Guest Post: Of Class and Courts-Martial: The Case of Ensign McVicar

Today’s guest post is by Emily Merrill, a PhD candidate in the History Department at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research focuses on issues of gender and military history in the British Atlantic world during the 18th century. She is currently completing a dissertation entitled, “Judging Empire: British Military Courts and the Politics of the Body.”

adyeOne of the most provocative aspects of the popular Netflix series Orange is the New Black is the way it grapples with the issue of class (as well as race, gender, and sexuality) as it relates to the contemporary American penal system. By contrasting the prison experiences of the main character, Piper, an upper middle class white woman, with those of a range of working class and minority characters, the show invites a deeper reflection on the complex ways in which class divisions help shape and organize a supposedly impartial system of justice. In my own research on British military courts during the Revolutionary War, I have found that class, specifically the divide between officers and enlisted men, also helped determine crucial aspects of the military justice system. Continue reading

Summer Book Club, Week 2

Cover ImageWelcome to the second installment of the Junto Summer Book Club! We discussed the introduction and first chapter of Kathleen Brown’s Good Wives, Nasty Wenches, and Anxious Patriarchs during Week 1. This week we’ll consider Chapters 2 and 3. With these chapters, Brown transports us across the Atlantic Ocean, shifting her focus from early modern Britain to the early years of English settlement in Virginia.

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Early America at the Berks

Berkshire ConferenceLater this week, thousands of women’s and gender historians will convene in Toronto for triennial meeting of the Berkshire Conference on the History of Women. The Berks lineup attests to the vibrancy of scholarship in early American gender history. To help you navigate the 198-page conference program, we thought we’d spotlight panels with papers on early America and the early modern Atlantic World. Continue reading

Roundtable: James Merrell’s “Exactly as they appear” and Published Editions of Manuscript Sources

Merrell ArticleMany of us have been there. Sitting in front of our computers, we fret over how we will find the time and funding to examine important manuscript sources at faraway archives. And then, a few keystrokes later, we find that those sources are available in published form. Relief floods over us, replacing anxiety. But should we really be so relieved?

James H. Merrell’s recent article in Early American Studies asks exactly this question. Entitled “‘Exactly as they appear’: Another Look at the Notes of a 1766 Treason Trial in Poughkeepsie, New York, with Some Musings on the Documentary Foundations of Early American History,” it suggests that we should not be so quick to assume that published versions of manuscript sources faithfully reproduce the originals. [1]

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Conference Panels and Intellectual Connections

AHA PanelFor early Americanists, fall is conference-planning season. Proposals for the Omohundro Institute Conference were due in mid-September, SHEAR is accepting proposals until December 1, and a bevy of other conferences have posted CFPs in recent months. Watching this flurry of activity has led me to think about the intellectual goals that structure the formation of conference panels.

Of course, the conference panels we form—and whom we invite to participate in them—are partly functions of pragmatism. Each of us wants to find our way onto the program of our desired meeting, and mobilizing our networks is one way to do this. We scramble to find friends, colleagues, friends-of-friends, and acquaintances from research trips and prior conferences to join us on our panels. But if one of the goals of conferences is to enter into scholarly conversations, rather than simply to share our work with academic audiences, then it is essential to think about the kinds of questions our panels are asking and answering. Continue reading

Everyday Connections of Colonial Economies: Conference Recap

PEAES ligaments imageIn our writing and teaching, we often refer broadly to “the early American economy,” suggesting that various systems of production, consumption, and exchange formed a collective whole. But what were connections that bound together this early American economy? Fifteen presenters—and a large and engaged audience—considered this question at the Program in Early American Economy and Society’s annual conference at the Library Company of Philadelphia on October 24th and 25th.

The conference title, “Ligaments,” referenced the connections and linkages that gave shape to the early modern economy. As PEAES director Cathy Matson explained in her introduction, the conference assembled some of the many scholars who are currently examining “ordinary, pragmatic economic connections” and using their investigation of these seemingly mundane topics to shed light on “big ideas” and longstanding questions. Continue reading

A Conversation with Early American Studies

Early American Studies coverLast Wednesday, the Brown Bag series at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies hosted a conversation with Dallett Hemphill, the current editor of Early American Studies. For those who were not able to attend, we at The Junto wanted to summarize the discussion and invite you to participate.

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On Counting: A Reflection on Quantitative Research

Count_von_CountThis summer, I counted. My dissertation, as my Contributor page at The Junto helpfully notes, includes both qualitative and quantitative analysis. And so, to enrich the latter portion of my project, I spent July at the archives, counting. Perhaps more so than most other forms of archival work, counting is an exercise in delayed gratification, the overall picture springing into focus only once the research and subsequent analysis are complete. This meant I had plenty of time to reflect on my methodology as I scanned through microfilm, paged through record books, examined case files, and counted, and counted, and counted. Continue reading

Guest Post: Pauline Maier and the History of Women in History

Sara Damiano is a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation is entitled, “Gender, Law, and the Culture of Credit in New England, 1730-1790.”

How should we choose to remember the lives and works of historians, and what do these choices say about our profession? The recent deaths of Edmund Morgan and Pauline Maier have led me to ponder these questions. I have watched with interest as historians have taken to social media—blogs, H-Net listservs, Twitter, and Facebook—to celebrate the lives of Morgan and Maier and to critique commemorations in the national press.

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Guest Post: Teaching with Legal Sources: The Case of Ann Hibbens

Today’s guest poster is Sara Damiano, a Ph.D. candidate at Johns Hopkins University. Her dissertation is entitled, “Gender, Law, and the Culture of Credit in New England, 1730-1790.”

As we plunge into syllabus-writing season, I would like to contribute to The Junto’s ongoing conversation on teaching with primary sources. (Joseph Adelman and Glenda Goodman have previously written on favorite sources in the survey and on music in the classroom, respectively.)  I’m a historian of gender and law, so I would like to make the argument for including legal sources in our syllabi, even for courses that aren’t explicitly focused on legal history. By way of illustration, I would also like to recommend one of my favorite legal history sources for teaching: the 1640 trial of Ann Hibbens before the First Church of Boston.

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