November 1, 2018

Notable anniversaries in US history in November 2018

100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918 

↣ Read more and get suggestions of events and places to visit.

155th anniversary of the Gettysburg Address on November 19, 1863 

↣ Read more and get suggestions of events and places to visit.

55th anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s assassination on November 22, 1963

↣ Read more and get suggestions of events and places to visit.

75th anniversary of the Battle of Tarawa on November 20-23, 1943

300th anniversary of Blackbeard's death on November 22, 1718

235th anniversary of the last British Revolutionary War soldier leaving the United States on November 25, 1783

155th anniversary of the Battle of Missionary Ridge during the Civil War on November 25, 1863

150th anniversary of the Battle of Washita River during the Civil War on November 27, 1868

75th anniversary of the Tehran Conference during World War II with President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Joseph Stalin, and Winston Churchill on November 28, 1943


↣ Our top 10 list includes more historical background and travel suggestions of where to visit and when, including special anniversary events.



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June 14, 2018

What book about history has made the biggest impact and how old were you when you read it?

We asked our Facebook community about books they've read that made an impact on them and what age they were when they read them.

We have received fascinating responses and the answers are definitely worth browsing through. You'll find fiction and non-fiction, political and religious tracts, books for young readers as well as very serious books for adults.

And it's been interesting to see the ages at which people read these books. In some cases, books for young readers have been read and re-read into adulthood, and in others, a book for adults was read at a very young age.

Thanks to everyone who participated. If you would like to contribute to the list, add them on the comments below.



The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin

The Discoverers by Daniel Boorstin

"I read this book around college graduation - a history of the world from the point of view of scientific discoveries. Chapters included topics like geology (plate tectonics), time, mathematics, and medicine. So much of history learned in school breaks up time basically by wars and civilizations, that it was enlightening to see things a different way. With a science background, it wasn't that the facts were new, just how he strung it together."


Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow

"I guess though the book that really made the greatest impact was Hamilton by Chernow. I read that in while on vacation in 2008 and I've been a Hamilton junkie ever since."


League of the Ho-De-No-Sau-Nee or Iroquois by Lewis Henry Morgan

League of the Ho-De-No-Sau-Nee or Iroquois by Lewis Henry Morgan


Life Under the Pharaohs by Leonard Cottrell

Life Under the Pharaohs by Leonard Cottrell

"Two books: "Life Under the Pharaohs" by Leonard Cottrell; League of the Ho-De-No-Sau-Nee or Iroquois by Lewis Henry Morgan. I was 9 or 10. They helped foster a lifelong passion for history."


The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig

The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig

"I was 10 years old, the same age as Esther, when I read it and I can still remember the words and picture the images they depicted in my mind. This heartbreaking, intimate look of a terrible experience started my love of history told through individual stories."


Night by Elie Wiesel

Night by Elie Wiesel

"12-13 years of age. That book had a profound impact on me that led me down a deep rabbit hole, kicking off a “follow the string” scenario which became an intense love affair with 20th Century American History. So much so that it ended up influencing my bachelor’s degree."


The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer

The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer

"Read it in 1988 as a senior in high school. This book set me on a thirty-year journey to read as much about WW2 as possible."


Truman by David McCullough

Truman by David McCullough

"Read it in my mid 40’s. Came to appreciate what an underrated President he was. Wish we had more politicians like him today. He was incredibly fiscally responsible and concerned about social welfare."


Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

Last Men Out: The True Story of America's Heroic Final Hours in Vietnam by Bob Drury and Tom Clavin

"A true historical account of the last few men remaining at the embassy in Saigon 1975 and how they destroyed important papers on the roof and got all US personnel out. I was 33 or so when it came out."




Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

Roots: The Saga of an American Family by Alex Haley

"I read it in 7th grade (not as a requirement in class) and definitely gave me a deeper perspective on slavery and the early United States than we got in school."

"When I was in 6th grade (12ish years old ), my dad handed me Roots. I have been an avid reader and history buff ever since."


To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

"Read when I was 12. I know it’s fiction but it had a profound effect on me."


