For this blog, I examined the creation of Israel from the Jewish perspective. I found a lot of articles by Jewish writers and from Jewish websites that showed their unique perspective. One article by My Jewish Learning, a website devoted to empowering Jewish discovery and scholarship, called “The Birth of Israel” examines the origins of the Israeli state. The author provides a brief overview of the end of World War II and explains the renewed importance of conflict over Palestine. The Jewish community turned to the U.S. for support of the Jewish state in Palestine. The article explains that Britain did not support the Jewish efforts and actually prevented further Jewish migration to Palestine. Arab terrorism in the area also caused problems for Jews which was made worse by British interference. The story continues with an explanation of the United Nations compromise and recommendation of both an Arab and Jewish state. The Partition Plan was a victory for the Jewish community even though they had to make some concessions. The British control in the region was ended and two new independent states would be created.
This article provides a strong example of the Jewish perspective as it focuses on the Jewish experience. The writing shows a clear disdain for British actions after WWII. There was a lot of importance placed on the work of Jewish diplomats and representatives. The author provides a very condensed and simplified explanation of the foundations of the Israeli state which certainly leaves out important details that could further understanding. The article does provide an overview for those who know little to nothing about the event. I found it a good starting place to gain a feel for how the Jewish community discusses Israel. It is clear this website and article aim to support and promote the Jewish community and share their unique historical experience.
Source: “The Birth of Israel” My Jewish Learning. Retrieved 26 October 2017.https:// www.my jewishlearning . com/article/the-birth-of-israel/
Word Count: 323
For this blog, I was tasked with studying Holocaust denialism and finding an example of this form of denial revisionism. I initially examined the Wikipedia explanation of Holocaust denial to gain an understanding of the basic premise and who some actors are who have made claims attributing to denial rhetoric. I immediately found a lot of references to and information on David Irving, a heavily criticized and deeply shunned Holocaust denier and author. He has written on WWII and has made marginalized and rejected claims that have never been accepted or taken seriously by mainstream historians. Historians and even an English court of law have disavowed and discredited his work. His work is so controversial because it depicts Hitler in a favorable light by misrepresenting and manipulating historical evidence to fit his own anti-Semite and racist ideology.
David Irving has a website that I used as my source for this blog. His site consists of many pages with a ton of links to other websites and works. As I explored the site I found it was packed with an inordinate amount of information. Because of this, I chose to focus on Irving’s posts and main excerpts from his writings to examine his perspective and approach to sharing information. From excerpts of his books, there is a distinct tone to his writing that constantly discredits the Jewish experience and often challenges accepted Holocaust facts. A few posts explain Irving’s background describing his education and career. Irving packs his front page with one-liners about his work and his various campaigns, books, and informational tours. These posts do not provide any information on the lawsuits or any other damning incidences Irving has faced.
Irving seems to overcompensate with a ton of emphasis given to his popularity and legitimacy. On the website appear lines such as “David Irving is now meeting his many friends in the northern U.S…” or the utilization of quotes from supposed credible academics that paradise him like one saying Irving is, “perhaps the greatest living authority on the Nazi era…” It reminds me of the William Shakespeare quote, “The lady doth protest too much, methinks” which indicates doubt in someone’s sincerity. Irving employs techniques utilized by historians like the use of quotes, official-looking articles/websites and emphasis on legitimacy. The major problem with Irving’s methods is his perspective is extremely deleterious as it is anti-Semitic and racist. He does not use honest practices as he has a predetermined conclusion that ignores the overwhelming historical evidence that contradicts it. This is where revisionism and denialism differ, revisionism is very important and should be celebrated as it contributes to creating a fuller understanding of history. Denialism is not legitimate historical revision because it bends facts to fit an erroneous ideology or fixed conclusion.
David Irving. “His website”. Fpp.co.uk. Retrieved 23 October 2017. http://www.fpp.co.uk/online/index.html
Word Count: 489
For this blog, I was tasked with looking at an alternative interpretation of the U.S. push to send men to the moon. I chose to explore the experience of African-American women, which was recently portrayed in the movie Hidden Figures.
