American History

From the Archives: Déjà Vu All Over Again: The Immigration Law of 1924

December 1, 2015

America has always been a nation of immigrants, fueled by a constant stream of those with the energy and imagination to leave the familiar in search of something more. And it has always had people who wanted to keep out the immigrants who came a generation or two after they themselves arrived. Between 1880 and […]

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Road Trip Through History: Memphis and Music

November 24, 2015

Two days in Memphis. Two visits to iconic recording studios.* Two very different experiences. Just to remind anyone who doesn’t have the history of rock music in their heads: Sun Records, which bills itself as the place where rock and roll was born, was the label that launched Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, […]

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Road Trip Through History: Memphis and Cotton

November 17, 2015

  Our first stop on the Great River Road was Memphis–a long day’s drive from Chicago. As we drove into town, My Own True Love and I were still discussing whether we wanted to go to Graceland. Everyone we talked to said it was worth it–even people who weren’t rabid Elvis fans. But we planned […]

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From The Archives: Tough Broads of the Civil War

November 10, 2015

Just to prove that I’ve been thinking about nurses and other women who played a role in the American Civil War for a while now, here’s a post that first appeared in the Margins in 2011: I’ve said it before:  If you hang out in Popular History Land, or even Book World these days, it’s […]

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“Our Army Nurses”

November 3, 2015

About a million years ago, I wrote a study guide to Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage for a reference book called The Literature of War. In the course of my research, I was introduced to the flood of material produced about the American Civil War some twenty or thirty years after it ended: […]

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October 30, 2015

When we write the history of national conflicts, we tend to assume that “our” side stood united in monolithic opposition to “them”. It’s a simple and enjoyable version of history, but it simply isn’t true. Sympathizers with the “other side”* are a fact of war. Sometimes they engage in fifth column activities.** Sometimes they simply […]

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Mercy Street (aka A Moment of Blatant Self-Promotion)

October 23, 2015

Just so you know, this is what I spent the last ten weeks doing: It’s the companion volume to a new PBS historical drama about nurses in the Civil War. The PBS series uses a real Civil War hospital as the setting for a fictionalized (and quite gorgeous) drama. (Check out some of promotional pieces […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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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 […]

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