Virginia's History Texts Riddled With Errors

Historians discover loads of mistakes in Five Ponds books
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2010 9:29 AM CST
Virginia's History Texts Riddled With Errors
A cannon sits in front of a former civil war hospital in Virginia in this file photo.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Did you know that colonial Virginians commonly wore full suits of armor? Or that New Orleans started off the 1800s as a US harbor (rather than a Spanish one)? These are just a few of the dozens of errors historians have found in Virginia’s textbooks. Virginia ordered a review of texts from small publisher Five Ponds Press, after news broke that one of its books, Our Virginia: Past and Present, claimed that thousands of slaves fought for the South in the Civil War.

One historian tells the Washington Post that the text she reviewed—Our America—was “just too shocking for words. Any literate person could have opened that book and immediately found a mistake.” Virginia's strict rules about textbook content force it to eschew texts from bigger publishers, which employ historians. Five Ponds’ books are all written by Joy Masoff, an untrained historian whose other masterpieces include Oh Yuck! The Encyclopedia of Everything Nasty and Oh Yikes! History’s Grossest, Wackiest Moments. But size isn't everything; one historian found problems with a Houghton Mifflin text, as well. (Read more Virginia stories.)

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