Censorship of Who Built America (fwd)

Tom Moylan tmoylan at osf1.gmu.edu
Mon Feb 13 08:54:07 MST 1995


For your information, and response.  Apple Comp. is censoring thi
important text from its schools distribution.  Please read and respond as
requested.  Thanks.

Tom Moylan

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Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 23:44:32 -0500 (EST)
From: Roy Rosenzweig <RROSENZW at VMS1.GMU.EDU>
Subject: Censorship of Who Built America (fwd)
To: tmoylan at gmu.edu
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Tom--
As the following explains, we are embroiled in censorship dispute with
Apple over our CD-ROM. If you have time, please send an email (address
below) to the head of Apple. Please also circulate to others, including
other email lists.
take care,
Roy
---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 12 Feb 1995 13:10:39 -0500 (EST)
From: Eric Foner <ef17 at columbia.edu>

        IS THE INFORMATION SUPERHIGHWAY ONLY OPEN TO "EDUCATIONALLY
        APPROPRIATE" HISTORY?

             As members of the board of directors of the American Social
        History Project (ASHP) we want to bring to your attention the
        recent attempt by Apple Computer to censor the Project's WHO
        BUILT AMERICA? FROM THE CENTENNIAL CELEBRATION OF 1876 TO THE
        GREAT WAR OF 1914 (WBA), a CD-ROM conceived and written by Roy
        Rosenzweig, Steve Brier and Joshua Brown, and published by the
        Voyager Company in 1993.

             In January 1995, after distributing more than 12,000 copies
        of WBA in the previous month as part of its "Apple Educational
        Series: Elementary and Secondary Reference" bundle installed in
        computers sold to schools, Apple informed the Voyager Company
        about unspecified complaints regarding material in the disk
        discussing homosexuality, birth control, and abortion between
        1876 and 1914.  Voyager refused Apple's request to make the CD-
        ROM "educationally appropriate" by removing all references to
        these subjects.  The material that Apple wanted censored
        represents a small number of historical documents and oral-
        history interviews, the equivalent of 40 pages and 15 minutes of
        sound out of more than 5,000 pages of text and four and a half
        hours of sound.  The inclusion of the history of gay Americans
        and birth control is part of a comprehensive social history of
        the period that covers a wide range of experiences and
        perspectives.  On January 31, 1995, Apple notified the Voyager
        Company that it would no longer distribute WBA to schools.

             Ironically, Apple's decision occurred only three weeks after
        the American Historical Association awarded WBA the biennial
        James Harvey Robinson Prize as "the most outstanding contribution
        to the teaching and learning of history in any field for public
        or educational purposes."  In addition, since its publication in
        1993, WBA has been praised in major newspapers and in computer
        trade and scholarly publications for its innovative application
        of multimedia to education and rigorous scholarship.  For
        example, Walter S. Mossberg wrote in the WALL STREET JOURNAL:
        "Once in a while . . . a truly exciting, high-quality electronic
        book turns up to reveal the real potential of electronic
        learning.  My latest nomination to this CD-ROM Hall of Fame
        is . . . WHO BUILT AMERICA?"

             Apple's new restrictions threaten the intellectual and
        educational efficacy of electronic information, from interactive
        programs to the Internet, an arena that has been heralded for
        providing greater opportunities for accessibility, expression,
        and diversity.

             In response to publicity being given to this case in various
        media, Apple has apparently backed away from its initial stance
        and now maintains it is re-evaluating the status of WHO BUILT
        AMERICA?  In that light and in the light of the company's
        previous reputation for respecting human and civil rights,
        comments from scholars and educators might have an important
        effect on Apple's decision.  We urge you to write Apple CEO
        Michael Spindler to resist pressure from those who want to censor
        the past (e-mail: spindler at applelink.apple.com; address: Apple
        Computer, Inc., 20525 Mariani Avenue, Cupertino, California
        95014).

             Please send a copy of your correspondence to any of the
        three authors: Roy Rosenzweig (rrosenzw at gmu.edu), Steve Brier
        (sbbhc at cunyvm.cuny.edu), or Josh Brown (jbrhc at cunyvm.cuny.edu).

