Why History Matters
T he decision of leaders at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point to eliminate the history major, among other humanities fields, recently became front-page news in The New York Times. One student asked, “What is a university without a history major?” The decision at Stevens Point is not just the story of one rural university facing problems. History enrollments are in steep decline at colleges across the country. By one estimate, the number of history degrees awarded between 2008 and 2017 dropped more than 30 percent, exceeding declines in any other field.
The reasons for the latest falloff are easy enough to imagine: More students have turned to courses and majors in STEM fields with an eye toward employment after college as colleges began eliminating core or distribution requirements, fewer students were introduced to the history field history departments became increasingly specialized in their course offerings, making the major less appealing to the broadest spectrum of students.
None of this is new, and it is incumbent on historians to provide historical perspective. A headline in the Times once reported, “Ignorance of U.S. History Shown by College Freshmen.” The date was April 4, 1943. The article bemoaned that “82 percent of the colleges of this country do not require the teaching of United States history for an undergraduate degree.” The results of a questionnaire administered to 7,000 college students showed, for example, that 25 percent did not know that Abraham Lincoln was president during the Civil War.
While it is lamentable that Stevens Point is eliminating the history major, history has a long history of being ignored, in part because a persuasive case for why history matters has not always been made. Many Americans intuitively share Henry Ford’s irreverence for the past. “History is more or less bunk,” he said.
Studying the past has also lost credibility because of continuing culture wars over what should be taught. An attempt to write National History Standards for public schools in 1992 led to controversy over the amount of material devoted to figures such as George Washington, as opposed to, say, Harriet Tubman. More recently, the Texas State Board of Education decided not to eliminate a unit on Hillary Clinton and to emphasize that slavery played a central role in the Civil War. The teaching of the past is constantly changing, and, for some, this is reason enough to abandon the enterprise altogether.
An argument has to be made for why history matters, one that moves beyond the philosopher George Santayana’s well-worn adage that “those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” which seems mistaken at best. Time and again we remember the past and yet nonetheless seem to repeat it, whether going to war or shutting down the government.
One valuable insight into why the past matters comes not from a historian, but a novelist. In a memoir about his upbringing, Richard Ford writes, “entering the past is a precarious business since the past strives but always half-fails to make us who we are.” That seems right. We are not our parents, but we can see how we are related.
So too with the nation. We are not where we were 50, 100, or 200 years ago, but there is no doubt that the past speaks to us now. Just as we should want to know the history of our family to gain a sense of where we come from, so too should we want to know the history of the nation to grasp how we got here.
We study history not because of proximity, but because of distance, because once upon a time people lived differently than we now live. There is a foreignness to the past that we must seek to take on its own terms.
At the same time, stories about the drama of life long ago might give us pause, a chance to contemplate our common humanity with those who came before. At its most purposeful, examining past lives can lead us to examine our own.
T his returns us to the purpose of a college degree. “The function of the university,” proclaimed W.E.B. Du Bois, the first African-American to receive a doctoral degree from Harvard, “is not simply to teach breadwinning.” In embracing the vocational, universities such as Stevens Point are neglecting the educational.
Students should take STEM courses, but they should also be required to study history. In humanities courses, they learn to think critically, to write analytically, and to work across disciplinary lines. Students also hopefully develop empathy and understanding. This is part of what Du Bois meant when he called higher education the “adjustment between real life and the growing knowledge of life.” These are skills and traits that will prove beneficial regardless of a student’s vocational pursuits.
It is unlikely that the undergraduates in 1943, who could not identify Lincoln, knew that Lincoln said that “we cannot escape history.” He was not offering a reason for why history matters. Instead, he was looking to the future and the judgments that would be made about the past by those who studied it. “We shall be remembered in spite of ourselves,” he predicted. Not if history disappears from the curriculum.
Louis P. Masur is a professor of American studies and history at Rutgers University at New Brunswick.
