Category History Methods

Was it really JKF? Why did Men Stop Wearing Hats?

An article by Adrian Wooldridge in the Economist’s 1843 magazine credits the 20th century decline in hat-wearing to two main causes: soldiers returning from World War Two bucking formality, and the influence of our President John “hatless Jack” Fitzgerald Kennedy. Both explanations are part of the story, to be sure, but they are far from […]

Book review: Robert Tracy McKenzie, A Little Book for New Historians: Why and How to Study History (InterVarsity Press, 2019).

Book Review: Robert Tracy McKenzie, A Little Book for new Historians: Why and How to Study History (InterVarsity Press, 2019) This is a well-written but fairly standard history methods book with an interesting Christian and conservative perspective.  Like dozens of authors before him, McKenzie begins with a definition of history that draws a distinction between […]

Where did 2,500 missing African Americans go? Or were they never there in the first place?

In a previous post, I questioned whether there was a large African American migration to Washington County NY in the first decade of the 19th century, or if this was actually some kind of census anomaly. Could over 2,500 free African Americans move into and out of a rural county in one decade and be […]

Historians “Show Your Work”

I never liked it when a math teacher told me to “show my work.”  What do you mean, “Show my work?”  “I answered the problem in my head. There is nothing to show.” Sometimes, however, showing your work as a historian can be a useful exercise, especially as a form of pedagogy. Students need to […]

How (not) to write a thesis statement

Too often I see history books with arguments of the nature:  “x also shaped y.”    They are usually written like this: “Early Virginian society was not only shaped by economics but also by gender relations” or “the American Civil War also had international impact.” I respond typically by uttering “that is not a thesis”, as […]

Is there a Conservative Philosophy of History?

Conservative historians have long battled the left over the proper interpretation of the facts of history, but in arguments about the philosophy of history, conservatives have ceded the field almost entirely. At first glance, it appears that conservative historians have no philosophy of history, or that they even reject theoretical and philosophical discussions about the […]

Book review: Mike Maxwell, Future-Focused History Teaching (Maxwell Learning, 2018)

Mike Maxwell is reader of this blog and a fellow historian who sent me a copy of his new book. The general message of the book is that history education, specifically at the high school level, is a mess. The first 55 pages of the book diagnose the problem, which is that history education does […]

You can’t spell “onafhankelijkheid” without the letter “ij”

In 1850, the Sheboygan Nieuwsbode was the only Dutch language newspaper in the United States.  The editor, Jacob Quintus, was proud of his new nation, its history and freedoms. To educate the Dutch immigrants about their country, he published a Dutch translation of the U.S. Declaration of Independence.  Unfortunately, this seems not to have been […]

Cato Daily Podcast: What Is Classical Liberal History

I was invited by Caleb Brown to talk about one of my new books.  We talk history methods and the place of classical liberal history in historical research. https://www.cato.org/multimedia/cato-daily-podcast/what-classical-liberal-history   https://www.cato.org/longtail-iframe/node/79668/field_longtail_player/0

Book Review: Marshall T. Poe, How to Read a History Book: The Hidden History of History (Zero Books, 2018)

There have been a rash of history books recently with incorrect titles. Sam Weinburg’s Why Study History when its Already on Your Phone has very little to do with justifying learning of history in the age of the smart phone, and Alex Rosenburg’s  How History Gets it Wrong: The Neuroscience of Our Addictions to Stories […]