The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome to another exciting week in early American history, where all the women are strong, all the men are strong, all the children are strong, and all the historians are above average. This week, we can report:

The Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation has purchased a portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, one of two painted by William Hoare. It will be displayed in the coming American Revolution Museum in Yorktown.

The first season of Turn is over, and J. L. Bell has written an overall response, with links to other discussions of the show’s accuracy and storytelling.

The story of Bowe Bergdahl, the American army sergeant held for five years by the Taliban, has inspired Ann Little to reflect on the captivity of Sylvanus Johnson, who was captured as a young boy during the Seven Years’ War and who lost at least some of his command of English.

The 2014 AAS summer seminar in the history of the book, Books in the Larger World of Objects, begins this evening.  The syllabus has been posted online.

The T-shirt for the SHEAR Anti-Temperance League is available to order until June 23. The price is “roughly one month’s wages,” but we think you’ll agree it’s worth the sacrifice.

As we write, extreme drought conditions persist across most of California and much of Nevada, Oklahoma, Texas, and other parts of the Southwest. Writing in The New Republic, Susan Schulten highlights a map designed by John Wesley Powell in the late nineteenth century. The map imagines western settlement in the “Arid Region of the United States” if it were organized according to the locations of watersheds. Perhaps, Schulten implies, someone should have paid more attention.

Josh Marshall, the editor and publisher of Talking Points Memo, has a Ph.D. in American history. (He studied with Gordon Wood.) Now he’s proposing to start a blog oriented around historical artifacts. He’s soliciting inquiries from historians interested in taking part.

Catherine Merridale, one of this year’s Wolfson History Prize winners, predicted in an interview with the Telegraph that UK academics will find it difficult to write full-length “serious books” in future because of changes in university assessment rules that heavily favor short articles.

The call for papers for next year’s Omohundro/SEA joint conference in Chicago is available online. Proposals are due September 15.

At the Chronicle, James Lang has listed his ten favorite books on teaching and learning, suggesting that a renewed focus on fundamentals may be the best antidote to the “revolution fatigue” that comes from reading too much puffery of innovation—or too many jeremiads about the profession’s collapse.

In news of the underworld, Newsweek has published an article by Joe Kloc, who profiles Robert Diamond, a New Yorker who has been trying for decades to find John Wilkes Booth’s lost diary pages in a railway tunnel underneath Brooklyn. The reasons are complicated.

And finally, in news related to American national identity and contemporary sport, BackStory Radio has pointed us to this article by the philosopher Stephen H. Webb, who argues—perhaps with tongue ever-so-slightly in cheek—that soccer just isn’t for Americans because it’s too tragic for our optimistic national character.

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