American Social History Project • Center for Media and Learning

February 2008

Now Available: the Third Edition of Who Built America?

The new edition of Who Built America? Working People and the Nation’s History is now available from Bedford/St Martin’s.

Advance readers of the new edition praised its vision, scope and classroom utility:

Who Built America? Third Edition

Who Built America? is a text book of remarkable scope and diversity, with the narrative drive of a good novel. This is how it should be.”
Betty Mitchell, University of Massachusetts, Dartmouth

Who Built America? is one of the best examples of a textbook telling of history from the bottom up. It does more than simply insert the history of the majority of Americans into a more traditional top-down political history. Who Built America? makes the people on the ground the focus of the textbook, and it does it without sacrificing political history.”
Thomas Humphrey, Cleveland State University

“A history of American society must begin and end with its people and Who Built America? excels at this.”
Gordon Harvey, University of Louisiana, Monroe

Who Built America? stands out from other textbooks in the clarity of its focus. The labor theme serves as an excellent framework, allowing the authors to synthesize most of the events in the standard chronology of history while still providing a distinctive perspective.”
Lawrence A. Peskin, Morgan State University

“The visual materials in Who Built America? have always been terrific. The pictures, for example, are often unique to this text, while one sees the same things over and over in others. Who Built America?‘s successful search for materials on working people in particular makes it especially captivating for students in search of a fresh perspective on the American past.”
Jama Lazerow, Wheelock College

“Recovering Community History,” Upcoming ASHP/CML Public Event, March 5, 2008

Antonia PantojaOn March 5, 2008, ASHP/CML will host “Recovering Community History: Puerto Ricans and African Americans in Postwar New York City,” a film screening and discussion about the challenges that scholars, public historians, and filmmakers face in researching and presenting the histories of communities and neighborhoods that are dramatically under-represented in archives and historical collections. The evening features an excerpt from an hour-long documentary on visionary leader Antonia Pantoja, whose activism sheds light on the quest for Puerto Rican self-identity, educational rights, and bilingual education. Other speakers include the historians Craig Steven Wilder and Marci Reaven. Wilder discusses the history of African Americans and public education in Brooklyn in the 1940s and 1950s, and Reaven focuses on both her work at City Lore in preserving local cultural heritage and her research into community organizing on the Lower East Side. ASHP/CML’s Madeleine Lopez will moderate. The event is co-sponsored by the Gotham Center for New York City History.

March 5, 2008, 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm

Martin E. Segal Theatre, The Graduate Center (365 Fifth Avenue)

Roy Rosenzweig, 1950-2007

Roy RosenzweigWhen Roy Rosenzweig passed away of lung cancer on October 11, 2007, the history profession reeled from the loss of one of its most gifted and generous members. At ASHP/CML, we were privileged to know those qualities firsthand, from a long and rewarding collaboration with Roy that dated back to the project’s earliest years. Roy had a hand in so many ASHP productions, as an editor and author of the Who Built America? textbook, board member, and, perhaps most significantly, a key partner in our work creating digital media and supporting history educators in their use of it. He was an executive producer of our Who Built America? and Liberty, Equality, Fraternity CD-ROMs, and of the History Matters, Lost Museum, and September 11 Digital Archive websites; he was also instrumental in planning and carrying out the first two New Media Classroom summer seminars for humanities teachers in 1996 and 1997. Around conference and dining room tables, over the phone, and via pixels winging across the Internet, Roy’s deep knowledge of history, keen sense of politics, dry wit, and relentless work ethic were always evident. We continue to mourn the passing of our partner and friend.

The American Historical Association and the Center for History and New Media at George Mason University have established the Roy Rosenzweig Prize in History and New Media, to be awarded annually for an innovative and freely available new media project that reflects thoughtful, critical, and rigorous engagement with technology and the practice of history. You can read and share memories of Roy at

Featured Document: Pittsburgh Courier on World War II “Double V” Campaign

Double VIn our professional development seminars, we highlight documents that go beyond the traditional narrative. World War II is and remains a seminal point of study. As in previous wars, African Americans once again heeded the calls of unity, support, and sacrifice while they continued to endure the limits of segregation. They served in the armed forces and participated in all aspects of home-front activities.

At the same time African Americans sought to create awareness about the injustice and paradox of racial segregation in a democratic nation. In January 1942, an editorial by James Thompson in the African-American newspaper Pittsburg Courier posed the question, “Should I sacrifice my life to live half American” Mr. Thompson suggested that while African Americans should join with all Americans in the war effort, they should not “lose sight of our fight for true democracy at home.” He argued that if the Allies were using the “V for Victory” slogan to rally them to fight for victory over tyranny, then blacks should have the “Double V” for “democracy at home and abroad.”

Beginning February 7, 1942 and continuing weekly until 1943, the Pittsburg Courier’s “Double V” campaign demanded that African Americans who were risking their lives abroad receive full citizenship at home. The newspaper printed articles, editorials, letters, “Double V” photographs and even designed a recognizable “DOUBLE V” sign to promote the campaign. This campaign provided African Americans a way to express their support for the war effort while reminding the rest of the nation that it must guarantee equal opportunity for all.