Confirm Action

Are you sure you wish to do this?

Confirm Cancel
User Panel

Posted: 5/30/2002 10:44:45 PM EDT
Washington DC

Office of the Chairman
May 20, 2002

[To:] James Grossman
Vice President for Research and Education
Newberry Library
60 West Walton Street
Chicago, IL 60610-3380

Dear Dr. Grossman:

The NEH is in receipt of your mailings of May 1st and 6th and we thank you for your prompt responses.

At the direction of Chairman Bruce Cole, I have reviewed these materials with the assistance of the agency’s Inspector General and General Counsel. Based on the findings detailed below, we have concluded that the Newberry Library was in error when it awarded Professor Michael Bellesiles an NEH-sponsored fellowship without due consideration of the serious charges raised within the scholarly community about his work. We are, therefore, revoking the NEH name from this fellowship.

We have examined closely the chronology of the Newberry’s decision to award a fellowship to Professor Bellsiles and the published debate over his book, Arming America. Contrary to your assertion that “this fellowship was awarded prior to the existence of any scholarly controversy relating to Professor Bellesiles’ work,” we found that numerous scholars had raised serious questions about the quality, indeed the veracity, of Professor Bellesiles’ findings well before the Newberry awarded him an NEH-supported fellowship on February 21, 2001.

Writing in the Washington Post on October 29, 2000, Professor John Chambers of Rutgers University argued that Professor Bellesiles’ “conclusions frequently overreach the evidence.” He said that Professor Bellesiles’ argument that “before the 1830s few Americans hunted game with guns … defies belief.” Professor Chambers is the author of several books on American military history and editor of The Oxford Companion to American Military History.

In addition, the Chronicle of Higher Education has reported that by November 2000 “debates over Arming America rage[d] among historians (both professional and amateur) on several Internet discussion boards.” Postings to the Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture discussion network included a paper in January 2001 by Professor James Lindgren of Northwestern University, who had looked closely at Professor Bellesiles’ research and concluded that “Bellesiles appears to have substantially misreported or misremembered the 17th and 18th century probate data he represents.” On January 17th, Professor Lindgren responded to a posting from Professor Bellesiles by telling the readers of the Omohundro list that “the inaccuracies in Michael Bellesiles’ probate study are so massive that it would take only an hour with the Providence records … to see that his counts are way off.” Concurrent with this and similar exchanges on the Omohundro discussion group debating the findings in Arming America, Newberry officials were regularly posting announcements on the same discussion list, suggesting that your institution should have been aware of the scholarly controversy.

Link Posted: 5/30/2002 10:46:28 PM EDT
Also in January 2001, Joyce Lee Malcom, a professor of history at Bentley College and a senior fellow at the MIT Security Studies Program, published a review of Arming America, claiming that Professor Bellesiles’ “findings are not supported by his sources.” Professor Malcolm said that Professor Bellesiles “presents a skewed selection of records, dismisses contradictory information, and even alters the language of quotations and statutes.” On January 16th -- still more than a full month before the Newberry awarded the fellowship -- Professor Bellesiles and three other scholars debated the validity of his scholarship on Chicago’s National Public Radio station, WBEZ. In that hour-long debate, Boston University Professor Randy Barnett said that scholarly inquiries into Bellesiles’ work thus far “raise serious questions about the accuracy” of Arming America.

Had this extensive criticism of Professor Bellesiles’ work somehow gone unnoticed by Newberry officials, letters of recommendation submitted in support of Professor Bellesiles’ fellowship application clearly called attention to it. Two of Professor Bellesiles’ recommences felt it important to describe the controversy his work had generated. One opined that Arming America had “created a sensation,” arguing that awarding Professor Bellesiles a fellowship “would be a public service” in light of the “financial resources available to gun rights groups.” Another forecast that “his next book, which focuses on the history of gun laws, promises to upset even more people.” These comments should have caught the Newberry’s attention and engendered further research. Of course, the NEH also hopes that the Newberry would have discounted this sort of praise in its evaluation of Professor Bellesiles’ application, though this is not indicated in any of the review materials you supplied.

The debate over the accuracy of the scholarship underpinning Arming America was already serious and widespread by the fall of 2000 and only intensified during the early months of 2001. Even if the external review committee making recommendations to the Newberry overlooked these serious challenges to Professor Bellesiles’ research, it was the Newberry’s responsibility to weigh them appropriately.

Because the name of the National Endowment of the Humanities represents a standard that Professor Bellesiles’ application did not meet, we are revoking the NEH’s name from the fellowship. Please remove from all Newberry materials, including your website, any association of Professor Bellesiles with the NEH. Also, convey the NEH’s decision to Professor Bellesiles in writing, making it clear that he is not to use the name of the NEH in association with any publication which grows out of the work done while on this fellowship. Please supply us with a copy of this correspondence.

Link Posted: 5/30/2002 10:47:01 PM EDT
In light of the findings cited above, it is the Endowment’s opinion that the Newberry’s procedure for handling cases of research misconduct is flawed, in part because it does not extend to claims made in applications to the library. Please know that the federal government defines research misconduct as “fabrication, falsification, or plagiarism in proposing, performing, or reviewing research, or in reporting research results.” The federal research misconduct policy calls for investigation and adjudication of fraudulent claims made not only in grant products, but also in applications for federal funds submitted to federal agencies and to their institutional grantees.

