Social Studies Research and Practice
Volume 1, Number 3, Winter 2006
Strange Bedfellows: Censorship and History Textbooks
Melissa N. Matusevich
East Carolina University
In spite of required state curriculum objectives, American history textbooks often become the de facto curriculum defining history. Self-imposed censorship by textbook publishers defines how individuals, groups, and events are portrayed. A 2004 Thomas B. Fordham Institute report concluded that today’s history textbooks are bland with no voice or storyline and have been sanitized and filled with history rewritten to meet the demands of special interest groups. The report also concluded that while American history textbooks now contain more pages, they include less content. Paradoxically, when a well-crafted textbook is created, students may never have access to it. Efforts by special interest groups to censor such books are not uncommon. A case study of one author’s efforts to have her award-winning history textbook adopted for classroom use and the ensuing censorship efforts by special interest groups are described.
About the Author(s)…
Melissa N. Matusevich is an assistant professor at East Carolina University in the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. Melissa is currently teaching social studies, gifted education, and management courses. Her research interests include the quality of informational texts for K-12 readers, gifted education, and mixed-text reader’s theater. Her 34-year career in public education included positions as classroom teacher, gifted resource teacher, and instructional supervisor of various programs—K-12 social studies, K-12 gifted, and K-12 libraries and media. Contact information: firstname.lastname@example.org, East Carolina University.