Michael Nelson is professor of political science at Rhodes College. A former editor of The Washington Monthly, he has published twenty books on the American presidency, national elections, and higher education. In recent years he has written articles for VQR about Abraham Lincoln, C. S. Lewis, Garrison Keilloir, Frank Sinatra, Ward Just, Stephen Carter, Robert Caro, and other subjects. More than forty of his articles have been anthologized in works of political science, history, and English composition.
History is centered in the family, historian David McCullough says
All history is family history, a Pulitzer Prize-winning historian said in Salt Lake City Thursday.
"It is through the family that we get to the vital nerve center of history. History is about life, one generation to another," David McCullough said.
McCullough is in Utah in connection with the National Genealogical Society annual conference, which is being held in Salt Lake City this year. Genealogy aficionados will enjoy an evening program celebrating family history, which will take place tonight in the Conference Center.
Through music, video and the spoken word, the program will demonstrate how much family history matters, says Jay Verkler, CEO of FamilySearch, the division of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, an event sponsor.
Featured speakers will be Henry B. Eyring, first counselor in the First Presidency, and McCullough.
At a press conference Thursday afternoon, McCullough, Verkler and Pam Sayre, director of education for the National Genealogical Society, talked about the importance of this kind of program.
We have done an inadequate job of educating our children and grandchildren on the history of this county, McCullough said, "and that is primary our fault." But there's a lot of things parents can do to encourage that interest, he said. "Take kids to places where things happened. Show them the buildings, the tangible things. Architecture is very important it's all around us. Go into old homes, and feel that world again."
Talk about family history at every opportunity, he said. It can be a gateway to a lifelong interest in history, a lifelong love of learning. "Enjoyment of history begins at home, at the dinner table, with stories from our own families," he said.
One of his ancestors was in the tannery business and specialized in making the finest harnesses and equipage for horses around. "And along came the automobile, and that was the end of his business. But instead of complaining and saying 'woe is me,' he decided to invest in electricity and started the McCullough Electric Company. It was because of the McCullough Electric Company that I got to go to Yale."
McCullough also talked of his Scottish ancestors who were weavers — "I often think of them as I'm trying to weave together words" — and his Irish ancestors who were storytellers — "that's such a wonderful quality."
Sayre spoke of an ancestor who fought in the American Revolutionary War. "He was a poor, uneducated farmer. And he knew that if he and the others did not succeed they would be punished severely, even killed, but he believed in the cause. I am in awe of him and what he did. It is because of him that I get to enjoy all the freedoms that I have today."
Verkler talked about how he grew up knowing the history of his mother's side of the family — "they all came across the plains with the pioneers" — but he knew very little about hi father's family. "My father's mother died when he was very little and his father remarried. His new wife didn't want to keep much of the old wife around. So, now, I'm just learning about his mother. That's where my heart is. I have learned that there were bakers in the family, and we all seem to like food. So, that's a fun connection."
The National Genealogical Society was founded in 1903, noted Sayre, "and had a total of 48 members. Now we have a membership of 10,000 — or more. We've had so much interest from people here in Salt Lake that I think we've picked up a lot of members."
Genealogy used to be a blue-blood pursuit, she said. "People were mostly looking for royal ancestors. Now it possible for every man and every woman to find their family history. It leads us to answers about ourselves. It's as close as we get to reaching out to hold hands through time. It's gone way beyond the begats to who we are."
That's one thing McCullough hopes people take away from Thursday's program. "Come on in, the water's fine. This is not just for the high-priests of history. We can all learn by doing. It's a discovery process. It's fun."
You will learn, he said, that we are all related. You will learn that every family has a story.
ABOUT MEMarc Johnson Boise, Idaho, United States For more than 30 years, Marc Johnson has reported on and helped shape public policy in Idaho and the Northwest. He counsels clients on strategic communications and issues management at Gallatin Public Affairs where he serves as the managing partner of the firm's Boise, Idaho office. A student of political history, Marc writes and speaks regularly on topics ranging Lincoln's re-election in 1864 to Idaho's famous U.S. Senator William E. Borah. Marc was an award winning broadcast journalist and served as press secretary and chief of staff to Idaho's longest serving governor - Cecil D. Andrus View my complete profile
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You historians get off of David McCullough's lawn!