Books for young readers


A Child's History of the World by V. M. Hillyer

A Child's History of the World by V. M. Hillyer

"I read it over and over from the time I could read, about 5 years old."


The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

The Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank

"Read when around 11 or 12. This book inspired me to write my doctoral dissertation on the Holocaust. I'm graduating today with my Ph.D."

"Read around the same age that Anne Frank was when she wrote it. Anne Frank was an amazing young girl - wise beyond her years. She recognized the need to preserve history and knew she was living through something that had to be exposed. Her diary left a huge impact on me. We must never forget."


Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder

"I started reading them when I was nine and I've read each one several times. They had a huge effect on my young brain! They also gave me some in-depth knowledge of what life was like in the American West in the late 19th century."


A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

"I was probably in 4th or 5th Grade. I’m still obsessed with all things British and late Victorian, and dolls. Sara Crewe and her Emily, the evil Miss Minchin, the idea of a fireplace in your room, the warm biscuits that soothed the starving orphan, and the Indian Gentleman who transformed the awful attic for the mistreated little princess. Heaven!"


Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

Young Bess by Margaret Irwin

"Read it in the early 1950s when I was about 11 and it began my life-long love-affair with Tudor history."


Justin Morgan had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

Justin Morgan had a Horse by Marguerite Henry

"I was about 8-9 yrs old when I went "Justin Morgan had a Horse" by Marguerite Henry. It inspired me to not only learn more about Morgan horses (and several other breeds), but it morphed into New England and Revolutionary War history. Sounds like a fluff story, but the more I learned, the more I wanted to read."


The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy

The Chestry Oak by Kate Seredy

"One of the best books I've ever read, and FINALLY reprinted and available again after many years."


My Brother Sam Is Dead by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier

My Brother Sam Is Dead by Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier

"I don’t remember how old. But I’ve spent many years learning about the revolution since then."


Classic Comics

The old Classic Comics

"These provided an amazing introduction to the great historical novels (Tale of 2 Cities and Uncle Tom's Cabin come to mind immediately) that made them approachable for young teens. My best friend's father worked for the comic printers so we had immediate access to all the new ones.) I was -- and still am -- a voracious reader of history books and historical novels."


We'd like to hear from you! Contribute to the list by adding them on the comments below.


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April 21, 2018

2018 National Council on Public History (NCPH) Award Winners, with links to projects and publications

2018 National Council on Public History (NCPH) Award Winners, from their announcement, with links to projects and publications

NCPH Founders Award
The NCPH Council of Past Presidents developed this award in 2015 to recognize those individuals who were present at the creation of NCPH and who played critical roles in the organization’s success.

Suellen M. Hoy
Joel A. Tarr, Carnegie Mellon University

Board of Directors Award for Extraordinary Service
Awarded for the first time this year, this award is given when the NCPH Board seeks to recognize publicly an individual who has, through long-term and substantive effort, made transformational contributions to the work of NCPH.

Cathy Stanton, Tufts University

Outstanding Public History Project Award
This award is presented for work completed within the previous two calendar years that contributes to a broader public reflection and appreciation of the past or that serves as a model of professional public history practice. NCPH acknowledges the generous support of Stevie and Ted Wolf that makes this award possible.

Award Winner: The Mere Distinction of Colour, Elizabeth Chew and Christian J. Cotz, James Madison's Montpelier; Chris Danemayer, Proun Design LLC; and Molly O'Brien, Northern Light Productions

Honorable Mention: Confinement in the Land of Enchantment: Japanese Americans in New Mexico during World War II, Sarah R. Payne, Colorado State University Public Lands History Center; Andrew Russell, Central New Mexico Community College; and Victor Yamada, New Mexico Japanese American Citizens League

NCPH Book Award
For the best new book about or growing out of public history theory, study, or practice.

Award Winner: Andrew G. Kirk, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, Doom Towns: The People and Landscapes of Atomic Testing, A Graphic History (Oxford University Press, 2017)

Honorable Mention: Ronald Rudin, Concordia University, Kouchibouguac: Removal, Resistance, and Remembrance at a Canadian National Park (University of Toronto Press, 2016)

Excellent in Consulting Award
This award recognizes outstanding contributions to the field of public history through consulting or contract work.

