by Sara Mayeux
Welcome to 2011! I'm honored that TNC has invited me back to kick off the week and the new year with my favorite merry band of reader-commenters in all of Internetland. For those of you who didn't get to know me when I was last here back in July, I am basically a professional reader at this juncture in my life—I'm finishing up a law degree and also working on an American history PhD. As a side gig, I maintain a blog on prison/jail law and policy developments, the uncreatively named Prison Law Blog. Despite my interest in prison issues, I'm not really much of a policy wonk by temperament or inclination, so I'm excited to be visiting here at TNC's place where I can talk about what I really like to talk about—and what I know a lot of you like to talk about, too: the problems of historical memory. (That said, I'll also plan to do some criminal justice blogging while I'm here since I think the problem of hyperincarceration is among the most pressing social justice issues in America today, and one that we should all talk about with someone at least once every day. In case you were still looking for a resolution.)
With that, let's get started. There's been some discussion on this blog about the Virginia history textbook that claims that blacks fought for the Confederacy in large numbers, a Lost Cause canard that the textbook's author—she of the notable historical classics Oh, Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty and Oh, Yikes! History's Grossest, Wackiest Moments—copy-pasted into her text from the website of the Sons of Confederate Veterans. As will probably surprise no one aware that Google is not an ideal drafting tool for an educational text, it turns out that mistake was only the tip of the iceberg. This article from the Washington Post provides a round-up of the errors identified by historians reviewing this and other Virginia textbooks. Shocking though it may be that a textbook could misdate the American entry into World War I, my favorite error is the assertion "that men in Colonial Virginia commonly wore full suits of armor." Williamsburg just got a lot more fun!