And your music? It’s just noise.
This interview with David McCullough encapsulates everything that’s silly and contradictory about the Barnes and Noble-style creative nonfiction writer’s complaints that professional historians are ruining history. First of all, the evidence of course is that today’s young people don’t know nothing ’bout history, with an obligatory nod to that silly study that reminds us of this fact, year after year, as though Americans of yore were some kind of social studies savants and New Left historians are to blame:
‘We’re raising young people who are, by and large, historically illiterate,” David McCullough tells me on a recent afternoon in a quiet meeting room at the Boston Public Library. Having lectured at more than 100 colleges and universities over the past 25 years, he says, “I know how much these young people—even at the most esteemed institutions of higher learning—don’t know.” Slowly, he shakes his head in dismay. “It’s shocking.”
He’s right. This week, the Department of Education released the 2010 National Assessment of Educational Progress, which found that only 12% of high-school seniors have a firm grasp of our nation’s history. And consider: Just 2% of those students understand the significance of Brown v. Board of Education.
Mr. McCullough began worrying about the history gap some 20 years ago, when a college sophomore approached him after an appearance at “a very good university in the Midwest.” She thanked him for coming and admitted, “Until I heard your talk this morning, I never realized the original 13 colonies were all on the East Coast.” Remembering the incident, Mr. McCullough’s snow-white eyebrows curl in pain. “I thought, ‘What have we been doing so wrong that this obviously bright young woman could get this far and not know that?'”
My question is, how can David McCullough play the role of a celebrated “historian” without considering that the young lady in question 20 years ago might have been thinking about the colonial settlements called New France, Louisiana, Kahokia, Missouri, Santa Fe, and the California missions, none of which are on “the East Coast?” At a “very good university in the Midwest,” chances are that the languages spoken locally 300 and 400 years ago were Algonquian and French, not English.
Next, we have the usual (and usually mutually contradictory claims) of the successful amateur who has no idea what’s actually been happening in American universities and among professional historians for at least 25 years:
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This book is infuriating. The fact that books that are so blatantly offensive towards Indigenous people can still be published in 2019 is disgusting. This book ignores decades of scholarship by Native and allied historians of the region in favor of nationalist propaganda. Skip this and read Susan Sleeper-Smith&aposs book Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest instead, which covers the Ohio River valley in a similar time period and argues that far from being a "primeval wilderness," this region This book is infuriating. The fact that books that are so blatantly offensive towards Indigenous people can still be published in 2019 is disgusting. This book ignores decades of scholarship by Native and allied historians of the region in favor of nationalist propaganda. Skip this and read Susan Sleeper-Smith's book Indigenous Prosperity and American Conquest instead, which covers the Ohio River valley in a similar time period and argues that far from being a "primeval wilderness," this region was actually a thriving center of Indigenous prosperity--and that is exactly why Americans wanted to colonize it.
Some quotes from just the description and first chapter:
"They and their families created a town in a primeval wilderness, while coping with such frontier realities as floods, fires, wolves and bears, no roads or bridges, no guarantees of any sort, all the while negotiating a contentious and sometimes hostile relationship with the native people."
“But in all the immense territory to the northwest of the Ohio River, the territory from which five states were to emerge—Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin—there was as yet not one permanent legal settlement.
A few remote forts had been established and there were hunters, trappers, fur traders, and “squatters,” those who settled wherever they chose and without legal claim to the land.
Much, too, was reported of forests teeming with wolves, bears, wild boars, panthers, rattlesnakes, and the even more deadly copperheads. And, as every easterner knew, there was the “Indian menace,” the many native tribes who considered the Ohio country their rightful, God-granted domain. Much blood had already been shed in wilderness battles and atrocities committed by both natives and white men. These were realities well-known throughout the east and particularly on the minds of those gathered at the Bunch of Grapes.
… [a paragraph of overly explicit description of massacres by and of Native people] .
