Year in Review:

Rethinking the history books

StudyHall.Rocks
Rethinking the history books
We will remember 2016 for the tumultuous U.S. presidential election. But it was also a year for rethinking and even making amends for history.

    Scholars revisited, questioned and investigated historical accounts in an attempt to set the record straight. And a major university apologized for past ties to slavery. These stories made headlines:

Textbooks wrong about corridor route: For years, schoolchildren have been taught that humans populated the Americas by crossing a land bridge from Siberia to Alaska. After ice sheets receded, those people moved south using an ice-free corridor. But after analyzing biological evidence from frozen lakes, scientists said that the corridor theory is wrong. Research published in August in the journal Nature reported that the first Americans were unlikely to have taken the corridor. While uncertain how humans populated the continent, scientists believe a West Coast route is likely.

Wrong house: Tour guides have long described a humble abode on a plot of land in Charlottesville, Virginia, as the home of President James Monroe. But in April researchers announced that -- based on newly discovered remains -- a roomier home nearby was probably where the fifth president and his family lived. The little home that visitors tour was probably a guest house. 

The arrest of the Frank family: It has always been thought that someone betrayed the family of Anne Frank, the famous teenage diarist captured during World War II. For two years, the family hid in a building annex. When discovered, they were arrested and sent to concentration camps. But a study released earlier this month by the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam speculated that police may have been conducting a separate investigation when they happened upon the family in hiding. 

A questionable legacy: Georgetown University officials said in September they would offer an apology for the university’s historical relationship with slavery. A report made public on Georgetown's website traces the school’s 18th century origins to “America’s slave-holding economy and culture. The most direct-such connection is through the Jesuit owned and operated plantations in Maryland.”  University officials also offered preferential treatment for descendants of the slaves whose labor and sale funded the institution.
    Other universities also took action aimed at acknowledging ties to slavery. Yale University officials promised to explore the history of John C. Calhoun (1782-1850), a graduate who went on to become vice president and a proponent of slavery. But the school will keep Calhoun's name on one of its buildings. Princeton University confronted a similar controversy regarding Woodrow Wilson, a past president of the school who had prevented African-Americans from enrolling. (See the story here.)

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