Annual Meeting: Presentation Tips and Tricks

Do You Want Your Audience at SHEAR to Give Its Full Attention to Your Paper?

By Louise W. Knight (

Some advice from the Early American Era:

Quaker women ministers of the 1830s were experienced public speakers. Here is the advice one of them gave to Sarah Grimke:

“There is something of a hurried appearance in thy manner. I do believe that if thou couldst speak more slowly and divide thy sentences and passages by suitable pauses, it will add greatly to the weight and dignity of communication.” –Abigail Barker to Sarah Grimke, December 8, 1835, Weld-Grimke Papersments Library, University of Michigan-Ann Arbor


Frederick Douglass, one of the most successful public speakers of his age, received his first lessons in delivery by reading the highly popular book, The Columbian Orator, by Caleb Bingham. In his introduction, Bingham suggests:

“That some sentences ought to be pronounced faster than others is very manifest. … But to hurry on in a precipitate manner without pausing, till stopped for want of breath, is certainly a very great fault. This destroys not only the necessary distinction between sentence and sentence, but likewise between the several words of the same sentence; by which means all the grace of speaking is lost, and in a great measure, the advantage of hearing.”

At the same time, going too slow is also not good:

“It is a fault to speak too slow. This seems to argue a heaviness in the speaker. And as he appears to cool himself, he can never expect to warm his hearers, and excite their affections. When not only every word but every syllable is drawn out to too great a length, the ideas do not come fast enough to keep up the attention without much uneasiness.”

Caleb Bingham, “Introduction,” The Columbian Orator (Boston, 1797, reprint 1832), 17. For a more recent, edited edition, see David W. Blight (ed. and new intro.), Caleb Bingham, The Columbian Orator: Containing a Variety of Original and Selected Pieces together with Rules, Which are Calculated to Improve Youth and Others, in the Ornamental and Useful Art of Eloquence (Bicentennial Edition, New York: New York University Press, 1998).


Why Do We Rush?

Caleb Bingham had some theories about why we rush.  He argues that because we are anxious about public speaking, we feel “pain till it is over.” This “puts the speaker into a hurry of mind, which incapacitates him from governing his voice, and keeping it under that due regulation which perhaps he proposed to himself before he began to speak.”

Other reasons, not anticipated by Bingham, are that either:

  1. We never practiced reading our paper at a deliberate pace to find out if its length fit within the panel’s time restrictions, possibly because we did not want to know, since it would mean we would have to shorten it, an idea too painful to contemplate;


  1. We practiced reading our paper at a deliberate pace, discovered the length did not fit within the panel’s time restrictions, and rather than shorten it, an idea too painful to contemplate, decided we would just read it faster.


Special Challenges, with Solutions Suggested by Irene Brown

Does your paper involve foreign languages? Does your paper involve unfamiliar vocabulary or names? Does your presentation necessitate images not enough to warrant a PowerPoint presentation?  Consider distributing photocopied pages to aid the audience in tracking the new content.


Annual Meeting Update and Information

A message from the SHEAR National Conference Coordinator, Robyn Lily Davis:

Dear SHEARites,

Less than 2 days until our 40th annual meeting opens in Cleveland and I have a few updates and reminders to share with you.



  • Pre-registration is now closed. You may register on-site but please remember that we can accept only cash or checks, no credit cards, and that there is an on-site supplemental fee of $30.  Registration opens Thursday, 5:00 to 7:30 pm in the conference hotel and continues on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.


  • Those going on the pre-conference tour of Kirtland Temple should meet the bus in front of the hotel on West Mall Drive.
  • All the bus tours will depart from West Mall Drive, in front of the hotel.
  • Walking Tour participants should gather in the hotel lobby.
    • If you signed up for both the Museum of Art guided tour and the walking tour of historic Cleveland, you will need to make a choice – they both start at 6pm on Friday. Email me with your plans once you decide.


  • The Cleveland Grays Armory Museum [] extends a warm welcome to SHEARites and invites them to stop in at 1234 Bolivar Road to learn more about Cleveland’s early peace officers and first line of defense against Canadian invasion. The Armory will also be open on Friday evening for free lecture on WWI posters.  A tour of the armory can be arranged by emailing the Education Director Annemarie Roeder at


  • Have you been active in SHEAR since 1990? Did you remember to sign up for the Sunday’s Founders’ Breakfast?  You can still do so at the registration desk when you arrive.