Individual Award: Delia Hagen, Hagen Historical Consulting, African-American Heritage Resources in Helena, Montana

Honorable Mention: Ryan Shackleton, Know History, Métis Nation of Ontario

G. Wesley Johnson Award
Named in honor of the founding editor of The Public Historian, this award recognizes the most outstanding article appearing in the NCPH journal during the previous volume year.

Award Winner: Natasha Erlank, University of Johannesburg, for "From Main Reef to Albertina Sisulu Road: The Signposted Heroine and the Politics of Memory," The Public Historian Vol 39, No 2

Honorable Mention: Gregory Rosenthal, Roanoke College, for "Make Roanoke Queer Again: Community History and Urban Change in a Southern City,The Public Historian Vol 39, No 1

Student Project Award
This award recognizes the contributions of student work to the field of public history and provides assistance for conference travel costs.

Award Winner: Making History: Kansas City and the Rise of Gay Rights, Taylor C. Bye, Kathryn B. Carpenter, Samantha Hollingsworth, Leah Palmer, Kevin Ploth, and Jennifer Tufts, University of Missouri-Kansas City

For more information, see the Awards page on the NCPH website


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November 28, 2017

2017 Gift List for History Lovers

Our 2017 Gift List for History Lovers 


For the person with a lifelong love of history and for whom "Life, liberty, and the pursuit of history" might be their own credo, our "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of History" letterpress print in a handmade frame with conservation mounting.  The print is no longer available by itself.  However, we have two framed prints available we completed in anticipation of Christmas that are available to ship immediately.  One is in a wider profile (shown here), and the other in a narrower simpler frame.

"Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of History" letterpress print in a wide, handmade frame

Pair it with the "Declaration of Independence" print which are available in two versions: from the "Decaration of Independence" from the printing Office of Edes & Gill in Boston and the "Declaration of Independence" from John Dunlap. Both are printed by hand on a historic press. A framed "Declaration of Independence" print is also available. Made by hand upon request.

Declaration of Independence Boston edition Declaration of Independence Philadelphia edition Framed Declaration of Independence print


For the women history geeks in your life, the wire-wrapped Stamp Act Bracelet and the "Seal of  Newport Rhoade Island Covnsel" necklace with a large, oval wax seal featuring a sheep with the words, "Seal of  Newport Rhoade Island Covnsel" from the Newport Historical Society. Both bracelets and necklaces come in bronze and sterling silver.

Stamp Act bracelet - silver  "Seal of Newport Rhoade Island Covnsel" Necklace

Top it off with the "Votes for Women" pennant pin, a modern replica in support of the women's suffrage from The Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum.

Votes for Women pennant pin


For the proud history nerd scholar, flaunt your love for history with the "History Teacher" t-shirts and "History Major" shirt. Also available as stickers.

History Teacher  History Major t-shirt

For the fun-loving history nerd, our collection of "Revolutionary Superheroes" is a perfect choice. Featuring Abigail and John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, and Alexander Hamilton in a poster, sticker, magnet, bookmark and t-shirts in light blue heather, black and women's v-neck in black.

"Revolutionary Superheroes" Collection 

For the Revolutionary War military historian, "The West Point History of the American Revolution." Released this November by Simon & Schuster. With several maps, including this gatefold, timelines, diagrams, and more.

The West Point History of the American Revolution   The West Point History of the American Revolution

Other interesting books on Revolutionary War are "The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War " by J.L. Bell, "Dr. Joseph Warren: The Boston Tea Party, Bunker Hill, and Birth of American Liberty" by Sam Forman, and be sure to peruse the Journal of the American Revolution's  100 Best American revolution books of all time list.

The Road to Concord Dr. Joseph Warren 100 Best American Revolution books of all time


For hardcore history lovers, the "1773" Boston Tea Party t-shirt and the "Victory" t-shirt. These shirts are not only visually striking but the meaning behind the designs will surely be a conversation starter. Be a rebel and stump the average person! 

