The 1619 Project: Sloppy scholarship and distorted history under consideration for Washington schools

By LIV FINNE  | 
POLICY NOTES
|
Oct 28, 2020

Key Findings

1. Education officials are considering adopting The 1619 Project history curriculum for Washington public schools.

2. The 1619 Project is a series of essays written by a newspaper reporter and published by The New York Times Magazine.

3. Respected historians have found The 1619 Project represents poor research methods and contains a number of factual errors.

4. Lincoln scholars have found The 1619 Project includes serious gaps in teaching about the Civil War era, and misrepresents President Lincoln’s pivotal role in ending the institution of slavery.

5. The National Association of Scholars found The 1619 Project contains a number of flaws and violates the ethical standards of journalism and published academic research.

6. The 1619 Project presents an inaccurate understanding of the past, denies students access to the rich texture of American history, and teaches students to hate their country.

 

Introduction

The 1619 Project is a series of essays published by The New York Times Magazine on August 14, 2019. The lead essay was written by Nikole Hannah-Jones, who is a newspaper reporter, not a historian. In the essay she asserts that the “true founding” of America occurred not in 1776, when the United States was founded, but in 1619, when the first captive Africans landed in North America. Her conclusion is that America was founded in 1619 to “ensure slavery would continue.” Even after significant factual errors were found in her work, the author was awarded a Pulitzer Prize.

In an effort to change how American history is taught to children, The New York Times is making The 1619 Project available to public schools in the form of curricula, lesson plans, activities and reading guides for students. The Random House Group is publishing an expanded version of the essay, producing an illustrated novel and issuing four 1619 Project publications targeted at young people.

Education officials are now considering whether to introduce The 1619 Project curriculum in Washington state schools. For example, administrators at Seattle Public Schools are urging teachers to present The 1619 Project to students as authentic American history.

Read the full Policy Note here