomplishments of our students -- especially those who we have witnessed work extremely hard amidst difficult circumstances. I’m going to miss my daily interactions with fellow faculty. Email and virtual meetings, while productive, are not the same as being in a room with people who share our vision for the students we teach and want to work together to solve problems. I’m going to miss working quietly at my desk while my wonderfully smart and funny office-mate holds her student visiting hours. Meeting her sociology students and encouraging them to take a history course as a supplement to whatever field they are studying has brought many vibrant and energetic young people into my history classroom. I will miss being shushed in the library. And I’ll miss the staff members who keep our college running smoothly day to day and will continue to do so even when the majority of students and faculty are not on campus, especially the administrative assistants who keep me organized and always seem to have a snack in their desks on the days that my energy is lagging. As I prepare now for the semester to begin in three weeks, therefore, I’m looking for ways to not pass on this sense of sadness to my students. There already exists a barrier between students and faculty in online courses because of the method of delivery. How do we overcome that barrier and create the same kinds of connections we have had in the past with on-campus students? Will students attend my virtual office hours? Are there other ways to build bridges and community with online students that have worked in your virtual classroom? Please share.
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For me, and no doubt many others in the Macmillan Community, staying motivated since the widespread social distancing orders and campus shutdowns began in March has been extremely difficult. I’d love to be able to say that I’ve used extra time at home gained from not commuting to write or to read. Instead I’ve spent an inordinate amount of time keeping track of how many weeks it has been since I was last in my campus office (seven) and how long it has been since I had my haircut by a professional (seventy days). Some of the things I never thought I could miss -- a student walking into class after I had started lecture and asking a question I had already addressed -- are now the mundane normalcy I long for. When it was clear that I would have to move classes from on-campus to online, I made a few changes to my syllabi. I had intended for students in one class, for example, to be using books and other library reference materials (not online) for an end-of-semester project. The closing of our campus as well as public libraries meant changing the assignment drastically to accommodate the students while still meeting the academic demands of the course. I’ve come to the conclusion that I can only do my best with the situation that all of us faculty face in this pandemic. I’ve said much the same to students who have been in touch about work and family issues that are significantly hampering their ability to complete the semester. This week, then, I want to find some positive areas on which to focus amidst this scary and depressing academic semester. There are some interesting assignments and projects being created by historians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic that are helping me to stay interested in the larger challenge of historical memory that will be so critical to future generations. Here are just three examples: The Washington Post last week highlighted an assignment created by University of Central Florida adjunct faculty member Kevin Mitchell Mercer in which students were asked to write about an artifact from 2020 that historians could use a century from now to tell the story of the pandemic. The Twitter discussion that followed the newspaper's coverage of Mercer’s assignment provides some insight into how our students are struggling with this major disruption in their academic and personal lives and will be valuable to future historians studying the social implications of the pandemic. In light of the intense focus now placed on 1918, the Society for Historians of the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (SHGAPE) has put out a call for fellow historians to more fully document the history of the 1918 pandemic. SHGAPE will publish contributions by historians and other academics as blog entries intended to expand understanding of the 1918 pandemic while we grapple with the current crisis. Interested researchers from any field should visit this link . Finally, the American Institute of the History of Pharmacy seeks public participation in its effort to document the experiences of Americans in pharmacies during this pandemic. The organization invites the public to “share your pharmacy stories, photos, videos, artifacts, and other documentation of the COVID-19 pandemic.” For more information visit the Project’s web site https://aihp.org/collections/aihp-covid19-project/ The advertising industry keeps reminding us that we are “all in this together.” So what are you doing to keep yourself intellectually motivated during this difficult time? Are you planning for summer and fall classes or simply trying to get through the end of spring semester? Please share!
