Yale acquires new Frederick Douglass documents

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According to this piece at NPR, Yale University has acquired the seldom seen Frederick Douglass papers used by David Blight in his book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom.

Here is a taste:

For years, researchers interested in the life of Frederick Douglass have traveled to a retired surgeon’s dining room table in Savannah, Ga., to pore over his private collection of newspaper clippings, manuscripts and letters. Dr. Walter O. Evans’ collection is the largest known on the abolitionist and politician who was formerly enslaved. It’s one that Evans has been working on for decades.

“It consists of a great deal of personal material from the Douglass family — letters that he wrote to his sons and to various other people,” Evans tells NPR.

Earlier this month, the Beinecke Library at Yale University announced it had acquired the collection — which includes Douglass’ 1852 “What to the Slave is the Fourth of July?” speech with his own handwritten annotations.

Read the rest here.

The History Major is in Decline, but not at Yale

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Last week we reported on an American Historical Association study that revealed a 33% decline in the number of history majors in United States colleges and universities.  But this is not the case at Yale.  Here is a taste of Carly Wanna’s piece at Yale News:

Despite national trends, Yale’s undergraduate program remains one of the five most popular majors at Yale, with 129 students declared in the class of 2019 alone.

According to department chair Joanne Meyerowitz, Yale’s Department of History plans to add as many as 11 new professors of history, six of which would focus on non-American and non-European history.

“Yale has a long tradition of a robust history major, and the college places emphasis on the importance of the liberal arts,” Meyerowitz said. “Over the past few years, we’ve made a concerted effort to hire more faculty in African-, Asian- and Latin American history and, more generally, in international and transnational history.”

Read the entire piece here.

Here is my quick take:  Yale graduates get jobs regardless of major simply because of the Yale name and alumni base.  Yale students are thus able to take more risks in choosing a major.  Thoughts?

Chris Dudley Could Wield a Bar Glass, but He Couldn’t Hit a Free Throw to Save His Life

Have you seen the latest in the Brett Kavanaugh affair?  During his junior year at Yale, Kavanaugh got into a bar fight.  During the fight his friend Chris Dudley, a 6’11” center on the Yale basketball team, smashed a glass over the head of a guy who they original thought was the lead singer of UB40.  (Yes, you are reading this correctly).

As a long-suffering New York Nets fan, I can safely say that Dudley was more accurate with a glass in a bar fight than he ever was from the free-throw line.  I think Marv Albert would agree:

 

The Jonathan Edwards Center Adds to its Collection

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In case you have not heard, Andover Newton Theological School (Newton, Massachusetts) is now affiliated with Yale Divinity School. According to this piece in the New Haven Register, the merger will bring additional Jonathan Edwards material to the the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale.

Here is a taste:

When Andover Newton Theological School announced it would be moving to New Haven and affiliating with Yale Divinity School, Stephen Crocco and Ken Minkema took a special interest.

It meant that a lot of overdue books borrowed from in the seminary’s Jonathan Edwards collection would be returned after about 150 years.

Crocco is the seminary’s librarian and Minkema is executive director of the Jonathan Edwards Center at the divinity school, the premier research institution devoted to one of America’s greatest theologians.

“As Edwards’ editor, it brings great relief, I sleep better at night knowing these things are all reunited again,” said Minkema, who is executive editor of the 26 volumes of “The Works of Jonathan Edwards,” published by Yale University Press.

Andover Newton, the nation’s oldest graduate seminary, announced in 2015 that it would move to New Haven and in July the two schools’ officials signed a formal affiliation agreement. There’s a lot of overlap in the 100,000 volumes being shipped from Newton, Massachusetts, but about a dozen boxes contain the Edwards material.

Read the rest here.

How is the History Major Doing at Your Institution?

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On Friday I posted about the revival of the history major at Yale University.  I linked to an article in the Yale Daily News that reported on the growing popularity of this major at the prestigious Ivy-League institution of higher learning.

The article quotes Alan Mikhail, the History Director of Undergraduate Studies at Yale. He writes:

“I think our current historical moment is also drawing students to history,” Mikhail said. “Both economic and political modeling failed to predict and then address the financial crisis of a few years ago and to forecast the outcome of the election of 2016. The tools of historians are better suited to the work of understanding the world.”

I am intrigued by Mikhail’s statement.  I am curious to see if the “historical moment” in which we live is prompting more high school and college students to pursue the study of history.  Since I posted this piece on Friday several college and university history faculty have contact me to tell me that the number of history majors are rising at their institutions.

How about you?  Are you seeing an rise in history majors?  Does this revival extend beyond the hallowed halls of Yale?

The Revival of the History Major at Yale

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According to this article in the Yale Daily News, history is the most popular major among the class of 2019.

Here is a taste:

History is the most popular major among members of the class of 2019 who have already declared, signaling a potential return for what was once Yale’s most popular program of study.

Until the early 2000s, the history major was the largest at Yale before its popularity began to wane, which History Director of Undergraduate Studies Alan Mikhail said was consistent with a national trend. History is the third-most popular major in the classes of 2017 and 2018, trailing behind economics and political science. Students who are not majoring in science, technology, engineering and math fields are required to declare their major no later than the start of their junior year, while students in STEM fields are expected to do so during their sophomore year.

“In enrollments, majors and faculty, Yale History has historically been one of the largest departments at Yale,” Mikhail said. “It is one of the most renowned history departments anywhere. Our faculty publish books that change the profession and sometimes even the world.”

The recent revival of interest in history stands in contrast to a trend among undergraduates nationwide away from the humanities and toward STEM fields. According to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the number of bachelor’s degrees that American universities conferred in the humanities has been declining steadily every year, with one report noting an 8.7 percent drop from 2012 to 2014.

Mikhail attributed history’s increased ranking to the department’s efforts in restructuring the major to allow students to focus on a specific topic. The department also revamped its course offerings, hired new faculty and sponsored campuswide events to engage the entire Yale community in matters of historical inquiry and thought, he added.

“I think our current historical moment is also drawing students to history,” Mikhail said. “Both economic and political modeling failed to predict and then address the financial crisis of a few years ago and to forecast the outcome of the election of 2016. The tools of historians are better suited to the work of understanding the world.”

Read the rest here. Let’s hope that this is the start of a trend.