On a cold and wet May Friday in London, I decided to take refuge from the weather by stepping back into the eighteenth century. While serving as agent for the colony of Pennsylvania (and others), Benjamin Franklin lodged in a small dwelling on Craven Street, now just behind Charing Cross station and a short walk from Parliament. Though Franklin’s lodgings were originally misidentified (to the extent that a commemorative plaque was placed on the wrong house!), the original building still stands. Now the only surviving Franklin home in the world, the house is the home of the “Benjamin Franklin Historical Experience,” dedicated to telling the story of “the first American embassy.” Continue reading
When lines were drawn by Englishmen in 1763, the Proclamation Line probably looms largest in the historian’s mindset. But another line also appeared for the first time in 1763, when Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon set out to survey the line that would come to bear their name. Jeremiah Dixon is of particular interest to me, as I am also a County Durham native who hopes to make his name through close and careful study of Pennsylvania. So when my parents told me about an upcoming exhibition at the Bowes Museum in Barnard Castle, County Durham, dedicated to the life of Jeremiah Dixon, I knew it was something I wanted to check out. Continue reading
I’ve always thought that John Adams knew the enduring value of a good museum trip, and the power of art to sharpen the mind while refreshing a work-weary soul. How else would he have known to share this insight with wife Abigail, written at just about this time in another May spring, that of 1780: “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.” With those words in mind, here’s a quick survey of early American art currently on special exhibit throughout the country. Please share more links in the comments. Continue reading
Inspired by the work of colleagues @ the new Digital Public Library of America and others we’ve interviewed here at The Junto, here are some bookmark-worthy links to what’s going on in the ever-evolving field of the digital humanities. We’ll update this list as projects develop, so if you’re working on a digital history initiative, please let us know so we can add it to the Resources page.
If you use new media in the classroom, how effective do you find it to be in communicating historical content/class themes? Please share your views on digital pedagogy in the comments. Continue reading
On this—the 223rd anniversary of the death of Benjamin Franklin—I thought I would use this space to say a few words about my experience over the last year working at the Papers of Benjamin Franklin here at Yale University from the perspective of a graduate student. Last June, I was fortunate enough to be given a regular (part-time) position at the Franklin Papers. Officially, I am a Research Assistant and have done a number of small research projects designed to provide the editors with reference materials on Pennsylvania in the 1780s as they finish up the volumes covering Franklin’s stay in Paris. I have also been given the opportunity to tackle more editor-type duties including fact-checking and drafting/re-drafting annotations and proofreading transcriptions. Through these experiences and my innumerable conversations with the chief Editor, Ellen Cohn, I have gotten an inside look at scholarly editing, which often goes either unnoticed or under-appreciated by academic historians. Continue reading
Amid the whirl of data visualization, digital pedagogy, network analysis, text mining projects, and big data vs. small data debates that energized Boston’s inaugural “Days of Digital Humanities” conference last week, The Junto caught up with three early Americanists using new media to complete traditional dissertation work: Erin Bartram (University of Connecticut), Jean Bauer (University of Virginia), and Lincoln Mullen (Brandeis University). Here’s what they had to say about the process, and how digital research will shape their work after the dissertation. Continue reading
Note: This is a guest post by Zara Anishanslin, whose bio is at the bottom of this post.
Savannah is one of those southern cities where historic atmosphere and charm drape over everything like Spanish moss on live oaks. But amidst all this atmospheric charm, one of the sights I remember most was a distinctly uncharming thing: the desiccated body of a dead squirrel on a tray, tucked away in the attic of the Davenport House.
I visited iconic Davenport House because it was the site of the Material Culture Colloquium at this year’s Society of Early Americanists’ conference. (For a report on the conference, see Rachel Herrmann’s blog post). Continue reading
This week, we talk to University of Nebraska-Lincoln historians William Thomas and Patrick Jones, co-directors of History Harvest, a community-based approach to creating a new people’s history of America online using the real “stuff” of our past.
JUNTO: How did you get the idea (and support) for History Harvest? What are the goals of “community-based history,” and how is it a model for the profession?
THOMAS: The original idea for me goes all the way back to my work on The Valley of the Shadow Project in the mid-1990s with Ed Ayers and Anne Rubin. We ran a small community history harvest in that project, but neither the public awareness of digitization nor the technical infrastructure to do large scale digitization on site were available. Still ever since then, I have been interested in expanding the idea. And we have seen in every digital history project that the community often comes forward with materials to contribute. So in 2010 we started The History Harvest Project here at the University of Nebraska. Continue reading
When more than 10,000 early American documents find new life in the digital world, we at The Junto want to know more about the challenges and opportunities of the project. Thomas Lannon, Assistant Curator of the Manuscripts and Archives Division at the New York Public Library, kindly took our questions on Thomas Addis Emmet’s extra-illustrated archive. Continue reading