The Week in Early American History

TWEAHOn to the links!

The Root kicked off Black History Month with a nice tribute to the late John Hope Franklin, noting among other things that “much of the research for From Slavery to Freedom (1947) … was conducted in segregated libraries where Franklin was prohibited from using the bathroom,” and that, in 1949, he was “the first African American to present a paper at [the Souther Historian Association’s] segregated conference, hosted that year in Williamsburg, Va.” Also, want to try your hand at transcribing some nineteenth-century documents? Colored Conventions offers you the opportunity.

The New Yorker and New York Times both reviewed a preview of “Hamilton,” Lin-Manuel Miranda’s long-awaited hip-hop rendering of the life of Alexander Hamilton. Also, in the New York Times, Michael Beschloss appraises Monticello when it was Jefferson’s “shrine to American democracy in Charlottesville, Va.,” but “in danger of collapse.”

At the Washington Monthly, a writer explores George Washington’s response to the smallpox epidemic of 1775 for possible lessons for today’s concerns about the outbreak of measles and other infection diseases:

The AHA’s blog continued their posts reflecting on the annual meeting last month with a piece about the power of conference posters for historians and a piece by our own Michael Hattem on the panel about dissertation embargoes.

The New England Historical Society explored the pagan roots of Groundhog Day. The History News Network asked, “What happens to historians’ own papers when they retire or die?” Which made me wonder: “Who still has ‘papers?'”

All four Magna Carta manuscripts have been reunited in London to mark the 800th anniversary of the sealing of Magna Carta, with added security. And just this morning the BBC is reporting that an “early edition of Magna Carta has been found in a Victorian scrapbook during a search of a council’s archives.”

The Museum Council of Greater Philadelphia reports that, on January 13, there was a fire in the Second Bank of the United States, which while not seriously damaging the building did cover a large number of 18th and 19th-century portraits in “soot film.” The Journal of the American Revolution, look at how stories of Paul Revere’s ride were disseminated in 1775, despite efforts at censorship. Meanwhile, in France, Voltaire is climbing the bestseller list.

At Boston 1775, J. L. Bell discussed the new alchemical books acquired by U. Penn that once belonged to the 12th Duke of Northumberland, who served as Gage’s second in command during the Rev. War. Alchemy, Bell quips, provides “new dimensions of possibility to Percy’s withdrawal along the Battle Road.” worthy of some of the ridiculous twists in the Sons of Liberty. “Alchemical weapons! Dead soldiers resurrected as unstoppable zombies!”

Liz Covart shows how to use TextExpander to save time on creating repetitive notes and citations. For the antebellum art/science portion of your syllabus, introduce a few hi-res images from John James Audubon’s “Birds of America” series, courtesy the online generosity of the National Audubon Society.

Finally, The Junto offers our congratulations to Rachel Hope Cleves, whose new book, Charity and Sylvia: A Same-Sex Marriage in Early America, was awarded a 2015 Stonewall Book Award in Non-Fiction.


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