I looked at a story by Scientific American, which publishes articles with unique insights and developments in science and technology. The article The Story of NASA’s Real “Hidden Figures” by Elizabeth Howell examines the role African-American women played in computer work for NASA. Women with college degrees were being hired as human computers. Howell explains the segregation policies of the time hindered the full participation of these women in the association. Howell goes through a brief biography of some of the women who inspired the movie’s African-American female leads. One woman was Mary Jackson a highly educated scientist who worked for NASA for 30 years. Another woman was Katherine Johnson a brilliant mathematician who did vital work for NASA. Johnson received the Presidential Medal of Freedom for her contributions to space exploration. Another article, from HistoryExtra, explored the true story behind the movie and its relevance to America’s race to the moon. The author interviews Margot Shetterly who wrote the book that Hidden Figures is based on. Shetterly’s insight provides even more details on the impact African-American women made in helping America to the moon.
The articles I read come from a perspective that is often left out in traditional histories. They both examined the stories of female African-American mathematicians who contributed to NASA’s space program. The combination of racial and gender prejudices these women faced at the time lead them to have very different experiences than other members of society. These articles focus on exploring these unique and often difficult experiences. This approach is incredibly useful in expanding reader’s understanding of the space program and the many unheard stories of hard work and even genius. The viewpoint and experience of African-American women is a rarity in standard history. This makes these stories so much more powerful as they encourage a fuller picture of history and place importance on a diverse range of actors.
Cawthorne, Ellie. “Hidden Figures: the incredible real history behind the film.” History Extra. Accessed October 19, 2017. http://www.historyextra.com/article/bbc-history-magazine/hidden-figures-incredible-real-history-behind-film.
Howell, Elizabeth. “The Story of NASA’s Real ‘Hidden Figures’.” Scientific American. Accessed October 19, 2017. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-story-of-nasas-real-ldquo-hidden-figures-rdquo/.
Word Count: 388
I began research for this blog with a preliminary look at Wikipedia’s page on the Space Race to orient myself to the competition between the US and USSR for spaceflight capability and supremacy. To go deeper into the subject, I chose to look at magazines from the time, focusing on publications from 1957-1963, to gain primary source insight into national feelings. Summons contains a plethora of writings on this subject from the time-period and I found a particularly interesting article from Nation’s Business Magazine. Nation’s Business was a publication by the United States Chamber of Commerce that ran from 1914-1999 and covered current events that pertained to business, industrial relations and economics.
In January of 1960 Nation’s Business published an article titled “Space Race Debate Grows: Congress will try to find out what’s needed to win.” The writing begins by explaining that the government will continue to fund and expand space projects. This was due to increased USSR space achievements, made more impressive due to setbacks in US efforts. The writer focuses on various government works that were involved with the space effort touching on the House Science and Astronautics Committee. The committee was scheduled to investigate the national space effort later in the month. The committee’s inquiry was important because of many questions over how the management and efficiency of the space program could be improved. A significant moment in the piece comes when the author directly addresses businessmen, the target audience of Nation’s Business, and explains several reasons why the space issue is important to them saying, “Space success –or failure –influences U.S. prestige in a world that is watching western competition with communism.” The writer continues by emphasizing the eventual value some space projects will have on the economy and industry. The article reports on other government efforts to improve space projects and pulls in the opinion of a few experts in the field. Four PhD.s give their recommendations and validate many of the statements made earlier in the article.
The article came during a tumultuous time at the peak of the Space Race. It is clear the article aims to address worries and qualms the business world may have with the lack of noticeable progress in US space projects and doubts that projects would lead to gains in the business/ economic sector. The magazine aims to address the feelings of businessmen so it takes a bent in order to appeal to this sector of the population. Businessmen of the time were more educated than most and had specific concerns and opinions of the Space Race. The author takes particular care to highlight monetary problems surrounding the issue and takes in the opinion of experts that may feel more trustworthy to the magazine’s readers. The writer also pulls in more common antics of the time by using phrases such as, “win the fight” and “military value” that create a sense of urgency in support the space effort. The article is concise while also providing more specific events going on in the government as the U.S. contended with Soviet pressure. The approach of the magazine, coming from a business perspective, gave me a very interesting look at the Space Race and helped expand my understanding through a lesser known viewpoint.
