In my research on American slavery, I’ve come across frequent references to slaves and freed blacks of extraordinary age. Part of the reason for this, I suspect, is that many people did not know in which year they were born. Census takers engaged in “statistical heaping” when old people estimated there age at “about 100”. […]

A page of an account book of a 1760s hatmaker in Schenectady, New York (fom the Winterthur Library, Delaware). A bunch of Dutch people ordering beaver hats for their big heads. In the 1760s, many people in Schenectady still spoke Dutch and even “wrote English with a Dutch accent” as it were.

The idea that American men stopped wearing hats because they followed the example of their fearless leader, John F. Kennedy, is one of those historical myths that is almost certainly wrong but seldom challenged. In an article in Insider Higher Ed, Matt Reed asks “Will the pandemic do to ties what JFK did to hats?” […]

Some images from the county histories of western New York from the 1870s.

Browsing through those 1870s county histories for New York and I discovered this guy, a kind of 19th century Waldo, was a frequent stand-in for the artist. Some amazing sketch work in these volumes by the way.

Last year, I and my two co-authors Anders Rasmussen and Robert Faith published an article (in the well-regarded Journal of American Ethnic History) about foreign-born men who were forced against their will into the Union army during the American Civil War. In 1862-1863, at the peak of “impressment” claims, over one thousand men complained that […]

The following advertisements for my new book, The Colonization of Free African Ameicans in Suriname, will appear in the Journal of Modern History and the Journal of African American History.  

About  a week ago, there was an active post on the r/History subreddit about “Dad History.” Some of the responses suggest that the original post had just coined the term “Dad History”, and this may very well be the case, because I find little use of the term elsewhere online. Dad History is mostly “Blokes, […]

University history class enrollments are down nationwide and fewer students are majoring in history. Now is the time for a book to come along to save history departments, or at least to provide good arguments for students to major in history so that history departments can flourish again. This book, directed at undergraduate students who […]