  • Check-in at the overflow Renaissance is 4:00 p.m. The hotel will happily hold your luggage if you arrive early and your room is not yet ready.
  • The Marriott at Key Center is undergoing renovations that are taking longer than planned. Most significant for our meeting, two of the elevators will be out of order and the down escalator from our meeting space to the main lobby is undergoing repair.  The up escalator is working and there are stairs nearby.  However, please expect some delays at peak times and please allow a little extra transit time getting to the 2nd floor in the morning.  The Marriott will have a complimentary all-day coffee and tea service available to conference-goers in our meeting space so come down early for that first cup of jolt.


I send you traveling mercies and I look forward to seeing you in Cleveland later this week.  If you need anything before then, please email me at or call or text my mobile, 405/409-5909.


Warmest regards,

Robyn Lily Davis

SHEAR National Conference Coordinator

In Memoriam: Remembering and Celebrating Colleagues at the SHEAR

An announcement from Daniel Mandell on behalf of the SHEAR Anti-Temperance League:

You may have heard of the SHEAR Anti-Temperance League, which was begun years ago by the esteemed Horace Mann and continues its tradition of meeting one evening during the annual meeting at a local tavern.  This year in Cleveland the League will begin at its gathering a new tradition, to commemorate comrades who have died during the past year.  SHEAR has no forum for that purpose, and the League’s gathering seems the proper informal setting.  This year the League will gather at the Marriot bar, aka SHEAR Central, starting about 8 pm, and at 9, we’ll gather on the other (quieter) side of the lobby, where we can talk, hear (!), and remember our colleagues. No RSVP is needed, nor any password — although if there were a password, it would probably be “Horace Sent Me.”

Please contact Daniel Mandell, either through the Anti-Temperance League Facebook page or via, with the name(s) of any colleague(s) you wish to remember. 

Annual Meeting Update and Information

A Message From Our SHEAR National Conference Coordinator, Robyn Davis:

Dear SHEARites,

Only three weeks until we meet in Cleveland for our 40th annual conference! If you have pre-registered, thank you. If you haven’t, please pre-register today by clicking here. Pre-registration closes next week on 5 July, so if you miss the window you will have to register on-site using cash or a check only and pay a $30 supplement. If you are a graduate student presenting at the conference, your registration is free. However, you must still register.

On-site conference registration is open from 5:00 to 7:30 pm on Thursday 19 July at the registration desk in the conference hotel, and continues until Sunday.

I send you traveling mercies and I look forwarding to seeing you in Cleveland next month. If you need anything before then, please email me at

Robyn Lily Davis
SHEAR National Conference Coordinator

PS I have two shared grad rooms left at the Marriott. $75 per night. Open to anyone but first come first served. Email me.



In Memoriam: William G. Shade

Longtime SHEAR member William G. Shade passed away peacefully on June 17, 2018. He was the husband of Mary Lou Shade and the son of the late William S. Shade and Elaine (McMahon) Shade. Bill was born in Detroit and grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He earned his BA from Brown University in 1961 and a Master of Arts in teaching, also at Brown, the following year. After completing his Ph.D. from Wayne State University, Bill began his teaching career at Temple University and then joined the Lehigh University history department in 1966.  There he served as Director of American Studies for a quarter century and helped establish Lehigh’s African American studies and Women’s history programs. Bill also taught at Lafayette College; the University of Virginia; the University of Ireland in Galway; University College Limerick, Ireland; the University of Nottingham, United Kingdom; and the Moscow State University in Moscow, Russia. A prolific author, editor, and Ph.D advisor, Bill’s works included Banks or No Banks, The Money Issue in Western Politics, 1832­-1865 (1972); Our American Sisters: Women in American Life and Thought (1973); Seven on Black: Reflections on the Negro Experience in America (1969); and Before the Molly Maguires: The Emergence of the Ethno-Religious Factor in the Politics of the Lower Anthracite Region, 1844-1872 (1976). Bill’s best-known work, Democratizing the Old Dominion: Virginia and the Second Party System, 1824-­1861 (1996), won the Organization of American Historian’s Avery Craven Prize. Bill served on SHEAR’s Advisory Council from 1999-2001.  He was also an avid jazz fan and world traveler who was very proud of the achievements of his children and grandchildren. He will be remembered with love by his wife of 56 years Mary Lou, his daughter Alexandra Shade Newell and son-­in-­law Robert Newell of Saucon Valley, Pennsylvania, his son Christopher Shade, Ph.D. and daughter-­in-­law Nadine Shade of Erie, Colorado, and his grandsons Aidan Newell, Jackson Newell, Thomas Shade and Pierre Shade.

Bill’s oral history, conducted by Michael Birkner in 2014, offers revealing insights into the historical profession and may be found here.

Bill’s obituary may be found here.

New Book Review editor of the JER

Andrew Shankman and David Waldstreicher are delighted to announce that Whitney Martinko of Villanova University has joined their editorial team at the Journal of the Early Republic. She will team with Jess Roney as co-book review editors.

