A few months ago, I sketched out this blog series, a new intellectual history of early American women. I was encouraged to see your reading list ideas (here and here) roll in. Over the summer, I canvassed bibliographies and archives, curating a portrait gallery of names, places, and ideas to fill many posts. I made a template, too: Supply a capsule biography; show how each woman fits into the “standard” American history survey class, or why she doesn’t; say where to find and assign her work. There’s one more (experimental!) piece to my series, A Woman’s Work, but you’ll have to keep reading for it. This is a public history project in progress, so please feel free to weigh in with ideas. We will swerve through history, ranging from the 1630s to the 1890s. Later on, I can organize subjects by theme, region, or era. The first few posts spotlight an understudied group: African-American women and the memoirs they made in order to narrate a way out of—or a way through—the “thousand natural shocks” of antebellum life and culture. Let’s begin early America in a new voice. Let’s listen to a free black woman who had little or no real social power until she made it for herself, and in three world markets. Meet Nancy Gardner Prince (1799-1859). Continue reading
Nearly three months after seeing his church burn, Samuel Willard returned to the pulpit. By spring 1676, King Philip’s War had ravaged a dozen New England frontier towns and tradeposts like Willard’s Groton. Willard, a 36-year-old Puritan clergyman, discovered that his well-fortified home was one of the few to withstand repeated attacks. The church, however, was lost. Continue reading
Thanks to all of you for helping to build the first part of this intellectual history of early American women. In many ways, this work builds on conversations held at the 2011 USIH conference, and the comments that Ray Haberski kindly gathered and posted here. Now it’s time to crowdsource a bibliography for the second phase, which spans the Victorian period, from 1848 to 1891. For now, I define intellectual history as ideas in action. And so I’m interested in it all: manuscripts, monuments, myths, memorials, biographies, secondary sources, and public history sites that feature/analyze the intellectual and cultural contributions of early American women. Following up on L.D. Burnett’s sage notice of new media’s ability to broaden the realm of traditional academic scholarship, I’m seeking citations for related blogs/posts here, too, in order to form a sound bibliographical foundation. A short list appears below. Paging all historians, librarians, editors, archivists, journalists, and history fans: Please add suggestions in the comments. Continue reading
Here in Oklahoma, we tend to think that we have the nation’s most apocalyptic weather. So far — knock on wood — we’ve largely been spared this year. But our neighbors down in Baja Oklahoma (they tend to call it “Texas”) haven’t been so lucky. They got hit by a series of Biblical-plague-level hail storms, one of which managed to knock out L.D. Burnett’s wifi. So, on her behalf, I’m posting links to three storified twitter streams from panels at this year’s Organization of American Historians conference, which was held last weekend in Providence, RI. Follow me below the fold for your links! Continue reading
Embarking on a study of early American women’s intellectual history calls for a strong bibliographical base, and I’m using this post to learn your news and views of useful literature. Hopefully, we can refer to and build on Patrick S. O’Donnell’s excellent list of resources regarding “Women Intellectuals in the European Enlightenment,” published here. Since this nascent project has a public history feel—I’m interested in how women’s lives and intellectual contributions (ca. 1612-1891) are reflected in everything from standard scholarship to city statues and social crusades—I have listed select digital and archival resources for the first phase (1612-1848), below.
This is, of course, only a preliminary list. Paging all historians, librarians, editors, archivists, journalists, and history fans: Please add your recommendations in the comments.
It gives me great pleasure to announce two new regular bloggers here at USIH: Peter Kuryla and Sara Georgini. Having both completed recent extended guest gigs (you can find Peter’s posts here and Sara’s here), they should be familiar to you, but let me reintroduce them.
Peter is Associate Professor of History at Belmont University, where he teaches courses in US intellectual and cultural history. He’s published on, among other things, Ralph Ellison, William and Henry James, and President Obama. He’s currently at work on a cultural and intellectual history of an “imagined civil rights movement.”
Sara is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Boston University, and assistant editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, an editorial project that has published nearly 50 scholarly editions of the personal and public papers written, accumulated, and preserved by President John Adams and his family. Her dissertation, “Household Gods: Creating Adams Family Religion, 1583-1927,” is a history of faith and doubt in one American family, charting the cosmopolitan Christianity that the Adamses developed while acting as transnational agents of American politics and culture. She is a founding contributor to The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History.
Pete and Sara will be blogging on alternate Mondays, with Pete starting tomorrow and Sara starting on February 8. Please join me in welcoming them to the blog!
Editor’s Note: This is the last of four biweekly guest posts by Sara Georgini. — Ben Alpers
Rain hammered his manuscript. Ink pooled over the words that a weary John Quincy Adams, 76, had polished at four o’clock in the morning for his Cincinnati crowd. In a lifetime of travel, this had been a particularly tough trip for the ex-president to make. Leaving Boston in late fall, Adams looped west through Albany and Buffalo. Snow crusted the rails near Utica. Hail kicked at his train window. Icy wheels skidded along the patches of newish track; he ticked off miles in his omnipresent diary as they jerked and skated past. Pausing at a Cleveland barbershop, the elderly Adams was mobbed, in mid-shave, by a corps of western well-wishers. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: This is the third in a series of four biweekly guest posts by Sara Georgini. — Ben Alpers
He grabbed the Shinto priest’s camera and shoved past all warnings. Historian Henry Adams, still chasing peace nine months after the 1885 suicide of wife Clover, hiked up the Kamakura rooftop. Ahead lay the 43-foot Great Buddha (Daibutsu). At his step, wood porch tiles dipped to sag low. Nearby on John LaFarge’s wet canvas, the mammoth 13th-century bronze swayed against blue-white puffs of autumn sky. Bent double over a heavy lens, Henry Adams fought for balance in the Great Buddha’s shadow. Continue reading
Editor’s Note: This is the second in a series of four biweekly guest posts by Sara Georgini. — Ben Alpers
Two men sat down on the June grass in Virginia, 1865, to talk about the war. The younger of the two, Union Army doctor Algernon Coolidge, had nearly declined the trip. Algernon still mourned the death of his twin brother (Philip) Sidney, a promising scientist and Union major lost at Chickamauga two years earlier. After enduring three years of constant combat and dismal hospital work, Algernon—a great-grandson of President Thomas Jefferson—now wondered what sort of welcome he faced in the south. Continue reading
Editor’s note: It’s my great pleasure to announce that Sara Georgini will be joining us for for a four-post extended guest-blogging gig starting with this post. She’ll be posting every other Monday. Sara is a Ph.D. candidate in American history at Boston University, and assistant editor of the Adams Papers at the Massachusetts Historical Society, an editorial project that has published nearly 50 scholarly editions of the personal and public papers written, accumulated, and preserved by President John Adams and his family. Her dissertation, “Household Gods: Creating Adams Family Religion, 1583-1927,” is a history of faith and doubt in one American family, charting the cosmopolitan Christianity that the Adamses developed while acting as transnational agents of American politics and culture. She is a founding contributor to The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History. You can hear some of Sara’s thoughts about public history and historical editing here and here. The following post is based on a paper she gave at this year’s S-USIH Conference. Please join me in welcoming her to the blog! — Ben Alpers
Nearly once a month, researchers contact the Adams Papers editors with a routine query: “I think I’m related to John Adams, and is there a way for you to check?” We check them all, starting with the printed genealogical tables of presidential families. Then we turn to the Adamses’ own family research, and review six decades’ worth of reference files. There, knee-deep in the glebe lands of Puritan England, I glimpsed the Cold War origins story of historical editing, and the public rise of modern American interest in the founders’ intellectual genealogy. Continue reading