“WATCH THIS ISSUE Space Race Debate Grows.” 1960.Nation’s Business (Pre-1986), 01, 14. http://login.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/login?url=https://search-proquest-com.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/docview/231652885?accountid=14826 Accessed 17 October 2017
Word Count: 557
For this blog, I began on Wikipedia researching the basic facts of historiography and searching for a historiographical approach that appealed to me. I was drawn to feminist history and felt a re-reading of history from a female perspective would be interesting because it could engage with material I have already learned in a completely new way. Emphasizing the female viewpoint unearths women’s historical experience while also allowing for a more balanced reinterpretation of history.
I found an exceptionally interesting article by Kimberly Christensen, a professor of economics and women’s studies, examining the impact of the 2007 Great Recession on women with a focus on the female perspective. Christensen begins with an explanation of the traditional narratives, which often claim disproportionate job losses were experienced by men. She continues with an overview of evidence regarding gendered distribution of job loss during the recession and then examined the position of women and men in the U.S. economy. The quantitative evidence found by Christensen shows little support for the claim that males were disproportionately laid-off. Christensen goes through a few more important contextual aspects of women in the workplace and concludes women were in fact impacted greater by the recession. Christensen ends by stressing the impact of continued sexism on the employment of women and the implications this has for progress towards gender equality.
Christensen employs a feminist historiographical approach to the Great Recession to analyze the experience of women during this time to challenge the traditional narrative. I found her writing slightly technical but clear and concise enough to make it accessible to the general public. She uses a multitude of graphs, data and reliable sources to support and validate her claims. Christensen addresses and disputes the inaccuracies behind rash characterizations of the recession in a level-headed manner. Through the utilization of facts and figures, she could prove other assertions were skewed, without sounding overly bias herself. Christensen takes everything a step further by explaining why the feminist narrative matters. She emphasizes that one-sided views on the recession have caused negative societal effects on women and minorities. Effects such as wage gaps, higher job loss, and issues in the workplace can all be traced back in part to false claims that unfairly sympathize males. Christensen’s work and research are important in tandem with other perspectives to provide a fuller picture of a historical event. I felt Christenson expertly uses this historiographical approach to make a fuller argument about the broader sexism in American society and its debilitating effect on women.
Source: Kimberly Christensen, “He-cession? She-cession? The Gendered Impact of the Great Recession in the United States.” Sage Journals: Review of Radical Political Economics Vol 47, pp. 368-388. Accessed 9 October 2017.
Word Count: 451
For blog 8 I was tasked with finding new sources on rural electrification. Using Summons I found a book published in1940 by Harry Slattery, who was the former REA Administrator, called Rural America Lights Up. The book summarizes the many facets of the REA and President Roosevelt’s order of 1935 and the Rural Electrification Act of 1936. Slattery writes on many important factors, he begins with the early stages and obstacles farmers faced as they pushed for recognition of their need for and utilization of power and continues through early experiments on how to service electricity to rural people. Slattery follows this with a section on the birth of the REA and the major features that came with and because of its creation. Among a variety of other subsections, he adds in sections on the logistics of electric cooperatives and more details on how the system services many consumers while striving to reduce costs. Slattery ends his book with a discussion of the future and consequence of rural electrification as it leaves a long-term effect of government, state, and society. I did not have time to read the whole book but I did look over the Foreword, written by George Norris a scholar on electrification, and the Preface to get a general idea of what the book is about and who Slattery was. Within the first paragraph, Norris gives praise to President Roosevelt and says he is especially proud of the REA and all the success it has had. He goes on to explain Slattery’s influence and importance to the rural electrification effort. Norris praises his work with the REA and points out Slattery’s loyalty to the “patriotic organization of men and women who are doing wonderful work in extending the benefits and happiness of rural electrification to the farmers of America.” The forward provides a clear tone of how the rest of the book will proceed and gives the reader general attitude toward Slattery before one has even read any of his work.
The position Slattery held at the REA and the power he had to participate in the electrification of America put him in a unique position to write on the subject. Slattery published several papers and books on the subject and this book alone holds over 140 pages of comprehensive and interesting information on the entire electrification process and societal side to the story. Slattery comes from a distinctive position as a strong proponent for the REA and advocate of rural electrification. Slattery right away in the Preface uses strong and positive diction when discussing electrification. Phrases that focus clearly on the “triumph” of electrified rural America and the many advantages and achievements that have come about because of it. Though I have not read the entire book, I find a strong positive sentiment towards the REA and rural electrification efforts within the first few pages of the book. This bent may leave out other facts and faults that did not match with Slattery’s constructive look at all that has been done.
