Episode 71: Writing History for Young Readers


Have you ever wanted to write a children’s, middle-grade, or young adult history book? How do you get started? What is the process like? Do I need an agent? In this episode, we talk about writing history for young readers with former Smithsonian educator and author Tim Grove. Tim is the author, most recently, of Star Spangled: The Story of a Flag, a Battle, and the American Anthem. Learn more about his work at TimGrove.Net.

Listen here.

A Museum Veteran Writes About Historical Thinking at Historical Sites

cover-higher-resMy friend Tim Grove spent the first part of his career working for the Smithsonian.  He recently left his post at the Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. and started a history consulting business.  This will also give him more time to write.

You may also remember Tim from Episode 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast.

Check out Tim’s article on the importance of historical thinking at History News, the magazine of the American Association for State and Local History.  Here is a taste:

Clearly, a part of the past can include baggage. Historian John Fea writes that the past can shame us. “The story of human history is filled with accounts of slavery, violence, scientific backwardness, injustice, genocide, racism, and other dark episodes that might make us embarrassed to be part of the human race. If our fellow human beings can engage in such sad, wrong, or disgraceful acts, then what is stopping us from doing the same?” As part of our job, public historians need to help the public navigate the complex reactions that come with telling and processing truth. Fea writes of a certain humility that comes with studying the past. History done well helps people to be empathetic with people from the past, an attempt to step into their shoes and try to look at the world as they did. According to historian John Lewis Gaddis, “Getting into other people’s minds requires that your own mind be open to their impressions—their hopes and fears, their beliefs and dreams, their sense of right and wrong, their perceptions of the world and where they fit within it.”

As we attempt to understand another person’s world, we gain empathy for them. Empathy, of course, is not the same as sympathy. Sympathy is feeling compassion or sadness for someone’s hardship. Empathy is an understanding of a person’s motivations for a decision or action—not necessarily an agreement with their motivations. It is striving to understand their point of view.

Thanks for the plug, Tim! Read the entire article here.

Are You Listening to The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast?

podcast-icon1On Tuesday we will drop Episode 6 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  It will focus on the ways we narrate the past. Our guest will be Nate DiMeo, the host, chief storyteller, and producer of the wildly popular podcast The Memory Palace.

While you are waiting for this episode to drop, I want to encourage you to get caught up with past episodes, subscribe to the podcast, or write an ITunes review.

Here is where we have been so far:

Episode 0: We introduce the podcast and explain the meaning of phrase “the way of improvement leads home.”

Episode 1:  We talk with Jim Grossman, Executive Director of the American Historical Association, about the power of history in American society and the twitter hashtag #everythinghasahistory

Episode 2: Daniel K. Williams, author of Defenders of the Unborn: The Pro-Life Movement Before Roe v. Wade reflects historically on this controversial issue in ways that will benefit listeners on both side of the debate.

Episode 3:  Yoni Appelbaum, the Washington Bureau Chief at The Atlantic, dares us to be historians in public and offers some ways to think historically about the current presidential campaign.

Episode 4: Stanford professor and history education guru Sam Wineburg, the author of Historical Thinking and Other Unnatural Acts, talks historical thinking, Common Core, and the Teaching American history grants

Episode 5:  We talk about “encountering the past” in and out of museums and historical sites with Tim Grove, Chief of Museum Education at the Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum and the author of A Grizzly in the Mail and other Adventures in American History

In addition to these interviews, all of our episodes include a conversation about history with producer Drew Dyrli Hermeling and a historical essay or story related to the theme of the episode.

Episode 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home Podcast Drops on Sunday

podcast-icon1We are halfway through the Spring 2016 season at The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast.  In Episode 5: “Encountering the Past,” we talk with author and public historian Tim Grove about his books, his love of history (he has some great stories) and his involvement in the History Relevance Campaign.

If you are unfamiliar with the podcast click here or head over to ITunes to download episodes and subscribe.  If you like what we are doing tell your friends or consider writing a review.

Episode 5 drops here and on ITunes on Sunday, March 13, 2016.  Enjoy!

Will Donald Trump Replace David Skorton as Head of the Smithsonian?


Ted Cruz would like to see it happen.

In last night’s debate he suggested that Donald Trump was more qualified to be the president of the Smithsonian than President of the United States.

First of all, I am not sure the statement is true.

Second, Cruz meant this as an insult to Trump, but it is really an insult to museum workers everywhere, especially at the Smithsonian.  (By the way, this is a good time to say that Episode 5 of The Way of Improvement Leads Home podcast will drop on Sunday.  Our guest is Tim Grove, chief of education at the Air and Space Museum).

David Skorton currently runs the Smithsonian.  I don’t think his job is in jeopardy.

And I don’t think Ted Cruz will be getting the museum-workers vote in upcoming primaries.

The History Relevance Campaign

HRCLast night I had dinner with Tim Grove, an award-winning writer, public historian at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum, and one of the driving forces behind the History Relevance Campaign.  Stay tuned for an Author’s Corner interview with Tim on his recent book A Grizzly in the Mail and Other Adventures in American History.

Most of our conversation revolved around the History Relevance Campaign.  Tim and his colleagues are passionate about bringing history and historical thinking to bear on civic life.  Head over to the website and take some time to explore.  I strongly encourage everyone to read the “Values Statement.”  It makes a compelling case for why history is essential to ourselves, our communities, and our future.

As someone who is passionate about bringing history and historical thinking to public audiences, I wholeheartedly endorse the work of the History Relevance Campaign.   A whole host of history organizations and institutions agree with me.  The Values Statement has been endorsed by the Organization of American Historians, National History Day,  World History Association, Virginia Historical Society, Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission, Oral History Association, National Council on Public History, Massachusetts Historical Society, History Channel, George Washington’s Mount Vernon, George Mason University History Department, Civil War Trust, Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, American Association of State and Local History, and many more.

If you want to make a case for the importance of history in our world today, the History Relevance Campaign is worth a look.   You can connect with them as well on their LinkedIn site.