Guest Post: On the Anvil of Labor History in the Revolutionary Era

Today’s guest post comes from Peter Kotowski, a Dissertation Fellow at the McNeil Center for Early American Studies and a Ph.D. candidate at Loyola University Chicago.  His research uses the lived experiences of indentured servants to explore Pennsylvania’s development within the Atlantic economy and the extent to which the colony was “the best poor man’s country.”

BillySmith2In the introduction to their 2008 edited collection, Class Matters, Simon Middleton and Billy G. Smith make the bold proclamation that “as a mode of historical analysis of early North America and the Atlantic World, class is dead – or so it has been reported for the last two decades.”[1]  The subsequent collection of essays makes a convincing case that class is not, in fact, dead.  For Smith, this volume was merely a continuation of a decades-long commitment to class as a primary mode of analysis.  It was in the spirit of Smith’s work that dozens of scholars converged on the McNeil Center for Early American Studies in Philadelphia from November 7-9 for what was affectionately dubbed “Billyfest.”
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Epilogue or Prologue? The Royal Proclamation Turns 250

If you’ve heard of the Royal Proclamation of 1763, it’s probably in the form of the “Proclamation Line,” the imaginary line of masking tape across the Appalachian Mountains dividing English colonists along the coast from native populations in the interior of North America. According to a group of historians gathered at the Old State House in Boston this past Friday, it may have far greater significance. (Or not.)

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Traces of Early America: Conference Recap

Traces

Today’s post is a joint effort between two contributors to The Junto: Michael Blaakman and Sara Damiano. 

Three years ago, during a graduate-seminar discussion of Prosperos America, Walter Woodward’s study of Puritans and alchemy, John Demos made a bold and challenging point.[1] After a century or so of professional scholarship, many of American history’s most obvious stories have been told in the ways it seems easiest to tell them. One of the greatest tasks for the rising generation of historians, Demos suggested, is to search beneath the surface of things for stories yet untold—for processes, events, ideas, and dynamics that subsequent history has largely obscured, and that often pose significant evidentiary problems for those who wish to write about them. In other words, the next generation of scholars will have to try harder than their predecessors to ask new questions and to find new methods for wringing answers out of the sources. 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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Traces of Early America

Traces

Early American History, interdisciplinarity, digital humanities, invigorating conversation, and early-career camaraderie. What more could anyone ask from the McNeil Center for Early American Studies’s biennial graduate-student conference? The answer is:  you.

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#RevReborn, Periodization, and the American Revolution

Two weeks ago, anticipating the McNeil Center’s “The American Revolution Reborn” conference, I wrote a post about my own thoughts on the place (and future) of the American Revolution in the historiography of early America. In that piece, I pointed out that issues relating to causality had gone largely unexplored for a few decades now as attention in the field shifted to the early republic. Both during and after the conference, there has been a substantial amount of internet chatter, from live-tweeting the conference to storifying those tweets to in-depth, panel-by-panel blog recaps. Off the top of my head, I cannot think of another theme-specific historical conference that has gotten this level of internet coverage, though I’m sure some have done. But almost all of the coverage has been about recounting the ideas and themes that came out of the conference, with not much attention given to commenting on them. In this piece, I’d like to comment on one of the most fundamental themes that hung in the air over the entire conference: periodization. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHHere at The Junto, we’ve spent the last week with our noses buried in one really, really good book. But there’s been much afoot elsewhere, both on the web and beyond.

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The Return of the American Revolution

MCEAS ConferenceLooking forward to attending one of the largest conferences on the American Revolution in a generation this week in Philadelphia, I thought I would take a moment to reflect on the title of the conference—”The American Revolution Reborn“—and its historiographical purchase.

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The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWe begin this week with topography and geography, both literal and figurative. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHIt seems to have become a tradition to open this post with a weather report for New England. This morning we’re looking at a slushy Sunday, which while annoying is quite an improvement over the snowpocalypse of a few weeks ago. In any case, a little sleet/snow won’t stand any longer between you and your weekly supply of links. On we go!

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