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Month: July 2018

A word about what we do

A word about what we do

Early in the term in all of my mid-level and upper-level history classes, I ask students what historians do. We make a list on a whiteboard, and the students get the big ideas up there: go to conferences, do research, write, and teach. I have them break those down. What goes into going to a conference? There are proposals and presentations to write, slides to create, funding to secure, travel to undertake. Similarly, we talk about everything that goes into…

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Serena and Mercy

Serena and Mercy

Recently, a friend told me that the umpires at Wimbledon call Serena Williams “Mrs. Williams,” despite the fact that she has not taken her husband’s name or otherwise asked that her marriage be professionally recognized. The hiccup is that Wimbledon only recognizes “Miss.” and “Mrs.” (not Ms.) as acceptable prefixes to a woman’s name. (It does not use any honorific for men, but notes the husbands, wedding dates, and wedding locations of women in the glossary of the Wimbledon Compendium.)…

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For Those of Us Who Do Not Love the Archives

For Those of Us Who Do Not Love the Archives

I’m in the middle of an extended research trip to Philadelphia, where I’m working as a short-term fellow in the library of the American Philosophical Society. The APS is a wonder – the staff have been unfailingly generous and kind; the library itself is beautiful; the sources are abundant. And yet I’m struggling. We don’t often talk about the realities of archival work. I could line up article after article talking about the difficulties of teaching, one of the three…

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