Only the year before the Bunch of Grapes meeting, one of the group, General Benjamin Tupper, as part of a government surveying party, had been turned back from entering the Ohio country so severe was Indian resistance to the encroaching settlers.”
The summer is heating up school is finally out, and for me that means reading a variety of books about Americana and what makes the country a great place to live. I have lived in Ohio for nearly twelve years and admittedly know little about the state’s history besides the unit my kids study in fourth grade social studies. They do have an excellent teacher, but what they study in grammar school barely scratches the surface of Ohio history. When I found out that master American storyteller David The summer is heating up school is finally out, and for me that means reading a variety of books about Americana and what makes the country a great place to live. I have lived in Ohio for nearly twelve years and admittedly know little about the state’s history besides the unit my kids study in fourth grade social studies. They do have an excellent teacher, but what they study in grammar school barely scratches the surface of Ohio history. When I found out that master American storyteller David McCullough had written a new book detailing the earliest settlers in Ohio, I knew that his book would be one of the highlights of my summer. As with other McCullough books I have read, I was not disappointed.
I may be a tad biased when I say that no one relates history better than David McCullough. He may not be as in depth as some of the other leading history writers today, but what he does, at least in his later years, is take an event and tell the story behind it to bring the historical figures to life. As he relates in the acknowledgment section, a few years ago he was invited to be the commencement speaker at Ohio University on the occasion of the school’s 200th anniversary. While there, McCullough had the privilege of visiting the school’s library and discovering the family names Cutler, Putnam, Barker, and Hildreth. The patriarchs behind these families were the first pioneers to Marietta, Ohio from the eastern settlements following the passing of the 1787 Northwest Ordinance. The Northwest Ordinance and the basics behind the law are known to most people who study American history, but little is known about the people who began the American migration west. McCullough was intrigued by the idea of bringing the story of these early Ohio settlers to light.
The Reverend Manasseh Cutler of Massachusetts was an early supporter of abolition. On visits to New York and Philadelphia, he was instrumental in getting the Northwest Ordinance passed. The law stated that no there would be no slavery in the Northwest Territories, which would later comprise the states of Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, and Wisconsin. As a result, early Americans from the northeast desired to move west. Among the first group of pioneers leaving from Massachusetts in 1793 included the estimable Rufus Putnam, who would be the first leader of the new community of Marietta, Ohio, a town on the banks where the Ohio and Muskingum Rivers came together. Bordering Virginia and a few days ride to Pittsburgh on the Allegheny River, Marietta appeared to be in the perfect location to be the gateway to America’s west.
McCullough details the perils of creating a settlement in the western unknown including fever and other illnesses, skirmishes with Native Americans, the lack of food in cold winters, and the usual hindrances that come with the creation of a new town. Rufus Putnam envisioned a city on a hill in the tradition of his Massachusetts forbears. Although Marietta never became the jewel of the Ohio, the first generation of settlers saw the beauty in the land and desired to call the city home. Among these pioneers included building planner Joseph Barker, town leader Ephraim Cutler, and Dr. Samuel Hildreth. These men along with Rufus Putnam lived into their seventies and eighties and saw Ohio transform into a state at the forefront of riverboat commerce before their eyes. It was their vision to establish early laws, however, that lead to later waves of settlers in Ohio.
Many names in this story are familiar to me including Sycamore, Wyandot, and Blue Jacket. I learned about the formation of Cincinnati as the Queen City on the Ohio River, as well as the move of the state capital to Columbus, and the establishment of Cleveland on the shores of Lake Erie. I wondered how my neighboring community of Pleasant Ridge was established in 1796 when Cincinnati didn’t figure as a national center of commerce for another forty years. Another anecdote that McCullough mentions in passing is John Quincy Adams speaking at the inauguration of the Norwood Conservatory in 1843, hoping of Cincinnati becoming a leader in planetary exploration. As this conservatory is only fifteen minutes from my home, I found this story within a story as well as others to be fascinating.
