Additional Highlights from the Fear in the Revolutionary Americas Conference

FearWhat role did fear play in the revolutions of North and South America between 1776 and 1865?

On Tuesday, November 18, 2014, I contributed a post to The Junto: A Group Blog on Early American History that offered some  highlights from “‘Fear in the Revolutionary Americas Conference,'” a one-day conference hosted by Tufts University on Halloween.

In this post I offer you recaps of two more of the papers presented at “Fear in the Revolutionary Americas, 1776-1865.”


“Republics of Saints? Fear and Virtue in the Age of Revolutions”

Nicole Eustace (New York University) believes that we need to study the language and contents of the Federalist Papers to understand the absence of fear in American constitutionalism.

Eustace posited that emotional language provides a key metric that historians can use to assess contemporary perceptions of fear and power. She explored the language of fear and virtue as used by Maximilien de Robespierre and Simón Bolívar to illustrate her point.

Equality, fear, and virtue played important roles in Robespierre’s republicanism.

Robespierre believed that a virtuous society would develop when its members submerged their self-interest in favor of the entire society. The power of self-interest ensured that societies were hard to create.

Robespierre believed that a populace must experience fear in order to become virtuous because only fear had enough power to overcome self-interest.


Robespierre and Bolivar Read More

Leave a Comment

Are You Prepared for an Emergency Evacuation?

Fire Truck in the Back

Are you prepared to make an emergency evacuation?

At about 7:15am on Sunday, November 16, 2014, Tim and I awoke to the sounds of sirens and shouting men.

I put on my glasses, got out of bed, and opened the blinds: Imagine my surprise when I saw Ladder 26 of the Boston Fire Department begin to raise its ladder just underneath my window.

The row house two doors down was involved in a 3-alarm fire.

It took our brains a few seconds to wake up and realize what was happening. As we did, we began to smell the fire and smoke.

Immediately, our adrenaline kicked in.

We got dressed and spent 2-3 minutes grabbing important items: cellphones, laptops, anything around our laptops that seemed important, and our emergency “go-bag” for the dogs. We then raced to put on our shoes and winter coats, harness, leash, and coat our dogs, and exit our building.

Our whole dash took no more than 5-6 minutes. It was amazing how fast we moved.

Front of FireAfter we exited our building and made sure our neighbors were okay, Tim and I talked about what to do next. We had no idea if the fire would spread or how long the firefighters would need to extinguish the flames and give us the “okay” to go back inside.

What we did know was that it was cold. With temperatures hovering between the upper 20s and low 30s, we needed to find someplace warm we could go with our dogs.

Immediately, we decided to go to my parents’ house. Unfortunately, the firemen had our car blocked in. Quick thinking told us to book a rental car, which we did, and we drove to my parents’ home to wait until the coast was clear.

As we drove to my parents’ house we discussed the pros and cons of our emergency preparedness.

Read More

Leave a Comment

Boston Historical Events for the Week of November 17, 2014

Boston Historical Events: A list of history-related events taking place in Boston between Monday November 17 and Sunday November 23, 2014.


Boston-Athenaeum.gifBoston Athenaeum

Wednesday, November 19, 12-1pm, Author Talk, Free

Amazon ImageNicholas Wapshott will discuss information from his new book, The Sphinx: Franklin Roosevelt, the Isolationists, and the Road to World War II. Wapshott provides a lively narrative of the great political duel between Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Joseph Kennedy, and the isolationist movement prior to the United States’ entry into World War II. FDR used cryptic and varied strategies to contain and ultimately neutralize the most powerful voices encouraging American skepticism about the European war. Roosevelt employed tactics such as sidelining his friend and aspiring political rival Joseph Kennedy by appointing him ambassador to London and coaxing Charles Lindbergh into uniform so he could better control the content of his anti-war speeches.


BPL.gifBoston Public Library

Thursday, November 20, 7-8pm, Author Talk, East Boston Branch, Free

Amazon ImagePhotojournalist Michael Philip Manheim will be on hand to discuss his experiences covering Logan Airport and its impact on East Boston during the turbulent 1970s. The Environmental Protection Agency hired Manheim, along with approximately 100 other photojournalists, to document the state of the environment. Manheim chose to cover the impact of Logan Airport on East Boston. Manheim will sign copies of his book Last House Standing: How Once We Were: Photographs of the Past, which presents his photographs of East Boston and the effect the airport had on the neighborhood.


