Mississippi & Rebel Heritage; MLK, Time magazine & historical memory; Princeton & Wilson; Vikings in the New World; Latest on Tut; Historical hoaxes


So, it is Confederate Heritage Month in Mississippi, and the state’s two largest Universities are dealing with that on campus. The picture above comes to us from Mississippi State University in Starkville, where someone (presumably some enlightened students) left this chalked message on the sidewalk. Marvelously brilliant. Meanwhile in Oxford, they are still struggling with what to do about a Confederate monument on campus. A committee was formed that added a sign to place the monument into context, but what they came up with is very weak. Strangely, their own History Department was NOT consulted (head scratching), so the historians there took it upon themselves to come up with a better recommendation. Kevin Levin shares it with us over on his Civil War Memory site. I think it comes up short in interpreting the specific monument and its dedication, but it is a step in the right direction and hopefully the University will respond positively. (How in the heck could they not have consulted their own professional historians on campus in the first place??) If they do makes the proposed change, I wonder if it could start a trend and serve as a model for monument contextualization.

And speaking of historical memory; Today is the anniversary of MLK’s assassination, and Time has posted a short essay explaining why the magazine made the decision on this week back in 1968 to place LBJ (and his shocking choice not to seek reelection) on their cover instead of King. It was a tough call, but now it is a reminder that what we deem as the most important current events sometimes do not have the largest impact on historical memory.

Meanwhile, up in New Jersey, Princeton has made the decision to keep Woodrow Wilson’s name on some of the buildings on campus, despite his very complicated and regressive views on race.

A “space archeologist” from the University of Alabama Birmingham (UAB. My undergrad alma mater) made international news this past week by announcing that she found evidence of a long term Viking settlement in Newfoundland that could substantially alter our sketchy understanding of when Europeans first came to the Americas. Pretty exciting stuff and evidence of positive intellectual activity going on in Alabama 🙂

And speaking of high tech archeology, what is the latest news about the work being done in King Tut’s tomb to discover if there is another burial chamber possibly containing Nefertiti? It was announced last week that the radar scanning has thus far proved inconclusive, but researchers are still optimistic that they are close to a major find. Guess we will just have to keep waiting.

I resisted the temptation to post a bunch of hogwash and fake stories on April 1st, but here’s a good list to make up for it. Seven “Historical Hoaxes.” There’s good stuff on the list (particularly the “Cardiff Giant,”) but I wish they had included Barnum’s “Feejee mermaid.”


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