Wednesday, December 31, 2014

History Relevancy Campaign Pt 2: Our Selves

Note: This is part 2 in an 8 part series on the History Relevancy Campaign, based on an article titled "The Value of History: Seven Ways It is Relevant" from Public History News Vol. 35, No. 1.

Note: Any quotes designated by an asterisk (*) come from that article.

Special thanks to the NCPH as inspiration for this series.

From the campaign's call to action: We believe that history --- both knowledge of the past and the practice of researching and making sense of what happened in the past --- is critically important to the wellbeing of individuals, communities, and the future of our nation.*

"Our Selves: 1. Identity- History nurtures personal identity in an intercultural world."*

In describing his book Profiles in Courage, President John F. Kennedy said, "It is a lesson to all of us that courage is much more than bravery on the battlefield; that it can mean acting according to your beliefs whatever the consequences." (Profiles in Courage, 1964 Young Readers Memorial Edition, "Letter to the Reader") Those beliefs are a substantial part of our personal identity. This identity is in large part a result of our own personal histories.
One of many family reunions.

Many individuals' first interactions with history are in the form of family get-together's. Reunions, holidays, special occasions, and birthdays allow us the opportunity to interact with the elder generations of our family who teach us about who we are and where we come from. These lessons help children form permanent attachments to their past and start to develop moral, political, and religious perspectives that will follow them the rest of their lives.

My father's side of the family. Grandma and I spent many a day looking at our family tree.

My maternal grandparents and great-grandmother. Grandpa has a penchant for classic cars, Grandma has one for cooking, and Great-Grandma for sharing stories.
I was fortunate enough to spend much of my youth with grandparents and my great-grandmother. Along with lessons about how to change my oil, the appropriate temperature to bake cookies, and how to distinguish between turnips and weeds, each shared stories from their lives and the world around them. These stories were often interlaced with photos, newspaper clippings, and fun memorabilia people collect over the course of their lives. If you ever want to see a true American cultural history museum, look through my grandmother's file cabinet. J The small memento's we all keep for sentimental value are future tools for historians, archivists, and students.
Especially in the internet age, authentic information and life experiences are valuable. While most think that a grandparent's tales of how they met their spouse and that crazy day at the office are humorous, they miss the fact that each holds nuggets of information about finding the right person and developing work ethic. While the nuances of these values change over time, the basic foundations of citizenship and interpersonal relationships come from the tales from previous generations.

Two simple projects to explore how identity is shaped by history are by trying to make a family tree and a family crest.

Creating family trees (or genealogy for the sensitive) is a great, and inexpensive, opportunity for people to explore their own family history and to interact with family members. All that is required is a sheet of paper and a phone (although other resources are available depending on how sophisticated you'd like to be). My mother is fond of and all the opportunities it provides. So far, we've traced back to the mid-seventeenth century with ours.

The first project my wife and I took up as a married couple was to make this family tree for our mothers.

Another relatively inexpensive project is creating a family crest. Sometimes, you'll get lucky and one already exists. If not, you'll have to make one. This can also be a great option for families wishing to start anew with a crest that expresses the values they hold. Stephen Slater's The Complete Book of Heraldry: An international history of heraldry and its contemporary uses (2003) is a good place to begin this project. While the title implies otherwise, Slater's book is a pretty good read and provides a foundation in the theory, design, and history of crests in simple fashion. Again, these can be as simple as a drawing on a sheet of notebook paper, or a gigantic wood-burnt 4-H project.

Yes, I did make that. It's about 3' x 1 1/2'. No, I don't make them anymore.

Activities such as these are simple ways that you can incorporate history into your life and help foster interest in younger generations. Taking simple steps to encourage your family members to interact will help lead to more fulfilling family functions that have a lasting impact on our collective future.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The History Relevancy Campaign: An Introduction

Welcome, I hope you all are having a pleasant holiday season and that you are well. I will freely admit that I am not an expert in the History Relevancy Campaign, its participants or partners. The information that will come as a part of these posts are my opinions and perspective based on an article in the National Council on Public History's 2014 Public History News titled "The Value of History: Seven Ways It is Relevant." Each post will cover another section of the Call to Action, which has been created by a group of history professionals and scholars since 2013.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Over the Holidays

Hello folks,

Over the next few weeks (aka the winter break for most students including me), I'll be bringing you a collection of short perspectives on the business of history. We'll be covering some ground I've wanted to look at for some time, including the History Relevance Campaign and what professional ethics mean for historians (new, old, professional, and armchair). Stay tuned.

