Something Has Gone Very Wrong...
The Homepage of James W. Loewen
Author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, Lies Across America, Sundown Towns,
Teaching What Really Happened, and The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader

James W. Loewen Is...

A sociologist who spent two years at the Smithsonian surveying twelve leading high school textbooks of American history only to find an embarrassing blend of bland optimism, blind nationalism, and plain misinformation, weighing in at an average of 888 pages and almost five pounds. A best-selling author who wrote Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Textbook Got Wrong and Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong. A researcher who discovered that many, and in many states most communities were "Sundown Towns" that kept out blacks (and sometimes other groups) for decades. (Some still do.) An educator who attended Carleton College, holds the Ph.D. in sociology from Harvard University, spent seven years teaching at Tougaloo College in Mississippi, and then taught race relations for twenty years at the University of Vermont. Learn More...

See the James W. Loewen entry on Wikipedia

Download a color or b&w photo of Dr. Loewen

Here is a story in the River Cities Reader about an appearance by Jim Loewen in Moline/Davenport/Bettendorf/Rock Island/East Moline, the five "Quad Cities," a couple of years ago. Such stories help bring in the general public to talks that otherwise might be limited to college students, school system teachers, or community organization members.

Calendar for Jim Loewen
(Subject to revision and addition)

Have Jim Loewen speak to your organization, college, or community.
Example of a Loewen talk, at Carleton College (MN), 2007.

James Loewen is now blogging occasionally.
Five Myths about Secession
At Salon
Why do people believe myths about the Confederacy?
Loewen proposes a "Shadow Cabinet", draws responses in San Francisco and New York City
"Why was there the Civil War?" Loewen answers President Trump's question.

Special Features
Tips for Teachers: How To Teach American History
Top Ten Terrible Historical Sites: False American History from Columbus to Vietnam
Help! Send ideas for Jim Loewen's books-in-progress
American History Quiz
Racial Autobiography
Racial Autobiography Generalizations
Lies My Teacher Told Me Slideshow
Student Exercise: Budget of a Janitor
Play a trivia game about the Nadir of Race Relations

NGO Holiday Card

This "card" is from the folks in Korea who organized the conferences I attended, summer 2009 in Seoul and summer 2010 in Hanoi. They very wisely make use of accurate history to argue for justice today. In Hanoi they had NGO representatives attending from Japan, China, Vietnam of course, Thailand, Laos, and a scattering from other countries, such as me from the U.S., a very interesting historian from Germany, someone from Australia, etc. In the twentieth century no one's hands were clean. Korean troops committed more atrocities per capita than Americans, in Vietnam. Vietnam of course attacked Cambodia. Japan attacked almost everyone. And so on. A very interesting conference. I think I got onto the card because of my obvious similarity to Santa Claus.

James Loewen on YouTube and Other Media
Brian Lamb Interviews Loewen about Lies My Teacher Told Me
George Zimmerman and James Loewen
Loewen Keynotes National Association for Interpretation
Thanksgiving and the Pilgrims
What's Wrong with the Confederate Monument in Alexandria?
Loewen Appears on "Free Speech TV"
Loewen on Getting Abraham Lincoln Wrong
Loewen on "All Things Considered" about Getting the Confederacy Wrong
Loewen on "CounterSpin"

Articles on the Web by James Loewen
"Helen Keller Speaks"
"Circling the Wagons"
"Getting the Civil War Right"
"Sundown Towns and Counties: Racial Exclusion in the South"
"Using Confederate Documents to Teach About Secession, Slavery, and the Origins of the Civil War"
"Was your town a sundown town?"
"Who controls the past controls the future"
"Loewen Testifies Against the SAT to the U.S. Civil Rights Commission"
Newest Additions to the Site
Loewen just finished a new book. Up a Creek, With a Paddle: Tales of Canoeing and Life. See the book section below!

Another new box on the Sundown Towns page provides links to Maps of Probable Sundown Towns in Selected States.

