Archive for February, 2009

February 28th 2009
Weekend roundup: Oh, for dog’s sake! edition

Posted under American history & fluff & Gender & local news & race & women's history

Here, boy!

Here, boy!

It’s sunny and warm here on the Colorado Trail this weekend, so here are a few items to keep you busy while I’m out hikin’, bikin’, fishin’, eatin’, drinkin’, and otherwise droppin’ my Gs!

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February 27th 2009
A sad goodbye

Posted under American history & jobs & local news & publication


Excerpt from the Rocky, 1861, from

The Rocky Mountain News is no more–it ceased publication after this morning’s edition, just 55 days short of it’s 150th anniversary.  The Rocky Mountain News was also the oldest continually operated business in Colorado, and many considered its political desk in this decade the best in the state.  (The Rocky offered a nice rundown of its history here.)

I never subscribed to the Rocky–it was a tabloid, which has never been my style, and at the time I moved to Colorado it had more knucle- knuckle-dragging mouth-breathers on their editorial page, so I went with the Denver Post.  (Among conservatives, the Post has a reputation for being “leftist,” which is just completely nutty.)  But on Saturdays I read the Rocky, because according to the agreement by which the Post and the Rocky  shared their presses, the Rocky put out the only newspaper on Saturdays, and the Post published the only Sunday edition in Denver. 

Some of the star reporters and columnists are migrating to the Post, but hundreds of people are out of work, as of today, with only 60 days of severance pay.  Nothing personal–it’s just business.


February 26th 2009
Two more days left in Black History Month…

Posted under American history & captivity & jobs & race

Slave cabins, The Hermitage, Nashville, TN

Slave cabins, The Hermitage, Nashville, TN

…so perhaps this idea won’t reach you until it’s too late!

(Kidding.  I assume most readers of this blog who are American historians do African American history ever month of the year, at least in months that you teach.)

Commenter Sharon recently wired me an idea that’s absolutely brilliant: 

Your blog entry about slave sites had me thinking.  Over the last few years, I have tried to incorporate slave-related sites into my travels so I can photograph them for a course I teach called Homescapes: the material culture of everyday life in America, 1600-1860.  Some historic sites do better at interpretation than others, but I’ve yet to see one that is truly admirable. (Of course, I tend to be disappointed about the interpretation of pretty much everything at historic sites–don’t get me started about women’s history.)

In this context, I just went into Picasa (the Google photosharing app) and searched on “slave quarters.”   The results are very interesting.  Clearly, tourists make a point of photographing slave sites, and the images are pretty amazing.

I wish more tourists labeled exactly where they took the photos they post to Picasa.  I might never have to leave home again.

I thought this was such a great idea that I’d pass it along to all of my readers.  My guess is that many of you are always on the lookout for great images to show your students, something that’s more difficult for those of us who teach in earlier periods, and it’s also harder for those of us who want to show our students examples of anything other than high style architecture or material culture.  (And, by the way, doesn’t Sharon’s Homescapes course sound fascinating?  Lucky students!)  Have some others of you found Picasa already?  How is it working out for you?

Sharon’s dispatch makes me think that museum studies people and other public historians might consider surveilling Picasa and other photo sharing sites like it (yes, even the dreaded Facebook and MySpace b^ll$h!t social networking sites!) to see what aspects of house museums and historic sites people photograph.  What Sharon has found at Picasa indicates that there is significant public interest in the history of slavery, and perhaps museums and local history organizations will be inspired to offer more of it.

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February 26th 2009
More news from the Department of the Bloody Obvious

Posted under childhood & Gender & GLBTQ & local news & students & the body & wankers & women's history

Maybe people named Peter shouldn't call someone else "Vagina?"

Maybe people named Peter shouldn't call someone else "Vagina?"

Newsflashes everywhere these days!

That is all.


February 25th 2009
Taking your cues from Steve Doocy?

Posted under American history

Who do you trust as an authority on American history?  The Journal of American History, or Fox & Friends host Steve Doocy?

Man, it’s sad what some people will say to sell a book.  (Fox & Friends!  Come on, Larry–you’re a better media “get” than that.  I saw you interviewed by Pat Robertson a few years ago on CBN, and he was much more intelligent than Doocy.  Although that, admittedly, is not a very high bar to clear.)

Well, thanks for the free laugh of the day!


February 24th 2009
Burn this after reading

Posted under book reviews & European history & publication & technoskepticism


Steal This "Book"

Are you ready for another cranky, technophobic rant?

Good.  Kindle.  What exactly are the advantages to a “delicate piece of electronics” that

can be lost, dropped or fried in the tub[?] You’d have to buy an awful lot of $10 best sellers to recoup the purchase price. If Amazon goes under or abandons the Kindle, you lose your entire library. And you can’t pass on or sell an e-book after you’ve read it.