Due to the far reaching vision of Manasseh Cutler and the pioneering efforts of his son Ephraim as well as other trailblazers, Ohio lead America’s way west. After the exploration of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, communities on the banks of the Ohio River became the early gateway to the west, with Marietta being an early jewel. David McCullough brings the story of these settlers to life. It is always a treat to read one of his books, as the Pioneers was a fun way to kick off my summer reading.
Published 1996 by Simon & Schuster in [New York] .
Written in English
History -- Study and teaching -- United States.
|LC Classifications||D16.3 .M29 1996|
|The Physical Object|
|Number of Pages||24|
|LC Control Number||97125741|
History of publishing, an account of the selection, preparation, and marketing of printed matter from its origins in ancient times to the present. The activity has grown from small beginnings into a vast and complex industry responsible for the dissemination of all manner of cultural material. If you have done any family history research, such as looking for records on and or conducting interviews with older family members, you may have pondered writing about your genealogy research. Here are 20 reasons why you should cease pondering and start : Carmen Nigro.
History is the study of the human past as it is described in written documents left behind by humans. The past, with all of its complicated choices and events, participants dead and history told, is what the general public perceives to be the immutable bedrock on which historians and archaeologists stand. Find history books on thousands of subjects and historical events at Barnes & Noble®. Browse new and enduring titles on ancient history, European history, the Civil War, U.S. presidents, and more. Go back in time today with an illuminating, immersive history book from Barnes & Noble®.
A Brief History of Book Burning, From the Printing Press to Internet Archives As long as there have been books, people have burned them—but over Author: Lorraine Boissoneault. As books have now reached the 21st century with the creation of the increasingly popular e-book format, we thought it would be a good idea to take a look back at the long and involved history of the humble book. From the clay tablets to the e-book format, the book has enjoyed a remarkable evolution, presented here is a snapshot of that history.
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Why history? by David McCullough Download PDF EPUB FB2
A Little Book for New Why history? book Why and How to Study History (Little Books) Robert Tracy McKenzie. out of 5 stars Kindle Edition. $ Histories and Fallacies: Problems Faced in the Writing of History Carl R.
Trueman. out of 5 stars Kindle Edition. $Cited by: 1. Why Study History: Reflecting on the Importance of the Past, by John Fea, is a useful and insightful book into how the fields of history and theology intermingle. The book, written primarily for History students, explores the ideas of how history can, and is, looked at through the lens of theology/5.
Cecil Blanche Woodman-Smith was a British historian and author of popular history books on the Victorian era, including The Great Hunger, Queen Victoria, The Reason Why, and Thin Men of Hadda.
She was appointed CBE inand received honorary doctorates from the National University of Ireland and the University of St. Andrews. She died in Cited by: Why we learn the wrong things from narrative history, and how our love for stories is hard-wired.
To understand something, you need to know its history. Right. Wrong, says Alex Rosenberg in How History Gets Things Wrong. Feeling especially well-informed after reading a book of popular history on the best-seller list. Don't/5(13). Why study history. The answer is because we virtually must, to gain access to the laboratory of human experience.
When we study it reasonably well, and so acquire some usable habits of mind, as well as some basic data about the forces that affect our own lives, we emerge with relevant skills and an enhanced capacity for informed citizenship.
Peter K. Clarke - 10/9/ I support the above call for statistics, and on the text texts specifically. I checked the oldest () U.S. history textbook, on my shelf - a. These titles are not based on the publisher's opinion of the quality of the textbooks each title simply represents the U.S.
history book that sells the most copies. Because the top five publishers provided the information, the books examined can be considered to be very popular U.S. history textbooks used in American public schools. The history books we loved most in span centuries, nations and wars.
From womanhood to nationhood, they challenge the construction of identity and mythology. They tell the stories of. To study history, you should have an interest in the past – but that should not be your only reason for studying history.
It is also important that you understand the importance and value of history. The value of history questioned. In today’s world, where the focus is very much on today and tomorrow, the value of history is often questioned. The History Book is a fascinating journey through the most significant events in history and the big ideas behind each one, from the dawn of civilization to the lightning-paced culture of today.
One hundred crystal-clear articles explore the Law Code of Hammurabi, the Renaissance, the American Revolution, World War II, and much, much more, bringing the /5.
