Associate Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina at
Chapel Hill, July 2004-present (Assistant Professor, 1999-2004)
Area of Research: Lindsay teaches broadly in African history, but her research focuses primarily on the social history of West Africa, particularly Nigeria.
Education: Ph.D. in History (African), University of Michigan, 1996
Major Publications: Lindsay is author of Working with Gender: Wage Labor and Social Change in Southwestern Nigeria (Heinemann, 2003), and the coeditor with Stephan F. Miescher of Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa (Heinemann, 2003). She is currently working on Captives as Commodities: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade (a textbook under contract with Prentice Hall, to be published in 2007). More recently, and inspired by her teaching on the Atlantic slave trade, Lindsay has been researching the story of a South Carolina ex-slave who in the 1850s migrated to his father's place of origin in what is now Nigeria. During the 2004-05 academic year she was pursuing this project as a fellow at the National Humanities Center.
Awards: Lindsay is the recipient of numerous awards and fellowships including:
Berkshire Conference of Women Historians Article Prize (for"Domesticity and Difference," AHR, 1999);
UNC Spray-Randleigh Fellowship, 2006;
American Council of Learned Societies Ryskamp Fellowship, 2005-07;
National Humanities Center fellow, 2004-05;
UNC Center for International Studies Faculty Curriculum Development Grant, 2004;
UNC Junior Faculty Development Grant, 2003;
UNC University Research Council Grant, 2002 and 2006;
ACLS research fellowship, spring 2001;
National Endowment for the Humanities research fellowship, fall 2000.
Formerly Assistant Professor, Department of History, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, 1997-99, and Visiting Assistant Professor, Department of History and Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, University of Michigan, 1996-97.
White American girls typically do not dream of becoming historians of Africa; nor did I. But growing up in Louisiana in the civil rights era, I couldn't help but notice the legacies of race and slavery-in the newly-integrated public schools I attended, as well as in the jazz and blues I was learning to play on the saxophone. Later in college and graduate school, I discovered an Africa that was historically connected to me as an American, somewhat familiar to me as a Southerner, and endlessly fascinating to me as a member of the human community.
In the mid-1980s, while I studied international politics at Johns Hopkins University, half a world away apartheid South Africa exploded in street demonstrations and government terror. The semester I took my first African history course, I was arrested with hundreds of others for protesting in front of the South African Embassy in Washington. My comrades and I built a shanty town on the Hopkins quad to urge divestment from South African stocks, and we even took our"port-a-shanty" to sully the premises of offending banks. My political indignation reflected my growing sense that Africa deserved Americans' attention and fueled my curiosity about the many ways Africans and Americans have been connected in the past.
As a graduate student I concentrated on the history of West Africa because in comparison to South Africa its recent past seemed rather less terrible, and because I had a vague sense that the slave trade had given American Southerners and Atlantic Africans something of a shared history. Since 1991, when I traveled to Nigeria for the first time, I have often noticed its similarities to southern Louisiana. My family's homeland is swampy, hot, and humid, with loquacious storytellers, lively music, thirsty mosquitoes, and spicy stews. In and around Lagos I found a region that is swampy, hot, and humid, where raconteurs share proverbs, music travels through the night air, mosquitoes never give up, and fiery pepper soup makes Tabasco seem like Cool-Aid. And then there's the petroleum-soaked political corruption, but maybe now I'm reaching!
The year I lived in Nigeria conducting dissertation research (1993-94), I witnessed three changes of government, two general strikes, countless fuel shortages, and a military coup. I got sick with dysentery, mysterious rashes, and malaria; scabies infected my hands and arms when I worked in a particularly dusty archive. (Flea soap did the trick.) The apartment my husband and I lived in had not been inhabited for a decade, and even after we renovated it there were daily electricity outages and weeks without running water. But people looked after us, as so often happens in Africa, offering care and support as well as adventures. It was through one friend that I got to play saxophone with Fela Anikulapo-Kuti, Africa's most innovative and radical pop star, whose politically-charged, infectiously danceable music I had first come to love when I heard it in Baltimore.
Its vibrant rhythms-in music as well as in the daily human pursuits of survival, connection, and delight-are what propel my scholarship in West African history. In the classroom and on paper I try to convey both the distinctiveness of African history and the connections shared between Africa and the rest of the world. My first book was fundamentally comparative, placing southern Nigeria's gendered labor history in a wider context. My current project emphasizes the links within one family's history between West Africa and the United States. The goal in all of this work is to intrigue students and readers with what makes Africa different from America and at the same time provoke their empathy for fellow humans half a world away.
By Lisa A. Lindsay
… [I]n southwestern Nigeria the gendered ideals implicit in colonial policies met an equally powerful but very different body of assumptions about the respective roles of men and women.
While the colonial state created the conditions under which nearly all wage jobs were filled by men, this did not mean that it turned men into the major providers for their wives and children, especially since most people did not work for wages and women had access to their own [trading] incomes. … For trade unionists and individual wage earners, the image of male providers was useful for making demands from the colonial state, even it if sat uneasily with women’s important economic activities. At home, steady wages and the breadwinner ideal had implications for men's marital relationships, household budgets, and self-esteem, even if those budgets were partially kept afloat through women's contributions. And in negotiations over household resources, women drew upon the fledgling male breadwinner norm to make their own claims to men's paychecks.... [T]he disjunctures as well as the overlaps between discourse and practice surrounding the male breadwinner norm in southwestern Nigeria suggest not only that people shape their lives according to ideas about gender, but that they shape expressions of gender in order to better their lives. -- Lisa A. Lindsay in"Working with Gender"
About Lisa A. Lindsay
This book brilliantly discusses how Africans are subjects, rather than objects. Though whites, imperialists, and colonialists are brought up often, African wars, unionizing, bravery ceremonies, and other willful actions are emphasized. Though Foucault is never mentioned in this book, the idea that power is never absolute resounds clearly here.
Though the editors very consciously view their work as lying within the men's studies field, in no way are women left out of the picture. The desire to find wives, keep wives, and be with wives is a continual staple of African manhood.
Traditional scholars should not be scared away from this book. Many academics may feel that masculinity is a nebulous topic that should be left for babbling postmodernists. However, this book would satisfy traditional scholars. The book discusses history, economics, and sociology in very concrete ways; it merely adds gender into the broader picture....
I liked this work. I hope more scholarship is produced on African men and other men of the developing world. This was an important intersectional work. I applaud the thinkers paving the way in this burgeoning field." -- Jeffery Mingo on Amazon.com reviewing"Men and Masculinities in Modern Africa"
"Fabulous Prof-one of the best-enthusiastic without being obnoxious, highly intelligent & knowledgeable-she is the reason I chose history as my major!"...
"Professor Lindsay is the best teacher I have had at UNC. She's lively and funny, and deeply intelligent without being hard to understand. Her common sense approach makes you feel like you understood this all along, you just hadn't had the information you needed."...
"Lindsay is by far one of my favorite professors at UNC. She made me switch my major to History. If you really want to learn a lot about Africa, I suggest taking her classes and talking to her about the subject matter apart from class."...
"One of the best professors I've had. Amazing person and truly loves the material she teaches. Sparkling personality and enthusiasm makes subject matter come alive. Teaches clearly and will readily answer questions on the spot if you are confused. Take her classes!"...
"Dr. Lindsay is one of the most inspiring professors I've come across at Carolina. Her eyes sparkle when she teaches, and she cares not only about her subject matter, but about her students. I wish the history dept. had 20 more professors like her!" -- Anonymous Students
Teaching Position: Professor of History, Boston University and
Faculty Associate, Center for American Political Studies, Harvard University.
Formerly: Associate Professor, Department of History, State University of New York at Albany (Joint Appointment with Department of Public Administration and Policy), Affiliated Faculty, Center of Policy Research, State University of New York at Albany.
Area of Research: 20th century U.S. political history
Education: Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 1996
Major Publications: On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (Cambridge University Press, 2004), and Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (Cambridge University Press, 1998; paperback edition 2000). Editor, New Directions in Policy History (Penn State Press, 2005). (This book was previously published as a special issue of the Journal of Policy History); Editor, The American Congress: The Building of Democracy (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004) and Co-Editor, The Democratic Experiment: New Directions in American Political History (Princeton University Press, 2003). Zelizer is also a co-editor for the Politics and Society in Twentieth Century America series of Princeton University Press and on the Editorial Board of The Journal of Policy History.
Current projects include; Chicken Hawks and Lonely Doves: How Eight American Presidents Struggled withConservatism and the Legacy of Vietnam. (Book Manuscript under contract with Yale University Press), and Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s. Co-editor with Bruce Schulman. (Book Manuscript, under contract with Harvard University Press).
Awards: Zelizer's Taxing America was the winner of the Organization of American Historians 2000 Ellis Hawley Prize for Best Book on the Political Economy, Politics, and Institutions of the United States and winner of the Lyndon B. Johnson Foundation's 1998 D.B. Hardeman Prize for Best Publication on Congress.
The Harry Middleton Fellowship in Presidential Studies, Lyndon Baines Johnson Foundation, 2005.
Mellon Visiting Senior Scholar, University of Cambridge, 2004.
Research Fellow, The Brookings Institution, 1995-1996.
Additional Info: Zelizer has appeared on national television (History Channel, Fox Television, C-SPAN), commercial and public radio, and newspapers such as The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Sacramento Bee, The Los Angeles Times, and The Albany Times Union.
Zelizer is working with BU colleague Bruce Schulman on establishing an Institute of Political History at Boston University.
Zelizer has been named to the board of directors of the Dirksen Congressional Center, a nonprofit research and educational institution that focuses on the history of Congress.
The Ford Foundation Fellowship was a terrific experience for me, intellectually and professionally. James Kloppenberg and I would meet regularly, including for lunches and dinners, and he worked very closely with me for two years. I had the opportunity to dig into the archives of Massachusetts to complete a substantive piece of historical research. The experience had a major impact on me and helped me decide to pursue this career. I also learned early on how historical research could be used to tackle contemporary questions. To this day, I have continued to work closely with undergraduates interested in conducting their own historical research.
I have always been inspired by interdisciplinary approaches to History, although I remain a historian at heart. I first encountered this way of thinking while I was a Research Fellow at the Brookings Institution, where I regularly dined and met with fellow political scientists, economists, and sociologists who were working on similar issues from radically different perspectives. During those years, I formed several terrific friendships that have continued to this day. My first publication was also in a volume on the history of taxation since WWII, published by Cambridge University Press and the Woodrow Wilson Center. During the seminars leading up to the book, I was required to present my chapter to quite vigorous questioning at this stage in my career, by prominent scholars like Herbert Stein, another contributor who worked as an economist in Richard Nixon's administration.
Sometimes my youth has brought unexpected benefits. Every day, I purchase a salad for lunch at the Boston University food court. One day, I bought my salad right after a colleague and realized that I had been charged about 25 cents less. When I asked the cashier why I had been charged less, she said that was the undergraduate price! It turns out there is a two price system. Since that time, I have lost my discount.
By Julian Zelizer
About Julian Zelizer
Teaching Position: Assistant Professor, Yale University
Areas of Research: Latin American & Caribbean History, History of Cuba and Puerto Rico
Education: Ph.D. 2000, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Latin American Studies
Major Publications:Popular Expression and National Identity in Puerto Rico (University of Florida Press, 1998) and The Myth of José Martí : Conflicting Nationalisms in Early Twentieth Century Cuba (University of North Carolina Press, 2005). Guerra has also published two books of Spanish-language poetry on themes of displacement and Latino identity: Revelaciones exóticas (UNEAC, the Union of Artists and Writers of Cuba, 2004); Cuentos y Fragmentos de Aquí y Allá : Poemas with Claudia Aburto Guzmán, (Quito, Ecuador: Editorial El Conejo, 2002).
Awards: Best Dissertation Prize, New England Council of Latin American Studies (NECLAS), 2000-2001. Woodrow Wilson Fdn.-Andrew W. Mellon Career Enhancement Fellowship (2004-05) rescinded
Additional Info: Guerra was the curator of Manuel López Oliva: Cuba and the Theatre of Desire at Bates College Museum of Art (August 22 to October 5, 2003), and co-coordinator and curator, Ars Poética, with Arelys Hernández Plasencia, Galeriá Ruben Martínez Villena, Plaza de Armas, Havana, Cuba (May 25-June 18, 2004).