"1773" Boston Tea Party shirt  Victory t-shirt

When you don't know their size,  the Embroidered "History Nerd" with Ben Franklin cap comes in a variety of colors. Pair it with our new "Life, liberty and pursuit of history" scarf.
  History Nerd caps Life, liberty and pursuit of history scarf

For the Civil War buff, our original "History Nerd" t-shirt with a Civil War Soldier. It comes in two colors: charcoal grey and dark blue.

Civil War History Nerd shirt - blue  Civil War History Nerd t-shirt - charcoal grey

For the World War II aviation enthusiast, the illustrated and autographed books from the Eagles Over the Pacific series showcases some of the most dramatic combat photos ever taken during aerial warfare, maps of every mission flown and aircraft profiles. Signed books in the series include Warpath Across the Pacific, Revenge of the Red Raiders, Rampage of the Roarin' 20's and Ken's Men Against the Empire

Warpath Across the Pacific Revenge of the Red Raiders Rampage of the Roarin' 20's Ken's Men Against the Empire 


For the young adult history buffs, a signed copy of the book “Twenty-One Heroes“ by Sam Forman. Inspired by the 21 graves of soldiers who died at the Continental Army’s encampment along the Delaware River, author Sam A. Forman pays tribute to these anonymous young heroes by capturing the essence of their experiences during the Revolutionary War.

Twenty One Heroes  Twenty One Heroes


And for the kids, a signed copy of the American Revolutionary War Adventures series, "Patriots, Redcoats & Spies" and "Submarines, Secrets & A Daring Rescue" by Robert J. Skead and Robert A. Skead. The book chronicles the daring adventures of twin boys during the Revolutionary War.

Patriots, Redcoats and Spies Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue Submarines, Secrets and a Daring Rescue


For the smallest history lovers (and his or her parents), onesies and t-shirts for toddlers from Wayside Inn, with the iconic little red school house and nursery rhyme some believe was first repeated there.

The Redstone Schoolhouse t-shirt and onesie


For the home, the Old North Church Lantern, a replica of the ones used to signal the riders on the night of April 18, 1775, "History Nerd"  with Ben Franklin Mug with 25 of his witty, inspirational quotes and "Flour sack" Tea towels with the iconic Wayside Inn grist mill and barn, sold as a pair.

Old North Church Lantern History Nerd Mug Flour Sack Tea Towel

For stocking stuffers, eight of our bestselling stickers in one pack.

Sticker pack  Sticker pack



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August 30, 2017

Engaging more people in your historic site or with your history organization

In response to a post on our Facebook page about declining attendance at historic sites and history museums, Ryan Schwartz, a Gallery Educator at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia, provided a helpful list of examples.  His post follows.

I'd be very happy to offer up some examples that I have seen implemented at institutions that I have been a part of, as well as some programs that show true innovative thought I have seen implemented elsewhere.

Some examples from institutions I have worked:

  • Tavern Nights/Happy Hours/Pub Crawls that mix social lubrication with historical information and storytelling. Another version of this is Date Night for parents looking for a unique night out. 
  • Night at the Museum programs. I include in this margin a truly excellent Halloween program put on in a Midwestern living history site I once worked for that utilized its historic buildings and local talent to tell fright tales of old Europe and Africa and explore how they translated into the fabric of their new country. 
  • Partnering with local theatre organizations to develop short, strategically placed presentations that tie to museum's core mission. Having the flexibility to perform without the museum's walls also helps to project presence and draw in additional guests. Storytelling benches also fall under this category.
  • Developing online resources for teachers and homeschooling parents. Far from keeping schools away because the "information is online," we saw a marked uptick of attention from local teachers for field trips as well as garnering kind commentary from distance learners.
  • Taking advantage of historically-relevant popular culture, such as Hamilton and Turn, to generate programs and special talks.
  • Cultivating relationships with local gathering places and restaurants, which is especially useful in urban settings. Having popular restaurants promote an upcoming evening with a museum's content can help extend customer loyalty from one institution to another by association. 
  • Creating additional daily programming within "traditional museums" to keep content and guest experiences fresh. These can include daily talks on various subjects of interest, the insertion of costumed demonstrations and presentations, crafts, etc. 
  • Join with other local historic sites as a consortium to present joint programs and talks: we're never in competition with each-other, after all . . . just civics-based entities working towards the same cause.
  • Ensuring that your museum is marketed as being "family-friendly" while ensuring that the slogan is accurate in real-life. Creating hands-on learning spaces, offering Makers programs, including youth-friendly interactive elements as a part of or throughout museum galleries, etc. shows young parents that they can still indulge in a museum visit without the kids being an impediment. 
  • Dare to tackle current events and sensitive topics. We always worry about people being uninformed of issues relevant today, so we shouldn't be afraid to address those issues. We don't have to give them answers, but help them develop their own. Sensitive topics can also be an avenue when addressed sensitively: people are curious about them, if perhaps nervous about being the ones to broach the subject. So: let's talk about feminism, politics, LGBTQ, gender identity, and all these other taboos and how history can place these constructs into context. 
  • Be a community player. Our museums are almost inevitably part of a greater community and the movement towards creating stronger communities is ever-growing. Making sure that your institution is visible in supporting the community is exceptionally important-- craft fairs, farmers markets, community festivals, run/walks, these are all popular outreach possibilities which are incredibly viable for museums to interact with. 

The central theme of many of these is visibility: be seen as present and accessible. Get out beyond the walls and into the streets, be vibrant, be fun, be daring, be authentic. 

Some institutions I have witnessed creating great programs in the last years:

  • Colonial Williamsburg's "Under the Redcoat." For a weekend, the site was occupied by British troops (reenactors) leading up to the American victory at Yorktown. Guests were encouraged to take part in the action, serving as citizens, spies, and soldiers for the occupying army and the Revolutionary underground. Its worth noting that Williamsburg's recent financial woes, by their own admission, greatly stem from their for-profit side, rather than their educational mission.
  • Conner Prairie's Underground Railroad experience "Follow the North Star." In this program, students and guests engage with the issue of slavery in an honest and personally impacting way. 
  • Gettysburg National Military Park: Not only does NPS continue their fine legacy of informing the public, they offer exceptional talks, tours, living history demonstrations and, recently, this park has become the proving ground for NPS's concept to reshape the terrain to give guests a more immersive look into what the battlefield would have resembled in 1863.
  • Minnesota Historical Society's History on Wheels Program, bringing history to the masses, especially students. Minnesota is a vast state and many of its citizens are far from population centers where traditional museums are located, so they branched out with a neat little program. 
  • Pamplin Historical Park in Petersburg, VA, offers overnight and weekend-long experiences to immerse guests of all ages in the Civil War soldier's experience. 
  • Eastern State Penitentiary not only preserves the first major prison in America, but it offers incredible flexibility to exploring guests with audio tours as short as thirty minutes or as long several hours. Their recent exhibit, "Prisons Today" deals with remarkable clarity on current events issues of massed incarceration. They Halloween offering, "Terror Behind the Walls" is likewise apparently something to behold, though I've not attended myself. 
  • Fort Ticonderoga in upstate New York recently re-invented their interpretation program, leveling up their authenticity and taking great pains to ensure that live crafts are being demonstrated on a daily basis. This may be the best living history program in the continental United States and its success has recently been answered with an outpouring of funds for another round of upgrades.
  • The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum was and is one of the most remarkable in the nation. It deals unflinchingly yet sensitively with one of the most difficult-to-teach subjects of all time. They also have a fascinating program where interested guests can follow the life of an individual throughout the museum, which is a sobering and heart-wrenching experience. It has been emulated many times, notably by the Titanic traveling exhibit. 
  • The Museum of Popular Culture (Seattle, WA) is an exceptional space, though decidedly non-traditional. It does excellent work in exploring current events and detailing how phenomena like Game of Thrones, cell phones, or Star Wars shape the world and the mindset of the people who live in it.

I do not mean to leave any out, but these are the ones that I have seen or that have been recommended to me by those I trust and know. 



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