American History

Was Prof. Bhaer A 48-er?

September 25, 2015

Unlike most of the women I know who grew up reading Little Women, I was never indignant that Jo March married Professor Bhaer instead of the adolescent golden boy, Laurie.  That kiss in the rain under the umbrella defined romance for me.   I was always firmly on Team Professor.  And now I think I know […]

Read the full article →

Independence Lost:

August 28, 2015

Those of you who’ve been hanging out in the Margins for a while now know there are some types of history books that can be counted on to make me say “I want to read this”: Books that tell a story we think we know from a radically different persepctive Books that deal with people […]

Read the full article →

Happy Fourth of July

July 3, 2015

4th of July picnic in Rogers, Arkansas, ca 1904 Here in the United States we’re heading into the Fourth of July weekend: one of those holidays where the point is easily lost in the trappings. Take a moment in your celebrations to remember what we’re celebrating: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all […]

Read the full article →

Road Trip Through History? Sort Of.

June 26, 2015

Several weeks ago, My Own True Love took me to the Round Barn Theater at Amish Acres in Nappanee, Indiana to see Plain and Fancy, a musical I first discovered when I was in high school. I had developed the habit of checking out obscure soundtracks, opera recordings, and the like from our local library.* […]

Read the full article →

History on Display–From Senegal to Seeger: Stories of the American Banjo

June 5, 2015

Recently My Own True Love and I had the chance to see Michael Miles’ most recent one-man musical documentary, From Senegal to Seeger: Stories of the American Banjo. It was a last-minute addition to a long-planned small-scale road trip.  It turned out to be one of the highlights. We both love the banjo. We’d seen […]

Read the full article →

Daughters of the Samurai

May 22, 2015

In Daughters of the Samurai: A Journey From East to West, Janice P. Nimura tells the story of three young girls, ages eleven, ten and six, whom the Japanese government sent to the United States in 1871 as part of the westernizing reforms of the Meiji Restoration that transformed Japan in the mid-nineteenth century. The […]

Read the full article →

Running on Railroad Time

April 21, 2015

I was recently reading an excellent new book on the Battle of Waterloo* in which the author made an off-hand comment about the difficulty of synchronizing accounts even when sources give exact times for events because there was no standardized time. Until the rise of the railroads in the mid-nineteenth century, time was essentially local. […]

Read the full article →

On The Shores of Tripoli

April 10, 2015

In my seventh grade music class, we regularly sang the anthems of the various branches of the United States’ armed services.*  Three days a week, the caissons rolled, bones sank to Davy Jones, planes sailed into the wild blue yonder, and the Marines fought from the halls of Montezuma to the shores of Tripoli.  It […]

Read the full article →

From The Archives: Why I Want To Go To Omaha

March 1, 2015

I currently have my head down trying to finish a big project that I’m excited about. Instead of driving myself crazy trying to write blog posts at the same time or, worse, “going dark” I’ll be running some of my favorite posts from the past for the next little while. Enjoy. And I’ll see you […]

Read the full article →

Lincoln’s Greatest Case–Sort Of

February 17, 2015

Brian McGinty (The Oatman Massacre) uses his skills as both attorney and historian in Lincoln’s Greatest Case: The River, The Bridge and The Making of America. In May, 1856, the steamboat Effie Afton hit a pillar of the Rock Island Bridge–the first railroad bridge across the Mississippi. Both steamboat and bridge caught fire. The Effie […]

Read the full article →