Additions to History of the Ratification

The digital edition of The Documentary History of the Ratification of the Constitution, published by our electronic imprint Rotunda, has just made two important updates to its content. With the addition of Volume 23 from the print series, the digital edition includes the complete New York content. We have also added Volume 24, which is the first volume of Rhode Island content.

FLOTUS Showdown

Greatest film of all time? Vertigo, according to the Sight and Sound poll. Greatest album? Sgt. Pepper, says Rolling Stone. Best college men’s basketball team? AP has Syracuse at the top (for now). We live in an age of lists. While list-making is to a certain extent just a parlor game, as well as a handy way to sift through information overload, such a list can be a fairly reliable yardstick for fluctuations in reputation.

The Siena Research Institute periodically polls historians to assemble their rankings of the U. S. Presidents, but many people probably don’t know that Siena also ranks the First Ladies. The latest edition of the First Ladies rankings has just been released, and it has inspired considerable commentary (including this CNN piece). In the rankings’ top spot is Eleanor Roosevelt, who, apart from her famous marriage, was one of the great public figures of the twentieth century. In fourth place, almost exactly 200 years after she and her husband left the White House, is Dolley Madison, often credited with creating the role of the First Lady as we know it.

The Unlikely Activist

The odds were against Ed Peeples growing up to be an activist who would inspire countless others. Raised in what he describes as a systematically racist South, Peeples transcended his roots to become a committed soldier in the Civil Rights Movement. This fascinating and unlikely story is the focus of his new memoir, Scalawag: A White Southerner’s Journey through Segregation to Human Rights Activism. Peeples recently answered a few questions about his beginnings in activism and the changes he has seen over a half century.

Outstanding Academic Titles

At the American Library Association’s Midwinter meeting, Choice magazine announced its complete list of Outstanding Academic Titles from the year just ended. Included on the list are two titles from our Rotunda electronic imprint: The Digital Temple and The Papers of Eliza Lucas Pinckney and Harriott Pinckney Horry.

50 Years On: LBJ’s War on Poverty

Fifty years after Lyndon Johnson declared his War on Poverty, NPR is beginning a series on the legacy of this initiative. The first installment, which revisits the Kentucky county where the iconic front-porch photo of LBJ was taken, may be found here. Half a century later, many residents could not survive without services such as food stamps and energy assistance, which date back to LBJ’s administration. Still, times remain very tough in this Appalachian community, due partly to a scaling back of the coal mining industry that was the region’s lifeblood for generations.

How Best to Lead?

The Wall Street Journal recently reviewed Sons of the Father: George Washington and His Protégés, a “stimulating collection” of essays that “explores Washington’s relationships with a series of younger men” including Thomas Jefferson, Alexander Hamilton, the Marquis de Lafayette, Henry Knox, and Nathanael Greene. Its editor, Robert M. S. McDonald, is associate professor of history at West Point. In the following essay, McDonald reminds us of the very full range of Washington’s leadership.