American History

A History of America in 36 Postage Stamps: A Review and a Giveaway

November 18, 2014

In A History of Britain in 36 Postage Stamps, Chris West took the concept of micro-history to a new degree of micro, using a chronological series of postage stamps as “tiny rectangular time machines”.   In his newest work, West uses the microscopic lens of the postage stamp to examine American history. West cleverly opens A […]

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Road Trip Through History: A Little Piece of the Great River Road

October 21, 2014

A while back, My Own True Love and I had to abandon our plans to take a three week drive down the Great River Road, which winds from Minnesota to Louisiana along the Mississippi.  This last weekend we treated ourselves to four days and the brief stretch of the river that runs along the edge […]

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Déjà Vu All Over Again: Contagion, Quarantine, Fear

October 14, 2014

Listening to a recent news report on the quarantine and eventual death of Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week from ebola in Dallas, the aspect of the story that struck me most was how a single individual stands at the center of a circle of contacts—and possible contagion—many of whom never knew the infected […]

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A History of New York in 101 Objects

October 7, 2014

New York Times reporter Sam Roberts makes it clear that A History of New York in 101 Objects is not the history of New York City, but his history of New York City, shaped by a 50-year career of reporting on the area. Inspired by A History of the World in 100 Objects, a joint […]

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The Lost Art of Dress

July 29, 2014

I’ve put off reviewing Linda Przybyszewski’s The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish for several months now. In part because life was busy life-ing. In part because I had other things I wanted to write about. But mostly because I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the book. The […]

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Shin-Kickers From History: Sojourner Truth

July 18, 2014

Sojourner Truth was born into slavery in 1797 as Isabella Baumfree. She spent her early life as a slave on estate in New York*–running away when her master failed to keep his promise to set her free. Active in both the anti-slavery and women’s rights movements, she was one of the most important human rights […]

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Re-Run: Word With A Past: Kidnap

May 22, 2014

I’m dipping into the archives again, because I’m in over my head here at the Margins. (So much so that I didn’t even celebrate the blog’s 3 year anniversary on May 11. Hmmmm….) We move on June 2 and to say we are not yet ready is an understatement. Too much to do, not enough […]

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Road Trip Through History: The Alamo

April 15, 2014

The first thing that struck me about the Alamo when I visited it with My Own True Love back in October* was how small it is.** It casts a historical shadow disproportionate to its size. The Alamo is billed as “the shrine of Texas liberty”. Consequently, I expected a monument to the famous last stand […]

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The Other American Colonies

April 8, 2014

I struggled to come up with a title for this post that was not United States-centric*–a fact which pretty much sums up the topic at hand. For most Americans** the grade school version of history that we carry in our heads jumps from Columbus in 1492 straight to the arrival of the Puritans in Massachusetts […]

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Dear Abigail

March 7, 2014

A million years ago, when I had first finished my doctoral dissertation and was tiptoeing toward writing about history for an non-academic audience, I headed off to a week-long writing class in Iowa. Along with the rest of my gear, I packed David McCullough’s then newly released John Adams, on the assumption that it would […]

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