In Which I Go Visiting...

This week, the lovely Claire Potter allowed me to visit her online abode, Tenured Radical, and share my views on women’s history blogging. The piece I wrote was in response to the roundtable she hosted at the Journal of Women’s History. (what I wrote will make more sense if you read those papers first).

It seems to have triggered a range of responses, which I find very interesting. If readers are interested, I can continue the discussion over here (comment below - I'm interested to see if this is something people really want to hear more about!).

Welcome to the October 2010 History Carnival!

Thank you to everyone who submitted nominations, and special thanks to Nick Poyntz who shared a bumper crop of suggestions! I didn't post everything I received, and if there were several nominations for the same blog, I picked the post I liked the best. Some things are from more than one month ago, since the Carnival was on hiatus since August. 

First up, Larry Cebula at Northwest History received a response from the Baron von Munchausen historic house, to his letter featured in the last history carnival. It's a real eye-opener to attitudes about the role of museums and "public history".


Executed Today looks at the hanging of mutineer Thomas Nash, while Early Modern Whale discovers sin and penitence in Thomas Barton's 'Brief Relation'.

Historical travels

William Eamon explores medical history with early modern rhinoplasty.

Jost a Mon discusses economic history through the Persian travels of Jean Chardin.

Nick Poyntz at Mercurius Politicus retraces the steps of Samuel Pepys to Epsom, and shows us what is still there from his time. 

Letters from the Past

Soldier's Mail features a letter from October 1918, with the author hoping peace would come soon.

A La Mode de les Muses features some Depression-era love letters - and a great photo of Alaska.

Recipes and Advice

Got Medieval tells us how to get rid of unwanted dragons, the Gentleman Administrator tries old-fashioned cooking, while Dainty Ballerina tries some seventeenth-century drinks.

Historians and research

Ether Wave Propaganda has a detailed piece on geographic determinism in history.

Were the Samurai victims of lead poisoning? Maybe not, says Jonathan Dresner at Frog in a Well. An interesting discussion on unslayable myths in historical research. 

The Tenured Radical continues her service to the discipline by offering some advice to an aspiring historian. (Anyone hoping to pursue a career in history would do well to search the archives of her site)

Historiann examines the history of white women's political activism in the USA in the light of the Tea Party phenomenon. 

The Little Professor joins the discussion on the ideal of a university, following this piece by Roger Scruton

Judith Weingarten of Zenobia: Empress of the East has a fascinating piece on using modern technology to examine the death of a girl in Greece after the Peloponnesian War. 

That's all for this month, thanks for visiting! 

Next month will be hosted by the Birkbeck Early Modern Intelligencer.

More information about the Carnival at and for future updates, you can also follow @historycarnival on twitter.

Speaking dates, History Carnival, and more Twitterstorians

I will be speaking at UMass Amherst on October 6, and UC Irvine on October 18. Interested historians, please come along. My presentations will focus on the ideas of the colonial city, the subject of my next book.

The History Carnival for October will also be hosted here, so if you want to send a nomination for any good history weblog posts or articles from the last month (or August, since the Carnival has been on hiatus), please submit them here.

And some more twitterstorians have emerged:

@Sparrow566 - Liz Chairopoulou
@OOHRP - Oklahoma Oral History

Knowing Me, Knowing You

Recently, I was thinking about pseudonymous authorship. Obviously I write under my own name here, but many academic bloggers maintain a protective (if not impenetrable) shield of psuedonymity. However, what struck me was the disappearance of the nom-de-plume from the literary world. I struggled to think of any current novels whose author is not known by the name on the title page.

I believe the practice persists in romance and other genre fiction, where for reasons of audience appeal – for instance – a male author will use a female pen name, or perhaps a writer better known for another type of literature will have a secondary identity for a different genre (Stephen King did this, but many years ago).