Harry Slattery, Rural America Lights Up. National Home Library Foundation, https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=coo.31924073970919;view=1up;seq=9 Accessed 5 October 2017.
Word Count: 518
This article by Thomas Welskopp, a Professor of History at the University of Bielefeld, comprehensively examines the German-American experience of Prohibition in the U.S. from 1919-1933. The German-American experience is a unique one and adds a new perspective to an event which is only briefly learned about in American schools today. Welskopp starts the article with a thorough explanation of German beer culture and German-American’s resistance to prohibition. He touches on the major German producers in America and their strong ties to every-day life and culture. Along with that Welskopp explains the early success of German-led breweries and consequent abasement they had to deal with after the enactment of the 18th amendment. Beer production did slowly regain its footing after the shock of prohibition’s introduction. German-American’s were about to establish facilities and production methods that tested the limits of the law. German culture celebrated beer drinking and the saloon network/environment. So when the men who inhabited these bars/saloons became disturbed by hardened enforcement of prohibition laws many joined together to create German-American mobs and gangs. This created a web of new gangs and a hierarchy of German bar owners and gang members that all rallied behind beer production but inevitably got involved in other illegal sales. Beer production lived on despite the regulations and thrived after the law’s demise. Welskopp does explain that German culture and influence in America was forever changed and German-American’s were often ostracized as a result of prohibition.
I enjoyed reading Welskopp’s writing and explanation of the German-American experience during prohibition. Welskopp is himself a descendant of German-American’s and writes with a strong emphasis on his ancestor’s place, contribution, and involvement in history. The writing is academic with many footnotes and credible sources. This does not, however, make the publication hard to read. I found his writing engaging and extremely interesting due to fascinating examples and insight into German-American life. The writing uses the German-American experience as his lens, giving the reader a new narrative to read and a better understanding of a group very affected by prohibition.
Source: Thomas Welskopp, Prohibition in The United States: The German-American Experience, 1919-1933.https://www.ghi-dc.org/fileadmin /user_upload/GHI_Washington/ Publications/Bulletin53/bu53_031.pdf, Accessed 2 October 2017.
Word Count: 359
For this blog, I examined the U.S. textbook description of the War of 1812. The textbook is written by American historians who have authored many works on the American South, Civil War, early American politics and other related topics. The textbook’s preface asserts the value of the work explaining that “The American Promise is one of the most widely adopted texts for the U.S. history survey, reaching students at all levels and helping instructors…” The preface goes on to say the author’s aim is to create “a comprehensive, balanced account of American history… to engage students in the American story and portray fully the diversity of the American experience.” These statements seem encouraging in the pursuit of truthful historical account. However, as we have learned, complete objective history can’t really be attained and this textbook holds its own subjectivity and perspectives.
The description of the War of 1812 begins with the lead-up to the war and provides a very general overview of events that took place. The description starts by focusing on American politics and international relations in the early 1800s. Briefly explained are the various attempts the U.S. made to stay out of a war with France and England. The narrative takes a turn away from the lead-up to war by devoting nearly an entire page to Dolley Madison and social politics. This is then followed by a short explanation of two Shawnee chiefs, Tecumseh and Tippecanoe, who lost land to the U.S. and lost in the battle of Tippecanoe. The reading transitions to talk exclusively about the events of the War highlighting major events and successes of American militants. The description ends by asserting no one won the War of 1812 but counters this with, “Americans celebrated as though they had…the war gave rise to a new spirit of nationalism.” This conclusion paints a pretty picture of American success and strength when it seems there was very little.
The preface does a good job of explaining the textbook’s purpose but in reading this section of the text I found it shockingly more simplified than the authors lead one to believe. The textbook was created as an introduction to American history so naturally, the content will be abridged and compacted. The authors seem to use this to copout on a truer/fuller narration of the War of 1812. Traditionalist interpretations of American history see the event is as less important than other aspects causing parts of the history to be brushed over and left out. For example, the reading grossly neglects to give much empathy to American Indians who suffered greatly nor do the authors suggest much wrong-doing on the United States part. The blatant partiality for the American perspective causes the reading to be staunchly in favor of showing the U.S. in good light. The textbook shares a clear American perspective on the War of 1812 which lacks any alternative explanation or regard for the fuller details that could challenge this basic narrative.
