Journal of American History

Presidential Address

Patriot Acts: Public History in Public Service

In his presidential address to the Organization of American Historians, James Oliver Horton argues that if the promise of America is to be fulfilled, its people must understand its history. A widespread comprehension of our national history is critical to contemporary conversation about public issues. Horton believes that professional historians have to play a crucial role in providing context for public debates over politics and policy. Despite the contentious nature of public history, Horton challenges American historians to deepen public historical knowledge and to support history education in pre-college classrooms, national parks, museums, and other sites where many people learn about the history of the United States. (pp. 801–810) Read online >


Midnight Rangers: Costume and Performance in the Reconstruction–Era Ku Klux Klan

Photograph of a Tennessee Ku Klux Klan rider on horseback and in full regalia
Courtesy Tennessee State Museum.

Popular entertainment shaped Reconstruction-era Ku Klux Klan terror and its meaning for Klansmen, their victims, and witnesses. Rather than presenting themselves as silent ghostly figures in white robes, many Klansmen committed atrocities while wearing bizarre costumes such as masquerade disguises, women’s dresses, or squirrel-skin masks. The nighttime productions of Klansmen sometimes included animal noises, faked foreign accents, and brief dramatic performances for their victims. Asserting the importance of the Klan’s theatrics, Elaine Frantz Parsons shows that just as Klansmen used such popular cultural traditions as minstrelsy and the circus to spread their message of white superiority, so popular cultural venues incorporated the Klan into their acts. (pp. 811–36) Read online >

“Made by Toile”? Tourism, Labor, and the Construction of the Colorado Landscape, 1858–1917

Rhymes of the Rockies was one of many promotional volumes that railroad companies produced to lure tourists to Colorado.
Courtesy Denver Public Library.

Close your eyes and imagine Colorado: Is anyone working? Do you see pristine wilderness, or does your image have room for those who perform the physical labor that maintains a modern society? Those questions are less innocent than they might appear. As toil in Colorado from the 1870s to the 1910s taught an old railroader named John Watt, erasing working people from representations of past and place can have real consequences. Confined to a county poor farm, Watt wrote letters that prompt Thomas G. Andrews to explore the causes and consequences of how tourists saw—and, from the 1860s on, increasingly failed to see—work and workers in the Colorado landscape. (pp. 837–63) Read online >

“The Most Wonderful Thing Has Happened to Me in the Army”: Psychology, Citizenship, and American Higher Education in World War II

The Army Information and Education Division distributed informational pamphlets such as this one to help returning soldiers weigh their postwar employment and education options.
Courtesy War Department, G.I. Roundtable Series.

Christopher P. Loss examines the way American higher education contributed to nation building and new conceptions of democratic citizenship during World War II. Arguing that the 1944 G.I. Bill of Rights was far from novel, Loss explores the army’s soldier education programs before the G.I. Bill. Those programs satisfied many soldiers’ demands for self-improvement and access to social mobility. They also reflected officials’ growing faith in the psychological power of education to ensure soldiers’ “adjustment” to life within and outside the military. Loss concludes that the postwar expansion of higher education linked citizens’ desire for a better life to the state’s pursuit of political, economic, and emotional stability. (pp. 864–91) Read online >

Sound and Fury; or, Much Ado about Nothing? Cochlear Implants in Historical Perspective

In response to a 1988 march on the U.S. Capitol demanding that Gallaudet University, which serves deaf students, hire a Deaf president, the cartoonist Mike Keefe depicted a Deaf man signing ‘We Shall Overcome.’
Courtesy Mike Keefe.

R. A. R. Edwards introduces readers to the uneasy relationship the American Deaf community has had with assistive technology throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The medical community has viewed the development of devices to relieve deafness—from ear trumpets to hearing aids to cochlear implants—as a sign of progress, and most hearing people have agreed. Some Deaf people have viewed the same progression as a thinly veiled assault on Deaf culture, maintaining that deafness is a cultural condition in need of understanding, not a medical condition in need of alleviation. Edwards probes this nexus of technology, culture, and disability to shed light on both the history of the Deaf as a minority group and the future of disability studies. (pp. 892–920) Read online >

Exhibition Reviews

Image courtesy Jacqueline Calder, Vermont History Center, Barre.
Courtesy Jacqueline Calder, Vermont History Center.
  • “Brooklyn Works: Four Hundred Years of Making a Living in Brooklyn,” by Kathleen Hulser (pp. 921–923) Read online >
  • “Rio Grande: The Storied River,” by Don B. Graham (p. 924) Read online >
  • “Old Montréal in a New Light,” by Ronald Rudin (pp. 925–6) Read online >
  • National Hansen’s Disease Museum, by Roy Lechtreck (pp. 927–8) Read online >
  • “Freedom and Unity: One Ideal, Many Stories,” by Mark Case (pp. 929–30) Read online >
  • “A. K. A. Houdini,” by John Baumann (pp. 931–33) Read online >
  • Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, by John R. Decker (pp. 934–37) Read online >
  • Mill City Museum, by Andrew Urban (pp. 938–41) Read online >
  • “Beyond the Cleavers: Life in the 1950s,” by Steven T. Sheehan (pp. 941–44) Read online >

Book Reviews

Dec. 2005, Vol. 92 No. 3

Alphabetical by the last name of the book's first author or editor.


