Journal of American History


Public at the Creation: Place, Memory and Historical Practice in the Mississippi Valley Historical Association

Clarence S. Paine, secretary of the Nebraska State Historical Society, provided the vision for a historical society based in “the Valley” that would bring together amateurs, state historical society representatives, other “public” historians, and academics.
Courtesy Nebraska State Historical Society, Lincoln, Nebraska.

On the centennial of the Organization of American Historians (oah), Ian Tyrrell re-evaluates its formative years as the Mississippi Valley Historical Association (mvha). That association, he argues, held strong attachments to an imagined place, nurtured by its members through collective practices of memory and expressed in now-forgotten forays into public history. These endeavors raise questions about professional history's supposed detachment from the public and, more generally, about the genealogies of American historiography. Through its practices, the association promoted a distinctive research culture focused on the Mississippi Valley. Tyrrell seeks to recover a lost historical world that bequeathed important traditions to contemporary scholarship. (pp. 19–46) Read online >

The Army in the Marketplace: Recruiting an All-Volunteer Force

Civilian young men in the early 1970s wore their hair long, and for many the standard military haircut symbolized the loss of personal freedom and the surrender of individuality. Here, “Today's Army” promises potential recruits: “We care more about how you think, than how you cut your hair.”
Courtesy Smithsonian Institution.

In 1973 the United States abandoned the draft in favor of an all-volunteer military, despite the warnings of the House Armed Services Committee that such a force could be achieved only through a draft. The primary mover behind the shift to a volunteer force was neither public discontent nor youthful protesters, but a group of free-market economists surrounding Richard M. Nixon. Beth Bailey analyzes the move from a troubled military system based on the obligations of (male) citizenship to one that relied on market logic and on sophisticated marketing campaigns that pinpointed the supposed psychological needs of America's youth and promoted military service as a way to fulfill them. (pp. 47–74) Read online >

For suggestions on how to use this article in the U.S. history classroom, see our Teaching the JAH; Web project at

Black Civil Rights and Liberal Anticommunism: The naacp in the Early Cold War

According to a number of historians, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (naacp) squandered an opportunity to foment sweeping racial and social change when it embraced anticommunism during the early Cold War era. Manfred Berg engages this criticism, contesting both the empirical basis that undegirds it and the proposition that a historical opportunity was lost. By probing the organization's records, he dispels the myth that the naacp purged thousands of Communists during the McCarthy era. Moreover, he argues that the naacp had valid reasons to distance itself from the radical Left. In so doing, Berg contributes to a reassessment of both the history of the naacp and the relationship between the Cold War and civil rights. (pp. 75–96) Read online >

Round Table

American Faces: Twentieth Century Photographs

This photograph of Herman A. “Germany” Schaefer, taken in 1911, was the millionth image scanned from the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division collections and made available online.
Courtesy Library of Congress.

Photographs represent a ubiquitous feature of contemporary life. As the essays collected in the “American Faces” round table testify, photographs also serve as primary-source documents that yield important information about the past and illuminate larger historical issues. The authors of these pieces—David Allen, Claude Cookman, Ted Englemann, Anthony Fernandez III, Jonathan Hyman, Michael Lesy, Colleen McDannell, Barbara Orbach Natanson, Eric Sandweiss, Robert Hariman, and John Louis Lucaites—include professional and amateur photographers as well as historians and archivists. Their writings make it clear that there is no single way to understand a particular image. Although a photographer's vision might suggest one way to think about an image, the subjects and viewers can construct alternative meanings; moreover the readings change not only across cultural and social groups but across time as well. In her rejoinder, Martha A. Sandweiss argues that, taken together, these essays raise critical questions about the use of photographs by historians: What does a historian need to know to interpret a photograph as a historical document? And how stable are images as records of the past?

The essays, their illustrations, and additional photographs are available online. Photographs that were originally in color appear in color there. See

  • “Introduction,”
    Donna Drucker and Edward Linenthal (pp. 97–8) Read online >
  • “Worth a Billion Words? Library of Congress Pictures Online,”
    Barbara Orbach Natanson (pp. 99–111) Read online >
  • “Religious History and Visual Culture,”
    Colleen McDannell (pp. 112–21) Read online >
  • “The Times Square Kiss: Iconic Photography and Civil Renewal in U.S. Public Culture,”
    Robert Hariman and John Louis Lucaites (pp. 122–31) Read online >
  • “‘The Day in Its Color’,”
    Eric Sandweiss (pp. 132–42) Read online >
  • “Visual Literacy,”
    Michael Lesy,” (pp. 143–53) Read online >
  • “An American Atrocity: The My Lai Massacre Concretized in a Victim's Face,”
    Claude Cookman (pp. 154–62) Read online >
  • “Where Are Our Fathers?”
    Ted Englemann (pp. 163–71) Read online >
  • “An Image from Oklahoma City,”
    David Allen (pp. 172–78) Read online >
  • “Remembering the Oklahoma City Bombing,”
    Anthony Fernandez (pp. 179–82) Read online >
  • “The Public Face of 9/11: Memory and Portraiture in the Landscape,”
    Jonathan Hyman (pp. 183–92) Read online >
  • “Image and Artifact: The Photograph as Evidence in the Digital Age,”
    Martha A. Sandweiss (pp. 193–202) Read online >

Exhibition Reviews

  • “Slavery in New York,” by Laura M. Chmielewski (pp. 203–08) Read online >
  • “Crossing Cultural Fences: The Intersecting Material World of American Indians and Euro-Americans,” by Mary Murphy (pp. 203–12) Read online >
  • “Ours to Fight For: American Jews in the Second World War,” by Liz Sevcenko (pp. 212–15) Read online >
  • “The Other Promised Land: Vacationing, Identity, and the Jewish-American Dream,” by Nancy Davis (pp. 216–17) Read online >
  • “The Times They Are A-Changin’,” by Jeffrey W. Pickron (pp. 218–20) Read online >
  • “From Cambodia to Carolina: Tracing the Journeys of New Southerners,” by Thomas F. Jackson (pp. 221–23) Read online >
  • “Legends of Deadwood,” by Andrew Urban (pp. 224–31) Read online >

Book Reviews

June 2007, Vol. 94 No. 1

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


Web site Reviews

Web site reviews are available without a subscription.

  • The Encyclopedia of Chicago, by Philip Ethington (pp. 363–364)
    Read online >
  • ucla Digital Archive of Popular American Music, by Ronald G. Walters (p. 365) Read online >
  • Bob Hope and American Variety, by LeRoy Ashby (p. 365) Read online >
  • Jacob Lawrence: Over the Line; and Jacob Lawrence: Exploring Stories, by Stephen Robertson (p. 366) Read online >

Letters to the Editor


Recent Scholarship

Browse “Recent Scholarship” listing >

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

cover image

On the cover:

As the U.S. Army planned its move to an all-volunteer force, military leaders and their admen recognized that widespread antimilitary sentiment and a youth culture largely at odds with traditional military values would discourage volunteers. The recruiting slogan created by N. W. Ayer in 1971, “Today's Army Wants to Join You,” built on marketing research that found young men wanted their individuality respected. This advertisement proclaims: “Today's Army is willing to pay that price.” Courtesy N. W. Ayer Advertising Agency Records, Archive Center, National Museum of American History, Behring Center, Smithsonian Institution. See Beth Bailey, “The Army in the Marketplace: Recruiting an All-Volunteer Force,” p. 47.

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