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2, books — 3, voters Best History Books. 2, books — 3, voters. "The history of the Civil War is complex and our textbook accurately presents the causes and events," he said, adding that the Texas books will not be used for the company's clients in other states.
I’m not a Historian. But here is my view based on my life. I hated History in school. I mean absolutely HATED it. The same way some kdis hated mathematics. Later, after just having finished school, my girl friend who had studied fine art history.
History books are the most important books we have. They give a highly detailed account on a given historical event or historical period: more so than any documentary can give. A strong understanding of History is an incredibly valuable skill.
You. The next major innovation in the history of books, the use of block printing on paper, began in Tang Dynasty China around CE, though it wouldn’t arrive in Europe for nearly years.
The first known examples of text printed on paper are tiny, inch-wide scrolls of Buddhist prayers commissioned by Japan’s Empress Shōtoku in CE. Was our vast divergence from this blueprint, after such a promising beginning, the reason why we now seem to be heading into a new dark age.
19) Marshall’s book, therefore, chronicles the indications of God’s special guidance of key individuals in the history of the United States. Columbus is one of those individuals. Exploring the study of history 31 December This book is not actually a book on history per se but rather an exploration of the discipline of history.
This is the main reason that I consider it philosophy as it is not looking at a specific historical event, or looking at the history of civilisation but rather taking a step back and exploring what it is that historians do/5.
History is Wrong will challenge your intellect and maybe a few long-held beliefs. This is Erich von Daniken's best book in years.
The Amazon Book Review Author interviews, book reviews, editors' picks, and more. Read it now. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. /5(). HIStory: Past, Present and Future, Book I is the ninth studio album by American singer Michael Jackson, released on J It was the fifth Jackson album released through Epic Records, and the first on his label MJJ comprises two discs: HIStory Begins, a greatest hits compilation, and HIStory Continues, comprising new material written and Genre: R&B, pop, hip hop.
Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick are co-authors of The Untold History of the United States (Gallery Books, $30). It has become commonplace to deplore U.S. students' dismal performance in math and science when their test results are compared to those of students in other advanced and not-so-advanced industrial countries.
Historian Kyle Ward speaks with Steve Inskeep about his book, History in the Making. It chronicles the ways that U.S. history textbooks change over time in their portrayal of events like the.
A history book told from the perspective of Native Americans, Columbus and Other Cannibals exposes one of our country's most celebrated heroes for what he really was: a thief, a liar, a murderer Author: Sadie Trombetta.
Youth and education Edit
McCullough was born in the Point Breeze neighborhood of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania,  the son of Ruth (née Rankin) and Christian Hax McCullough.  He is of Scots-Irish descent.  He was educated at Linden Avenue Grade School and Shady Side Academy, in his hometown of Pittsburgh. 
One of four sons, McCullough had a "marvelous" childhood with a wide range of interests, including sports and drawing cartoons.  McCullough's parents and his grandmother, who read to him often, introduced him to books at an early age.  His parents often talked about history, a topic he says should be discussed more often.  McCullough "loved school, every day"  he contemplated many career choices, ranging from architect, actor, painter, writer, to lawyer, and considered attending medical school for a time. 
In 1951, McCullough began attending Yale University.  He said that it was a "privilege" to study English at Yale because of faculty members such as John O'Hara, John Hersey, Robert Penn Warren, and Brendan Gill.  McCullough occasionally ate lunch with the Pulitzer Prize-winning  novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder.  Wilder, says McCullough, taught him that a competent writer maintains "an air of freedom" in the storyline, so that a reader will not anticipate the outcome, even if the book is non-fiction. 
While at Yale, he became a member of Skull and Bones.  He served apprenticeships at Time, Life, the United States Information Agency, and American Heritage,  where he enjoyed research. "Once I discovered the endless fascination of doing the research and of doing the writing, I knew I had found what I wanted to do in my life."  While attending Yale, McCullough studied Arts and earned his bachelor's degree in English, with the intention of becoming a fiction writer or playwright.  He graduated with honors in English literature in 1955.  
