Where Historians Work: Q&A with Valerie Paley of N-YHS

“The work I do is true to our training [as historians] and representative of what that training can be for the public.” ~ Dr. Valerie Paley, Vice President, Chief Historian, and Director of the Center for Women’s History at New-York Historical Society.

VALERIE PALEY 2015 (1)After a brief break to make room for the fantastic “Founding Fiction” roundtable series about children’s and young adult literature, “Where Historians Work: The View from Early America” is back! We’re excited to feature two interviews today and tomorrow.

Today, we bring you a conversation between The Junto’s Katy Lasdow and Dr. Valerie Paley, Vice President, Chief Historian, and Director of the Center for Women’s History at New-York Historical Society. Continue reading

An Interview with Ted O’Reilly, New-York Historical Society

Ted at Work

Ted O’Reilly is Head of the Manuscript Department at the New-York Historical Society, where he has worked since 2004. He holds a B.A. in history from the College of the Holy Cross, an M.A. in Irish Studies from the National University of Ireland, Galway, and an M.L.S. from the Palmer School, Long Island University. Today he speaks with The Junto about the New-York Historical Society’s accessioning of a new collection—its own Institutional Archive.

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The Many & the One

Lexington DoolittleLike many, Amos Doolittle struggled to turn in a decent first draft of American history. The 21 year-old engraver, later known as the “Paul Revere of Connecticut,” arrived in Lexington and Concord shortly after April 1775. Anxious to capture the battles’ action and aftermath, he chatted with local residents. He sketched terrain. For Doolittle, a trained silversmith, it was a chance to experiment with a craft he had yet to master. Part of what he produced, a set of four views storyboarding the “shot heard round the world,” hangs in the Boston Public Library’s new exhibit, “We Are One: Mapping America’s Road from Revolution to Independence.” By Doolittle’s lights, Massachusetts makes for a furious and frenzied tableau: gusts of redcoats’ gunpowder hazing the sky, and colonial ranks splintering on the advance. On the American side, it is hardly a picture of union. Patriots scatter, racing blindly to frame’s edge. In his rough draft of Revolution, Amos Doolittle demands that we unlock all hopes of what might come next. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome to another addition of The Week in Early American History! Continue reading

Art & Soul

Great egret

“Great Egret,” John James Audubon

I’ve always thought that John Adams knew the enduring value of a good museum trip, and the power of art to sharpen the mind while refreshing a work-weary soul. How else would he have known to share this insight with wife Abigail, written at just about this time in another May spring, that of 1780: “I must study Politicks and War that my sons may have liberty to study Mathematicks and Philosophy. My sons ought to study Mathematicks and Philosophy, Geography, natural History, Naval Architecture, navigation, Commerce and Agriculture, in order to give their Children a right to study Painting, Poetry, Musick, Architecture, Statuary, Tapestry and Porcelaine.”  With those words in mind, here’s a quick survey of early American art currently on special exhibit throughout the country. Please share more links in the comments. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

Unearthing the Past - UVA MagazineThis week brings a rich harvest of material on slavery, memory, and public history.

First, we have two fascinating filmed conversations. At the Graduate Center at CUNY, James Oakes talks to  Sean Wilentz about his new book, Freedom National: The Destruction of Slavery in the United States, 1861-1865. And at the New-York Historical Society,  Harold Holzer speaks with Tony Kushner on the subject of Lincoln (and, of course, Lincoln).

Next, we take a look into slavery at Jefferson’s university. In an article in University of Virginia Magazine and a blogpost for Encyclopedia Virginia, Brendan Wolfe contextualizes a recent archaeological discovery.

In the Washington Post, meanwhile, J. Freedom du Lac reports on Colonial Williamsburg’s difficulty recruiting slave interpreters. And how did 19th-century African American portray their own emancipations? Good interviews Deborah Willis and Barbara Krauthamer about their photographic history.

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