The most challenging part of graduate study was the process of writing the dissertation and for me, it was definitely, monastic. (Living in Wisconsin where the winters don't require one to find excuses to stay home and work certainly helped! ) I recall feeling as if no-one in the world had any idea of what I had discovered in Cuban archives and feeling that the ghosts of Cuba's past were my only intellectual company. In fact, I would go as far as to say that I became something of a believer in the intervention of spirits while researching my dissertation in Cuba as well as writing it: some of the historical figures whose concerns seemed far from the ones that I was actually researching just simply would not go away or leave me alone! They kept emerging in the documents, appearing in sources that I picked up, always by" coincidence" and in the end, I surrendered to doing work on topics that would otherwise have remained at the margins of my study-topics like cigar makers' strikes, state terror tactics during an early republican regime or the life of a black civil rights activist (named Evaristo Estenoz) about whom specialists believed we already knew"everything." In the end, I realized that what all these historical figures who kept pursuing me had in common was the experience of having been unjustly killed or morally discredited in popular memory and published accounts. I came to develop a personal relationship with the men and women whose hopes, dreams and failings filled the pages that no-one else cared to read and they became three-dimensional people every time I sat down to write. I came to believe that writing history is about recreating a universe of experience and emotion that is otherwise lost to us. That's where my passion for history comes from-from the conviction that it matters, both to those who lived it and are long dead, as well as to those who take up their legacies.
I spent four years teaching Latin American and Caribbean history at what many people might consider"a historically white college" in Maine, Bates College. While I loved teaching Bates students for their high degree of enthusiasm and motivation, I found myself facing all-"white" classes most of the time and having to confront the myth of Latin American"exoticism" on a daily basis. I often felt that I was retracing steps in the development of my own political consciousness much too often, being drained of intellectual energies that in a different, more diverse setting, would have gone toward greater creativity, inside the classroom and out. At Yale, all of my undergraduate courses are packed with Latino, Latin American and Caribbean students and the difference is palpable: regardless of whether or not they are history majors or even humanities students, they contribute a passion for knowledge to the" community culture" of the class that is born of the need for self-discovery, self-knowledge and explanations to the myriad questions that they have confronted all of their lives. They refuse to take any moment for granted since most of them, even those from the Caribbean itself, have had few, if any, opportunities to learn about their own history as migrants or their society's history—even in their home countries. There is a great excitement to the atmosphere in the classroom at times, and all of the students benefit from it. I have never felt that those students with little or no connection to Latin America experienced alienation; on the contrary, they identify with the history all the more because they see, literally, how relevant it is to their classmates. If there is something that I love about being here, it is feeling that my work is"needed" by many students in this personal way. It is the greatest reward.
With regard to writing my second book, here's all I have to say about its publication:"YAHOOO!!!" Yes, I was brought up in a small farming town in Kansas by Cubans from the countryside, so I am not ashamed about expressing such raw relief and enthusiasm. While writing the dissertation was exciting, re-writing it several times was, well, less exciting, to say the least. I am pleased, in many ways, because as a Cuban, I know the work seeks to deal with some of our greatest myths—about unity, utopia and our many failed struggles to achieve them. I hope that it serves to explain what these things mean and why, as a people and a culture, they have been a part of our identity for so long. José Martí, the nationalist intellectual whose process of mythification forms the core of the book, has been a central part of my life for almost a decade now, so it is good to finally put him to rest! I am also free now to work on what is proving to be the greatest challenge, the Cuban Revolution of 1959, and I am loving it.
QuotesBy Lillian Guerra
About Lillian Guerra
Teaching Position: Professor of History, Harvard University (as of January 2006), Professor of History at Fordham University (until December 2005),
he has also served as co-director of Fordham's Center for Medieval
Studies and director of graduate studies for the Department of History.
Area of Research: Medieval History
Education: Ph.D. 1994, University of Michigan
Major Publications:Imaginary Cartographies: Possession and Identity in Late Medieval Marseille (Cornell University Press, 1999); The Consumption of Justice: Emotions, Publicity and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264-1423 (Cornell University Press, 2003); co-editor of Fama: The Politics of Talk and Reputation in Medieval Europe (Cornell University Press, 2003). Smail is currently writing Outlines for a Deep History of Humankind which will seek to anchor global history in natural history, and a monograph expanding on how medieval courts' citation of"public rumor and repute" helped establish social norms for personal and group behavior.
Awards: Smail's The Consumption of Justice: Emotions, Publicity and Legal Culture in Marseille, 1264-1423, was the recent co-winner of the Hurst Prize of the Law and Society Association. Imaginary Cartographies was awarded the Social Science History Association's President's Book Award in 1999 and the American History Association's Herbert Baxter Adams Prize in 2001.
When graduate students don't get jobs they invariably assume it's their fault. Dissertation not sufficiently innovative; the teaching just above average; maybe"horrors" I'm just not smart enough. Their advisers can tell them the job market is just a crap-shoot, but it's not easy to believe this, and all too tempting just to blame oneself. So when I try to persuade disappointed graduate students that it really is a crap-shoot I often tell the story of how I just barely survived the job search myself. Having done my dissertation research in 1990-91, I was reasonably far along in 1992-93, so I decided to test the market, as it were, with five or ten applications. These translated into one AHA interview, in the Pit, during which I am sure I convinced the committee I was the last person it would ever want to hire. Disappointed but not discouraged, I worked hard on other projects to avoid finishing my dissertation so that I could remain a student for a little longer. The following year (1993-94) was better; the dozens of letters I sent out turned into eight AHA interviews-and I could tell I was moving up in the world because most of them were in interview suites. But these eight interviews turned into exactly zero campus invitations. Was it me? Did they have other priorities? My advisers tried to persuade me to believe the latter, and I did my best to keep the faith.
I finished my dissertation in the summer of 1994, found an adjunct position, and soldiered ahead, applying for practically anything that moved: medieval, European, theoretical, you name it. Dozens more letters went out. By December, I was facing some rather grim news: the eight interviews in 1994 shrank to five in 1995, even though I actually had a dissertation in hand this time around. I was adjuncting at a school that had a position in my field, and doing a pretty good job, but even they didn't want to interview me. Sighting down the slope, I could see myself with just a couple of interviews the following year... and then the dreaded nothing. Well, I thought, if nothing works out in 1995 then I'll have one last shot before moving on. My wife had a decent job and I was sure I could find something interesting outside of academia.
Four of the five interviews at the 1995 AHA in Chicago led nowhere. The fifth, almost to my surprise, garnered a campus interview. I worked feverishly on syllabuses. I drafted and redrafted a job talk. I wondered what I'd wear. The interview was actually rather enjoyable, but I wasn't all that surprised when days passed without the phone ringing. Somehow, I learned that I was their second candidate. Weeks went by. Of course, everything turned out fine in the end, because the top candidate (who has gone on to have a marvelous career, incidentally) had three job offers-something I couldn't have imagined in my wildest dreams, and the university was content to make do with second best. Lots of things had conspired against me, not the least of which was a rather muddled dissertation (though I defend myself by saying that the sources were unusual and awfully difficult to use) on a subject that, at the time, was many removes away from the hot topics of the day. But without this rather lucky chance I am fairly certain I would have ended up doing something outside of academia, like many others with similar capabilities but less luck.
The moral of the tale, I think, is that search committees can never hope to get it exactly right, and no one should expect them to. Departments have their own priorities, and are as subject to the winds of fashion as any consumer. Serendipidity and blind luck play a large role. And scholars do mature after graduate school in ways that no search committee could ever be expected to divine. None of this will ease the pain of not getting through the clumsy, misshapen portal through which every academic has to pass, but knowing that it is a crap-shoot may help someone get on with life if he or she doesn't have the sort of luck that I had.
About Daniel Lord Smail
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History,
University of Kansas, Department of History;
Also Associate Director for Programming, Robert J. Dole Institute of Politics.
Areas of Research: 19th Century U.S. antislavery and democratic movements, and U.S. political history.
Education: Ph.D., Princeton University, 1996
Major Publications:Jacksonian Antislavery and the Politics of Free Soil, 1824-1854 (UNC Press, 2004); The Routledge Atlas of African American History (Routledge, 2000)
Earle is currently working on a book on John Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry for Bedford/St. Martin's Press.
Awards: Winner of the 2005 SHEAR First Book Prize, Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. Co-winner, 2005 Byron Caldwell Smith Book Prize, Hall Center for the Humanities, University of Kansas.
Celebration of Teaching Honoree, Center for Teaching Excellence, University of Kansas, 2002
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship, 2000; American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship, 1999-2000; Huntington Library Research Fellowship, 1999-2000 (San Marino, California).
I was already almost a year into research on a dissertation about the New York Anti-Rent Wars of the 1840s when I found out someone else was working on the same topic. This is exactly the type of horrific fantasy that keeps graduate students up in the middle of the night. The place I found out was more than a little ignominious - in the men's room of the Library Company of Philadelphia, where a senior scholar one urinal over remarked"I think there's someone at Yale working on that very topic." Well, I told myself, maybe this person had a peculiar or different take on the uprising from me. Maybe he or she had stalled and would never finish. Or perhaps the topic was meaty enough to support two dissertations.
A very long phone conversation with that particular graduate student convinced me that I should back off. He had a five-year head start on me, was working with David Davis, and was interested in the same political and cultural ramifications that I was among landless tenants in the Hudson Valley in the decades before the Civil War. I decided to take some of my preliminary conclusions about democracy, land, and antislavery politics from that project and broaden the study to look at the entire antebellum North. After that initial trauma, I couldn't be happier with my decision. Not only do we have an important study of the Anti-renters from Prof. Reeve Huston, but my own book on the origins of the free soil movement has begun to garner good reviews and even some praise from prize committees.
If there is any moral to this story, it's that oftentimes conflicts over shared topics can have positive outcomes for all parties. I may have added to my time in graduate school, but I think my dissertation and book benefited from my year with the Anti-Renters. They're still in there - it's just a little harder to find them. And they're part of a larger story about how the politics of land and slavery collided in North the 1840s and 50s.
By Jonathan Earle
About Jonathan Earle
Teaching Position: Professor of History,
Director of Graduate Studies, Yale University
Area of Research: The political history and culture of revolutionary and early national America.
Education: Ph.D., University of Virginia, 1998
Major Publications:Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic (2001); the editor of Alexander Hamilton: Writings (2001). Freeman is currently working on a book about political violence and the culture of Congress in antebellum America.
Awards:Affairs of Honor: National Politics in the New Republic. (2001), won the best book award from the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic.
Additional Info: After a brief career in advertising, Freeman worked as a public historian for seven years, during which she curated museum exhibits, coordinated educational programs, and gave public lectures for institutions such as the Smithsonian Institution, the Library of Congress, the United States Department of Treasury, South Street Seaport Museum, and the Museum of American Financial History.
Freeman has lectured at such venues as Colonial Williamsburg, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of American History, the United States Capitol Historical Society, Monticello, and the Hamilton Grange National Park Site.
Freeman has also advised and appeared on numerous television documentaries and educational programs, including 'The Duel' (The American Experience, PBS), 'Founding Brothers' (History Channel), 'Dueling in the New World' (Discovery Channel); and 'This Week in History' (History Channel).
Freeman also is a Distinguished Lecturer for the Organization of American Historians, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic and the International Center for Jefferson Studies.
I've always thought of myself as an"archive rat." I love exploring manuscript collections, pouring over letters and random bits of paper, and - occasionally - discovering something new, revealing or exciting. Granted, sometimes one simply finds something odd, like the wad of New York Republican George Clinton's hair that I found carefully wrapped up in a paper packet, or the small folded bit of eighteenth-century paper labeled"Grass" and containing, logically enough, little bits of eighteenth-century grass. Other times, one gets the feeling that a particular manuscript collection has been moldering in the dust of centuries until saved from oblivion by your call slip; one such occasion produced a collection of papers from an eighteenth-century Virginian that (honestly) reeked of leather and dirt - perhaps a whiff of eighteenth-century Virginia, though its main impact was to inspire a desperate desire to wash my hands.
