Recap: Old Friends/New Editors: A Conversation about Early American Publishing

This post is co-written by Katy Lasdow and Eric Herschthal, contributors to The Junto and Rapporteurs for the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture.

Earlier this month at the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture, scholars in New York City got a glimpse of the most pressing issues facing the field as  seen through the eyes of the new editors of early American history’s flagship journals. Joshua Piker, the recently named editor at The William and Mary Quarterly, joined Catherine Kelly, now in charge of the Journal of the Early Republic, to discuss what concerned them most as they entered their freshman year on the job. Their concerns ranged from the challenge Atlantic history posed to what it traditionally has meant to be an early American journal, to the way technology—JSTOR, Project MUSE, even blogs like us here at The Junto—has forced academic publications to rethink their role in a more egalitarian digital world. Continue reading

Guest Post: Reclaiming a Buried Past: Slavery, Memory, Public History, and Portsmouth’s African Burying Ground

Jessica Parr received her PhD from the University of New Hampshire at Durham in 2012. Her research interests are race and religion in the Early Modern British Atlantic. Her first book, Inventing George Whitefield: Race, Revivalism, and the Making of a Religious Icon is forthcoming from the University Press of Mississippi (2015). She currently teaches at the University of New Hampshire at Manchester. This is her second guest post for The Junto.

It was a scene that has been repeated in several American cities. In 2003, during an infrastructure project, 13 coffins containing unidentified human remains were found in Portsmouth, NH. Eight of the remains were exhumed for examination and confirmed as being of African descent, and later as part of a 1705 African Burying Ground, once on the city’s outskirts. As Portsmouth expanded, burying ground was built over and largely forgotten. Five additional sets of remains were found in 2008 during an archaeological dig on the site. Experts believe that 200 or more burials could have taken place in this 1705 African Burying Ground.[1]  Continue reading

One-Star Amazon Reviews of Pulitzer Winners

Portrait Of Joseph PulitzerWe talk a lot about accessibility in historical writing. Many of us worry whether the academic historical profession has much to say to a broad popular audience. It’s a pretty old form of anxiety. But what do the general public in the United States really want from their history books?

A few days ago, I decided to try an experiment. I collected all the one-star customer reviews at Amazon.com for the last twenty years of Pulitzer Prize winners in history. (No award was given in 1994, so I included books from 1995 to 2014.) I wanted to see whether I could identify common complaints. Obviously, this wouldn’t be a very scientific experiment, but at least it would be reasonably systematic—slightly better, perhaps, than relying on anecdotes from acquaintances.

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Edinburgh’s Early Americans

Invitation from the President of the United States to Robert and Henrietta Liston, 1797 (NLS shelfmark: MS.5590 f. 43)

Invitation from the President of the United States to Robert and Henrietta Liston, 1797 (NLS shelfmark: MS.5590 f. 43)

With all eyes on Scotland this week, The Junto chats with Dora Petherbridge, International Collections Curator (U.S. & Commonwealth) at the National Library of Scotland. To learn about George Washington’s Edinburgh connection, and how NLS is “collecting the Referendum” for history, read on. Continue reading

Rip Van Digital

virtual-conference-loungex1Last night, I had a dream about waking up at some indeterminate time in the future, not too distant but not very close either. It was one of those kinds of dreams where you find yourself in a world that is so clearly different from your own, yet at the same time seems strikingly familiar. I was still my same-old early Americanist self. But where was I? Well, that was part of the beauty of it. It didn’t matter. I found myself in an early Americanist digital universe of the future. Not just a blogosphere. Not just various social media platforms. Not just online magazines. But an integrated digital universe, one in which access and participation in all the appurtenances of the institutional life of the profession—conferences, working groups, publishing—had been prioritized and maximized and the restraints of distance and resources minimized. And here’s what it looked like…

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The Week in Early American History

TWEAHThe past week has brought a number of fascinating developments in the world of academe and early America. But I think by far the most exciting has been the arrival in mailboxes around the country of the Fall 2014 issue of Early American Studies—a special edition dedicated to “Critical Approaches to Sex and Gender in Early America.” The articles are rich, creative, and surprising; I haven’t been able to put the issue down. If you’ve not gotten around to reading it yet, head on over to Project Muse and enjoy. In case you have already savored the new EAS issue, though, here’s your weekly roundup of noteworthy online happenings to bide you through a crisp fall Sunday. Continue reading

Maryland Football and Public Memory of the War of 1812

Screen-shot-2014-09-09-at-11.36.16-AMEarlier this week, the University of Maryland and their athletic uniform supplier, Under Armour, announced that the university’s football team “will wear football uniforms inspired by the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Baltimore and the writing of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ when it hosts West Virginia at Byrd Stadium” tomorrow, September 13.[1] The game will be played exactly 200 years to the day after Francis Scott Key penned “Defence of Fort McHenry,” a poem later set to music and adopted as the national anthem of the United States, which helped ensure that the all too oft-forgotten War of 1812 would retain some place in America’s collective memory. Continue reading