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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 […]

History Visualized with Epochs

It was common in the United States in the nineteenth century to speaks about history broken up into “ages” and “epoch.”  Because time was moving quicker than ever before, and changes were all around to see, contemporaries needed to use language that divided time into distinct periods on the path towards progress and civilization. A […]

Why all history methods books on are highly rated

A curious thing happened today when I looked up a book on  I was reading Sometimes an Art, a book about history by the great historian Bernard Bailyn. I felt the book was pretty dry, uninspiring, and out-of-date. Certainly, it doesn’t match the quality of Bailyn’s other words, which have garnered him all of […]

The Coolness of Deirdre McCloskey

Deirdre McCloskey, professor emerita of everything, once wrote a book chapter titled “The Coolness of Alexander Gerschenkron”  about her mentor in the economics department at Harvard. I’m beginning to think someone ought to write a full-length piece about the “Coolness of Deirde McCloskey.” I once wrote an article criticizing a small bit of McCloskey’s work, […]

Choose-your-own-adventure in American History job hunting

Page 1: A typical ad: West Pennsyltucky Technical Community College has an opening for a Visiting Assistant Professor of American History at their regional branch campus in Texazona. It’s a 6-6 teaching load with an option to teach extra online courses for $1500 a piece, and you also have to make marketing calls to recruit […]

Brief, Briefer, and Briefest History

or A Brief History of Brief Histories. Once upon a time, history was long, boring, and cumbersome. It was full of facts, and it went on and on. Nobody could read more than a page of it without falling asleep at their desk. Something needed to be done. What if we could condense a history […]

Southhampton Island, Canada, 1942

Probably sometime in 1942 or maybe 1943, my grandfather stopped in Southhampton Island  (at the time part of the Northwest Territories) in Canada. Probably because my grandfather had so many war stories from Europe, he never told the story about visiting the Inuit in northern Canada. When my grandfather landed in Canada, the United States […]

Feyman on the French Revolution

The physicist Richard Feynman, one of my heroes and inspirations, once said: “When he [a historian] says Napoleon existed, or that the French Revolution was in 1783, he means that if you look in another book about the French Revolution, you’ll find that same date. 1789, maybe. That’s pretty accurate for a physicist to have […]

Zeno’s Tax Paradox

I wrote a short article for, the website of the Foundation for Economic Education.  

Reading an unreadable copy of a microfilmed newspaper

 I’ve shown y’all some examples before of difficult historical handwriting. This is the digitized version of the microfilm copy of the 1859 Pella Gazette  (in Iowa). It’s about politics. I’m reading hours of this stuff and its like listening to a record that is 50% static. At least it is in English. There is plenty […]