In the course of my research, I've discovered a related historical passion which I've dubbed"Indiana Jones history" - historical research that calls for a real spirit of adventure. For example, when researching Alexander Hamilton (many years ago, long before graduate school), I decided to go to the island of Nevis where he was supposedly born, and live there for a few weeks. Admittedly, my arm didn't need twisting at the idea of spending a month in the Caribbean. But at the time, Nevis was not exactly tourist (or research) friendly, leading to a continuing series of adventures. For example, to get to the island's legal record, I had to pay a stamp tax - which required finding the stamp man - who worked only certain hours of certain days, known only to him. My sotto voce complaints about the cursed stamps - Why do I need a stamp anyway? And who does this stamp man think he is? - eventually led to the realization that I was experiencing my own little echo of the American Revolution.
Along similar lines, while revising the dueling chapter in Affairs of Honor, I asked a friend who knew about such things - Len Travers - to arrange for me to shoot a black powder dueling pistol. Len kindly obliged by contacting a friend from a local police department, Officer Victor Duphily, who took us to a police firing range and taught me how to shoot a pistol. I have to confess that it was oddly satisfying. Not much of a kick, but a nice full pop and a dramatic puff of smoke soon after. Of course, when Officer Duphily allowed me to shoot his regulation police sidearm, I had an entirely different experience. Shooting this gun really felt like holding death in your hand, and after one shot I handed it back, very happy not to shoot another such pistol again.
Obviously, I've enjoyed such experiences, but not just because they've been fun. Shooting a dueling pistol, paying a stamp tax, or simply rummaging among eighteenth-century documents all offer a little whiff of a past reality, a smell or a sound or a sensation that at least whispers back to the past. Sensory research can't quite be footnoted, but it can be an intensely powerful source of scholarly inspiration.
By Joanne Freeman
About Joanne Freeman
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History and Associate Director of the
Institute for Southern Studies, University of South Carolina.
Areas of Research: U.S. Civil War and Reconstruction
Education: Ph.D., Harvard University, 1995
Major Publications:Dorothea Dix, New England Reformer (Harvard University Press, 1998); co-editor of Hope and Glory: Essays on the Legacy of the 54th Massachusetts Regiment (University of Massachusetts Press, 2001); editor of The Public Art of Civil War Commemoration: A Brief History with Documents (Bedford/Saint Martin's, 2004) and Reconstructions: New Perspectives on the Postbellum United States (Oxford University Press, forthcoming 2006).
Brown is currently working on a book about Civil War monuments tentatively titled The Reconstruction of American Memory: Civic Monuments of the Civil War.
Awards: In May 2005 undergraduates at the University of South Carolina gave Brown the Richard A. Rempel Award, presented annually to a faculty member who has shown exemplary concern for students.
Additional Info: Brown worked as a federal judicial clerk for two years and as an attorney for three years after graduating from Harvard Law School in 1984. He is completing for publication a book about the permanent residents of Magnolia Cemetery in Charleston, South Carolina, by his longtime friend Ted Ashton Phillips, Jr., the last of the great Charleston antiquarians, who moved in with the subjects of the book much too soon in January 2005.
My interest in history builds on an upbringing in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., as part of a large family in which my father would take the children into town every Sunday afternoon to give my mother a rest and entertain us at the museums and other historic sites. These excursions fostered stronger attachments to the American procession than he intended. It is not surprising that my research has come to focus on civic monuments as attempts to unify past and present on public stages for everyday life.
I have so far enjoyed little success in reproducing those childhood experiences and their gratifications with my son and daughter, though they have generously indulged my reminiscences. My son did see a prospect of physical adventure in my accounts of climbing the stairs to the top of the Washington Monument, and I was delighted when he said that he would like to make the ascent while we were visiting his grandparents a couple years ago. Lucian was at that point twelve years old, edging daily across the precipice of childhood into the abyss of adolescence. The Washington Monument rose up before me as a parenting opportunity as grand if as solitary as its appearance on the Mall. I prepared to improve our exercise with casual observations about the dream of Revolution that suffused the decorations on the staircase wall or the fear of alien change that prompted Know-Nothings to seize the uncompleted monument in the 1850s.
I am wary of sliding into a classroom mode with my children and was particularly cautious about dampening a readiness that was powerful enough to help Lucian awaken at the early hour necessary for us to come into town and pick up tickets for admission to the monument much later in the day. We wandered over to the Lincoln Memorial, which is close to the heart of my research specialty, but I spared him my lectures on the memorial or on Lincoln himself. We spent most of the morning in Lucian's favorite part of Washington, its small Chinatown, where we bought a soft drink in a Chinese- labeled bottle that he kept in his room long afterwards. For my gateway to the empyrean of history I planned to bank on the Washington Monument, as the early republic did.
When we returned in the afternoon and fell into the line, I saw that we were being funneled toward an elevator. I flagged a National Park Service ranger and explained that we wanted to walk up the monument. He laughed, not entirely in a kind way, and informed me that climbing up the stairs had not been permitted since the 1976 Bicentennial. I could see that the ranger had not been alive then.
Lucian was disappointed to miss the challenge of the ascent but positively disgusted to be identified with someone who was so cluelessly old to a twenty-five-year-old whom he considered unfathomably old. The doorway of the past as a medium of communication had never been more firmly slammed in my face. I hope for more success with my students and readers. As for Lucian, I look forward to learning from him about contemporary Asia and hiking up hills together.
By Thomas J. Brown
About Thomas J. Brown
Teaching Position: Assistant Professor of History, (2004 - present)
Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Early Modern British History, McGill University.
Area of Research: British early modernity with a special interest in the social history of ideas.
Education: Ph.D., Princeton University, 2000
Major Publications:The Social Life of Coffee: The Emergence of the British Coffeehouse; , (Yale University Press, 2005).
Cowan is currently working on a book on the media politics surrounding the 1710 trial of Doctor Henry Sacheverell and he is collaborating with Prof. David A. Boruchoff on a study of the long term history of the commonplace notion that the 'three greatest inventions of modern times' were the compass, gunpowder and the printing press.
Awards:Canada Research Chair (Tier II) in Early Modern British History (2005-2010 and renewable).
Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) infrastructure support supplemental grant (2005); Canadian Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Standard Research Grant, (2005-2008).
Post-doctoral research fellowship from the UK Leverhulme Foundation (1999-2000) and a Jacob K. Javits graduate studies fellowship from the United States Department of Education (1993-1997).
Additional Info: Previously taught at Yale University, USA (2001-2004) and the University of Sussex, UK (2000-2001).
Academics, especially those with positions at research intensive institutions, often complain or (much less often) brag about their teaching 'load'. The goal, if one is to believe this talk, is to be burdened with as little teaching as possible so as to maximize the time one needs to keep up with research and publications. While one could always use a little more time to devote to reading, thinking and writing, I haven't found that my teaching responsibilities at any of the three universities at which I have worked have impeded my research. To the contrary, teaching has broadened my research horizons, it has forced me to explain my arguments, my hypotheses and my knowledge to a number of intelligent but non-specialized minds on a regular basis, and it has even shaped new research agendas.
My first university post was at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England. Teaching at many English universities remains wedded to a time-honoured tutorial or seminar model and most of my responsibilities at Sussex were along these lines. I taught an interdisciplinary seminar on 'literature and politics' and conducted M.A. tutorials in seventeenth-century British history. Teaching this interdisciplinary seminar helped me expand my thinking beyond the manuscripts, books, and newspapers I was familiar with and forced me to take plays and poems seriously as sources for understanding the early modern past. In my M.A. tutorials, I plowed through scores of important works in seventeenth-century British history with my students. Talking about these works with my students helped me come to terms with the conflicting perspectives on the period by various historians and this in turn prompted me to write a long historiographical review essay on the topic for the Sussex-based journal History of European Ideas.
I left Brighton, and the nice Georgian flat on Marine Parade overlooking the English Channel that I was living in there, in the summer of 2001 to take up an appointment as an Assistant Professor at Yale University. While Yale uses the lecture format rather more intensively than English universities, it remains committed to offering small seminars as well and it was in courses such as these that I was able to study early modern ideas of art connoisseurship and the political uses of early modern media along with immensely talented undergraduate and graduate students. Some of the ideas prompted by these seminar discussions found their way into articles I later published in journals such as Modern Intellectual History, the Historical Journal and Eighteenth-Century Studies. Although I didn't teach tutorials per se at Yale, I had plenty of opportunities for individual interactions with my students. In the summer of 2003 I supervised a talented undergraduate who had won a Yale College Dean's Fund research fellowship. His work that summer convinced me of the historical interest and value of a manuscript held at the Beinecke Rare Books and Manuscripts Library. Our work together on making sense of this manuscript source posed so many interesting questions that I came to realize that an entirely new research project could evolve from it. And I was right. The book I am currently researching on the political uses of early eighteenth-century media forms such as print, manuscript, rumour, clothing, and riot was the direct product of many a summertime coffeehouse conversation with my supervisee.
I moved from New Haven, and the nice set of college rooms overlooking Sterling Memorial Library and Maya Lin's Women's Table, to Montreal in the summer of 2004 to teach at McGill University. My students at McGill continue to help me refine my thinking about my research. I have worked with student research assistants, both graduate and undergraduate, on projects such as copy-editing and indexing my manuscripts as they are prepared for publication or source searching in the electronic databases that are increasingly offering a whole new world of easy access to primary source material. McGill's History Department is honourably committed to offering year-long intensive honours research seminars which introduce students to the nuts and bolts of original historical research and courses such as this offer me an opportunity to watch new historical knowledge being produced on the spot.
The Canadian university research funding system has also afforded new opportunities for blending research and teaching. Grants from national funding agencies such as Canada's Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) allow for student research assistants to accompany their professor on research trips to archives and to present their work at scholarly conferences. Support from the Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) allows for the development of 'laboratories' for humanities research in which professors and students may collaborate. I am already watching how fruitful this can be for both professors and their students in my participation in the working groups affiliated with the current McGill-based 'Major Collaborative Research Initiative' (MCRI) on ' Making Publics: Media, Markets and Association in Early Modern Europe'. I am currently working with David A. Boruchoff, a faculty colleague in Hispanic Studies, and graduate students from the departments of English and History in search of references to the 'three greatest inventions of modern times' - to wit, the printing press, the compass, and gunpowder - in texts and images from the renaissance to the present day. We have recently made our first public presentation on the topic and expect to co-author a related book in the near future.
Teaching for me has never been a 'load' or a burden, it has been an opportunity to learn both from and with my students. It has also been a cooperative venture, even (perhaps especially) in my one-on-one tutorials. Discussion and debate are at the heart of humanistic enquiry and I find that one of the most stimulating venues for this to be the classroom - and the coffeehouse, but that's another story.
By Brian Cowan
About Brian Cowan
Teaching Position: William B. Umstead Professor of History, Director of Graduate Studies,
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (2002- )
Area of Research: Modern U. S. South (since 1865)
Education: Ph.D, Harvard University, 1988
Major Publications: Author of: The Southern Past: A Clash of Race and Memory (Harvard University Press, 2005); A Socialist Utopia in the New South: The Ruskin Colonies in Tennessee and Georgia, 1894-1901 (University of Illinois Press, 1996); Lynching in the New South: Georgia and Virginia, 1880-1930 (University of Illinois Press, 1993).
Editor of: Booker T. Washington and Black Progress: A Centenary of Up From Slavery (University Press of Florida, 2003); Up From Slavery by Booker T. Washington (Bedford/St. Martin's, 2002); Where These Memories Grow: History, Memory, and Regional Identity in the American South (University of North Carolina Press, 2000); Under Sentence of Death: Essays on Lynching in the South (University of North Carolina Press, 1997).
Awards: Brundage has received several awards for his books including; Choice Outstanding Academic Book of the Year in 1997 for A Socialist Utopia in the New South; the Merle Curti Award for Best Book of Social History awarded by the Organization of American Historians in 1994 and the Elliot Rudwick Award for Best Work on Afro-American History published by the University of Illinois Press in 1992 both for Lynching in the New South.
Additional awards include; Kirk Visiting Scholar, Agnes Scott College, Spring 1997; National Humanities Center Fellow 1995-1997; Whitney Humanities Center Fellowship, Yale University, 1995-1996 (Declined); A.S.U.S. Teaching Excellence Award, Queen's University (1991).