Writing career Edit
Early career Edit
After graduation, McCullough moved to New York City, where Sports Illustrated hired him as a trainee.  He later worked as an editor and writer for the United States Information Agency in Washington, D.C.  After working for twelve years in editing and writing, including a position at American Heritage, McCullough "felt that [he] had reached the point where [he] could attempt something on [his] own." 
McCullough "had no anticipation that [he] was going to write history, but [he] stumbled upon a story that [he] thought was powerful, exciting, and very worth telling."  While working at American Heritage, McCullough wrote in his spare time for three years.   The Johnstown Flood, a chronicle of one of the worst flood disasters in United States history, was published in 1968  to high praise by critics.  John Leonard, of The New York Times, said of McCullough, "We have no better social historian."  Despite rough financial times,  he decided to become a full-time writer, encouraged by his wife Rosalee. 
Gaining recognition Edit
After the success of The Johnstown Flood, two new publishers offered him contracts, one to write about the Great Chicago Fire and another about the San Francisco earthquake.  Simon & Schuster, publisher of his first book, also offered McCullough a contract to write a second book.  Trying not to become "Bad News McCullough",  he decided to write about a subject showing "people were not always foolish and inept or irresponsible."  He remembered the words of his Yale teacher: "[Thornton] Wilder said he got the idea for a book or a play when he wanted to learn about something. Then, he'd check to see if anybody had already done it, and if they hadn't, he'd do it."  McCullough decided to write a history of the Brooklyn Bridge, which he had walked across many times.  It was published in 1972.
To me history ought to be a source of pleasure. It isn't just part of our civic responsibility. To me it's an enlargement of the experience of being alive, just the way literature or art or music is.
– David McCullough 
He also proposed, from a suggestion by his editor,  a work about the Panama Canal both were accepted by the publisher. 
Five years later, The Path Between the Seas: The Creation of the Panama Canal was released, gaining McCullough widespread recognition.  The book won the National Book Award in History,  the Samuel Eliot Morison Award,  the Francis Parkman Prize,  and the Cornelius Ryan Award.  Later in 1977, McCullough travelled to the White House to advise Jimmy Carter and the United States Senate on the Torrijos-Carter Treaties, which would give Panama control of the Canal.  Carter later said that the treaties, which were agreed upon to hand over ownership of the Canal to Panama, would not have passed had it not been for the book. 
"The story of people" Edit
McCullough's fourth work was his first biography, reinforcing his belief that "history is the story of people".  Released in 1981, Mornings on Horseback tells the story of seventeen years in the life of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States.  The work ranged from Roosevelt's childhood to 1886, and tells of a "life intensely lived."  The book won McCullough's second National Book Award  [a] and his first Los Angeles Times Prize for Biography and New York Public Library Literary Lion Award.  Next, he published Brave Companions, a collection of essays that "unfold seamlessly".  Written over twenty years, the book  includes essays about Louis Agassiz, Alexander von Humboldt, John and Washington Roebling, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Conrad Richter, and Frederic Remington. 
With his next book, McCullough published his second biography, Truman (1993) about the 33rd president. The book won McCullough his first Pulitzer Prize, in the category of "Best Biography or Autobiography,"  and his second Francis Parkman Prize. Two years later, the book was adapted as Truman (1995), a television film by HBO, starring Gary Sinise as Truman. 
I think it's important to remember that these men are not perfect. If they were marble gods, what they did wouldn't be so admirable. The more we see the founders as humans the more we can understand them.
– David McCullough 
Working for the next seven years,  McCullough published John Adams (2001), his third biography about a United States president. One of the fastest-selling non-fiction books in history,  the book won McCullough's second Pulitzer Prize for "Best Biography or Autobiography" in 2002.  He started it as a book about the founding fathers and back-to-back presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson but dropped Jefferson to focus on Adams.  HBO adapted John Adams as a seven-part miniseries by the same name.  Premiering in 2008, it starred Paul Giamatti in the title role.  The DVD version of the miniseries includes the biographical documentary, David McCullough: Painting with Words. 