For the absurd price of $359, this too can be yours!  This does not include the $60 wireless bill each Kindle runs up per month, since Amazon is footing  the bill (for now.)  Now, I’ve always been a skeptic of these enthusiasms for replacing paper and ink, especially for replacing them with “delicate” electronics.  (I used to have this argument all the time with Fratguy, who back in the 1990s was for the Palm Pilot as Creflo Dollar is for Jesus.  My answer?  I’d throw my FiloFax calendar and address book on the floor, open it up, and exclaim, “Looky!  It still works!  Praise the Lord.”)

Are the people who invented these things readers of books themselves?  Continue Reading »


February 24th 2009
Why do conservatives oppose publicly funded contraception?

Posted under Gender & the body & women's history

It works.  And it’s important, if you believe that 1) a healthy sex life is a basic human right, 2) that women are good for more than just producing babies, and 3) that they might have other worthy things to do between the ages of 15 and 45.

Big “ifs” for some, I realize.


February 23rd 2009
Category crisis: how should I (re)organize my library?

Posted under American history & Dolls & Intersectionality & women's history

library1John Fea over at The Way of Improvement Leads Home had an interesting post called “How do you organize your library?” a few weeks ago, and it inspired me to get serious about (finally!) reorganizing my library.  But, I have no idea where to start, or how to proceed, and unfortunately, none of the suggestions in the comments on John’s post were very helpful.  (One commenter left just one word, “KINDLE,” in the comments, rather enigmatically.  I know what Kindle is, but John’s question was more about the intellectual categories of organization, not how to manage actual physical books.)

When I started graduate school in 1990, early American history was neatly divided by geography into five categories:  New England, the Middle Colonies, the Chesapeake Bay region, the Lower South, and the Caribbean.  By the time I took my degree in 1996, there was another category added to the mix, “Atlantic World,” but astute readers will note that early American history was really in fact early Anglo-American history.  If students was interested in the history of New Spain or Brazil, they worked with Mexican historians and colonial Latin Americanists, not with the people who called themselves early Americanists.  (And–bien sur–no one was interested in New France!)  Although most of us were encouraged to read, think, and write about non-white peoples and non-English Europeans, it was expected that we’d confine our readings and research to lands under some form of English government. 

Nevertheless, the New England/Middle Colonies/Chesapeake/Lower South/Caribbean scheme is how I have organized my books since graduate school, with sections (and then later full shelves) also devoted to my books on the American Revolution, and the nineteenth century (since I was trained to teach up through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and I do that when I teach the survey.)  But since I was trained, early American history has moved from being divided into geographically and culturally distinct regions to more conceptual divisions that transcend geography and even macropolitical and linguistic borders.  This, in my opinion, is all to the good, and I’ve helped to usher along some of these changes in my own very modest way with my scholarship.  This dissolution of geographical and national borders is something that has happened throughout the historical profession, too.  Whereas once everything was filed neatly under histories of the nation-state, comparative and transnational history have confused these formerly (and deceptively) tidy categories. Continue Reading »


February 22nd 2009
Funniest search engine string ever

Posted under fluff

Scary stuff, kids!

Scary stuff, kids!

Check it out:  Type “scared grove of the academe” into a search engine, and it leads you right back to  Oddly appropriate!  But–do I want to wonder why these terms also lead people to

  • hot women over 40
  • how to make beef burgundy (Soon I’ll be famous!)
  • nurse julia doll
  • johnson holding up dog ears
  • is stephanie coontz a feminist
  • women athletes
  • athletic mom
  • preppy couples

All I know is that there are a lot of people interested in hot women over 40 and athletic mothers who find their way here.  Very strange.


February 22nd 2009
Best Beef Burgundy Ever!

Posted under fluff

juliachildI’ve been on the lookout for a good recipe for beef burgundy for a long time.  For a while, famille Historiann was pleased with the Carbonnade a la Flamande recipe from Cooks magazine earlier in this decade, but quite frankly, it seemed like too much of a pain in the butt for me to do on a regular basis.  (Buying a special beer just for a recipe–seriously?  Too fussy.  I’m a proud cook, but not one who likes to buy all kinds of special ingredients for just one recipe.  Besides, having to remember to purchase more than 3 special ingredients at a time just leads to more trips to the supermarket for me.)

So, I’ve had to go and make one myself.  Voila Boeuf Bourguignon Historiann.  I took Jeff Smith’s basic beef burgundy recipe (from The Frugal Gourmet, 1984) , Julia’d up his rather slapdash techniques to amp up the brown fond flavors and umami, and added a secret ingredient: Continue Reading »


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