Additional Info: Formerly Associate Professor of History at Queens University, Canada (1989-1997) and Professor of History at the University of Florida (1997-2002) and Department of History Chair at the U of Florida (1999-2002).
Advisor, exhibit design, Cape Fear Museum, Wilmington, NC, 2003-2004; Advisor, Listening Between the Lines/Reality Works documentary series on racial and ethnic conflict in American history, 2001-; Interviewed by for Shaping America Educational Television Series; consultant and participant in Bill Brummell Productions/A&E documentary on vigilantes and lynching, June 1999.
Like every first-time book author I was anxious when I submitted my revised dissertation to my editor. That my editor was August Meier, a distinguished and remarkably prolific historian of American race relations and African Americans, only added to my anxiety. Meier had a reputation as a stern taskmaster and an irascible critic. In the year and a half that I spent revising my dissertation Meier had proven to be a surprisingly gentle critic. But I did have to get used to receiving phone calls at odd hours (e.g., 7:30 on a Sunday morning) that often included lengthy digressions during which Augie recounted his extraordinary life story from his childhood in leftist summer camps in New Jersey to his participation in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 1960s. Beyond deepening my respect for Meier, these conversations accentuated my own doubts about the larger significance of my own work. After all, I was revising my dissertation for publication at the same age that Meier, several decades previously, had already worked for President Charles Hamilton, the noted black sociologist and President of Fisk, and had publicly debated Malcolm X.
With mixed emotions, then, I prepared to send my manuscript to Augie. At the time, I was teaching at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario. It was both easier and cheaper to mail the manuscript from upstate New York, so I crossed the border and dropped off my manuscript at the MailBoxes Plus in Watertown, New York. The proprietor of the store generously provided a free recycled box (fewer dead trees and no expense for packaging!), which just so happened to be a box emblazoned with the Subway sub shop logo. I carefully addressed the manuscript and sent it off.
Within a few days I received a letter from Meier's secretary at Kent State - email was still not the preferred medium of record - thanking me for the package and assuring me that it was safely stored. Apparently, Augie was in India (another fascinating chapter in his life) and would return in a month or so. I was a little puzzled by the stress that Augie's secretary place on thanking me for the package but I gave it little thought. A month passed without a word from Augie, but I expected as much because he was in India. When a second month passed I began to wonder but a first time author is hardly likely to harass his/her editor after taking too long to read a manuscript. Moreover, by then I was immersed in the business of fall classes.
Finally, almost four months after I sent the package to Augie, I received a terse note from him asking pointedly about the state of my manuscript. I immediately called his secretary, reminding her that I had sent Meier the package more than three months earlier. For perhaps fifteen seconds there was dead silence on the line, and then we simultaneously began to laugh hysterically when he realized what had happened. For whatever reason, she had assumed that I had sent Augie a package from Subway subs, which she had conscientiously stored in his refrigerator for more than three months. She at once retrieved my manuscript, which had been preserved in excellent condition among the other frozen goods in Augie's freezer. Curiously, Augie never seemed to see the humor in the saga of my manuscript.
That my manuscript ended up in Augie Meier's freezer, I suggest, is a testament to the charming eccentricities of academia. In what other line of work would a secretary assume that someone would ship a sub sandwich from upstate New York to northern Ohio? But given Augie's eccentricities (and those of other academics that his secretary almost certainly dealt with), who can blame her? The other lesson I draw from this experience is that it doesn't pay to cut corners or save pennies when it comes to manuscripts. I willingly pay for packing now.
By W. Fitzhugh Brundage
About W. Fitzhugh Brundage
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Northwestern University
Area of Research: African American history, with special interests in the history of slavery and emancipation, property and family, and African Studies.
Education: Ph.D., Johns Hopkins University, 2000
Major Publications:The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South, University of North Carolina Press, 2003 (The John Hope Franklin Series in African American History and Culture).
Book Chapter;"My People, My People: The Dynamics of Community in Southern Slavery," 166-76, in New Studies in the History of American Slavery, ed. Edward E. Baptist and Stephanie M.H. Camp, (University of Georgia Press, 2006).
Awards: Penningroth's The Claims of Kinfolk: African American Property and Community in the Nineteenth-Century South won the 2004 Avery O. Craven Award from the Organization of American Historians.
Penningroth's dissertation"Claiming Kin and Property: Black Life in the Nineteenth-Century South" won the Allan Nevins Prize of the Society of American Historians in 2000.
Other awards include; Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians (2005-08); Lane Professor in the Humanities, Northwestern (2006); Pre-doctoral Fellowship, Carter G. Woodson Institute for African and African American Studies, University of Virginia (1998-99); Huggins-Quarles Award, Organization of American Historians (1998); and W. M. Keck Foundation and Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fellowship, Huntington Library Summer (1998).
Additional Info: Formerly Assistant Professor of History, University of Virginia, (1999-2002).
Consultant for Teaching American History institute, Evanston, IL. (Summer 2005); Referee for Journal of Southern History, Oxford Univ. Press, Cambridge Univ. Press.
My specialty is the history of black life during and after slavery. During graduate school I often talked with my relatives about my research, and one day my Uncle Craig handed me a cassette. It turned out that back in 1976, he had taken a tape recorder with him to go see our great-uncle, Thomas Holcomb, who had migrated up to New Jersey from Farmville, Virginia in 1927 or so (and who used to help the 5-year-old me chase rabbits). And when I listened to the tape, I heard Uncle Tom talking about"slavery time people": it dawned on me that his father, and many of the people he grew up with, were freedpeople.And the stories he told were amazing-not because they did anything exceptional but because they did it at all, and they were my family. He talked about moving up North ("we couldn't make it farming") yet holding onto the farm anyway. He talked about how his father, who was named Jackson Hall, used to run away from his master and hide out in the Great Dismal Swamp.
One story in particular made a big impression on me. At that time, I was researching the legally strange phenomenon of slaves who owned property, and was wondering whether I should try looking outside the Lowcountry, where scholars had shown it was common. On the tape, Uncle Craig asked if he remembered any stories about the Civil War. He did. Late in the war, Jackson Hall ran into a gang of Confederate soldiers who wanted him to take them across the river in his boat. They were running from the Union army in Virginia, probably desperate and definitely well-armed. So what happened then? Uncle Craig asked. Well, Uncle Tom said, they paid him. It was just the inspiration I needed.
By Dylan Penningroth
About Dylan Penningroth
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Brandeis University;
(Chair of the Brandeis Graduate Program in American History, July 2003-June 2005)
Area of Research: American social and legal history, urban history, and the Progressive Era (1890-1920).
Education: Ph.D, University of Chicago, 1997
Major Publications:City of Courts: Socializing Justice in Progressive Era Chicago (Cambridge University Press, 2003); Untitled on smallpox, public health, and the politics of vaccination in the Progressive Era, work-in-progress, to be published by Penguin Press, New York (The Penguin History of American Life series).
Awards: City of Courts won the American Historical Association's John H. Dunning Prize for 2003.
William Nelson Cromwell Foundation Prize, 2004, awarded under the auspices of the American Society for Legal History,"to recognize and reward excellent work by young scholars in legal history."
Charles A. Ryskamp Research Fellowship, American Council of Learned Societies, awarded January 2004; research leave planned for 2006-07.
Residential Fellowship, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard, 2004-05.
Biennial Prize, Society for Historians of the Gilded Age & Progressive Era, for"the best published article treating any aspect of U.S. history in the period 1865-1917," 2000.
Erwin C. Surrency Prize, best article on law or constitutionalism, American Society for Legal History, 1999.
Nominated by University of Chicago for Allan Nevins Prize, Society of American Historians, 1998.
Additional Info: Formerly Assistant Professor of History, Rice University, 1997-1999.
Willirich is on the Editorial Board, of Law and History Review, for a five-year term starting January 1, 2005.
Willrich was a journalist in Washington D.C. from 1987-1991 where he wrote articles on politics and urban affairs that appeared in The Washington Monthly, Washington City Paper, The New Republic, Mother Jones, The California Republic, and other magazines.
Forgive me for being sentimental, but my dissertation sources stunk. Really. They made my eyes tear, my skin itch, and my nose explode. Working in the old archives room of the Chicago Historical Society in the mid-1990s, I'd taken to wearing a mask, the kind other folks wear when they're sanding chipped varnish off an old bed frame or driving a five-pound sledge hammer through dry wall. Only I was poring over the contents of an old scrapbook of newspaper clippings that a long-deceased local judge, Chief Justice Harry Olson of the Municipal Court of Chicago, had kept in the early twentieth century. The scrapbook had apparently spent much of the previous seventy-five years in someone's basement or attic, where the damp and the vermin and the mold spores had made a home in its brittle newsprint pages. I couldn't have been a pretty sight myself. Archie Motley, the much-beloved dean of Chicago archivists (who passed away in 2002), would chuckle sweetly as he padded by my table. When Archie had first laid his hands on this scrapbook in 1994, I'd already been coming to the society for years, most recently to research a dissertation centering on the criminal courts of the Second City in the Progressive Era. Archie quietly slipped the disassembled scrapbooks onto my desk one day. And weeks later, mask and all, I still couldn't believe my dumb luck.
I'd learned to shut up and just be thankful for everything that wind-ripped Midwestern metropolis had unceremoniously laid before me since I first arrived at the University of Chicago, in search of an education, in the fall of 1991. After a few years working as a journalist in the nation's capital, I'd come to Chicago to study urban history. My best bet was that I'd stay maybe a year. But by the time the first subzero night spun permafrost like white cobwebs onto my apartment windows, and Max Weber's Economy and Society had found a permanent place on my desk, I guess I knew I'd settled in for the long haul. I'm not entirely sure what did it. It might have been Kathy Conzen's incredible first-year research seminar in social history, Bill Novak's classes and interdisciplinary workshop in legal history, Tom Holt's seminar on race, conversations about urban culture with George Chauncey, or the many nights swilling history with my grad school friends at Jimmy's Woodlawn Tap. Or it could have been all of those deep archival sources-including criminal court records, feeble-minded commitment proceedings, unpublished sociological dissertations, manuscript collections, and newspapers-some of them just turning up, like some gangster's body, in a county warehouse, just when I needed them most. But looking back there's no question that Chicago itself had a lot to do with my decision to become a historian and to do the kind of history I do. That city and its people and its institutions and its music and its history: they fed my head, my body, my senses. I tried once to get away-tried to contrive a dissertation that would carry me back home to California. But it was no use. Chicago had, at least for the time being, become my home, Sweet Home.
By Michael Willrich
About Michael Willrich
Teaching Position: Associate Professor, Department of History, and Department of
Asian American Studies, UCLA; and Associate Professor of History, University of British
Area of Research: Migration in the U.S. and the Pacific region, the history of social science, Asian American history
Education: PhD. Princeton University, 1995
Major Publications:Thinking Orientals: Migration, Contact, and Exoticism in Modern America (Oxford, 2001).
Yu is finishing a book entitled How Tiger Woods Lost His Stripes and is currently
working on a project rethinking how we understand migration in history.
Awards: Yu's book was a Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2001 and received the Norris and Carol Hundley Prize for Most Distinguished Book of 2001.
He was the Co-Director for a Ford Foundation funded project on reimagining Asian American and Pacific Islander American history, and in addition to a current Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada Standard Research Grant for research on trans-Pacific Chinese migration, has held residential fellowships at Wesleyan University's Center for the Humanities, the University of California's Humanities Research Institute, and the Woodrow Wilson Society of Fellows at Princeton University.
Additional Info: For the last three years, Yu has taught at both UCLA and UBC, travelling back and forth between Los Angeles and Vancouver while researching and teaching about the history of trans-Pacific migrations, including a joint summer class that mixed students from both schools for six weeks while studying the effects of migration and eating their way through each city's best Asian cuisine.
