Web Projects: Special Issues

Historians and the Carceral State (June 2015)

June 2015 cover

The United States holds the world's largest prison population, caging more humans than any other nation on earth. In a situation that is not only internationally unparalleled but also historically unprecedented, every day more than 2 million people are barred somewhere within this nation's vast archipelago of prisons, jails, and immigrant detention centers. The June 2015 issue of the Journal of American History featured 14 articles by leading scholars engaging with the history of mass incarceration in the United States. This issue is freely available to the public.

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Oil in American History (June 2012)

Oil image.

The editors of the Journal of American History think this an important moment to focus on the overpowering presence of petroleum and its by-products in many different areas of American life. Our consulting editors, Brian Black, Karen Merrill, and Tyler Priest, join us in hoping that these essays and the Web project that accompanies this special issue will prove valuable for our readers. The online component provides links to all of the articles, five maps—"Supply," "Downstream," "Environmental/Industrial Disaster," "Political/Cultural," and "International"—which situate important resources and events geographically. Readers will also find a link to our podcast interview with the consulting editors, an expansive list of online resources and finally, a gallery of images.

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Abraham Lincoln at 200: History and Historiography (September 2009)

On the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln's birth, the September 2009 special issue of the Journal of American History brings together an international collection of scholars to debate the legacy and the future of Lincoln studies. It features articles selected from an open call for papers, Allen Guelzo's review of Lincoln scholarship that has appeared in the JAH, a round table centered on Matthew Pinsker's state-of-the-field essay, "Lincoln Theme 2.0," and an Interchange on the global Lincoln.

Our digital project, "Building the Digital Lincoln," offers a snapshot of how historians and other humanists have been helping build a new understanding of Lincoln with a series of innovative and powerful Web-based tools. In addition, we present an interactive bibliography of the articles, essays, and reviews that appeared in the JAH and the Mississippi Valley Historical Review from June 1914 through June 2009. Our quarterly podcast is a conversation between Matthew Pinsker and JAH editor Edward Linenthal.

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Through the Eye of Katrina: The Past as Prologue? (December 2007)

The December 2007 special issue of the Journal of American History, "Through the Eye of Katrina: The Past as Prologue?" provides a compelling first take on the history surrounding the disaster of Hurricane Katrina and its impact on New Orleans and the Gulf Coast. Twenty articles and essays, written by scholars who specialize on areas that surround this topic, discuss the Katrina disaster through multiple lenses, including political, urban, environmental, architectural, and musical history.

In this online presentation of this special issue, we have added closely-related images, sound, and video into the articles and, with the help of Leslie Parr, put together audio slideshows that document four New Orleans photographer's experiences in the aftermath of the storm. Contextual threads guide readers to related sections in other essays. Interactive maps are also incorporated into the essays. Integrated into the articles is a glossary that highlights important events and places in New Orleans's history. A separate resources section provides additional content that aims to increase readers' familiarity with New Orleans neighborhoods and culture.

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American Faces: Twentieth Century Photographs (June 2007)

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?

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Rethinking History and the Nation State: Mexico and the United States (September 1999)

To explore and rethink connections between history and the nation-state, the Journal of American History developed a special issue (September 1999) that centered on Mexico and the United States. While words convey part of the story, we concluded that pictures also evoke the issues very well—and differently. And so we created "picture galleries" to illustrate conflicts and meanings generated by the border itself; activities the Mexican government has created in its Mexican Communities Abroad program to win and retain allegiance from its migrants; and crucial events that have led to this crisis in Mexico.

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Interpreting the Declaration of Independence by Translation (March 1999)

The Journal of American History's round table on translations of the Declaration of Independence seemed like a natural candidate for online publication. Although the print journal was able to devote a substantial number of pages in the March 1999 issue to the round table, it could not also include the many versions of the Declaration of Independence, as it has been translated into different languages and at different times. On the Web, we are able to include this richer documentation. Where possible, moreover, we have also included "naïve" retranslations back into English so that those who don't know the different languages can get a sense of how some key concepts and words have been rendered.

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