Author Archives: Guest Blogger

Why Study Russian History?

By E. Thomas Ewing and Virginia Tech Students enrolled in HIST 3604: Russia to Peter the Great

Last fall, Virginia Tech students taking History 3604: Russia to Peter the Great engaged in a sustained discussion on “why study history?” In the class, we often took examples from current news or recent history and established connections to the historical period covered by the readings, lecture, and assignments (here’s a link to the syllabus). Each week, a group of two or three students wrote a short statement explaining how the readings illustrated the value of studying history, which we then discussed in class.

A Flag, a Dinner Bell, and a Hand-Dug Well: Using Artifacts to Make Meaningful Connections to the Past

By Michelle M. Martin

When I began my directorship of the Little House on the Prairie Museum south of Independence, Kansas, the promise and challenges the museum faced swirled in my mind. For any small historic house museum, problems tend to outweigh the possibilities. Founded in 1977, the Little House on the Prairie Museum preserves the Kansas homesite where Charles Ingalls and his family lived from 1869–71. The museum features a replica of the one-room cabin the family lived in while in Kansas along with a 19th-century one-room schoolhouse and post office moved to the site to ensure their preservation.

“Boots on the Ground”: US Soldiers and the Strains of Overseas Deployment

By Susan L. Carruthers

On January 16, 2017, the New York Times printed an arresting image of US Marines arriving in Norway, the first foreign troops to be deployed on Norwegian soil since 1945. The accompanying text focused on Norwegians’ anxieties about what this deployment, announced as an opportunity for the Marines to “hone their abilities to fight in tough winter conditions,” might portend in geopolitical terms. Like any display of “alertness,” this show of preparedness risks aggravating tensions rather than alleviating them.

Using Charters to Teach Medieval History

By Kalani Craig

The lowly charter.

It lives in infamy, perhaps because charters—written records that cemented a variety of agreements about sales, leases, officeholders, and a host of other legal transactions—are simultaneously rich treasure troves of historical information and, when you read a lot of them in a row, sleep-inducing. 

A Digital History Fact-Finding Mission to AHA17

By Evan Faulkenbury

On a cold January day, my history department colleagues at the State University of New York at Cortland—Randi Storch and Kevin Sheets—and I set out for the 2017 AHA annual meeting in Denver. We were on a specific mission: to learn as much as possible about digital history in three days. After looking over the program, we counted dozens of relevant panels that incorporated new and exciting digital history scholarship. Randi, Kevin, and I decided to immerse ourselves in these panels, learn as much as we can, and come back to our department with ideas for expanding our digital and public history offerings for students and colleagues. 

Reliving Injustice 75 Years Later: Executive Order 9066 Then and Now

By Karen Inouye

In February 1942, following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066, which directed state and local authorities to locate and detain Japanese American citizens and their family members in the western United States at a number of prison sites. In addition to being given only days to prepare for their imprisonment, Japanese Americans received little information about their destinations, the proposed length of their stay, or the conditions they would endure.

Clothes as Historical Sources: What Bloomers Reveal about the Women Who Wore Them

By Laura J. Ping

My interest in textiles came from my grandmother and her collection of carefully preserved family heirloom quilts. My favorite was the crazy quilt; my grandmother and I would spend hours examining the fabrics used in the patchwork and guessing if each piece had once been a man’s shirt, a woman’s dress, or perhaps a set of sheets. This early lesson in the importance of textiles has inspired my research on fashion, a flourishing field of study.

“What Transferable Skills Do I Have?” Preparing for Careers within and beyond the Academy

By Jessica Derleth

Second to my fervent goal of not flubbing my paper presentation, I arrived at the 2017 AHA annual meeting hoping to find answers to one of my most pressing questions: how do I translate the skills I am learning in graduate school so they are legible to employers in both academic and nonacademic careers? The overarching answer to my question slowly emerged from a conglomeration of conference sessions on career diversity and pedagogy, conversations about humanities funding, panels on applying for academic jobs, and a string of tweets during the plenary that aimed to inform the new presidential administration of what they ought to consider in their first 100 days.