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

Part of the Long History of Child Trafficking: 18th-Century French Louisiana

2005-0011As we continue to learn more about the seizure and internment of migrant infants and children, both along the U.S.-Mexico border and in ICE raids throughout the nation, historians have asked us to wrestle with our long history of child-snatching, family separation, and child trafficking. I’ve read these pieces with a keen sense that while this is a particularly acute theme in American history, separating and abducting children from their families has been a tactic that many regimes have used for centuries to bolster their power. Whether we’re discussing slavery, the expulsion of Moriscos from Spain, or even pronatalist policies to populate early modern colonies, trafficking children has been an enduring state tactic. As a historian of #VastEarlyAmerica, with a focus on the French context, I keep thinking about the growth of the Louisiana colony in the eighteenth century. In addition to the forced migration and abduction of thousands of enslaved Africans, many of whom were children and adolescents, eighteenth-century French Louisiana was also populated with trafficked French children. Continue reading

Retelling “A Tale”: An Interview with Richard S. Dunn

Dunn Roundtable CoverWrapping up our roundtable review of A Tale of Two PlantationsThe Junto chats with Richard S. Dunn about microhistory as a “healthy antidote to top-down history,” and the archival surprises that reshaped his work. If you are near Harvard University on February 5th, come and hear more about the project. Continue reading