I still can't quite believe that my"full time job" (in the words of my relatives), is to be a professional historian, since it involves spending inordinate amounts of time asking questions that pique my curiousity and then going out and finding answers to them. Most of my family (and many of my students I suspect), wonder why anyone should be paid to do something they so obviously enjoy, and the best parallel they can come up with is a professional hockey player or some athlete paid for something they would have done for free. Perhaps some of the joy, as well as the seriousness of purpose, I feel doing my work is tied to the nagging feeling that I better enjoy it while I can because the plug will be pulled at any time. The feeling of being an"imposter" has been there right from the moment I entered graduate school (I kept waiting for them to realize that they had mixed up the application files and needed to rescind my fellowship?), and it still has never quite left me.
When I was first interviewing for a job at UCLA, my on-campus interview was during the week after the big Northridge earthquake. I was enthusiastically in the midst of explaining something or another when an aftershock hit. I'm sure it seemed pretty minor to most Angelenos, especially in the wake of the larger quake, but as I was going on and on, I noticed that the trees outside the window were swaying. It took me a moment to realize that in fact it was not the trees that were moving but our building, and that I had been so engrossed in talking that what seemed to me a minor nuisance of shifting trees might be more worrying to other people in the room. One of my future colleagues (who did not grow up in Los Angeles) had somewhat jokingly brought a construction hard hat to the office that day, and she alternated between looking at it, at me, and at the relative sanctuary under the table. I was in the middle of what must have seemed to me at the time a rather important point (although I have no recollection now as to what it was), and so I did not immediately register that the longing look in her eyes reflected an interior struggle between slipping under the table, putting on the hat, or continuing to listen to me prattle on. I'm sure that she was not the only one in the audience constrained against their better instincts by politeness, but such was the depth of my monomanical desire to finish my point that the earth stopped before I did. Later on, after I had been offered the job, I learned that I had been attributed with some preternatural ability to remain cool under pressure, and that my obstinate prolixity in the midst of an earthquake signalled a good fit for a teaching job in Los Angeles. I was quite ecstatic to be getting such a wonderful job, of course, but I'm not sure if there are any lessons to be learned by job candidates from my experience, other than perhaps the unwarranted moral that believing passionately in what we do sometimes has its rewards?
By Henry Yu
About Henry Yu
Teaching Position: Chair, History and Literature Program and
Professor of History, Harvard University
Area of Research: Early America
Education: Ph.D. Yale University, American Studies, 1995
Major Publications:New York Burning: Liberty, Slavery and Conspiracy in Eighteenth Century Manhattan (2005); A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States (2002); The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (1999), and editor of Encounters in the New World: A History in Documents (1998).
Lepore is currently working on The Boston Massacre and the Trial of Liberty.
Awards: Bancroft Prize, the Phi Beta Kappa Society's Ralph Waldo Emerson Award, the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians' Book Prize, and the New England Historical Association's Book Award all for The Name of War: King Philip's War and the Origins of American Identity (1999).
Winner of the Kahn Award for A is for American: Letters and Other Characters in the Newly United States (2002).
Lepore was a Distinguished Lecturer, for the Organization of American Historians (2002-2005); she received the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship (2003-2004); the 2002 Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History Fellowship; Affiliate, Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study (1999-2000); and the Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, American Studies Association.
Additional Info: Formerly Associate Professor of History at Boston University (1996-2003).
Lepore is co-founder and co-editor of the Web magazine Common-place (www.common-place.org). The website, which is sponsored by the American Antiquarian Society and the Florida State University Department of History, describes itself as a" common place for exploring and exchanging ideas about early American history and culture."
Lepore has advise on television projects including:"History of America" for PBS' American Experience,"The Murder of Dr. Parkman for Spy Pond Productions (1999), and"TimeLab 2000" for the History Channel (1998-1999). She has alo appeared on C-SPAN, and has been interviewed by NPR.
Like nearly everyone else, I spent most of graduate school drinking coffee. But, unlike everyone else, I had a rule about it: drink alone. When I set about writing my dissertation, I put myself on strict social quarantine from eight to four every day, since I knew that, otherwise, I'd spend much of my time in coffeehouses near campus, complaining about how slow the writing was going. It's not that I didn't want to complain. Boy did I ever. But I was running out of money and had piles of student loans to pay, and I needed to finish that dissertation.
Also, I had something I wanted to say, pretty urgenetly, and nothing concentrates the mind as much as sitting at your desk, with no one to talk to. When I'm writing, I don't answer email and, though I answer the phone, I'm told I'm impossibly rude to anyone who calls (and I never can remember if anyone did). Hell, I was probably rude to the dog. It's harder to be so isolated now; students need to reach me and someone at my house always needs tylenol or a diaper change. But if my writing days are shorter, and come less often, I still drink my coffee alone.
By Jill Lepore
About Jill Lepore
Professor of History, Boston University;
Director, American and New England Studies Program, BU (1997-2002)
Area of Research: Modern U.S. political and presidential history
Education: Ph.D., History, Stanford University, Sept. 1987
Major Publications: Schulman is the author of From Cotton Belt to Sunbelt: Federal Policy, Economic Development, and the Transformation of the South, 1938-1980, (Oxford Univ. Press, 1991), (Revised Edition with New Preface published by Duke University Press in 1994); Lyndon B. Johnson and American Liberalism, (Bedford Books of St. Martin's Press, 1995); The Seventies: The Great Shift in American Culture, Politics, and Society, (The Free Press, 2001);
He is the co-editor with Julian Zelizer of Rightward Bound: Making America Conservative in the 1970s, (Harvard University Press, forthcoming). Schulman is currently working on Reawakened Nation: The Birth of Modern America, 1896-1929, Oxford History of the United States, Volume VIII, (Oxford University Press).
Awards: Schulman has been honored with teaching awards including; Commendation for Outstanding Teaching, Boston University Dean's Office (2000, 2001); Harriet and Charles Luckman Distinguished Teaching Award (UCLA, 1993); Eby Award for the Art of Teaching (UCLA, 1993); UCLA Mortar Board Commendation for Outstanding Teaching (1990, 1992).
Other awards include; OAH Distinguished Lectureship Program (2004); New York Times"Notable Books of the Year" for The Seventies (2001); Blum-Kovler Foundation Fellowship (1999); Fulbright Senior Professorship (Declined, 1999); Charles Warren Center for Studies in American History Fellowship for 1996-97, and the National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for 1992.
Additional Info: Formerly Assistant Professor to Associate Professor of History, UCLA (1987-93) and Director, California History Project (1989-90). Schulman is a frequent contributor to the Los Angeles Times, New York Times, and Washington Post, and other publications. He has also appeared as an expert commentator on numerous television and radio programs.
As I flew off to my first on-campus interview, I thought back to the first I had ever seen: a chilling parade of three young candidates during my first year as a graduate student. The candidate was a young woman, Ms. K., we'll call her, gangly, obviously uncomfortable in her new, just-bought-for-the-occasion suit, she seemed a walking, talking compendium of anxiety, tension, nerves, worries. I have never seen a condemned prisoner walking to her or his death--at the movies I even cover my eyes for that sort of scene--but I imagined that they looked just like Ms. K. as she stood in the corner of the little lecture room waiting to be introduced. She would try to impress us--or really, try to impress the assembled faculty--with her job talk, an hour-long lecture on the subject of her dissertation research. The acid test would follow, when she would be forced to demonstrate her adroitness in answering difficult questions.
Now, Ms. K. was just finishing her Ph.D. at U.C. Berkeley. She obviously possessed a distinguished academic record, and, for all I know, she endured the ordeal of this interview, recovered splendidly, and went on to a successful academic career. But I prefer to believe that the scene I am about to describe broke her spirit, sundered it utterly. And you should believe it too. It makes for a better story (and, remember, like many graduate students in History who are twisted and defeated by academic life, Ms. K. probably succumbed to temptation, enrolled in Law School and now commands a six-figure salary in a prestigious, powerful firm. So you don't have to feel too badly about it).
Remember that Ms. K. had probably never delivered a lecture before--that the normal nervous butterflies of public speaking, fluttering vigorously in the stomach of an inexperienced lecturer, reached the frenzy of mating season as they realized she was interviewing for a job. And not just any job--for a plum position at"one of the nation's leading institutions of higher learning," in the Bay Area, one of the nation's most desirable places to live, and near her home in Berkeley too!
What a disaster. I cannot remember the subject of the talk. I couldn't remember it even five minutes after I left the room and, to tell the truth, I cannot even tell you if the material was fresh, the approach innovative, the anecdotes revealing and funny. It was, as the proverb goes, all in the delivery. Ms. K. simply could not get the words out. She constantly tripped over her tongue, mauling her own words. And every time she did so, she drew attention to the gaffe and heightened her own nervousness by repeating the mangled sentences.
I cringed without relaxing for fifty minutes, and made certain to offer hearty applause when the lecture ended. It was obvious that any chance she had for the position had evaporated, that she was no longer a serious candidate. I expected--and such was my naivete that I really, God's truth, did expect--that no one would ask a question. There was no point; they would allow this wounded animal to slink away without further torment.
You see, I had been concentrating so much on my own cringing and on Ms. K.'s agony that I neglected to observe the people around me. My nose not yet trained to sniff academic carrion a mile off, I had not heard the slathering of the hungry dogs, seen the circling vultures, sniffed the stalking hyenas (oh, you know what I mean).
One of the Department's most prominent members immediately raised his hand. He, by the way, is a lovely man, a superb historian, and one of the few academics I have ever found truly inspiring. He really loves his work, and he is one of a tiny minority of academic historians working today animated by a real and lively curiosity. He really wants to learn things, to grapple with whatever big issue piques his interest. He has been criticized for dilettantism in the hyper-specialized world of the contemporary academy, criticized also for oversimplifying complex topics (unlike, say Physics, where practitioners seek simplicity and call simple theories"elegant," historians worship complexity. More than once, I have heard colleagues utter as the highest possible praise: She or he"adds another layer of complexity to the problem.").
This senior professor also loves an argument. His books are deliberately provocative. His classroom manner is wry and challenging. He relishes friendly combat, sincerely believing that in the parry and thrust of adversarial conversation lies the secret of learning, of knowledge, of"advancing the field."
In measured tones, then, he asked the hapless candidate the first question. I don't remember the actual question, but its thrust was something like"Isn't it true that everything you've just said is a crock of bull"? Those weren't his actual words, of course, but you get the idea. The blow staggered the interviewee. How could it not have?
She recovered enough of her composure to make an answer. But whether she just wanted to get out of the room as soon as possible or whether her instincts told her a job candidate should not openly disagree with a senior member of the hiring department and a prizewinning author to boot, she didn't deny that everything she had just said was a crock of bull."Maybe, you've got a point there," she conceded."I'd never realized it before."
Instantly, the Department's famed"radical" historian picked up the scent. This memorable character was born on precisely the same day as my father, and only a few miles away. But he had long ago traded the clipped, nasal, rapid-fire talk of outer-borough New York Jews for an ever-so-slow, slightly pretentious manner of speaking. His labored style was affected, affected in the true sense of the word--it not only betrayed a trace of haughtiness, but was clearly a conscious strategy. It added drama to everything he said, and it, along with a half-dozen equally poison-tipped arrows in his rhetorical quiver, made this radical historian one of the best lecturers I have ever heard and one of the most infuriatingly difficult persons to converse with.
"Isn't it true," he asked (imagine a Gramaphone playing an old 78RPM record at too slow speed and you can hear his voice), isn't it true not only that your work is absolutely worthless, but that you yourself and your entire life are a crock of bull"?
That just about finished Ms. K. There were a few more desultory questions, some muted applause, a quick emptying of the room. Now, many years and many, many of such interviews later, I understand exactly what those senior Professors were doing, exactly why they posed those crippling, mean-spirited questions. They wanted her to defend herself; they were provoking the candidate to fight back. Your task in an academic interview is to impress, and to so it is far better to be bold than right.
IT'S BETTER TO BE BOLD THAN RIGHT": Call this the FIRST LAW OF THE JOB TALK. If you have exaggerated some point and a questioner suggests a necessary qualification, make a mental note of it for later, thank the person for the advice after you get the job, but never, never back down during the interview. For contemporary academics, brashness, even obtuseness are signs of a"fine young mind at work"--and that, after all, is what every Search Committee seeks. If you can disagree with that Pulitzer Prize winner, firmly and effectively, if you can brashly trumpet the originality and import of your conclusions, the prize is yours. Be bold, be bold," that muse of academic interviewees John Milton wrote."write everywhere, 'Be bold, but not too bold. Better, though the excess than the defect."