Whitney Martinko has held long-term residential fellowships at the American Antiquarian Society, McNeil Center for Early American Studies, and the National Museum of American History as well as research fellowships at Winterthur, the Huntington Library, the Phillips Library at the Peabody-Essex Museum, and a variety of state historical societies. Her writing has appeared in Landscape Architecture MagazineNew England QuarterlyBuildings and LandscapesCommon-Place, and an edited volume, Documenting History, Charting Progress, Exploring the World: Nineteenth-Century Photographs of Architecture. Her first book, The Permanence of the Past: Preservation and Public Property in the Early United States, will be published in the Early American Studies series by Penn Press.

Congratulations, Whitney, and welcome to the JER.

–Craig Thompson Friend, SHEAR president

ANN: Introducing the New Editors of the JER

We are pleased to introduce the new co-editors of the Journal of the Early Republic, following the excellent leadership of retiring editor, Cathy Kelly. Andrew Shankman of Rutgers University-Camden and David Waldstreicher of the Graduate Center of the City University of New York will assume the editorship of the journal at the conclusion of SHEAR’s annual meeting in July 2018.

Andrew Shankman is a historian of the American Revolution and founding era, and author of Original Intents: Hamilton, Jefferson, Madison, and the American Founding (2017) and Crucible of American Democracy: The Struggle to Fuse Egalitarianism and Capitalism in Jeffersonian Pennsylvania (2004). He edited Anglicizing America: Empire, Revolution, Republic (2015) and The World of the Revolutionary American Republic: Land, Labor and the Conflict for a Continent (2014).

David Waldstreicher is a historian of early and nineteenth-century America, and author of Slavery’s Constitution: From Revolution to Ratification (2009); Runaway America: Benjamin Franklin, Slavery and the American Revolution (2004); and In the Midst of Perpetual Fetes: The Making of American Nationalism, 1776-1820 (1997). As editor, his books include A Companion to John Adams and John Quincy Adams (2013), A Companion to Benjamin Franklin (2011), and The Struggle Against Slavery: A History in Documents (2001). He also served as co-editor of the Journal of the Early Republic from 2013 to 2014.

The Journal of the Early Republic is a quarterly journal committed to publishing the best scholarship on the history and culture of the United States in the years of the early republic (1776–1861). JER is published for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic. We welcome submissions for the journal, along with proposals for special issues and expressions of interest in joining the editorial board or reviewing books. Please make inquiries at

Sincere gratitude is owed Cathy Kelly for her commitment to the journal, her high standards for the journal’s content, and her vision in expanding the JER’s reach via digital and social media presence. She has been an exceptional editor and will be missed. And a warm welcome is extended to our new co-editors.

—Craig Thompson Friend, SHEAR president

Important News about SHEAR 2018 Conference

Hello SHEARites! The 2018 annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic is only three months away, and plans are well underway.  On 1 May, an online version of the program will be available at; printed programs will be available to conference attendees upon check-in.

For those of you ready to make your plans, please find below information about accommodations, travel, and registration as well as the conference highlights.  If you have unanswered questions, please contact the conference coordinator directly (


Conference Hotel:

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center, 127 Public Square, located in the heart of Cleveland’s business district and within walking distance of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and all downtown venues and attractions. Rates are $165/single or double and are valid for up to three days before and three days after the SHEAR conference, based on availability.  (A second block of rooms at the hotel has been reserved for graduate students; please see below.)

The hotel’s amenities include restaurants, room service, complimentary 24-hour a day fitness center, and heated pool.  All conference attendees are responsible for making their own room reservations directly with the Marriott by calling (216) 696-9200 or (800) 228-9290; remember to request the group rate for SHEAR.  Contact the conference coordinator immediately if you have any difficulties when reserving a room.

More information about the hotel is available at

Graduate Student Hotel Block:  Rooms are available for graduate students at the reduced rate of $75.00/person, excluding taxes.  All hotel rooms must be shared.  Students interested should contact the conference coordinator directly ( by 27 June 2018 to be booked for this block.  If you do not have a roommate in mind, the coordinator will keep a list to facilitate rooming options.

Getting There


Cleveland Hopkins International (CLE) is the closest airport to the conference hotel, served by domestic and international airlines with 150+ non-stop flights daily from more than 50 locations.  The Cleveland Marriott Downtown at Key Center is 12 miles from CLE and can be reached by taxi, public transit, shuttles, and shared rides.


