Category Archives: History on the Web

Recognize the warning signs

Ed Darrell has posted an item well worth reading over at Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.  It’s a list of warning signs for what he terms “voodoo history,” or bogus pseudo-scholarship, adapted from a similar list originally proposed for recognizing bad science:

  1. The author pitches the claim directly to the media or to organizations of non-historians, sometimes for pay.
  2. The author says that a powerful establishment is trying to suppress his or her work.  Bogus history relies more on invective than investigation; anyone with an opposing view is an “idiot,” or evil.
  3. The sources that verify the new interpretation of history are obscure, or unavailable; if they involve a famous person, the sources are not those usually relied on by historians.
  4. Evidence for the history is anecdotal.
  5. The author says a belief is credible because it has endured for some time, or because many people believe it to be true.
  6. The author has worked in isolation, and fails to incorporate or explain other, mainstream versions of the history of the incident, and especially the author fails to explain why they are in error.
  7. The author must propose a new interpretation of history to explain an observation.
If you’re familiar with arguments regarding orthodox Christianity among the Founders and statements about legions of black Confederate soldiers, some of these criteria probably ring a bell.
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Filed under History and Memory, History on the Web

We’ve got an interview with William Harris

over at the Lincoln Institute blog.  I had the privilege of asking him some questions about his work on Lincoln, which he was kind enough to answer.  We’re hoping to do an occasional series of these conversations with Lincoln scholars, so stay tuned.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, History on the Web

Sweet!

I’m both surprised and pleased to inform you that the folks at Civil War Talk have picked Past in the Present as one of the best ACW-related blogs of 2012.  Click here to read the complete list of honorees.  It’s pretty nifty to be included in a list of such fantastic websites.  Thanks, guys!

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Just right content material!

Spammers everywhere are raving about Past in the Present.  These are just a few of the accolades that got caught in my filter today:

I’ve been browsing online greater than three hours these days, but I never found any interesting article like yours. It is pretty price sufficient for me. In my opinion, if all webmasters and bloggers made just right content material as you did, the web will probably be much more useful than ever before.

Well, in defense of all those other bloggers, it is pretty hard to make just right content material.

Magnificent post, very informative. I wonder why the other specialists of this sector do not understand this. You should proceed your writing. I’m confident, you’ve a huge readers’ base already!|What’s Going down i am new to this, I stumbled upon this I’ve discovered It absolutely useful and it has aided me out loads. I hope to give a contribution & aid other users like its helped me. Good job.

By all means, my good fellow, pay it forward.  And he’s not the only spammer I’ve inspired to pitch in and improve the general lot of humanity:

I kick myself in the but every-time I see blogs as fabulous as this because I should stop surfing and start working on mine

You should.  Better to light a candle than curse the darkness.  And while we’re speaking in Biblical terms, another spambot just wanted to say…

Christ is brilliant

That He is.  That He is.

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Filed under History on the Web

This is why we can’t have nice things

The much-anticipated Appomattox branch of the Museum of the Confederacy is opening soon, and this occasion offers all of us an opportunity for substantial and sober reflection about a host of important topics, such as the challenge of interpreting complex and emotionally charged subjects through exhibits, the proper stewardship of collections at a multi-facility institution, the place of military history in public history as a whole, and the relationship between scholarship and popular memory.

So naturally, instead of considering any of these issues, we’re going to get up in arms over what sort of flags they’re flying in front of the building.

Appomattox, VA – A new battle is brewing around the Museum of The Confederacy in Appomattox. Southern Heritage groups are calling on people to boycott the museum because the Confederate Flag will not fly outside.

All of this is surrounding 15 flag poles outside of the building, called the Reunification Promenade.

It will display state flags in order of their secession leading up to the U.S. flag.

Virginia Flaggers says they’ve offered to pay to add the Confederate Flag to the display, but the museum isn’t interested.

The museum’s president notes that the outdoor flag display is actually intended to illustrate the relationship of the seceded states to the rest of the country, which accounts for the Confederate flag’s otherwise conspicuous absence. Furthermore, the museum will include the biggest exhibit of Confederate flags anywhere in the history of mankind, which suggests that keeping said flag under wraps isn’t exactly a priority for the MOC.  But this isn’t enough to assuage the concern of people who are evidently more concerned about the museum’s front porch than they are about the actual content of the exhibits.

If questions about outdoor vexillology aren’t enough to convince you that nefarious anti-Southron forces are at work here, then consider the assertion that the facility’s location is, and I quote, “evidence that Yankee interests have invested the museum.”

Is the first opening in the lovely Shenandoah where Jackson beat three Union armies in one campaign?  No.  Oh I know, it’s off Interstate 95 at Chancellorsville, the site of Lee’s greatest victory!  NO.  OK, maybe up closer to Washington, D.C. on the Manassas battlefield where the Confederacy won two major battles?  Nope.  So where?

Appomattox, the place where General Lee surrendered the Army of Northern Virginia.   You are kidding!  For a Southerner, only Andersonville could be a worse location!

And bear in mind that while these folks are complaining about encroaching Yankeefication at the MOC, another critic is denouncing the institution as a Confederate shrine.

Make up your minds, guys.  If I’m supposed to go with a knee-jerk reaction, at least let me know which direction.

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Filed under Civil War, History and Memory, History on the Web, Museums and Historic Sites

I can has history?

I found a website that lets you write captions for image macros, so I decided it was high time us history junkies jumped on the Internet meme bandwagon.  

If you’ve never heard of such phenomena as Ceiling Cat or Philosoraptor, then you probably won’t get any of this.  Serves you right for not wasting enough time online.

 

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Was the Emancipation Proclamation a moderate measure or a radical one?

My answer to the above question is “yes.”  Obama recently used Lincoln’s proclamation as an example of effective compromise.  I think he might have overstated the case, since Lincoln acted pretty dramatically within the bounds of what he thought he could realistically do.  I explain this position in a post over at the Lincoln Institute blog.  Read it and feel free to disagree vehemently.

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Filed under Abraham Lincoln, Civil War, History on the Web