Press Releases | Historical Literacy

ACTA Partners with Distinguished Historian Allen Guelzo to Release New Publication

10 Things Everyone Should Know About American History
April 23, 2020

Washington, DC—The American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) announces the release of 10 Things Everyone Should Know About American History. ACTA will mail this new publication to over 30,000 college trustees, administrators, faculty, and policymakers at the federal and state levels, as well as high school principals, counselors, and educators, to promote the teaching of American history.

Several surveys in recent years have documented growing civic illiteracy in the United States stemming from the massive failure to teach young people about our nation’s history in grade school through college. The results are staggering: According to the National Assessment of Educational Progress, only 18% of eighth graders can be considered “proficient” in U.S. history. This is a crisis in citizenship; a republic such as our own relies on a shared and fact-based understanding of the country’s story so that true, informed deliberation can allow the citizenry to build a more perfect union.

In 10 Things Everyone Should Know About American History, Professor Allen Guelzo of Princeton University vividly illustrates the contemporary importance of our past by guiding readers through what he deems the 10 most pivotal moments in United States history, beginning with the Founding and ending with America’s victory in the Cold War. University of Oklahoma’s G.T. And Libby Blankenship Chair in the History of Liberty, Dr. Wilfred McClay, provides a foreword on the importance of historical memory.

Allen Guelzo is a prize-winning Civil War historian and the author of many books, including Gettysburg: The Last Invasion (Alfred A. Knopf, 2013) for which he won the inaugural Guggenheim-Lehrman Prize in Military History. He is a 2018 recipient of the Bradley Prize for his “contributions [which] have shaped important debate, thought and research on one of the most critical periods of American history.”

Professor Guelzo’s essay is based on a lecture he gave at a 2019 ACTA seminar for trustees and university leaders focused on best practices for building and sustaining environments of civic knowledge and intellectual diversity in higher education.

“It is disturbing that 82% of colleges and universities do not require students to take a course in U.S. history or government,” said ACTA President Michael Poliakoff. “The failure to teach students about the people and events that have shaped America’s history cry out for remedy. We are very happy to partner with Professor Guelzo in this important effort that makes vital aspects of our nation’s history so clearly accessible for all who wish to understand the triumphs and challenges of our nation. By studying the achievements and failures of our past, all Americans will be better equipped for the duties of engaged and informed citizenship.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Connor Murnane
PHONE: (202) 798-5450


Launched in 1995, we are the only organization that works with alumni, donors, trustees, and education leaders across the United States to support liberal arts education, uphold high academic standards, safeguard the free exchange of ideas on campus, and ensure that the next generation receives an intellectually rich, high-quality college education at an affordable price.

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