Inspiration Roundtable: Haunting Sources

Today, Lindsay O’Neill, Assistant Professor of History at the University of Southern California, joins our weeklong discussion about sources and inspiration. Her first book, The Opened Letter: Networking in the Early Modern British World, was published by the University of Pennsylvania Press in 2015. Today she shares the sources that inspired (or haunted) her book-in-progress, titled “Barbarous Country: The Delogaon Princes and the British Empire, 1715-1725.”

photo_1023589 O'Neill

I do not remember precisely when the princes began to haunt me. It might have been when I called up the ominous sounding “Book of Strangers” at the Huntington Library. This turned out to simply be a list of dinner guests at the Duke of Chandos’ estate of Cannons, but what I found inside was rather extraordinary. Listed at the Duke’s table on 24 September 1721 were “Two African Princes.” Intriguing, I thought. However, this must not have been the first time I came across a reference to them, for I remember knowing who these men were. I had, or would, read about them in letters from the Duke of Chandos who hosted the dinner. I would encounter them again in the letters of Sir John Perceval. And then again in the letters of Sir Hans Sloane. I told you these two men were haunting me. Now, there was no reason for them to. At the time, I was not interested in African princes. I was interested in letters since I was working on what would become my first book: The Opened Letter: Networking in the Early Modern British World. But it turned out that the loosely linked letter writers whose correspondence I was working my way through were interested in African princes and soon so was I. Continue reading

Where Historians Work: The View from Early America — Welcome to the Series!

PhD graphicIn February 2017, The Junto sent out a call to historians working outside the professoriate to join us in a conversation about career diversity for early American history PhDs.[1] The response was exciting and full of interesting conversations with curators, scholars, archivists, librarians, and public historians who have chosen to pursue their passion for research, writing, and teaching in a variety of settings and occupations.

Starting tomorrow, and over the coming weeks, The Junto will feature Q&A’s between Columbia University PhD candidate and Public Historian Katy Lasdow, and a range of participants.

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Reminder to join the conversation “Where Historians Work: A View from Early America”

Do you hold a PhD titlesin early American history/literature/architectural history/art history/etc. or a related field, and have you chosen a career outside of the professoriate? The Junto wants to hear from you! There’s still time to participate in our conversation, “Where Historians Work: A View from Early America.”

Leave your stories in the comments of this post. Or, if you would prefer a less public forum, you may email The Junto (thejuntoblog@gmail.com) with the subject line “Career Diversity.” Please post comments or email by Friday, February 17. Continue reading

Where Historians Work: A View from Early America

where-historians-work_graphicRecently the American Historical Association published Where Historians Work: An Interactive Database of History PhD Career Outcomes, “the only interactive, discipline-specific, and cross-institutional database of career outcomes for PhDs.” Using data collected from AHA directories and on the web, “Where Historians Work” presents a robust statistical overview of the varied employment sought by History PhDs from more than 30 degree-granting intuitions. For those historians who have long held positions outside of the academy, the database, part of the AHA’s broader Career Diversity for Historians initiative, is a welcome acknowledgement of what many have known anecdotally for years: History PhDs can—and do!—work in an array of fields.

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Guest Post: The Constitution, Slavery, and the Problem of Agency

Today we feature a guest post by Kevin Gannon (@TheTattooedProf), Professor of History and Director of the Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning at Grand View University in Des Moines, Iowa. His scholarship has appeared in the Journal of the Early Republic, Ohio History, and several edited volumes. He is currently writing a continental history of the Civil War and Reconstruction.

constitution_1_of_4_630Sean Wilentz’s op-ed in Wednesday’s New York Times was by turns baffling, infuriating, and sad. At its root, the essay is a narrow, technical argument trying to disguise itself as an overarching Big Answer to Important Questions. Wilentz claims “the myth that the United States was founded on racial slavery”—a myth embraced “notably among scholars and activists on the left”—is actually “one of the most destructive falsehoods in all of American history.” Continue reading

Finding Its Way: Gordon Wood and the William and Mary Quarterly

007Gordon Wood’s essay, “History in Context,” published in The Weekly Standard in February 2015, whirled up a Twitterstorm. His thoughts on twenty-first-century historians’ scholarship were provocative, and many took umbrage at many of his points. One of Wood’s perhaps overlooked arguments was his statement on the William and Mary Quarterly. “The William and Mary Quarterly,” Wood argued, “now publishes articles on mestizos in 16th-century colonial Peru, patriarchal rule in post-revolutionary Montreal, the early life of Toussaint Louverture, and slaves in 16th-century Castile. The journal no longer concentrates exclusively on the origins of the United States. Without some kind of historical GPS, it is in danger of losing its way.” Was Wood’s assessment—or, perhaps more astutely, diagnosis—correct? Has the William and Mary Quarterly lost its way? To answer this question, let’s build upon yesterday’s post and crunch some numbers. Continue reading

The American Revolution within the British Imagination

british-american-flag-pattern-backgroundFour months ago, I reviewed Andrew D. M. Beaumont’s Colonial America and the Earl of Halifax. A biography of an often overlooked figure, Beaumont makes a strong case for including Halifax in standard interpretations of the coming of the American Revolution. As Beaumont showed, to enrich our understanding of colonial British America, including the 1760s and early 1770s, we must appreciate the importance of high-ranking British officials. We also need to isolate and account for the behavior of the people underpinning and changing the constitutional relationship between Britain and its colonies in North America. Continue reading