“Scholars, please make your research available for free,” asks Harvard University.

Being an international teacher with limited resources, I appreciate the research I can find online for free.  I LOVE Wikipedia!  I love its democratic approach to information.  Admittedly, I would like to access some serious scholarship online and I sometimes am fortunate enough to get a colleague from a school or university in the States to send me some up-to-date articles.

Well, I guess I am not alone.  Even Harvard University, an institution known for its deep pockets, is turning to its scholars and asking them to make their research available for free.   According to Harvard’s Faculth Advisory Council,  “Harvard’s annual cost for journals from these providers now approaches $3.75M.”

Harvard’s Council wrote a memorandum on April 17, 2012 stating, “We write to communicate an untenable situation facing the Harvard Library. Many large journal publishers have made the scholarly communication environment fiscally unsustainable and academically restrictive.” (http://isites.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do?keyword=k77982&tabgroupid=icb.tabgroup143448)

Harvard pleaded with its scholars to publish its research through open sources that can be found online without cost.  The memo asked Harvard’s scholars to trade ‘prestige’ for open access.

In the past, I wrote articles for academic journals and all I received in return was a few copies of my article.  I must admit, I did feel grateful for the modicum of academic prestige I attained by being published by Columbia University or Maastricht University in the Netherlands.  Are some of you scholars out there making a large income from writing articles for academic journals?

I would appreciate it if JSTOR would make its vast number of academic articles available to little schools and individuals scholars for an affordable price.  $10-$20 a month?

I believe that research, ideas and academic conversations should be available for an affordable cost to any academic, whether they be connected to Harvard or working independently.

Please, scholars, let us access information whether or not we can afford to visit your beautiful libraries.   Whether I am teaching and writing in Lutsk, Ukraine or Tallinn, Estonia, I am grateful to academics who are willing to share their ideas and new research.

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Armenian Genocide

Today is the 97th anniversary of the beginning of the Armenian Genocide.

I finding it surprising, if not shocking, that today no major newspaper has mentioned the genocide that began 97 years ago.

How can we change that? Who will remember the Armenians? Genocide is not something that any of us can afford to forget.

My grandfather, an Irish immigrant who dedicated his life to working in American law, once told me that we must defend the least of our people, because if we do not, who will later defend us?

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List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll


List of wars and anthropogenic disasters by death toll

This Wikipedia site,  is fascinating!  One of the most interesting I have seen.    Kudos to the individual/s who put so much work and study into this work.  Wow!

I don’t mean to be so macabre, but then we historians love blood and drama.

I could make a whole curriculum just researching each of these events.  I have never heard of many of them: Lushan Rebellion? Conquests of Timur? possible 100 million deaths during American colonization?

I like the tables as they report high and low estimates.  Great footnotes for me to explore.  It gives an excellent opportunity for me and my students to evaluate the sources.

Aw! So much to read and learn and so little time. 😉

Also, check out this interesting blog: Statistics fon Violent Conflict by Filip Spagnoli.

Do you think there is more or less violence in the 20th and 21st centuries compared to other centuries?

Watch this T.E.D. talk.  See what Steven Pinker says.

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Social Studies Twitter Project

This Middle School project is part of an effort to bring creativity into the class and to encourage the use of technology in student work.

1.  Webpage: http://isehistory2012.weebly.com/international-human-rights.html

2.  Twitter: #isehistory

3.  Paper.li site: http://paper.li/mbfitzmahan/1329575422

4.  The students are also reading sections of Samantha Power’s The Problem from Hell.  We will watch a PBS Documentary (2006): “The Armenian Genocide.”

5.  The student’s final assessment will be to publish a paper version magazine based on the Tweets, photos and editorials (each will write an editorial in lieu of a traditional essay).

6.  Here is a first attempt to draft a publication with  Storify.com.  Armenian Teenagers: 1915.


The 9th and 10th Grade Social Studies class at the International School of Estonia are developing a real life Twitter project on Ottoman Armenians in 1915.  This project is part of their unit on International Human Rights: Genocide and the Armenians 1915-18.