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Although I’ve been working with college students now for more than twenty years, this semester has been unlike any we in academia have experienced in the past. A few years back, during a particularly difficult New England winter, my college canceled school on three consecutive Mondays because of snow storms. That semester one of my US History II classes met only on Mondays for 2½ hours. Very few students in the class had internet in their homes so most relied on the college computing center for WiFi and technology access. I remember being flustered at how far off the syllabus we were when the semester finally ended in May. Here, in the spring 2020, however, we have clumsily converted our on-campus courses to fully online. I say clumsily because most faculty had a week or less to figure out how to best implement changes to on-campus practices in an online environment. For my colleagues at a community college we faced the enormous challenge of insufficient internet and technology access by our students. In the face of this pandemic we have been fortunate that our college has the resources to lend materials to students and help them gain short-term home access to WiFi. Since hindsight is, of course, 20/20, I thought it would be helpful this week to acknowledge three simple things I wish I had known and/or done in January 2020: Students must have a library orientation during the first weeks of the semester. Usually we venture to the library as a class after the midterm for guidance on research projects. Had I taken this step earlier in the semester, however, more of my students would have been comfortable accessing library materials from home when the COVID-19 closures began, which would have made certain assignments easier to integrate. Students must have everything they need for the entire semester at the start. In the past I have been really lax with students when it comes to getting copies of supplementary readings (novels, memoirs, etc). Oftentimes on the first day of class I will say something to the effect of: “You do not need a copy of this novel until late March.” Not anymore. Lesson learned the hard way as I currently have students unable to get access to library materials and unable to afford to purchase books online because of COVID-19-related loss of income. Students must be able to download and upload materials to/from our learning management system. My on-campus students generally pass in written work in printed form. I’m learning from this semester’s experience that many of those students who choose to never take online classes do not actually know how to upload their work as an email attachment or to a learning management system’s drop box. This fall I plan to have every on-campus student submit a one-paragraph autobiography to me via our LaunchPad dropbox as a low-stakes assignment. In turn, they will be downloading my autobiography. I’m hoping to quickly identify anyone who may need extra help with our online tools as the semester is starting. Given the speed at which we were forced to move from on-campus to fully online, these three simple tasks completed at the start of the semester might have helped my students and me transition with less stress. As educators we already need to be adaptable in unexpected situations. The COVID-19 crisis has shown us how important it is for us to prepare for big-picture crisis management. While we are fortunate to have the option to continue working with our on-campus students through online platforms, we still need to work together to find ways to make the process seamless in the future.
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In his blog post, "Model Voice-Overs," Eric Nelson draws from his experience teaching online to share his perspective on transitioning the world history survey course from a face-to-face to an online environment. In particular, Eric discusses how he has used brief, focused podcasts to guide his students through their reading -- and how these podcasts can be embedded in the e-book in LaunchPad to bring together a combination of the text, commentary, and other activities to engage students. For instructors moving online for the first time, check out Eric's advice for getting started with podcasts using the most important aspects of your current live lectures.
Read the full article here on the World History Association's blog.
Eric Nelson is a WHA Executive Council member and co-author of Ways of the World.
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I’ve been viewing the documentary “The Murder of Emmett Till” (PBS) with students in my US History II sections for as long as I can remember. The tragic history of this young boy’s murder, more than any other civil rights-related story I’ve shared, seems to captivate the students, many of whom are only recently out of high school, and instill in them a deep sense of frustration and anger. It forces them to grapple with the profound sadness of Mamie Till while also recognizing the courage with which she challenged Americans to face the horrifying reality of violence against African Americans in her lifetime. As I plan to teach the course again in the spring I’ve been (as always) reassessing my syllabus. Based upon this semester’s students’ interests, I’ve decided that we will increase our study of the Till case in the spring to include both online resources and recent coverage of the reopening of the case by the Justice Department. Here are some of the resources I plan to use with my students. PBS maintains a web site to accompany the film with numerous articles valuable for class discussion and analysis. Included is the published confession by the two men who murdered Till as well as historical information on lynching in the United States. Florida State University has launched The Emmett Till Archives with archival materials derived from the case as well as audio-visual documentation of interviews with participants in the trial and subsequent legal actions. 2018 news coverage of the re-opening of the Till trial is available through numerous national news sites, including NPR , Time , and CNN , providing students the opportunity to consider how the narrative of the Till case is being shaped in today’s world in light of Black Lives Matter and other major civil rights initiatives. Discussion of the Till case this past semester prompted students to ask questions about the clumsy process of school desegregation following Brown v. Board of Education (1954), which is not a topic I typically cover in the course. For spring semester I will be using components of Old Dominion University’s Desegregation of Virginia Education (DOVE) web-based resources. I’m hopeful that the interest expressed in this topic by my fall semester students will be shared by those I teach in the spring. The biggest challenge will be deciding where I can trim the syllabus to make space! Have you done any trimming to your US II syllabus recently? Suggestions welcome.
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