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The case of the really old slave

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”. […]

The JFK Hat Thesis Lives on

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?” […]

Why its OK that you don’t remember anything you were supposed to have learned in History Class

In homage to the Routledge “Why it’s OK” Series I present: “Why its OK that you don’t remember anything you were supposed to have learned in history class.” (1) There’s a good chance that much of what you were supposed to have learned was wrong. The best-known work on this issue is of course James […]

Interview on the Historically Thinking Podcast

Took a trip over to Charlottesville a few weeks ago to hang out and talk about my new book: Episode 114: Creative Historical Thinking, or, Thinking Outside the Box

Dutch Americans in Alienated America

In the 2016 presidential election, Dutch-Americans and the Mormons were outliers. Both voted heavily Republican, but were also strongly against Trump in the primaries. Why is this the case? Timothy Carney, in a new book, Alienated Argument: Why Some Places Thrive While Others Collapse (Harper Collins, 2019) argues that Dutch-American places like Oostburg (WI), Orange […]

Hampshire County WV – Historic Population Data in Charts

(edit: a wise reader pointed out that Mineral County broke off from Hampshire County in the 1860s, thereby throwing off all of my data analysis here. For an update, see my next blog post)       County-level census data is available through IMPUS and the National Historical Geographic Information System.  I’ve decided to use […]

A Tale of University Bureaucracy, in 89 (or so) emails.

January 10, 2018: M applies for a seminar that I am running. January 15, 2018: I write M to congratulate her on being accepted to the seminar. January 17, 2018: M confirms that she will attend the seminar. January 18, 2018: I inform all of the seminar attendees about the reimbursement procedure. March 9, 2018: […]

The Vanishing Academic Conservative Historian (Part 2: the bet is accepted)

Alright, folks, I’ve received quite a few reactions to my post from July 4th.  It seems that all you have to do is mention politics in academia and everyone gets into a tizzy. If only Dutch history were so popular. At any rate, someone has taken me up on the bet, that within the next […]

The Vanishing Conservative Academic Historian

Let’s say you are a young conservative undergraduate, and you would like to go to grad school in history. Where would you look for a friendly advisor? If you are considering an Ivy League school, you might want to think again. According to research by Langbert, Quain, and Klein, available data indicates a ratio of […]

Graduate Students and Elite Historian Networks

It is my intuition that the best-placed young historians today come from a small set of elite universities.  But, as Lavar Burton would say, don’t take my word for it.  Take a look at the 2015 article by Clauset, Arbesman, and Larremore, “Systematic inequality and hierarchy in faculty hiring networks”    which shows that the […]