McCullough's 1776 tells the story of the founding year of the United States, focusing on George Washington, the amateur army, and other struggles for independence.  Because of McCullough's popularity, its initial printing was 1.25 million copies, many more than the average history book.  Upon its release, the book was a number one best-seller in the United States.  A miniseries adaptation of 1776 was rumored.
McCullough considered writing a sequel to 1776.  However, he signed a contract with Simon & Schuster to do a work about Americans in Paris between 1830 and 1900, The Greater Journey, which was published in 2011.   The book covers 19th-century Americans, including Mark Twain and Samuel Morse, who migrated to Paris and went on to achieve importance in culture or innovation. Other subjects include Benjamin Silliman, who had been Morse's science teacher at Yale, Elihu Washburne, the American ambassador to France during the Franco-Prussian War, and Elizabeth Blackwell, the first female doctor in the United States. 
McCullough's The Wright Brothers was published in 2015.  The Pioneers followed in 2019, the story of the first European American settlers of the Northwest Territory, a vast American wilderness to which the Ohio River was the gateway. 
Personal life Edit
David McCullough has a home in Hingham, Massachusetts, since moving in 2016 from Boston's Back Bay three of his five children reside in Hingham.   He has a summer home in Camden, Maine.   He is married to Rosalee Barnes McCullough, whom he met at age 17 in Pittsburgh. The couple have five children and nineteen grandchildren.  He enjoys sports, history, and art, including watercolor and portrait painting. 
His son, David Jr., an English teacher at Wellesley High School in the Boston suburbs, achieved sudden fame in 2012 with his commencement speech. He told graduating students, "you're not special" nine times, and his speech  went viral on YouTube.  Another son, Bill, is married to the daughter of former Florida governor Bob Graham. 
A registered independent, McCullough has typically avoided publicly commenting on contemporary political issues. When asked to do so, he would repeatedly say, "My specialty is dead politicians." During the 2016 presidential election season, he broke with his custom to criticize Donald Trump as "a monstrous clown with a monstrous ego." 
McCullough has taught a writing course at Wesleyan University and is a visiting scholar at Cornell University as well as Dartmouth College. 
Norman G. Owen - 7/9/2005
Like the first respondent, I'm not quite sure what the point of the original post was, but it's not exactly news in 2005 that McCullough was/is a conservative, though he may not have spread it about very publicly.
After reading the initial post I happened to see an obscure memoir fragment by 80+ year old Lewis E. Gleeck, Jr., a self-proclaimed "man of the Right" and admirer of Whittaker Chambers: "Excerpts from a Life," Bulletin of the American Historical Collection Foundation [Manila], 28-1 (Jan.-Mar. 2000), 49-77. In it (p74) he mentions, in passing, staying at the same boardinghouse in Independence, Missouri, with McCullough in 1983, and getting along very well. "Together, we listened indignantly to Senator [Christopher] Dodd's denunciation of President Reagan and discovered we were both political conservatives."
Personal disclaimer, FWIW: Lew Gleeck was always very generous and gracious to me, despite our political differences.
Norman G. Owen - 7/9/2005
Hugh High - 6/18/2005
And what is/was the point of this post ??
Is "Cicero" seriously arguing that (a) Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. has, as Cicero asserted, steered clear of partisan politics and, to quote Cicero, " kept his political beliefs to himself", or (b) is Cicero bothered by the fact that David McCullough has appeared at the Heritage Foundation (which is at least one reading of Cicero's note )-- if so, that is curious indeed -- that a historian would be condemned, even obliquely, for trying to educate a broader public or (c) has Cicero somehow determined McCullough is a conservative and objects to that -- which would be exceptionally strange , for one who would, presumably, wish to further the clash of ideas- though perhaps Cicero doesn't and, rather, wishes there to be a monopoly of ideas (with him holding the monopoly position no doubt. )
This last possibility is rather at odds with Cicero's last sentence. BUT, that raises, again, the question
" What was/is the point of this posting ? "