Where Historians Work: Q&A with Emily Swafford of the AHA

Denver_Swafford_square200x200Welcome to the first installment of our “Where Historians Work: The View from Early America” series. Today, The Junto features a Q&A between Katy Lasdow and Dr. Emily Swafford, Manager of Academic Affairs for the American Historical Association in Washington, D.C.[1] Emily shares her experiences seeking out varied career options after graduate school. She also provides AHA resources for readers who wish to become more involved in the conversation about career diversity, whether as part of their own job searches, or within their graduate history departments.
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Where Historians Work: The View from Early America — Welcome to the Series!

PhD graphicIn February 2017, The Junto sent out a call to historians working outside the professoriate to join us in a conversation about career diversity for early American history PhDs.[1] The response was exciting and full of interesting conversations with curators, scholars, archivists, librarians, and public historians who have chosen to pursue their passion for research, writing, and teaching in a variety of settings and occupations.

Starting tomorrow, and over the coming weeks, The Junto will feature Q&A’s between Columbia University PhD candidate and Public Historian Katy Lasdow, and a range of participants.

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Q&A, Marisa Fuentes, Dispossessed Lives

FuentesMarisa J. Fuentes is Associate Professor of Women’s and Gender Studies and History at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. Dispossessed Lives: Enslaved Women, Violence, and the Archives is her first book. Casey Schmitt previously reviewed Dispossessed Lives for The Junto. Continue reading

Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, Jamestown Women

I haven’t yet had the opportunity to watch the new TV series, Jamestown, that recently premiered in the UK. But the television critic Mark Lawson has. Last week he wrote a column that criticised the show, and other recent British period drama, for featuring female characters who were, in his own words, “feisty, cheeky and rebellious.” In the name of historical accuracy, Lawson called out the makers of Jamestown for pandering to 21st-century sensibilities. Apparently, he believes women four hundred years ago raised neither hand nor voice against the patriarchy. Instead, they “willingly accept[ed] sexual and social submission.”

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Every Historian Her Own Adventurer

This spring, early Americanists were abuzz about “a bit of real-life archival drama,” as Harvard scholars Danielle Allen and Emily Sneff announced that they had discovered something pretty amazing: an unknown, manuscript, parchment copy of the Declaration of Independence. As friend-of-the-field Jennifer Schuessler playfully reported in the New York Times, it was all a little National Treasure. The apparently random order of the signatures on this manuscript, compared to other versions, points towards some interesting implications, involving Philadelphia Federalist James Wilson and attempts to build a unified American nationhood in the new republic. But reactions to Allen and Sneff’s announcement also, I think, tell us something about how knowledge of the past is structured, presented, and consumed. Continue reading

“Meditations on Archival Fragments”: Review of Dispossessed Lives

FuentesIt should go without saying that the historical profession depends on archives. Near or far, we need those repositories to craft historical narratives about past worlds. There is also no shortage of books and articles critical of the construction of colonial archives, perhaps the most famous among them being historian Ann Laura Stoler’s Along the Archival Grain. Despite the popularity of that book, however, historians still rarely discuss their archival methodology. Monographs always provide a list of consulted repositories, which for early American history can often read like a top ten greatest hits of national and state archives. And yet, try looking for the word “archive” or “archival knowledge” in the index of most books and the result might be surprising. Continue reading

“We lost our appetite for food”: Why Eighteenth-Century Hangriness Might Not Be a Thing

The following post has been cross-posted from an ongoing series about diet and nutrition over at Nursing Clio. I am grateful for permission to re-post it here; if you have time, definitely go read the other blog posts!

In August 2015, Oxford Dictionaries declared that the word “hangry” had entered our common vocabulary. Surely most people living in the twenty-first century have experienced the sense of being simultaneously hungry and angry. During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, hunger was also everywhere. A recent NPR essay examines how slaveholders withheld food from enslaved people, such as Frederick Douglass, because hunger gave them greater control over people of African descent. Historian Alan Taylor has written about periods of famine after the American Revolution. During some of these years of food shortages that Taylor describes, Iroquois clan mothers pressured other Native Americans into ceding land because they wanted “peace and food relief,” as they did in 1785 at Fort Herkimer.[1] Hunger has been, and continues to be, a key facet of power relations. Continue reading