NEH’s decision to revoke our name from Professor Bellesiles’ fellowship does not rest on any conclusion this agency has drawn about specific charges against Arming America. No NEH support was provided for the research or writing of Arming America, and this agency does not presume to adjudicate those allegations. However, because of the serious questions concerning academic integrity, which the Newberry gives no evidence of having considered, Professor Bellesiles’ application must be deemed insufficiently competitive to warrant an NEH-sponsored fellowship.

If you have any specific questions pertaining to this correspondence please contact NEH Acting General Counsel Laura Nelson.


Lynn Munson
Deputy Chairman

Cc: Bruce Cole
Sheldon Bernstein
Laura Nelson

(many thanks to [B]BurkeCalhounDabney[/B] for transcribing and originally posting this letter at www.freerepbulic.com)
Link Posted: 5/30/2002 10:48:28 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/30/2002 10:48:35 PM EDT
Somebody's career is over...
Link Posted: 5/30/2002 11:01:09 PM EDT
Somebody's career is over...
View Quote

...I pity the FOOOL!!
Link Posted: 5/30/2002 11:04:26 PM EDT
Somebody's career is over...
View Quote

...I pity the FOOOL!!
View Quote

I need a name change...
Link Posted: 5/30/2002 11:05:37 PM EDT
Link Posted: 5/30/2002 11:09:02 PM EDT
Somebody's career is over...
View Quote

...I pity the FOOOL!!
View Quote

I need a name change...
View Quote

While you're at it may I suggest a make over...

Link Posted: 5/30/2002 11:16:26 PM EDT
I know you didn't just insult Mr-T.  I just know you didn't...

I foresee some 1800COLLECT imprints appearing on your forehead should you not cease and desist immediately...
Link Posted: 5/31/2002 4:36:57 AM EDT
Send Chairman Cole a BIG thank you email - [email protected]

Here's mine:

[i]Dear Mr. Cole:

It was with great relief I read your letter disassociating NEH from Michael Bellesiles travesty "Arming America."  As part of the firearms community, I have made myself an amateur historian, and firmly embrace the Second Amendment culture which founded this country. I, and people like myself, KNOW the realities of our history, and that reality is that self-defense firearms are FOUNDATIONAL to our nations origins. Quite obviously, the Lexington Minutemen, the Swamp Fox and his ragged band, and a host of other Patriots did not defeat the greatest army in the world with rocks and sticks.

But being such a person, I am easily dismissed by the "intellectuals" of the anti-inanimate object (read: anti gun) community. And when a Michael Bellesiles comes along spinning such an intricate web of deceit and lies, they all too willing both accept and broadcast his misinformation as it supports their agenda - an agenda that supercedes the facts and research integrity. Quite simply, people like myself are no match for  their "scholarship"  (and I use that term very loosely)

For this reason, your disassociation with Mr. Bellesiles is so critical. Your mission statement says it quite well - "Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans." Mr. Bellesiles work showed quite the opposite of "excellence," and in fact sought to rob Americans of the greatest lesson and wisdom imparted from our early history - that the individual citizenry, armed with love of country, love of truth, love of fellow man AND with a gun presents the best chance to gain and maintain our liberties.

Thank you for your integrity, and love of truth. You serve your country well.



Link Posted: 5/31/2002 5:26:20 AM EDT
Neither the NEH nor most other scholarly groups critical of this shithead care much about his subject but they do desperately care about his embarrassing them.
Link Posted: 5/31/2002 6:07:23 AM EDT
For once, Garandman and I are totally on the same page.  Well done G'man.  As soon as I get some rest (pulled nite shift), I will happily add to the thank you notes to the NEH.  

Unfortunately, I doubt that this action will do one damn thing to harm his career at Emory Univ. Having spent two miserable years as a graduate student at Emory back in the mid 70's, I am only too aware of the extreme left wing aura in the whole place.  Hell, at the time I was a card carrying Democrat, and I couldn't even stand the political atmosphere there. Of course, at the time the Democrat Party hadn't so taken over by the nutcase radicals as it is today.  No, he'll continue to be applauded as a poor persecuted  "truth telling" martyr.  Well, at least he doesn't work at a publicly funded state school.

Once again, way to go, Garandman [:D]
Link Posted: 5/31/2002 6:27:07 AM EDT
Does anyone have a link?

Way to go Garandman!! Very well written.
Link Posted: 5/31/2002 6:55:43 AM EDT

This is a link to the Staff Directory with email addys. Feel free to carpet bomb them with thank you's!!!![:D]

From there you can follow links back to the home page.


yer prolly right. Emory prolly won't dump his sagging butt, but this is still a HUGE slap in the mouth for Bellesiles. And I'm thorougly enjoying it. [}:D]

Close Join Our Mail List to Stay Up To Date! Win a FREE Membership!

Sign up for the ARFCOM weekly newsletter and be entered to win a free ARFCOM membership. One new winner* is announced every week!

You will receive an email every Friday morning featuring the latest chatter from the hottest topics, breaking news surrounding legislation, as well as exclusive deals only available to ARFCOM email subscribers.

By signing up you agree to our User Agreement. *Must have a registered ARFCOM account to win.
Top Top