By Bruce J. Schulman
But the"sell-out" label misses the point. These icons, and their 21st century children, have preserved a Seventies emphasis on authenticity and freedom, on political transformation through personal liberation. But the market--in particular starting new businesses--became the favored means for personal liberation and cultural revolution. To be sure, something has been lost in this metamorphosis. But the legacies of the 1970s, the changes in latitude and changes in attitudes, remain potent. Like it or not, the long, gaudy, depressing Seventies re-invented America. We still live in their shadows. -- Bruce Schulman in"The Seventies: The Great Shift In American Culture, Society, and Politics"
About Bruce J. Schulman
"I loved Schulman. He's nice, funny and so smart!"..."Schulman is absolutely the greatest professor BU has to offer. If you do not take a class with him, you're missing out. I cannot rave enough about him. Take any class you can with him!"...
"Unbelievable lecture...feels like a privelage to hear him speak. The most fascinating course I've ever taken in anything, and he is just a freaking cool guy in general."...
"he's a great speaker, intellegent and witty."..."To encourage discussion, he runs around Morse Auditorium with a microphone like Geraldo Rivera, which is pretty amusing." -- Anonymous students
Teaching Position: Associate Professor of History, Dowling College.
Chairman, Dowling College History Department (May 2000-May 2003)
Education: Ph.D. Columbia University, 1995
Area of Research: Twentieth-century America, The American Presidency, US Presidential Elections
Major Publications: Mieczkowski is the author of Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s, (University Press of Kentucky, 2005); The Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections, (Routledge Press, 2001); and Instructor's Manual for America in Modern Times, by Alan Brinkley & Ellen Fitzpatrick. (McGraw-Hill, 1997).
Contributor to The American National Biography (Oxford University Press, 1998); chapter on Gerald R. Ford for The Reader's Companion to the American Presidency, edited by Alan Brinkley & Davis Dyer (Houghton Mifflin); The History News Service and The History News Network.
Awards: Mieczkowski is the recipient of Released Time Grants, Dowling College Long-Range Planning and Development Committee Course Releases Awarded for Research/Writing (1997-present); Abilene Travel Grant, The Dwight D. Eisenhower Foundation, 2005; Gerald R. Ford Foundation Research Grant, 1992, 2003; The Rockefeller Archive Center Research Grant, Rockefeller University, 1996; Carl Albert Congressional Research and Studies Center Visiting Scholars Grant, The University of Oklahoma at Norman, 1995; Everett Helm Visiting Fellowship, The Lilly Library, Indiana University, 1995.
Additional Info: Mieczkowski has also been a Reader for the Advanced Placement Exam in U.S. History, Educational Testing Service; Faculty Advisor, Dowling College chapter of the Phi Alpha Theta History Honor Society; Oral histories: the Dwight D. Eisenhower presidency; the Gerald R. Ford presidency; friends and family of Ernie Davis (first African American to win the Heisman Trophy); Television commentator for"Our Town," Long Island Cablevision"Our Town: Meet the Authors" on Gerald Ford and the Challenges of the 1970s (May 10, 2005) and The Routledge Historical Atlas of Presidential Elections (Sept. 17, 2004); Consultant for McGraw-Hill, Prentice Hall, Pennsylvania Historical Society; Writing Fellow, The American National Biography.
My Search for a Missing Ford Administration Member
I had been searching for him a long time. His name was Russell Freeburg, and he served as the first director of President Gerald Ford's"Whip Inflation Now (WIN)" program. Ford employed numerous economic weapons to combat the high inflation of the 1970s, including an attempt to rally citizens in a consumer crusade against rising prices. Yet almost as soon as Ford unveiled the WIN program, it faltered. Critics ridiculed it as feckless and trite, and within a few months Ford abandoned it, partly because a deep recession gripped the country, making an anti-inflation campaign the wrong economic medicine.
I was researching a book on Ford's presidency and came across documents at the Gerald Ford Presidential Library naming Russell Freeburg as the first WIN director. My research depended heavily on oral interviews with Ford administration members, and I had enjoyed considerable luck in locating them and recording their recollections. Yet the Ford Library had little information on Freeburg; he seemed to have vanished without a trace. I did a white pages search and located a person with the same name in Florida, and I wrote to him. Weeks passed with no response. Finally, one day a handwritten letter arrived, and inside I found words that seemed like magic:"I am the Russell Freeburg you're looking for." He explained that he was spending the summer at his cottage in Michigan, and he left a phone number.
I called immediately and told him that I was planning a trip to the Ford Library in Ann Arbor. Could I see him at that time? His cottage was a good five hours from Ann Arbor, near Lake Michigan, but he welcomed a visit. Not wishing to trouble him for directions, I told him that I could find his home on MapQuest."You're not going to find this cottage on MapQuest," he predicted. On the telephone, I could hear someone laughing in the background, and he said,"You see--even my wife's laughing. MapQuest's not going to show this place." I had no idea why he had such little confidence in MapQuest, but I told him I'd try. As it turned out, MapQuest did indeed provide directions, and on a late August day, I drove out to Frankfurt, Michigan.
It was beautiful country, high on Michigan's lower peninsula. The cool air told me that I was far north, and even though it was still summer, I could see splotches of color marking the tree leaves. As I approached his home, carefully following MapQuest's directions, I began to see why Freeburg and his wife got such a kick out of the notion that MapQuest would show his cottage. It was in the middle of a forest! I seemed to leave civilization, traveling on a dirt road deep into the woods. But I spotted some cottages, and the directions told me I was there. I knocked on the door of what I believed was Freeburg's home, and a tall gentleman approached. Before I even got a chance to ask,"Are you Mr. Freeburg?", he looked down at me and said,"Well. My apologies to MapQuest."
Interviewing Freeburg that day, I gained valuable insight into WIN. He reiterated what President Ford had told me, that it was just one symbolic part of a larger, more substantive administration fight against inflation, and he spoke of his frustration that there hadn't been enough time to plan, staff, and fund WIN during its brief existence. I left that day feeling that I could more accurately tell the story of WIN's rise and fall.
I've stayed in touch with Russell over the years, and I was saddened to learn that his wife Sally died last fall. I'll always remember her cheerful laughter on the telephone, which marked the beginning of a journey that brought WIN, MapQuest, and history together in a quiet forest near Lake Michigan.
By Yanek Mieczkowski
About Yanek Mieczkowski
Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Professor of History and Sociology at the
University of Pennsylvania;
Chair of the History Graduate Group (2000-2005);
Bicentennial Class of 1940 Term Chair, University of Pennsylvania (1999-2004).
Area of Research: Twentieth-century American politics, urban history, and race relations.
Education: Ph.D., Harvard University (American History), 1992.
Major Publications: Sugrue is the author of the prize winning The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (Princeton University Press, 1996); Princeton Classics Edition with a new preface (Princeton University Press, 2005); Japanese translation with new preface (Akashi Shoten, 2002). Sugrue is co-editor of W.E.B. DuBois, Race, and the City: The Philadelphia Negro and its Legacy (University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), with Michael B. Katz and, more recently, The New Suburban History (University of Chicago Press , 2006) with Kevin Kruse. Press, 2006). Works in progress include; Sweet Land of Liberty: The Unfinished Struggle for Racial Equality in the North (under contract with Random House); Twentieth-Century America, with Glenda Gilmore (under contract with W.W. Norton); The Boundaries of the Law: Race and Class in Twentieth-Century Legal History, co-editor with Sarah Barringer Gordon (under review).
Awards: Sugrue is the winner of the 1998 Bancroft Prize in History; 1997 Philip Taft Prize in Labor History; 1997 Urban History Association Prize for Best Book in North American Urban History; 1997 Choice Outstanding Academic Book; 1996 President's Book Award, Social Science History Association; Lingua Franca Breakthrough Book on Race; American Prospect On-Line Top Shelf Book on Race and Inequality; Subject of roundtable in Labor History 39 (February 1998), 43-69; One of 100 books published in the last century featured in A Century of Books: Princeton University Press, 1905-2005 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2005), all for The Origins of the Urban Crisis: Race and Inequality in Postwar Detroit (1996).
Sugrue has won fellowships and grants including the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Fellowship (2005); Alphonse Fletcher, Sr. Fellowship, Fletcher Foundation (2005); Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton, School of Social Science, AMAIS Member (2005-06); Franklin Research Grant, American Philosophical Society (2005); Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, Stanford (invited fellow); Distinguished Lecturer, Organization of American Historians (2002-); Kellogg Foundation Program in Non-Profits, Universities, Communities and Schools Grant (1998-2001); SAS Faculty Research Fellowship, University of Pennsylvania (1998-99); Honorary Master of Arts, University of Pennsylvania (1997); Columbia University Seminars, Publication Grant (1996); American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (1995-96); National Endowment for the Humanities, Grant for Conference: W.E.B. Du Bois's The Philadelphia Negro: A Centenary Reappraisal (1994-96), Co-Director; and The Brookings Institution, Research Fellow (1990-91) among others.
Sugrue is also an award-winning teacher. His courses on America in the 1960s and on U.S. History from 1877-1933 have been selected"Hall of Fame Classes" by the Penn Course Review and he won the 1998 Richard Dunn Teaching Award in the Department of History, and the Outstanding Professor Award, University of Pennsylvania Greek Council (1996).
Additional Info: Sugrue has been a contributor to The Nation, Dissent, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Detroit Free Press, and Philadelphia Inquirer.
He has appeared in the following documentaries:"The Guilty Men: A Historical Appraisal," History Channel (2004);"A City on Fire: The Story of the 1968 Detroit Tigers," Home Box Office (2002);"Rizzo," WHYY-TV/PBS Philadelphia (2000);"Urban Affairs Forum," Connecticut Public Television (1996). Sugrue has also appeared on MS-NBC, The History Channel, C-Span, CBC Canada, and on various local networks in Detroit and Philadelphia.
He has served on the boards of the Urban History Association (UHA), and the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, has co-chaired the program committee of the Social Science History Association (SSHA) and has served on program and prize committees for the Organization of American Historians, the Policy History Association, UHA, and SSHA.
Sugrue also served as an expert for the University of Michigan affirmative action cases (Grutter v. Bollinger and Gratz v. Bollinger), decided by the Supreme Court in 2003.
Slogging through the vast archives that are the product of the age of the carbon copy, the mimeograph, and the Xerox, I sometimes wonder why I chose twentieth century American history. So much material, so many numbing interoffice memos, so many duplicates of the same document, yet so little of value. Still, even when it's foolhardy, I can't resist the lure of crumbling yellow paper and fading photocopies. There just might be something there.
On a cold winter week a decade ago, I had finished the research for my first book, The Origins of the Urban Crisis, but I felt compelled to make one more trip to the archives. A new collection had opened at the Walter Reuther Library at Wayne State University, part of the hundreds of boxes of papers donated by the United Automobile Workers. The title of the collection sounded promising: the UAW Community Action Program. Opening the finding aid to a newly processed collection--especially when you think you are finished with a project--can be a terrifying experience. Much to my relief, most of the UAW-CAP records were beyond the scope of my book. But in box four, I made one of those finds that makes the dig worthwhile. It was a few copies of a little newsletter, innocuously named the Neighborhood Informer, produced by the Greater Detroit Homeowners' Association, Unit Number 2, a group founded in 1949 to fend off the"Negro invasion" in a little bungalow-filled neighborhood on the city's West Side.
In my research, I had found evidence of about two hundred such organizations in Detroit between the 1940s and the 1960s. Most were short-lived. They burst onto the scene in moments of crisis and disappeared just as quickly. Most didn't have time to keep records. Here is where being an archive hound paid off. I reconstructed their history from the traces they left behind: letters to city mayors, testimony at public hearings, signatures on court records, copies of police reports, and investigations of their activities by city community relations officials. Often their only appearance in the public eye-little did they know--was in the African American press. Detroit's three black papers regularly reported their extralegal activities--window-breakings, arson, and other attacks on the first blacks who had the audacity to breach the city's residential color line.
