History Needs New Heroes
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


Founded in 1832, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) champions itself for being the learning company.  Headquartered in Boston, Massachusetts, HMH “is committed to honoring the process of learning, championing new ideas, and emboldening the thinkers and doers of tomorrow.” Holt McDougal is a division of HMH that specializes in textbooks for secondary schools.

The Americans (2014) is a publication from Holt McDougal: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. It explores the story of the United States through weaving in the reflections of people who experienced the past first hand.  The opening of each section includes “One American’s Story” and recounts the experience of seemingly normal people. Throughout 10 chapters and 319 pages, there are 2229 total mentions that cover 349 people.

People by Name

Of the 23 names mentioned the most, 12 are United States presidents, 2 are activists, and 5 are dictators from around the world. All are white except for 2.  Not one woman appears even close to the top of the list. This suggests that more attention is given to policies and actions of foreign affairs rather than the actions of people within the United States.

People by Gender

The gender inequities present throughout The Americans is a stark 82% male to 18% female.  Today, the percentage of women in the United States is just over 50%.

People by Race

66% of all Americans mentioned throughout this textbook are white. Only 19% are African American, 6% are Latin American, and a sad 1% of people mentioned are from indigenous communities.  What does this say for the majority of Americans who are proud of their heritage, but find no narratives of it in mainstream history?

People by Role

According to The Americans, the top roles of the latter half of the twentieth century are government officials, activists, entertainers, writers, and military personnel.  While these roles are among the most commonly referenced in many aspects of American life, 45% of people worked for the government in some capacity.

A Closer Look

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