Review: Judith Ridner, The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania

Judith Ridner, The Scots Irish of Early Pennsylvania: A Varied People, (Philadelphia: Temple University Press, 2018).

Judith Ridner opens The Scots Irish of Pennsylvania: A Varied People by asking, “Who are the Scots Irish?” Ridner suggests that popular and scholarly answers to this deceptively simple question tend to fall into one of two categories. One response conjures a mythic image of the Scots Irish as a “desperately poor” community that rose from “rags to riches” in America through hard work, individualism, and pragmatism. The other offers a more pejorative image of the Scots Irish as “hillbillies” living in abject poverty.[1] In classic historian form, Ridner suggests that the answer is far more complex than either conventional answer. Continue reading

Interpreting US History in the UK: The American Museum in Britain

As an American studying American history in the UK, my response to the question of “What are you studying?” often inspires wry smiles, wrinkled brows, and variations of “Why here?” Although I am now fairly adept at justifying my decision, I remain fascinated by the concept of studying a nation’s history beyond its geographic boundaries. With my time in Britain near its end, I traveled to Bath to visit  The American Museum in Britain, a place all too familiar with this topic. The Museum is located in Claverton Manor, a nineteenth-century English country manor on 125 acres of land, and also features a Folk-Art Gallery, an exhibit hall, and gardens.[1] Continue reading