Craig Harline, professor of history at Brigham Young University, received an NEH Public Scholar grant to write about Martin Luther between the years 1517 and 1522. His book, A World Ablaze: The Rise of Martin Luther and the Birth of the Reformation, was published by Oxford University Press in October 2017.
September 17 is officially Constitution Day (celebrated on Monday, September 18 this year). Since 2005, every U.S. educational institution that receives federal funds is required to teach about the United States Constitution. The original Constitution, signed by the members of the Constitutional Convention on September 17, 1787, is the oldest working constitution in the world.
It was, and remains, the bluest blue I have ever seen. As I stood on a rock jutting out over Crater Lake, the remnants of a massive volcanic eruption 7,700 years ago, I thought about the immensity of time and history that gives this place shape and meaning. Then I leapt. The freezing cold water disrupted these thoughts for the moment, but the National Parks have a way of sticking with you.
In recent years, as primary sources become more central to teaching American history, students have been asked to analyze these documents for their historical and literary significance. Among the most important American documents, most teachers would include the Declaration of Independence along with the Preamble to the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, and Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address. As Americans prepare for July 4th, it seems appropriate to once again reconsider the foundational text in our history and look at its purpose, rhetorical character, and its themes.
On the last Monday in May the nation celebrates Memorial Day. It is, of course, a day off from school and work and the unofficial beginning of the summer. There are cookouts, picnics, and always a televised concert on the National Mall.
Much more important, it is an occasion to pay tribute to those men and women who have died in defense of the homeland. There is a rich literature of speeches, stories, poems, and essays about these sacrifices.
No one captured oral history like Studs Terkel. He was a one-of-a-kind radio show personality, a fixture in Chicago broadcasting, where he held court at WFMT for four and half decades, from 1952 to 1997, engaging in conversation with some of the greatest minds and artistic lights of the 20th century.
When most people think of the civil rights movement, they think of Martin Luther King, Jr., whose "I Have a Dream" speech, delivered on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in 1963 and his acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize the following year. Malcolm X’s embrace of black separatism, however, shifted the debate over how to achieve freedom and equality by laying the groundwork for the Black Power movement of the late sixties.
So many of our students arrive with a negative impression of the discipline of history. They have come to the conclusion that the study of history is about memorizing a ton of dull facts. Why wouldn’t they feel this way? It is not until later in life that they will be exposed to the real work of historians through taking an upper-level college history course or researching family genealogy.
Jazz Appreciation Month (JAM) was created by the National Museum of American History back in 2002 to celebrate the extraordinary heritage and history of jazz. Each year the museum picks a major musician to commemorate. This year honors Ella Fitzgerald, who would have turned 100 this month, and JAM programs will shine a spotlight on women in jazz.