Each student has adopted the persona of a fictitious Armenian teen, living during the time of the genocide.  Everyday the students write tweets on their life as these Armenian teenagers living in Eastern Turkey.

Everyday the students write tweets on their life as Armenian teenagers
living in Eastern Turkey.   The students talk about the food they eat, the clothes they wear, their families, their homes, and their religion.
Recently, they learned to write their Armenian adopted names
in Armenian script.  A few of the Tweets have mentioned
some uncomfortable experiences with some Turkish neighbors,
although a few Tweets have spoken of friendships with Turkish teens.Come and join us.
Meet the victims of a crime against humanity,
before the atrocities began.  Become their friends and empathize with the Armenian teens as they deal with life everyday just as most teens do today.
Check out our Tweets as more serious problems develop.
Go to Twitter: #isehistory. Click on the sidebar to read
some of the more recent Tweets available on paper.li.

Young Armenian in Ottoman Turkey.

Charles Darwin’s Birthday

February 12

Not only Abraham Lincoln was born on February 12th.  So was Darwin!  Who caused the most ripples in history?

Here is an interesting blog, “Evolution and Wonder.” It includes downloads and podcasts.

Here are excerpts from Darwin’s diary and notebooks.

German soldiers preserved in World War I trench discovered

10 February 2012

Twenty-one German soldiers entombed in a perfectly preserved World War One shelter have been discovered 94 years after they were killed.

“The men were part of a larger group of 34 who were buried alive when an Allied shell exploded above the tunnel in 1918 causing it to cave in.

Thirteen bodies were recovered from the underground shelter but the remaining men had to be left under a mountain of mud as it was too dangerous to retrieve them.

Nearly a century later French archaeologists stumbled upon the mass grave on the former Western Front during excavation work for a road building project.

Many of the skeletal remains were found in the same positions the men had been in at the time of the collapse, prompting experts to liken the scene to Pompeii.

A number of the soldiers were discovered sitting upright on a bench, one was lying in his bed and another was in the foetal position having been thrown down a flight of stairs.”


Anniversary of Nixon trip to China: February 21-28, 1972

Assignment: China – “The Week That Changed The World”

“Richard Nixon’s visit to China in February 1972 changed the course of history — reshaping the global balance of power and opening the door to the establishment of relations between the People’s Republic and the United States.
It was also a milestone in the history of journalism. Since the Communist revolution of 1949, a suspicious regime in Beijing had barred virtually all U.S. reporters from China. For the Nixon trip, however, the Chinese agreed to accept nearly 100 journalists, and to allow the most dramatic events — Nixon’s arrival in Beijing, Zhou Enlai’s welcoming banquet, visits to the Great Wall and the Forbidden City — to be televised live.

The coverage was arguably as important as the details of the diplomacy. It profoundly transformed American and international perceptions of a long-isolated China, generated the public support Nixon needed to change U.S. policy, and laid the groundwork for Beijing’s gradual move to open China to greater international media coverage.

While the outlines of the Nixon trip are familiar, the behind-the-scenes story of how that momentous event was covered is much less well-known. This segment of Assignment: China focuses on journalists who went with Nixon and includes interviews with those officials who sought to shape the coverage. The Week that Changed the World contains previously unreleased footage of the Nixon visit, as well as interviews with journalistic luminaries such as Dan Rather and Bernard Kalb of CBS, Ted Koppel and Tom Jarriel of ABC, Barbara Walters of NBC, Max Frankel of the New York Times, Stanley Karnow of the Washington Post, and many others.

Reported and narrated by U.S.-China Institute Senior Fellow Mike Chinoy, formerly CNN’s Senior Asia Correspondent and Beijing Bureau Chief, and edited by USCI Multimedia Editor Craig Stubing, the film offers a fascinating and previously untold perspective on one of the most important historical moments of the 20th century. Clayton Dube conceived of the Assignment: China project and supervises it.” U.S. China Institute