Announcing the Missouri Regional Seminar on Early American History

Seminar series have been a popular facet of the early American history culture across the country, from Philadelphia and New York across to the Rocky Mountains and the Bay Area. In this post, we’re introducing another regional seminar to the mix, based around Missouri and the greater St Louis area (extending into central Illinois, and interest from eastern Kansas, southern Iowa, or northern Arkansas is most welcome). We’re hoping to foster a sense of community among those working on early American topics in the region, and to provide a supportive environment for graduate students and faculty to test out preliminary findings of their research. Continue reading

Herb Sloan’s Contributions to Scholarship on Jeffersonian America

Last Tuesday, May 13, the Columbia University Seminar on Early American History and Culture and the Department of History hosted an evening in honor of Professor Herb Sloan of Barnard College. Herb, who is retiring this spring after 28 years as a member of Barnard’s history faculty, was the guest of honor at an evening commemorating both his contributions to the field of early American history, as well as a roundtable discussion on “Jeffersonian America.” Continue reading

Godly Heritage and Plantation Chic: The Case of Vision Forum

Detail from a page of the Vision Forum 2014 catalogA recent news story has me thinking about the weird enduring appeal of the Lost Cause. It seems to me that this news story about a contemporary religious organization might lead us into an interesting case study. Why, at this late date, do so many Americans still want to see the antebellum South as a tragically vanished world of nobility and grace?

Most early Americanists are familiar with David Barton, a conservative activist who argues that the United States was founded as a Christian nation. He’s been mentioned here several times as the most visible proponent of a view that’s common among members of the “Religious Right.”[1] What’s less widely understood is how often his Christian-founding ideology overlaps with a claim advanced by a few other evangelical conservatives: that the Confederacy—and antebellum southern culture, if not slavery itself—are also part of “America’s Godly heritage.”[2] In these circles, in other words, the Founding is sometimes wrapped up with the Old South.

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In Memoriam: Pauline Maier, 1938-2013

Yesterday morning, the early American (and broader) history community was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Pauline Maier. The Junto extends our condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.

Pauline (Rubbelke) Maier was born in 1938 in St. Paul, Minnesota. She did her undergraduate work at Radcliffe, where her interest in journalism and contemporary events led her to become a writer for The Harvard Crimson. It was there that she first met her eventual husband, Charles Maier. After graduating in 1960, she was named a Fulbright Scholar and studied at the London School of Economics, while Charles won a Henry Fellowship to Oxford. Upon completion of their fellowships, the two were married at Oxford. Continue reading

In Memoriam: Edmund S. Morgan, 1916-2013

edmundsmorgan-bydavidlevineYesterday, the New York Times and Associated Press reported the death of Edmund Morgan at age 97. The man Bruce Kuklick called “arguably the finest living American historian” needs no introduction here, but today we’re featuring tributes, reflections, and some favorite articles from around the Web. The Junto will be hosting a week-long roundtable on the legacy of Morgan and his most important works in the first week of August.

In the meantime, please feel free to use the comments here to discuss the scholar and his work.

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Digging Out My Cannibal Girl Hat

Jane

A reconstruction of the skull of a 14-year-old girl that researchers have named “Jane.”

I have some initial thoughts on new reports of cannibalism at Jamestown, so I’ve cross-posted them from my personal blog.

So, funny story. When I first submitted my article on cannibalism and the Starving Time at Jamestown to the William and Mary Quarterly, the piece strongly argued against any occurrence of cannibalism. When I got my readers’ reports back, Editor Chris Grasso pointed out that I didn’t really have the evidence to convincingly make that claim. He said that he’d accept the article only if I agreed to temper the argument—which was really fine with me because the main point of the essay was to ask why the stories of cannibalism mattered, not to argue for or against the existence of cannibalism in colonial Virginia. Continue reading

Call for Links: History Carnival on May 1

hlogoWe’re proud to note that the 121st monthly History Carnival, featuring the best recent blogging about all fields of history, will be hosted by Michael Hattem here at The Junto on May 1. We need your help to make it a success. What fascinating, scintillating, disturbing, provoking, amusing, and illuminating things have you seen in history blogs this month? Please let us know using this form. This friendly little form right here. It’s easy and quick to nominate your favorite blogposts.

If you’re not familiar with the History Carnival, more information is available at the main website. The most recent edition of the Carnival was hosted brilliantly on April 1 by Debs Wiles at Got Soil?

Shadows of History in the Boston Marathon Manhunt

lexingtonandconcordPublic radio station WHYY in Philadelphia airs BBC World Update at 5 a.m. on weekdays. So on Friday morning, oddly enough, it was from the British Broadcasting Corporation rather than any domestic service that I heard surprising news from Boston.

During the night, police had chased two bombing (and robbery) suspects through the labyrinthine streets of Cambridge and Watertown, engaging in at least one major firefight along the way. Now the police seemed to be laying siege to a Watertown neighborhood. The reports at that hour were confused and confusing–not to mention frequently wrong. But as the hunt for the surviving terrorist suspect continued during the day, it became clear that the story was also, in several different ways, strangely familiar.

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A Library for the Digital Republic: The DPLA Is Launched

DPLA-logo-blueFour years ago, Robert Darnton, historian and librarian at Harvard, wrote in the New York Review that “we [had] missed a great opportunity.” Instead of digitizing America’s print heritage in a public project, perhaps managed by “a grand alliance of research libraries,” the United States had allowed a private corporation to control the scanning and storing of books. Depending on the outcome of federal lawsuits, Google Books would enjoy a virtual monopoly on books still in copyright.

“We could have created a National Digital Library—the twenty-first-century equivalent of the Library of Alexandria,” Darnton wrote. “It is too late now. Not only have we failed to realize that possibility, but, even worse, we are allowing a question of public policy—the control of access to information—to be determined by private lawsuit.”

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