Comments on: Stars & Stripes Forever: Marla Miller’s Betsy Ross and the Making of America http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/ History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present Sat, 20 Sep 2014 07:56:15 +0000 hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.2 By: Happy Independence Day! : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-845161 Mon, 04 Jul 2011 16:00:36 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-845161 [...] my review from 2010 of Marla Miller’s Betsy Ross and the Making of [...]

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By: Call for Contributors: Women in Early America : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-837921 Wed, 15 Jun 2011 17:37:10 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-837921 [...] recently on material culture as a way of understanding women’s lives, as we’ve seen in books by Marla Miller and Laurel Ulrich, and in essays by Sophie White and Linda Baumgarten, for [...]

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By: Good Friday, good grief, and good eats: Feasts of the Dead : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-817619 Fri, 22 Apr 2011 18:26:57 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-817619 [...] of Ben Franklin U. can catch me up on this.)  And finally, I guess I’ll have to take the Betsy Ross House tour this time, [...]

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By: Methodology: when “sideways” is the only way you can go : Historiann : History and sexual politics, 1492 to the present http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-662878 Tue, 06 Jul 2010 13:25:15 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-662878 [...] Making of America, a book about a woman who left no trace in the historical record that survived, Susan commented that “I think the whole issue of how we go sideways into a topic that does not want to [...]

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By: Comrade PhysioProf http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-662628 Tue, 06 Jul 2010 01:54:34 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-662628 Well, that was a very interesting answer to a much better question than the one I actually asked, which was just my usual douchery: in this case complaining about your use of “beg the question”.

I think I would like to have as my epitaph: “We slid him in sideways.”

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By: Historiann http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-662350 Mon, 05 Jul 2010 15:38:42 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-662350 Comrade PhysioProf: it’s true. There are a lot of us who are writing histories and biographies about people who were either illiterate in the first place (Sojourner Truth, Pocahontas, Tituba, etc.), or whose literacy was never preserved (Betsy Ross.) But, in Anglo-American records especially in urban places by 1700 or so, state and colonial records are sufficiently rich and detailed as to preserve at least documentary traces of an individual’s life.

For example, Miller has the Quaker meeting records which document family events like childbirth as well as the various tribulations of the family. Then there are the marriage registers at the various churches where Betsy was married to her husbands. Because she kept her own shop, there are advertisements for her work in period newspapers, etc. Then there’s the legend of BR as recorded by her daughter and grandson in the 19th century. So we can have some assurance that a person existed, married, gave birth, did this or that kind of work, was or was not rich enough to pay taxes, etc. But, the inner life, and what we moderns think of as the essential self, is largely unknowable to us. I’m persuaded by Miller’s research–she gets us as close to Betsy as anyone will ever be able to. But, there are no guarantees. She could be completely wrong–but we’ll probably never know.

This is also my task in writing about Esther Wheelwright. I have three letters from her–only one of which gives any insight into her inner life. (The other two are pretty boring bureaucratic letters from her Superiorship–essentially convent business records of little interest to me.) Researching middling women who were never married pose a special challenge, because marriage and birth records are sometimes all we can know about them. Writing about women religious is easier in some respects, because religious orders keep pretty good records (comparatively), but they also conceal at least as much as they reveal.

I, like Indyanna, think Susan’s explanation of approaching a topic “sideways” is felicitous, and important. I’ll have some more thoughts on this, and some further comments from Marla Miller, tomorrow. (And yes, perhaps Sideways is an apt expression for other reasons, since it too starred the shockingly ugly actor Paul Giamatti, the latest popular personification of His Rotundity, as I discuss in today’s post above. . . )

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By: Comrade PhysioProf http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-662004 Sun, 04 Jul 2010 23:43:40 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-662004

“How we go sideways into…” I think is a very inspired way of articulating both the problem and the methodology here.

Creative scientists do that all the time, too.

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By: Indyanna http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-661822 Sun, 04 Jul 2010 19:37:52 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-661822 “How we go sideways into…” I think is a very inspired way of articulating both the problem and the methodology here. One tack that often literally does involve lateral motion is prowling the rows in open-stack libraries, ransacking the indexes and other apparatus in likely (and non-likely) looking volumes, seeking out odd and intuitive connections between things, and just playing hunches. This can often provide a better guide in the wilderness than anything you can find in a typical “needs and opportunities” essay, or other standard form of historiographical review.

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By: Today We Celebrate Our Independence « Fun with History http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-661757 Sun, 04 Jul 2010 14:46:43 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-661757 [...] How could we forget about Betsy Ross today, when we hold our flag most dear? The Historiann writes about her in Stars & Stripes Forever. [...]

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By: Meaghan http://www.historiann.com/2010/07/03/stars-stripes-forever-marla-millers-betsy-ross-and-the-making-of-america/comment-page-1/#comment-661331 Sat, 03 Jul 2010 21:28:02 +0000 http://www.historiann.com/?p=11579#comment-661331 I loved The Needle’s Eye, so I be sure to pick this one up. Actually, when I’d read the Betsy Ross title, I immediately thought about The Needle’s Eye, so I shouldn’t have been surprised that the authors were one and the same!

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