Source: James Roark, Michael Johnson, Patricia Cline Cohen, Sarah Stage and Susan Hartmann. The American Promise; A History of the United States, Fifth Edition. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012.
Word Count: 517
For this blog, I read a few old newspaper articles on women and technology in the home. All of them acclaimed the wonders, capacities, and prospects of new home technology. In many of the articles, technology for the home promised greater freedoms for women. The L.A. Times in 1959 reported technology as one factor, “leading to the rise in feminine employment” and explained developments such as manufactured food and clothing have, “helped to ease the time-consuming workload of women in the home.” Greater free time for women was a major prospect of tech innovations, which seemed to cause a lot of excitement. Consistent throughout these articles is the feeling that duties of the household would become minimal and tech would greatly change the lives of women. Not all the articles were so enthusiastic about technology in the home. Some had a more negative tone and lamented the altering of women’s roles and the dramatic change that seemed to be on the horizon. Even an early article by the New York Times in 1932 predicted that women would become jobless in mechanized homes. The NYT quoted the president of Stevens Institute of Technology who declared, “Women are up against the most acute cases of technological unemployment, having been dumped out of the work that was peculiarly their own.” I found many newspapers of the time echoed similar expectations of technologies leaving women lost or without purpose, which seemed to be the standard opinion.
The articles I read show specific feelings of the time and highlight strong anticipation/ speculation over how dramatically roles of women would change. There was often negative word choice and unenthusiastic tones used by writers that seem to stress how uncertain society, particularly men, were over the change in women’s roles. These articles came from major newspapers with credibility but were written by men who held traditional views of women’s role in society. The approach taken by the writers are very interesting and telling of the societal norms, many of which today we find sexist. These perspectives also do not give a full picture but they do show a standard view of how society at large felt about 20th-century household technology. The articles lack alternative viewpoints such as how women themselves felt about the household technologies.
LynnPoole, “Technology Aids Women to Get Jobs.” Los Angeles Times, 9 November 1959
“Sees Women Jobless in Mechanized Homes: Head of Stevens Institute.” New York Times, 10 April 1932.
Patrick Buchanan, “Right from the beginning.” Little, Brown and Company, Boston. 1988
Word Count: 416
Jeff Riggenbach begins his book by explaining the importance of and the need for revisionism. His writing is focused on American history and the unique problems it faces. At the heart of what makes American history textbooks so important is their perpetuating influence. Riggenbach asserts, “What Americans know and understand about the history of the society in which they live will determine the degree of their willingness to honor and preserve its ideals and traditions.” This can be applied to history more broadly and to many countries and their own societies. Riggenbach continues his introduction by briefly outlining various challenges and changes to traditional narratives. Riggenbach ends the Preface by outlining the clear purpose of the book; his objective is to answer some hard questions about the discipline of history.
The first chapter, Objectivity in History, aims to address the fundamental question of objectivity’s influence and place in historical pursuit. Riggenbach explains the challenges historians face such as the inherent problem that not all of the past is still here, he writes, “The majority is indeed past, gone, inaccessible.” This automatically limits the historian and creates the practical need for thoughtful study of historical evidence. The facts that are accessible bring their own limitations and unreliability. Riggenbach acknowledges the limitations of facts of history but writes, “…we have what we have, and whatever its deficiencies we must make do with it.” With this comes significant responsibilities of the historian to take care in his/her work and be forthright about limitations.
I enjoyed the beginning of “Why American History Is Not What They Say” and found Riggenbach’s writing concise and easy to read. He pulls in engaging examples/quotes from historians and a variety of sources. His approach to historiography is straight forward while not being boring or tedious. I found his writing to be approachable for anyone but particularly interesting for a student of history. He seems to aim to challenge historian’s traditions and norms but not in a deprecating or insulting way. Riggenbach instead provides sensible analysis fully based on fact and reason and takes it further by providing solutions to various areas of historical study that need revision. This reading helped me further my understanding of revisionism and its noble aims.
Word Count: 388
Riggenbach, Jeff. “Why American History Is Not What They Say” Creative Commons, 2009. Pp 15-26.