Historic-New-England-300x272.jpgHistoric New England

Tuesday, November 18, 6-8pm, Lecture, Otis House, $5 Admission, Tickets Required

This lecture will take place in two parts. First, Historic New England museum historian Jennifer Pustz will explore the experiences of African Americans across New England from the 18th to the early 20th centuries. Pustz will reveal how the labor and contributions of free and enslaved African Americans contributed to the history of many of Historic New England’s properties. In the second part of the lecture, genealogist David Allen Lambert will disclose the primary and secondary sources in the possession of the New England Historic Genealogical Society that you can use to research African Americans in New England. He will highlight how you can use materials such as vital statistics, probates, deeds, and newspapers to expand your knowledge of African-American history and ancestry.

Program co-sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society.


MHS-150x150.gifMassachusetts Historical Society

Tuesday, November 18, 5:15-7:30PM, Environmental History Seminar, Free, RSVP Requested

Derek Lee Nelson (University of New Hampshire) will explore “The Ravages of Teredo: The Historical Impacts of Marine Wood-Boring Worms on American Society, Geography, and Culture, 1865-1930.” Toredo, or shipworm, caused millions of dollars’ worth of damage in American ports by destroying the structural integrity of wharves and ships. In addition to invading marine wood, these wood-boring mullusks also bored their way into the consiousness of Americans through congressional reports, newspapers, and popular culture. Robert Martello (Olin College of Engineering) will comment.


Leave a Comment

3 Tips to Organize Your Library and Create Bookshelf Space

BookshelvesDo you have enough bookshelf space?

Historians collect a lot of books and within a short period of time our bookshelves can transform from neat and organized spaces to overpacked and unruly spaces.

Therefore it is important that we develop a system to keep track of the books we own and that we conduct regular reviews of our libraries so we can purge them of books that no longer serve our needs.

In this post you will learn three techniques that you can use to organize your library and create more bookshelf space.


Tip #1: Keep Track of the Books You Have

Do you know what books you have in your library?

Do you know where to find the books you have?

As your library grows it can become difficult to keep track of the books you own and know where to find them.

That is why I use a personal library app to help me keep track of the volumes I own and where I can find them.

In the past I have used Readerware ($39.95). Presently, I use Delicious Library 3 ($25), which is a Mac-only app.

Both apps use barcode and ISBN information to keep track of your books.

Each time you acquire a new book, input the ISBN information into the app, and the software will create a new entry in your library with the information it downloads about the book from and other book databases.

Before I click “OK” to finalize my new entries, I include information about whether the book is signed, a first edition, and where I intend to keep it, i.e. my home, my e-reader, or in my storage unit. This information helps me locate the book if I can’t find it when I want to use it.

Delicious Library

Read More

Leave a Comment

Wednesday Link Roundup #74: Free Money, History Journal, and Writing Advice

Samuel Adams RoundupWednesday Link Roundup: Links to the most interesting history, news, and writing posts that passed through my RSS and Twitter feeds over the last week.



The Junto ran a week-long “Roundtable on the Legacy of Alfred F. Young.” Posts include: “Empire/State,” “George Robert Twelves Hewes and the Politics of Historical Pedagogy,” “The Masquerade,” and “J. Franklin Jameson, Superstar.”

Smithsonian Magazine commemorated the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall with “The Story of the Most Successful Tunnel Escape in the History of the Berlin Wall.”

Did you know that Benjamin Franklin created a fake newspaper in the hopes of passing false news to London newspaper editors? Learn more in “Propaganda Warfare: Benjamin Franklin Fakes a Newspaper.”

M. Keith Harris has made his new, digital history journal, The Americanist Independent, available for free.

You know you are a historian when you tell “punny” jokes based on historic slogans. See “15 of History’s Greatest Puns.”


Funds for Historians

The MacNeil Center for Early American Studies seeks applications for its 2015 Dissertation Fellowship program. Applications Due: February 15.


Typewriter oldWriting Tips

The “Positive Writer” offers “36 Writing Tips to Put Your Butt in the Chair.”

Frances Caballo explains the “What, Why, and How of Marketing Nonfiction Books.

Buffer presents an interview with writing and social media coach Ann Handley about “How to Beat Writer’s Block & Create a Sticky Writing Habit.


What Do You Think?

What is your best history-related joke?


Leave a Comment