Movie Reviews

Courtesy Rebecca Cerese/Zoe Cohen
Courtesy Rebecca Cerese/Zoe Cohen.
  • “Reel Review 2004–2005”, Robert Brent Toplin, ed. (pp. 1080–81) Read online >
  • Transforming America: U.S. History since 1877, by Laura Witten-Keller (pp. 1082–83) Read online >
  • Nat Turner: A Troublesome Property, by Douglas R. Egerton (p. 1084) Read online >
  • Young Lincoln: The Early Life of Abraham Lincoln, 1816–1830, by Dan Monroe (p. 1085) Read online >
  • The Alamo, by Stanley Corkin (pp. 1086–87) Read online >
  • The Great Transatlantic Cable, by David Hochfelder (p. 1088) Read online >
  • Gettysburg: Pickett’s Charge, by Lesley J. Gordon (p. 1089) Read online >
  • Phantom of the Operator (Le fantôm de l’opératrice), by Sharon Hartman Strom (p. 1090) Read online >
  • Emma Goldman, by Judith Smith (p. 1091) Read online >
  • The Aviator, by David T. Courtwright (p. 1092) Read online >
  • The Massie Affair, by Franklin Ng (p. 1094) Read online >
  • Cinderella Man, by Thomas Doherty (pp. 1095–96) Read online >
  • The Fight, by Jack E. Davis (pp. 1097–98) Read online >
  • Imaginary Witness: Hollywood and the Holocaust, by Robert H. Abzug (p. 1099) Read online >
  • Building the Alaska Highway, by William R. Morrison (p. 1100) Read online >
  • Victory in the Pacific, by Hal Friedman (p. 1101) Read online >
  • The Great Raid, by Alan R. Millett (pp. 1101–102) Read online >
  • Kinsey (dir. and prod. by Barak Goodman and John Maggio ); and Kinsey (dir. by Bill Condon ), by Leisa D. Meyer (pp. 1103–105) Read online >
  • Broadway: The American Musical, by David Sanjek (p. 1106) Read online >
  • Tupperware!, by Lynn Y. Weiner (p. 1107) Read online >
  • Fidel Castro, by Thomas M. Leonard (pp. 1108–109) Read online >
  • February One: The Story of the Greensboro Four, by Robert A. Pratt (p. 1110) Read online >
  • Howard Zinn: You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train, by Ron Briley (p. 1111) Read online >
  • RFK, by Gregory Bush (p. 1112) Read online >
  • Guerrilla: The Taking of Patty Hearst, by Walter L. Hixson (p. 1113–14) Read online >
  • The Fog of War: Eleven Lessons from the Life of Robert S. McNamara, by Benjamin T. Harrison (p. 1115) Read online >
  • With God on Our Side: George W. Bush and the Rise of the Religious Right in America, by D. G. Hart (p. 1116) Read online >

Web site Reviews

  • Oneida Indian Nation: Culture and History, by Gerald F. Reid (p. 1118) Read online >
  • African American Perspectives: Pamphlets from the Daniel A. P. Murray Pamphlet Collection, 1818–1907, by Randall K. Burkett (p. 1119) Read online >
  • The Chinese in California, 1850–1925, by Robert G. Lee (p. 1120) Read online >
  • Picturing Modern America, by John P. Spencer (p. 1121) Read online >
  • The Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Digital Archive, by Allida M. Black (p. 1121) Read online >
  • The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, by James N. Gregory (p. 1122) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

Browse “Recent Scholarship” listing >

Recent Scholarship is available as a searchable database, Recent Scholarship Online >

On the cover:

Elite tourists such as this well-dressed hunter journeyed to the Colorado mountains for primitive play. As tourists mimicked frontier work, they overlooked their dependence on the labor of the guides and other service workers who blurred into the background. “Hunting Party,” by Harry Rhoads, c. 1900–1910. Courtesy Denver Public Library, Western History Collection, Rh-5447. See Thomas G. Andrews, “‘Made by Toile’? Tourism, Labor, and the Construction of the Colorado Lanscape, 1858–1917,” p. 837.

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