As a historian, I try not to focus my attention on the deeper past  (say more than 50 years ago) and not dwell on my own history.  The history of my experiences in grad school and on the job market might have something to teach others, however.  With this post, I’m initiating a new category […]

A creative historian always has his/her eye out for curiosities. This design book was made by Virginia Rymer (who that is, I don’t know yet). I bought it at an antique store in West Virginia today for just $10. It seems to have been made for a college course, and includes pages of pages from […]

I recently published an article comparing the populist and liberal conceptions of history for a Dutch magazine/ journal called Liberale Reflecties. Naturally, I’m critically of the populist conception of history, which I see as an emotional (i.e. non-rational) desire to believe in inevitable cycles of history, in which the good, pure people must fight to […]

New York, 1761.  Jacob Ten Broek writes a letter to his brother in New Jersey to inform him that their mother has died. It is the hand of a farmer, no punctuation, some awkward spelling, sometimes indicating how Dutch was pronounced in 18th century New York. 1761, April 8 Waerde broeder dese tot bekent makinge […]

I came across this back-of-the-page sketching in an 18th century collection the other day.  It is simple addition of sums in pounds, shillings, and pence.

  An article in the The Economist titled “Why are Dutch-Americans so different from the Dutch?”  lumps together all Dutch Americans, by which it means a few Michigan politicians and the residents of the city of Holland, Michigan, to explain why they are such backward conservatives.  The article’s subtitle betrays the game the author wants […]

My copy of Peter F. Copeland’s Early American Crafts and Occupations Coloring Book (Dover Publications, 1994) includes an image of a barrowman, a person responsible for digging up stones and removing them from farmed soil. Anyone who has ever farmed knows how miserable it is to run into a stone. The foundation stones from a […]

This interesting image of a spatial view of time comes from a Guatemala friend. She explains that the year moves clockwise, and each month itself is comprised of weeks that move in a clockwise manner, and that days are themselves like small clockwise circles within those weeks. Ptolemy would be proud.

The documentary The Boy Who Can’t Forget contains an interview with a woman (Jill Price) who has an incredible memory of past events. Indeed, Price is burdened by the past. She remembers too much, and forgets too little. Not surprisingly, Price has some form of space-time synesthesia that helps her automatically structure her past in […]

In the first chapter of my book Creative Historical Thinking (Routledge, 2018),I describe some of the different ways that we visualize time in spatial form. A common way of viewing the year is as a circle, divided into seasons or months (perhaps accompanied by the constellations of the zodiac). In my own synesthetic view of […]