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J. Fred MacDonald lecture looks at 'Death of History' Sept. 23

September 09, 2010

Kathleen S. White
(315) 443-8782

Historian and video archivist J. Fred MacDonald will discuss “The Death of History: Natural Causes or Murder?” in a lecture presented by Syracuse University Library Associates at 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 23, in the Peter Graham Scholarly Commons of E.S. Bird Library. 

Performing an “autopsy” on the traditional study of history, MacDonald contends that in the digital age primary documents—the raw materials essential to an understanding of the past—are easily, casually and regularly being relegated to the obscurity of basements around the world through online auctions. Most of these documents will be forever lost to public scholarship. MacDonald will discuss efforts to save the principal evidence of our past from amateur collectors, impulse buyers and ideological revisionists. 

MacDonald is professor emeritus of history at Northeastern Illinois University in Chicago and founder and president of MacDonald & Associates, whose holdings constitute one of the largest private repositories of films and television programs in the world. Clients of his archive include the BBC, NHK (Japan) and every major U.S. motion picture studio and television network. He is the author of six books and numerous articles on the history of American popular culture, available for free online reading at

The event is free and open to the public; free event parking is available at Booth Garage, on the corner of Waverly and Comstock avenues, one block from Bird Library. For more information, visit

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