It was my good fortune that someone from the UAW had bothered to save a few copies of the Neighborhood Informer. As I unfolded the newsletters' pages, I turned to its masthead. Its officers were Polish, German, Italian, and Irish. But they spoke of themselves as"white." They found common cause in the"defense" of their households from the" colored."
I didn't expect to uncover two family names. One was the newsletter's editor, James Sugrue. I didn't have a clue as to who James was, but there aren't very many Sugrues in Detroit who aren't related to me. My father's parents had emigrated from Ireland in the 1920s. My grandfather was one of seventeen children. James, it turned out, was one of my dad's second cousins (the first cousins alone numbered in the three digits). What surprised me more was discovering that one of the neighborhood"wardens" was none other than my great Uncle Matt, my grandmother's twin brother.
My family is full of storytellers--but my family's involvement in Detroit's troubled racial past was not part of our family lore. I don't know whether James and Matt attended a few meetings or hurled some bricks or just joined because they thought it was the right thing to do for their families. I don't know if they played a role in chasing out the first black family, who moved into the neighborhood in 1955 and moved away a few weeks later. What I do know is that my relatives joined a multiethnic--but self- consciously white--army to defend their neighborhood and that forty five years later, I had uncovered the fact. There I was, a young historian, coming to grips with America's troubled racial past and coming to terms with my own family history. Dig deep and you never know what you might find.
By Thomas J. Sugrue
The Northern story really complicates that; it messes with our conventional wisdom about civil rights. Many of the questions that Northern activists were struggling with in the 1930s and 1940s - workplace discrimination, housing segregation, the lack of economic development, of attempts to build infrastructure within the African-American community - these are all issues that are still to a great extent front-and-center and only partially resolved in American society today. The Northern story allows us to break out of the easy moralism of the Southern story. It's a story also, I should say, that brings in a whole new rich and complicated set of activists. Just to take one example, the links between civil rights and black power are much more visible, are much clearer, when you begin to explore the histories of Northern cities than they are when you stick to the conventional narrative about what happened in the South. Many black activists in the North are simultaneously demanding equality with whites and inclusion into the political and economic institutions of American society, but also calling for the creation and invigoration of black-controlled communities. So there is much more tension between what is usually seen as dichotomous in the civil rights literature. -- Thomas J. Sugrue discussing his upcoming book project Sweet Land of Liberty
About Thomas J. Sugrue
"Prof. S. is one of the best profs I've had at Penn. He is so energetic and enthusiastic, it is amazing. It shows he really cares about what he is teaching."
"Tom Sugrue is the man. He is the best orator on campus."
"Prof. Sugrue had a very enthusiastic teaching style and his excitement about the material quickly spreads to the class." -- Anonymous students
Associate Professor, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 2004-
Area of Research: 19th century American history
Education: Ph.D., Harvard University (American Civilization), 1992.
Major Publications: Richardson is the author of The Death of Reconstruction: Race, Labor, and Politics in the Post-Civil War North, 1865-1901, (Harvard University Press, 2001), A main selection of the History Book Club; The Greatest Nation of the Earth: Republic Economic Policies during the Civil War, (Harvard University Press, 1997).
Richardson is the co-editor with Sidney Andrews of The South Since the War, (Louisiana State University Press, 2004).
Works in progress include: Race, Riots, and Rodeos: The Reconstruction of America After the Civil War, 1865- 1901. (Yale University Press, forthcoming, 2007).
Awards: Charles Warren Center Fellowship, Harvard University (1999);
Runner-up, Allan Nevins Prize (awarded for the best dissertation on an important theme in American history)
Additional Info: Formerly Visiting Lecturer, Fitchburg State College (2003--); Master Lecturer II, Suffolk University (2003-2004); and Associate Professor of History, Massachusetts Institute of Technology teaching there from 1993-2002.
Richardson has also participated in: The Woodward Dissertation Award Committee, Southern Historical Association, 2004-2005;
Guest Editor, Cobblestone Magazine, American Inventions of the Nineteenth-Century, 2004;
Consultant, PBS documentary,"Sinews of War: Money, War, and the Building of America", 2004-;
Consultant, Primary Source and Teachers as Scholars, educational consulting firms, 2002-;
Consultant and Lead Teacher, Brookline, Massachusetts, public schools on Teaching American History project:"Defining Justice", 2002-;
National Advisory Board, Tredegar National Civil War Center Foundation, 2002-;
Editorial Board, American Nineteenth Century History, 2001-;
Consultant, Bill Moyers documentary,"The Chinese in America," 2001-2002. Richardson is also a regular contributor to the Business History Review, Chicago Tribune, Civil War History, The Historian, Journal of the Abraham Lincoln Association, Journal of American History, Journal of Interdisciplinary History, Journal of Southern History, Labor History, Law and History Review.
History was tangible to me, growing up. Literally. No one in my town ever threw anything away. Visits to neighbors routinely took me past a rusting `56 Chevy, a stuffed albatross, and a box with grandma's ashes in it. My family was the worst. The 1975 Newsweek with Springsteen on the cover? Still got it. The 1923 National Geographic that announced the opening of Tutankhamen's tomb? Still got it. My great-great-grandmother's shoes from the 1850s? Yep. Still got them. (Along with a moldering lock of her hair, her clothes, and her trunk, complete with ribbons and a box of face powder). As if our own predilections weren't enough, my parents bought a home that came with a barn, crammed to the rafters with things the previous owners had never thrown away: a nineteenth- century grinding wheel, a settlement house cookbook, a half-full whiskey bottle from 1913 (my husband tried the whiskey last year and pronounced it very smooth). The junk around us wasn't saved for its historical value. It was just that no one had ever gotten around to throwing it out.
As kids, we thought of it largely as junk. Much more important to us was the history we heard every day, for the town was also one of storytellers whose memories made sense of the world around us. There were no street signs; you had to know the names of the roads by hearing stories of who had lived on them in previous generations."Harding Road," on the map, for instance, was actually Carter's Lane, or even The Colony, after a group of summer cottages built there in the 1920s. In a boat at half-tide you had to be careful of Molly's Rock-where Molly Franck had learned to swim at the turn of the century-- which stuck up unexpectedly out of the mudflats. Stories not only passed on knowledge vital to our everyday lives, they also explained why people acted the way they did. The Island women chasing off the stuttering Civil War draft officer by pelting him with boiling hot potatoes ("G-G-Give them a b-b-barrel and they'd take Richmond," he allegedly remarked) helped to explain why islanders hated the government. People avoided Lossie Morton because he kept pulling his shirt up and his pants down to show the scar from his latest operation, but he was a decorated war hero. Nate's parents were mad at him because he accidentally shot the dishwasher. Even as children we knew that stories changed according to who told them, and that, ultimately, they said more about who told then than about what actually had happened. Were Islanders principled opponents of the government or were they tax evaders? Was Lossie a figure of fun or admiration? Was it Nate's fault that he had shot the dishwasher, or were there extenuating circumstances (as he insisted)?
In college I studied in both the history and in the folklore and mythology departments, fascinated with the distance between the facts of history and the stories people told to make sense of their lives. I believed in the historical record, but I could not dismiss the way people talked about things as central to their behavior. Reagan was elected in my freshman year, and listening to the political rhetoric around me only confirmed my sense that people most often made decisions based not on facts, but on their beliefs. Ultimately I concluded that one could not really understand the past without taking seriously the way people imagined their world. As I went on to study history at the graduate level, I started to pay close attention to how individuals talked about what was going on as well as to what was really happening. Not surprisingly, the two didn't often agree, and the gap between them tells us a great deal, I think, about the people themselves. My work explores how beliefs and facts interact in American life, primarily in politics.
Chinese historian Stephen Platt and I have just started to write a history of the late nineteenth-century trans-Pacific world. Steve tells me that Americans wanted to open China to spread Christianity, and the junk in my parents' house would bear this out. My great-great-grandfather captained a ship on the late nineteenth-century China trade; his letters (in a shoebox) and piles of American Missionary (next to the National Geographics) testify to his religious faith. But local legend says he was an autocrat who loved making money. There is truth, I have to think, in both.
By Heather Cox Richardson
About Heather Cox Richardson
"Great teacher...I took her for 2 classes and loved her for both, she is so helpful you can email her anytime you want. My favorite professor so far!"..."Awesome professor, interesting person, class is super!! One of the best professors at UMass!!" -- Anonymous students
Humanities Distinguished Professor of History, Department of History,
Ohio State University
Area of Research: Twentieth century American history, with an emphasis on class, race, and politics.
Education: Ph.D., History, University of Michigan, 1990.
Major Publications: Boyle is the author of Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age (Henry Holt and Company, 2004; paperback edition, 2005); Muddy Boots and Ragged Aprons: Images of Working Class Life in Detroit, 1900-1930 (with Victoria L. Getis) (Wayne State University Press, 1997); The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968 (Cornell University Press, 1995; paperback edition 1998). Boyle is the editor of Organized Labor and American Politics, 1894-1994: The Labor-Liberal Alliance, (State University of New York Press, 1998).
Works in progress include: The Splendid Dead: An American Ordeal (to be published by Henry Holt and Company).
Awards: Boyle is the winner of the 2004 National Book Award, the 2005 Chicago Tribune Heartland Book Prize, the 2005 Simon Wiesenthal Center Tolerance Book Award, and the 2005 Society of Midland Authors Book Award; finalist for the 2005 Pulitzer Prize in History, the 2005 National Book Critics Circle Award, and the American Bar Association's 2005 Silver Gavel Award all for Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age. Arc of Justice was named a 2004 New York Times Notable Book and a Best Book of 2004 by National Public Radio's Fresh Air, Salon.com, The Christian Science Monitor, The Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, The Baltimore Sun, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, The Detroit Free Press, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch, The Portland Oregonian, The Seattle Times, and the State Library of Michigan; chosen as a History Book Club and Quality Paperback Book Club selection.
The UAW and the Heyday of American Liberalism, 1945-1968 was named a Choice Outstanding Academic Book for 1996.
Boyle has also received a number of fellowships including: John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship (2001-02, deferred to 2002-03);
American Council of Learned Societies Fellowship (2001-02);
National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship for University Teachers (2001-02);
Bordin/Gillette Research Travel Fellowship, Bentley Historical Library, University of Michigan, (2000);
Mary Ball Washington Chair (Fulbright Distinguished Chair Program), University College Dublin, Ireland (1997-98);
National Endowment for the Humanities Travel to Collections Grant (1991);
Rockefeller Foundation Fellowship in the Humanities, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI (1990-91).
Henry Kaiser Travel Grant, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs (1986).
Formerly Assistant to Associate Professor (tenured 1997), Department of History University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1994-02, and Graduate Program Director, 1999-2001.
In 1997-98 he held the Mary Ball Washington Chair in American History at University College Dublin, Ireland.
Boyle's articles have appeared in Diplomatic History, The Journal of American History, Labor History, The Michigan Historical Review, and various anthologies. He has also published essays and reviews in The Baltimore Sun, The Chicago Tribune, The Detroit Free Press, the New York Times, and the Washington Post.
He serves on the advisory board for the Walter P. Reuther Library, and on the editorial boards of Labor History and Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas. He is also a Fellow of the Society of American Historians and a member of the PEN American Center.
I was desperate. I have to admit that at the outset.
It had started out as one of those years academics long for. Thanks to a few fellowships, I could take a break from teaching and work exclusively on my book manuscript. For months on end, I'd been doing nothing else. Day after day I sat at the computer, sweating out every sentence, revising relentlessly, trying to make the book do what I wanted it to do. Now I was at the mid-point -- the fifth of a proposed ten chapters -- and I was stuck.
Seven times I'd tried to write the chapter: seven starts, seven approaches, seven drafts abandoned in desolation. The problem was analytical; I had to explain some technical material without disrupting the narrative I'd painstakingly built. The problem was structural; I'd organized my story in a way that made the chapter exceedingly hard to write. The problem was personal. I had no ideas, no talent. I was a fraud and a failure.
Because I couldn't think of anything else to do, I began to piece together the eighth draft. A month passed. The pages piled up. The end came into sight. Then the doubts returned. This version wasn't working either. For one long day I paced through the house, trying to solve the problems I was seeing, trying to fight off panic. I thought of two possibilities - but neither seemed right. By mid-afternoon I was tumbling into despair.