The social reasons for hiding one’s identity as an author have largely evaporated since the nineteenth century, when it wasn’t always considered appropriate for a lady to be a novelist, and any writer might choose to veil their real name. In addition, book tours, profiles with photographs in the New York Times or Washington Post book sections, such a prized part of the successful novelist, would be rather difficult with a writer who chose not to admit who they were! But I wonder whether we seek to know the novelist too well. I think of scholars poring over personal papers, accounts of acrimonious divorces, friendships and feuds, looking for greater understanding of the published work. Do I appreciate the novel more for the editorial introduction about his impoverished childhood, or her experiences as an immigrant? I don’t believe so.

Looking for examples of pseudonyms from contemporary publishing, most recently I can think of Primary Colors, a very public roman a clef, for which the author chose to be anonymous. Another is the author D. B. C. Pierre, who I believe was also running from various legal hot water of his own – unrelated to his writing.

However, an academic of personal acquaintance apparently writes novels under another name, (but I do not know the pen name!) – which led me to wonder: is it perhaps more common among academics? Many people who work in the humanities are excellent writers and very creative in different ways, that some would write novels is hardly surprising. But the only ones I can think of are in English – a field in which their creative work could be seen as a positive thing. Would someone in a different discipline have to hide their identity when publishing creative work?

History Carnival #80

To begin, we have two new tools or sources that will be useful for historians:

Marcin Wilkowski on Friendsourcing on Twitter (for academic purposes)

At War and Health, a new database of mediæval soldiers’ records

And two pieces on the new uses of digital archives:

Trevor Owens on Mining Old News for Fresh Historical Insight

Indicommons Cold Case Unit:  Dorcas Snodgrass – how the mystery of a nurse’s disappearance in 1912 is getting attention via flickr.

Curious historical people:

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon at Scandalous Women blog discusses The Unsinkable Molly Brown, and how her real life differed from the fictional depictions (don’t they always?). I was interested in what I read about her at the Colorado History Museum recently, which was very different from the ‘Calamity Jane in a Hoop Skirt’ image of the various Titanic films.

From Soldier's Mail: Letters Home 1916-1919, Sgt. Avery’s letter from the base hospital in Bordeaux

Judith Weingarten on fancy dress parties, fashion design, and a Victorian fascination with Queen Zenobia

Lidian at The Virtual Dime Museum on a famed fortune-teller in 1850s New York

Reassessments and discussions:

From Philip Blue, Gaziantep and a thought on ‘Orientalism’

Jonathan Dresner at Frog in a Well on Hirohito's last birthday


Alan Baumler has been writing about his visits to the Shaanxi Provincial Archives, and this post looks at the work the archivists are doing

At the Agricultural Biodiversity Weblog, a piece on touselle – Louis XI’s “miraculous wheat”

Thanks to Sharon Howard, Elizabeth Kerri Mahon, Penny Richards, Philip Blue, Jonathan Dresner, Richard Landers,  and Jeremy Cherfas for nominations.

History Metablog

I have been discussing with Larry Cebula (of Northwest History) the idea of a large discussion forum for historians. He has written a post here suggesting that the way to go forward is for H-NET to be that vehicle. While that would be great, and some H-NET lists are huge in terms of membership, they are small in terms of regular posters – and I’m not sure that H-NET is the way to capture people for such a project. The current H-NET list system of moderation means that ‘discussions’ tend to wither on the vine with the delay (sometimes days) of posts being forwarded on by the moderators. Twitter obviously offers immediacy but the brevity of tweets means no in-depth conversations. A twitter feed that updated people on new posts on the group blog, though – that would work.

I am a participant at Frog in a Well, and this and other group blogs have shown how these arrangements can work, and work well. But the challenge is to set up a blog where

  • All participants are equal: there is not one blog owner and everyone else just adding comments at the bottom
  • People register, under their own names, so it is a discussion forum for academics, and not random spam monkeys
  • A critical mass of participants is needed to get things moving, my estimate is 50+.