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, and Happy New Year.


Thursday, December 4, 2014

A Review of History's Babel: AKA The Collapse of A Historic Enterprise

History’s Babel: Scholarship, Professionalization, and the Historical Enterprise in the United States, 1880-1940 by Robert B. Townsend. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013, xiii + 272 pp.; appendix; notes; index; paperback, $30.00.

Robert Townsend shows a love of both history and the American Historical Association in History’s Babel. Well versed, with over 20 years of experience in the organization, Townsend presents an institutional history of the AHA in an attempt to define the entirety of historical field in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Townsend dabbles with flavors of intellectual and cultural history creating a beautiful sampling of several approaches.

Monday, November 24, 2014

An Opportunity Lost

This weekend provided a wonderful trip down memory lane…almost. Due to my misfortune, I want to take a moment to talk about retaining your own work.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Emendation: The Incomplete, Abridged, and Generally Just-a-Primer Lay Persons Guide

Today I'm giving you a casual look at the process of emending a work. No, this isn't the Congressional process with all of its bickering.

Emending is the process of making correcting changes to a work. (As opposed to amending which is adding to or altering a work in order to improve its contents).

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Little Suggestion

For some great reading on history and the issues it's facing today, try the National Council on Public History's Blog, History@Work. It makes quick reading of some of the things going on in our world relative to history. :)

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Challenges of Misattribution

Attribution of quotes is an important part of all academic work. Academic integrity is essential to us as scholars to be able to do our work and for it to have some meaning. Nowadays, there are numerous stories in the news about the academic world where misconduct and lack of citation results in problems, see this story in the New York Times. This is a distinct challenge to our credibility and place within society. This isn't limited solely to academia though, see a recent article about controversy regarding a Quote Linked to Orwell.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Power Of Hashtags

One of my work tasks is to reach out via social media and try to engage with the public in the study of our topic. While this is often interesting work (finding quotes and presenting them in an engaging way), we struggle at times to get our voice heard.

I have always been hesitant to use #hashtags because of their connection to poor speech and a lack of well reasoned thought on the part of a writer. I have always been taught that text language and similar methods are less than academic and should be avoided. I forgot however one key lesson of anything you are presenting, consider your audience.

By incorporating hashtags to the end of our tweets and posts, we reached a significantly bigger audience than our previous attempts. For example, on average about 20 people would read a post on Facebook and about 1-2 would retweet or add us relative to any one post. By including hashtags as a change, we received 4 retweets, 2 favorites, and 5 new followers on Twitter. This is a dramatic increased our success rate. On Facebook, our post was explored by over 60 people within a matter of a couple of hours.

Who cares? Well the reality is that we are becoming more successful in our outreach and helping to generate interest in our topic. By incorporating hashtags, we've made our postings easier to find, access, and less daunting to a reader. With such a simple change a historian is capable of, in a military term, force multiplying, or making their efforts exponentially more successful by reaching more people.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Emendation, Referencing, and Databases

I write now in the throws of covering a lot of new realms. I am working in an academic critical editing project which has challenged and created new opportunities for learning. As a part of that work I've begun emending (yes, that's different from amending), reference researching, and editing a scholarly database. More posts I'm sure will follow to help those who aren't in the discipline help to understand these processes. I'm also the point man for the social media presence of the Edition, and will be blogging about the work we do at a later time (most likely this will be in an official format, but I'll try to provide what examples of this that I can). Also, I've begun working on my Thesis, and will try to share what I can without compromising my research. More will soon come. Stay tuned.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Are We Missing Out

Greetings and apologies for the long time away. I saw this article today which is a fascinating look at the concept that we might be missing out by missing sleep.

To Dream In Different Colors

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Reading as an Escape

"'A reader lives a thousand lives before he dies'...'The man who never reads lives only one.'"
-George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

March is National Reading Month:

Yesterday I was reading an article online about famous quotes showing reading as an escape, which is true. Reading provides us the opportunity to slip outside of ourselves and into the mind of someone else. This can give us a chance to relax, the opportunity to experience an adventure, to explore new worlds, learn new things, or even the chance to simply have a good laugh. I thoroughly enjoy reading and while some would say it is a waste of time (most notoriously my gym instructor), this fails to keep in mind one thing, what food and exercise do for the body, reading does for the mind and soul. I generally try to keep a mixture of things in my reading list at any given time and today is no different. My current reading list is (with relevant details and the current Amazon description).
  1. Crisis on Infinite Earths- Graphic Novel, Marv Wolfmann, 1985.
    This is the story that changed the DC Universe forever. A mysterious being known as the Anti-Monitor has begun a crusade across time to bring about the end of all existence. As alternate earths are systematically destroyed, the Monitor quickly assembles a team of super-heroes from across time and space to battle his counterpart and stop the destruction. DC's greatest heroes including Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and Aquaman, assemble to stop the menace, but as they watch both the Flash and Supergirl die in battle, they begin to wonder if even all of the heroes in the world can stop this destructive force."
  2. The Public History Reader-  Paperback, Kean and Martin, 2013.
    "Drawing on theory and practice from five continents, The Public History Reader offers clearly written accessible introductions to debates in public history as it places people, such as practitioners, bloggers, archivists, local historians, curators or those working in education, at the heart of history-making. Hilda Kean and Paul Martin explore public history as an everyday practice rather than simply as an academic discipline - the idea that historical knowledge is discovered and accrued from everyday encounters people have with their environments and the continuing dialogue that the present has with the past."
  3. The Last Policeman- Paperback, Ben Winters, 2012.
    "What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
    Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.  
    The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares."
  4. Master of War- Hardback, Suzanne Simons, 2009.
    *Note:This particular book states that it is the "true" story of something, aka it is an expose type book, so please use your own discretion in what you take away from it.*
    "Master of War is the riveting true story of Eric Prince, the ex-Navy SEAL who founded Blackwater and built the world’s largest military contractor, privatizing war for client nations around the world. A CNN producer and anchor, Suzanne Simons is the first journalist to get deep inside Blackwater—and, as a result of her unprecedented access, Master of War provides the most complete and revelatory account of the rise of this powerful corporate army and the remarkable entrepreneur who brought it into being, while offering an eye-opening, behind-the-scenes look at the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan."
I like having a large variety of books to read at any given moment for two reasons. First, so that whatever I'm feeling like I have a go to book, and secondly, I learned that if I keep different subjects I learn to organize information differently, which helped when I had many classes and work to keep straight.

If you have any good books to suggest please do. I read most anything other than paparazzi magazines. 

Best Wishes!   

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Loss of One's Mind

*Spoiler Alert: If you've never seen the show Chuck I am giving away the end of the series.*

Hello All,

Missed another day with the craziness that is life. Wanted to bring up the end of the TV series Chuck. My fiance and I just finished watching the last few episodes and it got me to thinking. What if like Sarah, my memories of the one I loved were pulled from me without warning. How then would I or she for that matter handle such a traumatic experience of taking the very one person who we are closest to in our lives?

There are many who have attempted to tackle this tough question and what it means to our human experience. One of the best quotes I have ever seen is below.

“Memory is all we are. Moments and feelings, captured in amber, strung on filaments of reason. Take a man’s memories and you take all of him. Chip away a memory at a time and you destroy him as surely as if you hammered nail after nail through his skull.”
Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

  For those who believe this is a merely academic pursuit, click the link below to read a real life story of how someone else experienced this.

Joan and Scott Bozlan's Story

In the end, it was only a mixture of Chuck's devotion, their friend's efforts, and Sarah's own forethought to continue recording her own thoughts that led to her beginnings of recovery. My question to you is, what steps can you think of that we can do everyday not only to make the lives of our loved one's special, but to preserve happy memories in such a way that should misfortune befall us, that we can begin to rebuild?

I look forward to your suggestions and comments.

God Bless.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Stephen's Travels

I spent the morning today before work reading about the ministry of Stephen. He had been chosen by the disciples as a servant to the needy and widowed so that those who were preaching the word could continue to do their work. After tending to so many other people, he was taken before a tribunal and tried as heretical. I was amazed by the speech that he gave to the high priests attempting to convict and execute him. When asked if the charges against him of preaching the word was true he responded:

2 And Stephen said, “Men, brethren and fathers, hearken! The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran,
3 and said unto him, ‘Get thee out of thy country and from thy kindred, and come into the land which I shall show thee.’
4 Then he came out of the land of the Chaldeans, and dwelt in Haran; and from thence, when his father was dead, He removed himself into this land wherein ye now dwell.
5 And He gave him no inheritance in it — no, not so much as to set his foot on; yet He promised that He would give it to him as a possession and to his seed after him, when as yet he had no child.
6 And God spoke in this way: that his seed should sojourn in a strange land, and that they should be brought into bondage and be mistreated for four hundred years.
7 ‘And the nation to whom they shall be in bondage will I judge,’ said God, ‘and after that shall they come forth, and serve Me in this place.’
8 And He gave him the covenant of circumcision. And so Abraham begot Isaac and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac begot Jacob, and Jacob begot the twelve patriarchs.
9 And the patriarchs, moved with envy, sold Joseph into Egypt. But God was with him
10 and delivered him out of all his afflictions, and gave him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, who made him governor over Egypt and all his house.
11 “Now there came a dearth and great affliction over all the land of Egypt and Canaan, and our fathers found no sustenance.
12 But when Jacob heard that there was corn in Egypt, he first sent out our fathers.
13 And on the second visit Joseph was made known to his brethren, and Joseph’s kindred were made known unto Pharaoh.
14 Then Joseph sent and called his father Jacob to him and all his kindred, threescore and fifteen souls.
15 So Jacob went down into Egypt and died, he and our fathers.
16 And they were carried back into Shechem, and laid in the sepulcher that Abraham had bought for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor, the father of Shechem.
17 “But when the time of the promise drew nigh, which God had sworn to Abraham, the people grew and multiplied in Egypt,
18 until another king arose who knew not Joseph.
19 The same dealt craftily with our kindred and illtreated our fathers, so that they cast out their young children, to the end that they might not live.
20 At that time Moses was born and was exceedingly fair, and was nourished in his father’s house three months.
21 And when he was cast out, Pharaoh’s daughter took him up and nourished him as her own son.
22 And Moses became learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and was mighty in words and in deeds.
23 “And when he was fully forty years old, it came into his heart to visit his brethren, the children of Israel.
24 And seeing one of them suffer wrong, he defended him, and avenged him who was oppressed, and struck down the Egyptian,
25 for he supposed his brethren would have understood how God, by his hand, would deliver them; but they understood not.
26 And the next day he showed himself unto them as they were quarreling, and would have set them at one again, saying, ‘Sirs, ye are brethren; why do ye wrong one another?’
27 But he that was doing his neighbor wrong thrust him away, saying, ‘Who made thee a ruler and judge over us?
28 Wilt thou kill me as thou didst the Egyptian yesterday?’
29 Then Moses fled at this saying and became a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begot two sons.
30 “And when forty years had expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of Mount Sinai an angel of the Lord, in a flame of fire in a bush.
31 When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight; and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying,
32 ‘I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.’ Then Moses trembled and dared not behold.
33 Then said the Lord to him, ‘Put off thy shoes from thy feet, for the place where thou standest is holy ground.
34 I have seen, I have seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and I have heard their groaning and have come down to deliver them. And now come, I will send thee into Egypt.’
35 “This Moses whom they refused, saying, ‘Who made thee a ruler and a judge?’ was the same whom God sent to be a ruler and a deliverer, by the hand of the angel who appeared to him in the bush.
36 He brought them out after he had shown wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea, and in the wilderness forty years.
37 This is that Moses who said unto the children of Israel, ‘A Prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you from your brethren, like unto me; Him shall ye hear.’
38 This is he, who in the church in the wilderness was with the angel who spoke to him on Mount Sinai, and with our fathers—the one who received the living oracles to give unto us,
39 to whom our fathers would not be obedient, but thrust him from them, and in their hearts turned back again into Egypt,
40 saying unto Aaron, ‘Make us gods to go before us; for as for this Moses, who brought us out of the land of Egypt, we know not what has become of him.’
41 And they made a calf in those days and offered sacrifice unto the idol, and rejoiced in the works of their own hands.
42 “Then God turned, and gave them up to the worship of the host of heaven, as it is written in the book of the Prophets: ‘O ye house of Israel, have ye offered to Me slain beasts and sacrifices for the space of forty years in the wilderness?
43 Yea, ye took up the tabernacle of Moloch and the star of your god Remphan, images which ye made to worship them. And I will carry you away beyond Babylon.’
44 “Our fathers had the tabernacle of witness in the wilderness, as He had appointed, speaking unto Moses that he should make it according to the fashion that he had seen,
45 which also our fathers, who came later, brought with Joshua into the territory of the Gentiles, whom God drove out before the face of our fathers until the days of David.
46 David found favor before God, and desired to find a tabernacle for the God of Jacob.
47 But Solomon built Him a house.
48 “However, the Most High dwelleth not in temples made with hands, as saith the prophet:
49 ‘Heaven is My throne, and earth is My footstool. What house will ye build Me? saith the Lord. Or what is the place of My rest?
50 Hath not My hand made all these things?’
51 “Ye stiff necked people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost! As your fathers did, so do ye!
52 Which of the prophets have your fathers not persecuted? And they have slain those who foretold the coming of the Just One. Of Him ye have now been the betrayers and murderers,
53 ye who have received the law by the disposition of angels, and have not kept it.”

