Can we have a history without historians?

The 1776 Commission. The 1619 Project. The renaming of San Francisco schools. I have weighed-in on all three of these cases and in every case I wondered why more historians were not involved.

Here is James Grossman, director of the American Historical Association:

I’m wrestling with a dilemma, a paradox. Media, social and otherwise, want to know why history has seemingly lost status in higher education. Majors are declining; enrollments have stabilized unevenly across institutions. Departments are being consolidated and losing positions as chairs are told to tighten their belts. 

At the same time, history itself—along with history education and the public commemoration of historical events—pervades these same media, the focus of battles over the very essence and future of the United States. The already iconic photographs from the January 6 insurrection at the US Capitol reek of history: medieval imagery, the 1775 Gadsden flag, abundant Confederate emblems. Reporters ask historians whether 1619 or 1776 holds the key to our national identity, or why state legislators have disparaged a particular set of curricula and introduced bills that list forbidden concepts, topics, and perspectives. 

Read the rest here.