The Week in Early American History

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

The King’s Arms?

IMG_1862Paper soldiers on the march, and tin men tilting at swordpoint: these were the first battle ranks that Grenville Howland Norcross, aged 11 in Civil War Boston, led to glory. Between phantom invasions and replays of Antietam with “relics” received as gifts, Norcross gobbled up the military heroics popularized by the era’s dime novels. In a childhood diary that illustrates how “lowbrow” literature grabbed the imagination of a warsick homefront, Norcross chronicled his progress through the antics of Kate Sharp, Old Hal Williams, and Crazy Dan. By 1875, Norcross had outgrown his toy battalions, graduated Harvard, and stepped into a law career. An avid autograph collector, from his Commonwealth Avenue perch Norcross nurtured the city’s flourishing history culture, taking a leading role at the New England Historic and Genealogical Society, the American Antiquarian Society, and the Bostonian Society. He rose to serve as Cabinet-Keeper for the Massachusetts Historical Society, supervising the intake and cataloguing of major collections including, by April 1920, the library of historian Henry Adams. At the Society’s next meeting, held in the midafternoon of 10 June, Grenville Norcross reported on the Cabinet’s newest curiosity, which has proven a royal mystery ever since:

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This Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome to this week’s news in Early American History! Continue reading

On Social Media Feeds for Historical Organizations and History Departments

TwitterFBTurns out that after several stints running social media accounts for different institutions, I have feelings about what works and what doesn’t. What follows is a prescriptive ramble of things that historical organizations and history departments should be doing on Twitter and Facebook, with the understanding that there is a lot that I’m not covering, such as general Twitter etiquette, blogs, Tumblr, podcasts, or other social media topics we’ve already covered here. I’ll leave it to you in the comments to discuss these issues further—and to point out which additional accounts strike you as models to follow. Continue reading

The Consequences of War: An Omohundro Institute Conference Recap

OIEAHC LogoLast weekend, the world of early Americanists transferred itself to Canada, for the Omohundro Institute’s annual conference. Hosted by Dalhousie and St Mary’s Universities, Halifax (Nova Scotia) provided the backdrop to the academic festivities. Though it was a long and arduous journey to Halifax (at one point I thought I might have to Skype my paper from Philadelphia airport), and though the weather frequently failed to shine (to this Brit, it was very reminiscent of summer), the conference was a tremendously well-organized feast of academic camaraderie. What follows is necessarily only a partial recap, but one that I hope gives a flavor of what was on offer. If you have other reminiscences—not least on the many panels I missed!—please do share them in the comments. Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHWelcome to another exciting week in early American history, where all the women are strong, all the men are strong, all the children are strong, and all the historians are above average. This week, we can report: Continue reading

The Week in Early American History

TWEAHHappy Mother’s Day! Consider our gift to the mothers amongst our readership to be the following links, links, and more links…  Continue reading

Beyond the Valley of Mexico

Expanding the boundaries of early America has been a hot topic of conversation this summer. At both the Omohundro Institute conference last month, and at SHEAR last weekend, plenary sessions discussed a broader view of the past. Having internalized the Atlantic turn, scholars are now turning their energies toward the interior, asking how we should integrate the trans-Appalachian and trans-Mississippian West into our stories and interpretations.

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An Omohundro Conference Recap

This year’s annual meeting of the Omohundro Institute for Early American History and Culture was hosted with panache by Philip Morgan at Johns Hopkins University. It was apt that it took place in Baltimore, the birthplace of Ron Hoffman, whom the conference honoured as he steps down from a long tenure presiding over the institute. At the closing roundtable, a number of senior scholars movingly—and in some cases hilariously—recounted their experiences as Ron’s colleagues and friends, and paid tribute to his work as editor of the Carroll papers and historian of the Revolutionary war and its dissenters. Tongue firmly in cheek, Ron responded to the tribute manfully, by quoting Charles Carroll’s response to a biography of himself: what you have said, he told the biographer, makes me seem a much greater man than I ever believed, yet you have said nothing that is not absolutely true. Continue reading