Such a both succinct and accurate retelling of the law, but the judges hearts were hard. They cast him down and martyred him. 

54 When they heard these things, they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed with their teeth at him.
55 But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up steadfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,
56 and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.”
57 Then they cried out with a loud voice, and stopped their ears, and ran upon him with one accord,
58 and cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man whose name was Saul.
59 And they stoned Stephen as he called upon God and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!”
60 And he kneeled down and cried with a loud voice, “Lord, charge not this sin against them.” And when he had said this, he fell asleep.

 There are many who use a "good death" as a justification for warring and violence. The reality though is that examples such as Stephen can teach us that life is more valuable than any death, and that we should feel truly blessed that we live in a place where we can share the Good News without worry of life.

God Bless.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Interesting thoughts


Just saw this page form a friend's website and thought I'd Share it.

"Dianna is a writer from Sioux Falls, SD, though she's migrated all over the globe (England, Texas, Japan, Chicago). She has degrees in theology/philosophy and English Literature and the line between the two disciplines is a fuzzy one for her. She currently works as a freelance writer, with articles appearing at RH Reality Check, Hashtag Feminism, and in Bitch Magazine. She lives in Sioux Falls, SD, with her cat, Moriarty, and helps to take care of an ailing mother in between writing and editing. You can follow her on Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook.
She tries to post on a MWF schedule, though life causes that to shift every so often.
Her first book, Damaged Goods: New Perspectives on Christian Purity, is due out from JerichoBooks in February 2015. She is represented by Hannah Bowman of Liza Dawson Associates in New York. The book examines the Christian purity movement from the basis of historical and biblical analysis and offers an alternative, shame-free ethic of healthy sexual behavior and sexuality."

Interesting Page

Start of a New Week

Yesterday was a fun day filled with wedding preparations and discussions about where to live. Successfully made our invitations and rsvp cards and updated the guest list to its final form. Working on a fun project for the wedding/our future home with my uncle, which has reminded me that truly good things require much time and work.

Today is a traditional Monday, exacerbated by the time change. Hopefully things will come together for a productive week.

Today's verse of the day is a good one for this time in my life:

In your hearts, set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.
Even as I may struggle to understand what the wholeness of my faith is, I am thankful for the many blessings in my life. I'm hopeful for the future as this is an exciting time, but need to remember that I should be gentle with those around me in the expression of my joy.

God Bless and best wishes for your week.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Friday, March 7, 2014

Pleasant morning walk

Sometimes life creates situations that look bad, but God uses them for good. Case in point, walking 30mins to work from the highway. Chilly, but woke me up and was nice to see the sunrise. Helped take an unpleasant situation and make a good memory. :)

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Day 2

Excited for the fact that the wedding is T-Minus 100 days. Just got assigned 2 big projects: 1. Preparing a 175 year presentation of mom/dad's church and 2. Prepping all the wedding invitations and programs. Also just began reading Final Crisis. Pretty good so far. Best wishes.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Discussions in Lenten Season

I'm always amazed at how many people I work with on a daily basis are happy to discuss different aspects of their faith with me. It's refreshing to be in an environment where people aren't afraid of who they are and what they believe. Particularly on Ash Wednesday, we have the opportunity to reach out to those who are around us and have a conversation. Many assume that because I value this day highly that I must be Catholic. The reality is that I have always felt a special calling to this particular day of reflect for some unknown reason. I might miss many a day and even some holidays, but I always make a conscious effort to attend a service to begin Lent. It is an opportunity to refocus and recommit myself even when times are tough. The history of the season has had many different traditions including fasting, giving up things, and even adding new traditions.

There was an interesting beginners discussion of the history of lenten traditions here:

For the academically inclined, you might try this article from Baylor University:

Best wishes and God Bless.

Just Starting Out

I'm just a normal guy starting off trying to find his way. This has all started as a challenge to myself on Ash Wednesday 2014. I'm 101 days from being married to my beautiful fiance, 173 from starting my MA in Public History. Life is a bit of a tumultuous time at this point with lots of things all coming at once. I'll try to post again soon, but thought this deserved a bit of an introduction.