Category Archives: Public Events

National History Center events, including sessions at the American Historical Association annual meetings and more.

7/13: Research Forum: “Microscopic Foes of Mankind”: Understanding Tuberculosis in American History

This undergraduate research project explores the social experience of tuberculosis by engaging the public as an audience for a comprehensive effort to document the lives of Americans who died of this disease. This project engages the public’s interest in telling the stories of individuals and their communities in historical contexts. Researchers are now collecting information from obituaries and death notices published in American newspapers from 1870 to 1920, entering information into an online form that has both structured elements (name, date of death, and names of family members) and opportunities to add more information as relevant. These materials will be processed by the project team and made available to the public and scholars in forms familiar to historians and genealogists, such as mortality tables, analysis of age and race distribution, and discussion of illness narratives. The flexibility and ubiquity of digital medium are essential to this project. At a time of unprecedented interest in the nation’s past by genealogists and family historians, this project is a unique attempt to engage the public in creating, interpreting, and understanding the history of a deadly illness through the lives of Americans.

The forum will be held at the Wilson Center, Washington, DC, on July 13, from 9 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

For the location and other details about the forum, please follow this link.

The project is currently in development. Viewers interested in learning more about this project can see the results of work done by Virginia Tech students who completed a history project on tuberculosis in Virginia in the spring 2015 semester. The results of their work can be seen at the Telling Victims’ Stories (link), the poster exhibit on display (link), and postings on Circulating Now, from the U S National Library of Medicine (link). For more information about this project, and future plans, please contact the project director, Tom Ewing.



5/12: Aztec and Colonial MEXICO: A Celebration and Conversation

The Center is pleased to announce an event co-sponsored by the Kislak Family Foundation, the Library of Congress, the Early Americas Working Group, and the University of Maryland

Aztec and Colonial MEXICO: A Celebration and Conversation with Authors

James Maffie
response by Sara Castro-Klaren

Barbara Mundy
response by Marcy Norton

Nancy Farriss
response by Michael Swanton

Jaime Marroquín Arredondo
response by Alejandro Cañeque

welcome by John Hessler, moderated by Ralph Bauer

Location: The Mumford Room, Madison Bldg. (6th Floor) of the Library of Congress
Date: Thursday, May 12th, 2016, 1-4 pm

June 9: Congressional Briefing on Intelligence

The National History Center of the American Historical Association will be presenting a Congressional briefing on the history of Congress’s relationship with the intelligence community.  The briefing will be held on June 9, 2014, at 9:30 a.m. in Room 121 of the Cannon House Office Building.  Professors Laura Donohue of Georgetown Law School and Mark Lowenthal of The Intelligence & Security Academy and Johns Hopkins University will discuss the origins and consequences of the Church Committee and more.  James Grossman, the Chairman of the National History Center’s Board and Executive Director of the American Historical Association, will moderate the discussion.

Congressional oversight of intelligence is a recurring flashpoint in Executive-Congressional relations. Dr. Mark Lowenthal, who has served as the staff director of the House Intelligence Committee and as a senior intelligence officer (State, CIA), will discuss the origins of the current intelligence oversight system and touch on some of the key developments that have helped shape the current system and serve as a prelude to today’s intelligence oversight issues.

In the early 1970s, as Dr. Laura Donohue will explain, public allegations related to intelligence agencies’ impropriety, illegal activities, and abuses of authority prompted both Houses of Congress to create temporary committees to investigate the accusations: the House Select Committee on Intelligence, and the Senate Select Committee to Study Governmental Operations with Respect to Intelligence Activities.   The allegations centered on activities undertaken by three organizations: the NSA, the FBI, and the CIA.  The Senate Select Committee, Chaired by Senator Frank F. Church (D-ID), with the assistance of Senator John G. Tower (R-TX) as Vice Chairman, was a bipartisan initiative.

The Committee found that broad domestic surveillance programs, conducted under the guise of foreign intelligence collection, had undermined U.S. citizens’ privacy rights.   The illegal activities, abuse of authority, and violations of privacy uncovered by the Church Committee (as well as the Rockfeller Commission, the Pike Committee, and the Murphy commission) spurred a number of reforms, including (1) creation of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. Senate Resolution 400 (passed within a month of the Church Committee’s final report); (2) Creation of the House Permanent Select committee on Intelligence; (3) Executive Order 11905 (banning political assassination/creating a new command structure, requiring the CIA IG to be involved in internal oversight, followed by Carter’s Executive Order 12036 in 1978); (4) the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act; and (5) various administrative initiatives, such as a reduction in the size of the intelligence community and development of a new mechanism for intelligence estimates.

Part of the National History Center’s series of sessions aimed at providing Congressional staff members with the historical context necessary to understand issues of current legislative concern, the briefing is open to the public.

For further information, please contact the Center’s assistant director, Amanda Moniz, at or 202-450-3209.