A new box is on the Sundown Towns page: "Recovering" Sundown Towns Hold BLM Rallies After George Floyd's Murder.

Matt Ruff's novel, Lovecraft Country, just debuted an HBO series. My book Sundown Towns prompted the show.

The New York Times relies on James W. Loewen for its 2018 Thanksgiving story.

"Standardized" tests are poor measures of students' "aptitude" for college. A new part of my website contains a growing assortment of material making this point.

Correct(ed): A new series on how to teach history for K-12 teachers. 16 short essays covering topics from teaching slavery to Thanksgiving. Read the introduction to the series here.

James Loewen's Books...

Up a Creek, With a Paddle: Tales of Canoeing and Life

It is a how-not-to book, a record of paddling fiascos, leavened with some sociological reflections and the closest Loewen could come to ideas for a worthwhile life. Click on the book image to visit the publisher page, where you can put in the code Tales and get a 40% discount.

The Confederate and Neo-Confederate Reader

Most Americans hold basic misconceptions about the Confederacy, the Civil War, and the acts of neo-Confederates afterward. For example, two-thirds of Americans--including most history teachers--think the Confederate States seceded for "states' rights." This error persists because most have never read the key documents about the Confederacy. Now we are marking the 150th anniversary of secession and Civil War. Surely it's time to get this history right! The first secession document, South Carolina's "Declaration of the Immediate Causes Which Induce and Justify the Secession of South Carolina from the Federal Union" actually opposes states' rights. Mississipp's Declaration says, "Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery--the greatest material interest of the world." Later documents show how neo-Confederates lied about all this in the twentieth century. The most recent document -- Georgia Gov. Sonny Perdue's 2008 "Confederate History Month Proclamation," shows a new twist. Now Neo-Confederates claim that thousands of African Americans "saw action in the Confederate armed forces in many combat roles." The book shows what's wrong with this claim and also explains why it is crucial to get this history right in the 21st century.    Learn More...

Teaching What Really Happened

Loewen's new book calls K-12 teachers to teach history and social studies in a new way. It offers teachers specific ideas for how to get students excited about history, how to get them to DO history, and how to help them read critically. It also helps teachers tackle difficult but important topics like the American Indian experience, slavery, and race relations.    Learn More...

Sundown Towns: A Hidden Dimension of American Racism
(Gustavus Myers Human Rights Book Award, Selected by Booklist as a 2005 Editor's Choice Selection)

From Maine to California, thousands of communities kept out African Americans (or sometimes Chinese Americans, Jewish Americans, etc.) by force, law, or custom. Some towns are still all white on purpose. Their chilling stories have been joined more recently by the many elite (and some not so elite) suburbs like Grosse Pointe, MI, or Edina, MN, that have excluded nonwhites by "kinder gentler means." Sundown Towns [UNABRIDGED] (Audio CD or Download) Learn More...

Lies My Teacher Told Me: Everything Your High School History Texbook Got Wrong

American history is full of fantastic and important stories. These stories have the power to spellbind audiences, even audiences of difficult seventh graders. Yet they sleep through the classes that present it.

What has gone wrong?

We begin to get a handle on that question by noting that textbooks dominate history teaching more than any other field. Students are right: the books are boring. The stories they tell are predictable because every problem is getting solved, if it has not been already. Textbooks exclude conflict or real suspense. They leave out anything that might reflect badly upon our national character. No wonder students lose interest. We have got to do better. Learn More...

Lies Across America: What Our Historic Sites Get Wrong

Did you know that the automobile was invented in rural Wisconsin? That a Texas preacher beat the Wright brothers by a year, in a plane inspired by the word of God? That four different people in three different states "first" used anesthesia in an operation? That Abraham Lincoln was born in a cabin in Kentucky built 30 years after his death? Those things never happened, of course, but the landscape commemorates them anyway.

Lies Across America teaches visitors to read between the lines of historical markers and to deconstruct the sculptures on monuments and memorials. Viewed in this way, the lies and omissions across the American countryside suggest times and ways that the United States went astray as a nation. Learn More...

