Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scholars Team Up to Dispel 400-Year-Old 'Fake News' about US

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Scholars Team Up to Dispel 400-Year-Old 'Fake News' about US

Article excerpt

BOSTON * Fake news, quadricentennial edition: America's early settlers were all pious. The native people were savages. Freedom and liberty were available to all from Day One.

As the U.S. gears up to mark the 400th anniversary of its roots as a nation, leading scholars from around the globe are teaming up to dispel myths and challenge long-held assumptions about how the country was settled.

Their group, New England Beginnings, is using phone apps and searchable online archives to help set the record straight about the early 1600s and fill in some important knowledge gaps.

"All many people know is that the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620, Boston was started in 1630, and then in 1776 we had a revolution," said Rose Doherty, president of the Partnership of Historic Bostons, a group devoted to the 17th-century history of the city and the much-older Boston in Lincolnshire on the east coast of England.

Doherty's organization is among 19 prominent groups that comprise New England Beginnings. Others include the American Antiquarian Society, the General Society of Mayflower Descendants, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Rhode Island's Tomaquag Museum, Britain's History of Independence Project and the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in the Netherlands.

Together, they see an opening as the U.S. prepares in 2020 to mark the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims' arrival in 1620.

"There's a lot of attention being paid right now to how you distinguish between real news and fake news. But this is something historians grapple with all the time," said Francis Bremer, a professor emeritus of history at Pennsylvania's Millersville University and the coordinator of New England Beginnings.

A key focus, Bremer said, is presenting a much more complete and accurate picture of how the early settlers interacted with Native Americans. …

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