Author Archives: John Rosinbum

About John Rosinbum

John Rosinbum received his PhD in American history in 2013 from Arizona State University. His research is divided between studies on recent shifts in history education, and refugee and asylum policy in North America during the Cold War. He currently teaches high school and undergraduate classes in Arizona.

Teaching with Digital Archives

“Dr. Rosinbum, come over here! We’ve got to show you this.” When I walked over, a group of students excitedly showed me a digitized copy of the December 10, 1884, edition of the Daily Morning Astorian. At the bottom of one of its two columns dedicated to news, and immediately following a reprinted travelogue of the Acoma Pueblo, the paper breathlessly reported a new spate of attacks on clergymen. The article, titled “Trial for Heresy,” stated that “(w)hen Old Satan wants to upset a minister’s usefulness he attacks him with a fit of dyspepsia.

Teaching w/ #DigHist in the New School Year

Since first publishing in August 2016, Teaching w/ #DigHist has offered a range of teaching tools to instructors interested in using digital history in the classroom. In particular, the series has highlighted how teaching with #dighist can provide new ways to present classroom content and develop transferable skills like critical thinking and data literacy. As the new school year begins, we encourage K–12 and higher education faculty to browse through our resources and to see how they could teach w/ #dighist this year. 

Exploring the Brutality of Expansion: Tracking Changes in the 19th Century with American Panorama

Years ago, while preparing for a lecture, I ran across a GIF depicting the territorial expansion of the United States. While I am unsure of its origins, I’ve seen similar maps in textbooks, Wikipedia articles, and Google images. The GIF—a simple rotating set of maps of the contiguous 48 states—swiftly changes color as the United States expands its territorial claims throughout the 19th century. Behind this series of images lies tremendous suffering; the projection of one on top of the other makes this effect especially jarring. 

“Wait . . . What?” Continuities, Changes, and Critical Thinking with Gapminder

“Wait, what just happened?” exclaimed one of my students. Last year, my US history class and I spent a day with Gapminder, a graph-based visualization program that charts more than 50 different historical indicators, from per-capita income, birth rate, and life expectancy to coal consumption and Internet use, on a Cartesian x-y axis over the course of 200+ years of world history. 

Before BuzzFeed: Going Viral in 19th-Century America

In 2005, David Foster Wallace told the graduating class of Kenyon College a joke:

“There are these two young fish swimming along, and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, “Morning, boys, how’s the water?” And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, ‘What the hell is water?’”

Uncovering Activism and Engaging Students: The Colored Conventions Project

For the past 10 years digital archives and crowdsourcing have been popular forms of digital history, as scholars have harnessed the power of both massive servers and a willing public to digitize and transcribe diverse types of historical material ranging from menus to weather reports. Few have excited me as much as Colored Conventions. A work of impressive scholarship, important activism, and valuable pedagogy, the Colored Conventions Project (CCP) hits for the cycle. The primary goal of the CCP is to recover an understudied aspect of the 19th-century reform movement, black conventions.

Teaching the Slave Trade with Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database

One of the most impressive archives on the web, Voyages: The Transatlantic Slave Trade Database is the product of a massive undertaking from a network of scholars, technology experts, and government organizations from around the world who have invested thousands of hours into building a database of nearly 36,000 slaving voyages. Users can search the database using a variety of variables including a ship’s name, year of arrival, number of captives transported, outcome of voyage, embarkation and disembarkation locations, and the ship’s flag.