At 3:30 my daughter Nan walked in the door."Sit down," I barked at her."We have to talk about my chapter." She took a seat on the couch while I dashed into the study to get my laptop. I would tell her my two alternative, let her weigh them, get her counsel. Maybe that would turn the situation around.
Did I mention that Nan was in second grade at the time?
She sat quietly as I talked, her face set in concentration. When I was done, she told me she liked one of the alternatives better than the other. The story sounded right that way, she said. And she was right. A couple of days later the chapter was done.
Historians tend to think of themselves as working in splendid isolation. We spend huge swaths of time sitting alone in archives. When we write we shut ourselves away, banning the kids from our studies, locking office doors. When we get the courage to let others see a chapter or an essay we've been laboring over, we often restrict its distribution to a tight circle of associates with the stern warning,"Do not circulate" typed in capitals on the cover page. Our work is our own, after all, our singular creation.
But of course it isn't. Many of us - most of us -- couldn't make it through the profession's incessant demands without the support of a vast network of people. I owe an incalculable debt to the friends who pulled me through grad school, despite my mediocre performance. Again and again colleagues have offered me their time, their connections, and their advice. It's impossible to count how many times my wife - a far better historian than I am - carried me through one crisis or another. And I like to think that I finished that chapter, that book, because my eight year old was willing to pass up her after-school snack so she could listen to her daddy's problems.
By Kevin Boyle
And there it was, the scene he'd dreaded all his life, the moment when he stood facing a sea of white faces made grotesque by unreasoned, unrestrained hate - for his race, for his people, for him.... The people on the other side of the street were screaming, 'Here's niggers!' 'There they go!' 'Get them! Get them!' Stones were raining down from across the street, smashing into the lawn, crashing onto the painted wooden floor of the porch, and skittering under the swing where Henry and Latting had been sitting a few hours before." -- Kevin Boyle in"Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights and Murder in the Jazz Age"
About Kevin Boyle
Assistant Professor of Journalism and Media Studies and History, Rutgers University
Appointment to the Faculty in History. Affiliations with Political Science and Jewish Studies departments.
Area of Research: Political and Cultural Affairs, Presidential History, History of Journalism and Politics
Education: PhD, American History, 2001, Columbia University
Major Publications: Greenberg is the author of Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image (W.W. Norton, 2003).
Soon to be published: Presidential Doodles: Two centuries of scribbles, scratches, squiggles and scrawls from the Oval Office for Basic Books, 2006; a biography of Calvin Coolidge for the Henry Holt's American Presidents Series edited by Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. (publication date 2007).
Greenberg is also working on another new book tentively entitled Pseudo-Politics: A History of Spin.
Awards: American Journalism Historians Association Book of the Year; Washington Monthly Political Book Award; Several annual"best of" lists, including CNN, Christian Science Monitor, Financial Times, and The Progressive all for Nixon's Shadow: The History of an Image (2003).
Distinguished Service in Support of Teaching, Department of Journalism & Media Studies, 2005.
Rutgers University nomination, National Endowment for Humanities Summer Stipend, 2005.
Rutgers University Research Council Grant, 2005.
Rutgers University Aresty Award for Research Assistance, 2005.
Rutgers University Interdisciplinary Studies in Information Policy and Security Grant, 2005.
White House Historical Association Award, 2003.
Bancroft Dissertation Prize, Columbia University, 2002.
Whiting Fellow, 2000-2001.
Josephine de Karman Fellow, 2000-2001.
Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy Fellowship, 1999-2001.
J. Bartlett Brebner Travel Grant, Columbia University, 1999, 2000.
Gerald R. Ford Library Grant, 1999.
President's Fellow, Columbia University, 1996-2000.
Richard Hofstadter Fellow. Columbia University, 1995-1996.
Javits Fellowship, 1994-1995, declined.
Additional Info: In all, Greenberg has written more than 240 articles and reviews for among others American Prospect, Atlantic Monthly, Boston Globe, Columbia Journalism Review, Lingua Franca, Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, New Republic, New Yorker, New York Times, The Progressive, Slate, Washington Monthly, Washington Post, and other periodicals.
He has also written for numerous scholarly journals including: Foreign Affairs, The Journal of American History, Reviews in American History, and Daedalus.
He is a regular contributor to the online magazine Slate, where he writes the"History Lesson" column and other occasional reviews and essays.
Before pursuing his PhD, he served as Acting Editor and Managing Editor of The New Republic magazine.
He also served as the assistant to Bob Woodward, for Woodward's book The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House (Simon & Schuster, 1994).
One day in 1999, as I was sitting at my desk not making much progress on my dissertation, I got a call from an agent I knew in LA. He remembered I'd worked in Washington journalism before starting grad school and asked if I might want to write a script for a new prime-time political drama. It would have to be written"on spec," he explained-meaning I wouldn't be paid unless they used it. But they were looking for writers, and if they liked what I wrote, they might want to hire me on. Envisioning another lost month on my dissertation as I fiddled with a teleplay that went nowhere, I explained that I didn't have time for such flights of fancy. So passed my chance to write for"The West Wing."
What does this anecdote reveal? Beats me. Maybe that the rewards of writing history carry sacrifices? Or that graduate students aren't as smart as they think they are?
When I was about to graduate college, I discussed what to do with my life with my senior essay adviser. We talked about my pursuing a PhD in history. He noted that in my field-post-World War II politics and culture-many of the best books were written by journalists. Something clicked. I knew I didn't want to go straight on to grad school. I knew I wanted to be a writer. It struck me that learning about politics up close as a journalist in Washington, DC wouldn't be a bad way to spend a year or two.
Or five, as it happened. I worked my way up to become managing editor of The New Republic. I also realized, though, that I wanted to be writing books, and I didn't have the confidence that I could do so (and support myself) without an institutional home like a university-or without the spans of unencumbered time that academic summers afford. So I headed to Columbia University in 1995, attracted by the lure of New York City and by a history faculty whose example suggested that writing history of the highest caliber didn't mean abandoning general readers-that, in fact, it might entail just the opposite.
After one year, I got a call to return to TNR. The editor had just stepped down; did I want to be one of the acting editors until a permanent successor was chosen? I couldn't say no. Then, toward the end of that summer, after the late Michael Kelly was chosen as the new boss, he asked me if I wanted to stay on in some senior capacity. It was hard to decline, but I did. I returned to New York for a year of orals preparation. Passing up a chance to write for"The West Wing," I guess, was part of a pattern.
What I learned as a journalist has served me well as a historian, and what I've learned as a historian has served me well in my continuing journalistic pursuits. Compared to writing for TV or mixing it up in the world of Washington punditry, the appeal of academia-with its paucity of jobs, unremarkable salaries, and infamous politics-may not be entirely obvious. But at the end of the day I can't think of too many other jobs in which you're hired above all to write books about those subjects that you and you alone decide are worth your life's energies.
By David Greenberg
About David Greenberg
Assistant Professor, Department of American Studies,
Program in American Culture,
Center for Afroamerican and African Studies, Native American Studies Program
University of Michigan
Area of Research: Ethnic studies, gender and slavery, western history, African American and Native American history in the the nineteenth century.
Education: Ph.D. American Studies, 2000, University of Minnesota
Major Publications: Miles is the author of Ties That Bind: The Story of an Afro-Cherokee Family in Slavery and Freedom (University of California Press, 2005). Miles is the co-editor with Sharon P. Holland of Crossing Waters, Crossing Worlds: The African Diaspora in Indian Country, essay collection (Duke University Press, Forthcoming fall 2006).
Awards: Faculty Cornerstone Award (for commitment to undergraduate students), Black Celebratory Graduation Event, University of Michigan, 2006
Frederick Jackson Turner Award (for a first book in American history), Organization of American Historians, 2006
Rackham School of Graduate Studies Fellowship and Research Grant, University of Michigan, 2006
Center for Research, Learning and Teaching, Faculty Associate for Multicultural Innovations Grant, University of Michigan, 2005
Outstanding Teaching Award, Panhellenic Association and Interfraternity Council, University of Michigan, 2005
Arts of Citizenship Faculty Grant, University of Michigan, 2004
Finalist, Ralph Henry Gabriel Dissertation Prize, American Studies Association, 2001
Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship for Minorities, 2001-2002
D'Arcy McNickle Center for American Indian History Summer Institute Fellow, Newberry Library, Chicago, IL, 2001
Allen and Joan Bildner Endowment for Human and Intergroup Relations Grant, 2000
Dartmouth College Hewlett Foundation Grant, 2000
Dartmouth College Thurgood Marshall Dissertation Fellowship, 1999-2000
Dartmouth College Shabazz African American Center Residency, 1998-2000
Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowship for Minorities, 1998-1999
U. C. Santa Barbara Center for Black Studies Dissertation Fellowship, 1998-1999 (Declined)
Newberry Library Short-term Research Fellowship, Chicago, IL, August 1998
The Loft Literary Center Mentor Series Award in Fiction, Minneapolis, MN, 1997-1998
Committee on Institutional Cooperation Fellowship (Big Ten Universities) 1995-1996, 1997-1998
Formerly Assistant Professor Department of Ethnic Studies, University of California, Berkeley, 2000-2002.
After two years of master's course work at Emory University and three years of doctoral course work at the University of Minnesota, I set out for Hanover, New Hampshire to begin a two year residency as a Thurgood Marshall Dissertation Fellow (in tandem with a one year Ford Dissertation Fellowship). This incredible residency at Dartmouth College included a stipend, a research account, no teaching responsibilities, and a small cottage on a campus lane that I shared with my husband, who had received the Charles Eastman Dissertation Fellowship, and our peppy Beagle pup, named Shunka.
I found Hanover to be a lovely town nestled in a dreamlike landscape of lush hills, pebbled streams, and reedy ponds. The town even had a Ben and Jerry's ice cream shop and a caf? (Rosey's) that sold the best chocolate chip cookies I had ever encountered. In short, this was the writing location of my wildest dreams - beautiful, quiet (except for the predictable weekend frat parties, which, I must admit, were a disturbing phenomenon), naturally restorative, and well-stocked with exquisite sweet treats.
There was just one problem that I could not get around regarding my fellowship at Dartmouth: I was not writing. Before my arrival I had spent months reading secondary materials, weeks buried in documents in the Newberry Library in Chicago, and days in archives and at historic sites in the state of Georgia. I had plenty of material to work with, but as the sun-ripened summer melted into a glorious fall, I had yet to put pen to paper. There was no excuse for my inaction -- except that I was terrified. Despite the wise advice given to my graduate school cohort by a Minnesota faculty member - that the dissertation was only the first major work we would undertake, not the last, nor necessarily the most important, I felt as though my future career and fledgling intellectual identity were wrapped in and riding on this behemoth of a research project that I had no idea how to tame.
September stretched into October. I spent long hours in the library finding and reading more secondary sources. I catalogued and filed journal articles, creating a color-coded system in pastel high-lighter hues. I toured the Ben and Jerry's factory in Waterbury, Vermont with a fabulous circle of African American Studies faculty members and dissertation fellows and learned that a pint is not, in fact, a single serving of ice cream. I took lazy walks around Occum Pond with our dog, Shunka. And it wasn't uncommon for me to hop into my grandfather's fifteen-year-old Plymouth Horizon on a sunny afternoon and drive down the country roads with Shunka in the passenger seat, his long silken ears riding the breeze. That autumn was a lovely season that struck terror in my heart. I still had not typed a single word of my dissertation. Would I ever?
Then the annual conference of Ford Fellows roused me out of my petrified daze. I attended a panel on writing the dissertation and heard words that echoed all the way home: Stop reading. Start writing. Stop reading. Start writing. When I left the tiny West Lebanon airport upon my return to New England, I stopped by Dunkin' Donuts and ordered my first ever cup of coffee. That very day, with a tall one in hand, I began to write. The words came; the thoughts came; the dissertation became.
Now at the start of each new project, in the face of each blank page, I feel the steady rising of that same old tide of fear. Only now I know that with a little faith and a lot of java, I can begin.
By Tiya Alicia Miles
About Tiya Alicia Miles
"Tiya is one of the nicest teachers ever. Her class"Blacks, Indians and the Making of America" is one of the best I've taken in four years. She is very knowledgeable in her areas." -- Anonymous students