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Historians want to set record straight on 400-year-old 'fake news'

Experts say that the common history of how the country was first settled isn't completely accurate.
Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, Massachusetts.Wikimedia Commons

The spread of fake news has gained attention recently —even being referred to as a danger to democracy by Hillary Clinton— but apparently this problem isn't new.

False information clouds our understanding of the nation's start,according to New England Beginnings.

Pilgrims landed in Plymouth in 1620, and as the nation approaches the 400th anniversary of this momentous beginning, historians see a way to set the record straight, the Associated Press reports.

New England Beginnings is a partnership ofhistorical institutions meant to dispel the 400-year-old "fake news" about how the country was first settled. The most common "fake news" surrounds the relations between Pilgrims and Native Americans.

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The groups within New England Beginnings include 19 stateside partners such as theMassachusetts Historical Society, Boston Public Library and the Jonathan Edwards Center at Yale University. Internationally, the United Kingdom's History of Independence Project, the Dutch nonprofit Leiden American Pilgrim Museum Foundation and more weigh in.

New England Beginnings is using technology, such as apps and online archives, to help the public learn the truehistory, the APreports.

One member, the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, is set to release an online updated versionof Plymouth Gov. William Bradford's historic account of early settlers,"Of Plymouth Plantation." This edition will include notes revealing Native American perspectives, according to the AP.

Another, the Congregational Library and Archives, recently launched the "Puritan Boston Tests Democracy" app, an interactive database of "often overlooked" history.

"There's a lot of attention being paid right now to how you distinguish between real news and fake news," Francis Bremer, a professor emeritus of history at Pennsylvania's Millersville University and the coordinator of New England Beginnings, told the Associated Press. "But this is something historians grapple with all the time."

 
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