The Mississippi Chinese : Between Black and White

This scholarly, carefully researched book studies one of the most overlooked minority groups in America - the Chinese of the Mississippi Delta. During Reconstruction, white plantation owners imported Chinese sharecroppers in the hope of replacing their black laborers. In the beginning they were classed with blacks. But the Chinese soon moved into the towns and became almost without exception, owners of small groceries. Loewen details their astounding transition from "black" to essentially white status. Learn More...

Mississippi : Conflict and Change

First-year students at Tougaloo College taught me that they had absorbed a white supremacist false narrative of their past, even in all-Black high schools. As a result, I put together a team of students and faculty at Tougaloo and from nearby Millsaps College and wrote a new history of the state. Historian Lawrence Goodwyn called Mississippi: Conflict and Change "the best history of an American state I have ever seen." It won the Lillian Smith Award for Best Southern Nonfiction of 1975, but the State of Mississippi rejected it for school use, leading to the lawsuit Loewen et al. v. Turnipseed, et al., finally won in 1980. This link leads to several resources for teaching about Mississippi. Learn More...

The Validity of "Standardized" Testing in Education and Employment

When I first went to Tougaloo College in 1968, I found that my students had low SAT scores - 240 to 580. Yet my best students were equal to my best students at Harvard, where I had just taught. The SAT put Tougaloo students in a defensible order within their environment, but a 560 at Tougaloo was far better than a 560 at Harvard. Soon I realized that Tougaloo students - black, poor, rural - had grown up as distant from the SAT makers - white, rich, suburban - as was possible within the United States.

Further research showed me that SAT (and ACT) scores correlate very poorly with the outcome they are intended to predict: first-year college grades.

Those two facts have underlain my intermittent work since 1970, mostly aimed at showing the bias in these tests and how they should not be used in college admissions. Learn More...

James Loewen's Audio Books and Lectures...

Everything You've Been Taught is Wrong: Fact, Fiction, and Lies in American History: 14 Lectures (Audio CD)

The study of the past is supposed to help us make sense of our place in history and inform the choices we make every day. But what if the lessons we were taught in American History class were not true? In this eye-opening and provocative series of lectures, renowned historian James W. Loewen, author of Lies My Teacher Told Me, unravels the fact from the fiction, the unvarnished truths from the convenient myths, and explains the reasons American history has so often been distorted.

The Modern Scholar is a series of exciting and informative lectures recorded by some of today's most renowned university and college professors. Each package includes 14 riveting lectures as well as a book-length course guide. Learn More

Lies My Teacher Told Me [UNABRIDGED] (Audio CD)

Now as an Audio Book! Loewen argues that our bland, Eurocentric treatment of history bores most elementary and high school students, who find it irrelevant to their lives. To make learning more compelling, Loewen urges authors, publishers, and teachers to highlight the drama inherent in history by presenting students with different viewpoints and stressing that history is an ongoing process, not merely a collection of often misleading factoids. Readers interested in history, whether liberal or conservative, professional or layperson, will find food for thought here. Learn More...

Honors Awarded to James Loewen
American Sociological Association gives Cox/Johnson/Frazier Award to Loewen.
Tougaloo College Awards Loewen an Honorary Degree - Part 1
Tougaloo College Awards Loewen an Honorary Degree - Part 2
National Council for the Social Studies Gives Loewen Spirit Of America Award
Center for the Healing of Racism Gives 2018 Ally Award to James Loewen
ASALH, the Association for the Study of African American Life and History, at its centennial Founders Day in 2016, honored James Loewen as one of 32 "Rays of Light"
Decatur, Illinois proclaims "James William Loewen Day"
This site was created by Matt Cheney, copyrighted by James W. Loewen and heirs (Nick Loewen) 1997-2021, and is maintained by Phil Huckelberry and Stephen Berrey. Hosted by Tougaloo College, Tougaloo, MS, 39174 and facilitated by Pantheon.