             The Voyager Company can be reached via Braden Michaels,
        Voyager, 578 Broadway, Suite 406, New York, N.Y. 10012, tel: 212-
        431-5199, fax: 212-431-5799, e-mail: michaels at voyagerco.com.

        Signed

        Ira Berlin, Department of History, University of Maryland
        Loni Ding, Department of Ethnic Studies, University of
        California, Berkeley
        Eric Foner, Department of History, Columbia University
        Carol Groneman, Department of History, John Jay College, CUNY
        Leon F. Litwack, Department of History, University of California,
        Berkeley
        Patricia Oldham, Social Science Faculty, Hostos Community
        College, CUNY
        Silvio Torres-Saillant, CUNY Dominican Studies Institute at the
        City College of New York


                                   ----------

        CHRONOLOGY AND INFORMATION ABOUT WHO BUILT AMERICA? PROVIDED BY
        THE VOYAGER COMPANY:

        * September-October 1994: Apple approaches Voyager about the
        possibility of purchasing copies of WHO BUILT AMERICA? to give to
        schools (K-12) buying certain Apple computers.  Voyager and Apple
        agree to terms.
        * December 1994: Apple bundles more than 12,000 copies of WBA
        with computers in the first month of a year-long program.
        * January 1995: Apple calls Voyager to say that it has received
        complaints about WBA because of the CD-ROM's discussion of
        homosexuality, abortion, and birth control at the turn of the
        century.  Apple asks Voyager to make available a version with
        these subjects edited out.  Voyager refuses but offers to send
        schools that don't like WBA any CD-ROM from the Voyager catalog
        (school's choice).  Voyager also proposes that WBA be bundled
        only with computers for high-schools, colleges, and libraries.
        Apple rejects both of these suggestions.
        * January 31, 1995: Apple informs Voyager that it will no longer
        include WBA in the K-12 bundle, and asks Voyager to name a
        replacement title.  Apple makes clear that any replacement must
        not mention homosexuality, abortion, or birth control.


        ABOUT WHO BUILT AMERICA?

        WHO BUILT AMERICA? is a new "electronic book" on CD-ROM.
        Conceived and written by Roy Rosenzweig, Steve Brier and Josh
        Brown (visual editor) and published by the Voyager Company in
        collaboration with the American Social History Project, it
        includes more than four and a half hours of audio (oral history,
        actuality sound, and music), 45 minutes of archival film, more
        than 5,000 pages of historical documents, more than 700 pictures
        as well as dozens of graphs, maps, and many other features.
        Among the special features of the "book" are:

        FILM: More than twenty film clips, including the early silent
        film classic, "The Great Train Robbery," immigrants arriving at
        Ellis Island, candidates campaigning for the presidency in 1912,
        women suffragists marching down Fifth Avenue, and more.

        ORAL HISTORY: More than thirty interviews with immigrants,
        sharecroppers, Native Americans, coal miners, and others.  Hear
        survivors of the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire and eyewitnesses to the
        1906 Atlanta Race Riot.

        MUSIC: More than two dozen songs from the period, including
        protest and labor songs, black spirituals and work songs, hits
        from Tin Pan Alley, country music, and brass band tunes.

        ARCHIVAL AUDIO: Rare recordings of Booker T. Washington, Andrew
        Carnegie, Teddy Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft,
        and others as well as humor from early vaudeville stars.

        DOCUMENTS: Thousands of pages of primary documents, including
        letters home from immigrants, congressional testimony, newspaper
        accounts, court decisions, famous essays, fiction, poetry, and
        sociological studies.

        IMAGES: Hundreds of exquisitely reproduced pictures include
        cartoons and advertisements from newspapers, magazine
        illustrations, paintings, and rare documentary photographs,
        including the work of Jacob Riis and Lewis Hine.

        WHO BUILT AMERICA? is available from the Voyager Company (1-800-
        446-2001 or orders at voyagerco.com).













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