The Week in Early American History


‘TWEAH, two nights before Christmas, when thr’out the blog roll
Not a creature was stirring, not even a troll;
The grades were all posted to Blackboard with care,
In hopes that strong evals soon would be there;
The grad students were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of fellowships danc’d in their heads,
And Ben Park in his ‘kerchief, and I in my cap,
Had just settled our brains on an early Americanist recap.

For awhile I thought about trying to wrestle all this week’s links into “A Visit from St. Nicholas,” but then I decided it wasn’t worth the effort. Still, I convinced you to click on through to the full post, right? Mission accomplished! So, without further ado or poetry, here’s our weekly roundup:

Pennsylvania has given us much to celebrate and much to sadly reflect upon these past few weeks. The McNeil Center and hosted an excellent conference on the horrifying and tragic Conestoga Massacre; John Fea reports on the conference here. And friends and colleagues remembered the life and mourned the passing of the beloved scholar Bill Pencak.

Elsewhere in early American history, Ben Railton continues the discussion of 12 Years a Slave, as did Joe Moser in a guest post at AmericanStudier. In Democracy‘s series on the Tea Party, Sean Wilentz posits a political genealogy for that movement. Harvard University Press intends to digitally publish all 520 volumes of the Loeb Classical Library. The National Archives’ new permanent exhibition, “Records of Rights,” gets a tough review at the New York Times. Proposals are floated for a charter school devoted to Wampanoag language immersion. And Maya Jasanoff shares thoughts on globalism, trade, and a host of other topics during her fascinating twenty-seven-day trip aboard a cargo ship.

I always enjoy taking advantage of the winter break to catch up on new scholarship–especially stuff beyond my specialized corner of the field. If you’re equally deranged, The Junto’s list of winter reads and this set of suggested reads in imperial and global history are great places to start building your own reading list. Jacqueline Jones’s brand new book on the myth of race in America surely merits a spot on that list; see a review at Salon, and listen to an interview with Jones that aired earlier this month on NPR’s Weekend Edition. Preview Greg Gandin’s forthcoming work on slavery, fact, and fiction. And, for your holiday-travel listening pleasure, tune in to a recent podcast episode on church and state in American history over at BackStory with the American History Guys.

Naturally, the end of the year brings a flurry of professional news. Heidi Tworek discusses gender and the alleged crisis in the humanities. The OAH issued a statement on the question of embargoing recent dissertations. In an excellent move, the Library Company of Philadelphia announced Richard S. Newman as its next director. Also in Philadelphia: adjuncts are unionizing And the New England Quarterly is looking for a new editor and institutional home. 

Beyond academia, a plat drawn by Jefferson sold for $30k. And somebody may have found a draft of Bernard Ratzer’s famous 1776 map of Manhattan. A Florida school board finally decided they could find a better name for one of their high schools than that of the KKK’s first grand wizard. As we continue to lament the unfortunate destruction of New York City’s 5 Pointz (the graffiti mecca–not the nineteenth-century miasmic slum/urban playground), take heart in the fact that there’s some graffiti out there that’s not going anywhere anytime soon.

And finally, pop culture was kind to early Americanists this week. AMC released a trailer for what may (or may not) be its next addictive drama series: Turn, the story of a group of American spies during the War for Independence. If board games are more your speed, take a look at two new games–one based on the American Revolution, the other on the Civil War–reviewed here by Cody Carlson.

Check back tomorrow for one last post before The Junto goes (mostly) dark until the New Year. Enjoy your break, and happy holidays!

3 responses

  1. With any luck, this show on AMC will handle the American Revolution better than Sleep Hollow has so far (which obviously never pretended to be good history). But if I have the timeline right, Ichabod Crane was a Whig in 1773 when he had Samuel Adams create a diversion that became the Boston Tea Party so he could steal a relic of some kind from the British that would help the colonists win the war (What war in 1773 you ask? Who knows). Then in 1774 he was charged with delivering resolutions of the First Continental Congress, and he helped Paul Revere on the midnight ride in 1775. Then he came over to America with the British army to fight the colonists, probably sometime around 1775, having previously been a professor at Cambridge. Sometime in probably 1776 he was under the command of Banastre Tarleton somewhere near Sleepy Hollow (It doesn’t give a year, but he was under Tarleton’s command so I’m guessing 1776 or so). It was then in 1776 that he first met his wife, who nevertheless had also left his best friend for Crane in 1774 and the two got married shortly thereafter. Then, finally, in 1781 he was back fighting for the colonists. I get that the Revolution matters only as far as it provides famous events that they can turn into supernatural story lines, but really!


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