Cleveland’s Amtrak Station is downtown and just a mile from the hotel, at 200 Cleveland Memorial Shoreway (216.696.5115).  For information about schedules and pricing, please contact AMTRAK at 800.872.7245 or


Cleveland is located at the southern shore of Lake Erie, at the intersection of I-77, I-71, and I-90.  Ohio Rte. 2 follows the Lake Erie shoreline through Cleveland, and the Ohio Turnpike (I-80) and I-480 run east/west of the city.

  • From Cleveland Airport: Take I-71 North to Downtown.  I-71 becomes I-90E.   From I-90 E, merge onto E 9th St via EXIT 172A.  Continue on E 9th  Turn left onto Saint Clair Ave.  The Hotel will be 2.5 blocks ahead on the left.

Parking:  Self-parking is within the underground garage in front of the hotel and costs $8.00 an hour, $22.00 daily; valet parking is $32.00 daily.


The Greyhound Bus Terminal is located in downtown Cleveland at 1465 Chester Avenue, 216.781.0520.  For more information, see

Conference Highlights

Tour: Kirtland Temple, Thursday 19 July.  Dedicated in 1836, Kirtland is the first temple constructed by the Mormons.  A fascinating and revealing structure, the Temple today operates as a National Historic Landmark.  Its Director, Seth Bryant, will lead the tour. Using the built environment of the church itself as illustration, he will highlight the events and controversies that unfolded within the church walls during a time when Joseph Smith was receiving many of his most important revelations and erecting his system of priesthood.  The complete tour (including time in the material culture exhibit space) should last about two hours.  Bus seating is limited and reservations are required. Bus departs hotel at 1:30, returns before 5:00.

Walking Tour:  Downtown Cleveland, Thursday 19 July Friday 20 July.  Historian John Grabowski of the Western Reserve Historical Society and Case Western Reserve University will take participants on a tour of historic downtown Cleveland and its “Public Square,” a 10+ acre common, laid our during the community’s founding in 1796.  The tour will include the “warehouse” district – containing some of the finest old structures of the area – and the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, one of the nation’s largest Civil War memorials. Reservations requested.  Departs hotel at 6:00, lasts about 100 minutes.

Second Book Workshop, Thursday 19 July.  Four senior scholar mentors will each facilitate a workshop session for historians of the early American republic who are currently working on second book projects.

President’s Plenary, Thursday, 19 July.  SHEAR’s 40th annual conference opens at 6:00 with the President’s Plenary, “Public Histories and the Early Republic Historian,” inviting us to explore how and why academic history must expand beyond universities and colleges to inform public consumption of history.

Plenary Reception, Thursday 19 July.   At The Arcade Cleveland, immediately following the Plenary, from 7:30 to 9:00 pm.

2019 Program Committee Meeting, Friday 20 July.  The Program Committee for the 2019 SHEAR conference in Cambridge will meet beginning at 12:30.

JER Editorial Board Meeting, Friday 20 July.  The JER editorial board meets at 12:30.

Graduate Research Seminars, Friday 20 July.   Continuing SHEAR’s long tradition of mentoring graduate students, six senior scholars will host three concurrent research seminars for advanced graduate students, devoted to different scholarly topics in the history of the early republic.

Tour:  Cleveland Museum of Art, Friday 20 July.  Led by curator of American paintings and sculpture Mark Cole, this tour will focus on three major early American rooms dedicated to the colonial and revolutionary eras, the Federalist era, and 19th century Landscape paintings.  Holdings include portraits by John Singleton Copley, an iconic portrait of Nathaniel Olds in green spectacles (to prevent eye damage from whale oil lamps!), and a series of breathtaking Hudson River School landscapes.  The tour will last an hour; attendees will then be free to explore the rest of this world-class museum.  Bus seating is limited and reservations are required.  Bus departs hotel at 6:00; makes two return trips (after tour and again when museum closes at 9:00).

Graduate Student Meet-n-Greet, Friday 20 July.  Graduate students from the area will welcome their colleagues at an informal gathering and bowling party beginning at 9:00 p.m.

Boydston Women’s Breakfast, Saturday 21 July.  The women of SHEAR will gather from 7:30 to 9:00 a.m. for their tenth annual breakfast honoring the life and career of long-time SHEAR member and supporter Jeanne Boydston.  Tickets are $25.00 for a hearty and heartening breakfast; reservations are required.  Please consider sponsoring a graduate student or an early-career scholar this year.

SHEAR Advisory Council, Saturday 21 July.  The Advisory Council meets from noon to 2:00 pm.

Whither the Early Republic, Revisited:  A Forum on the Future of the Field, Saturday 21 July.  In Memory of Michael Morrison.  In 2005, co-editors Mike Morrison and John Larson organized a special issue of the Journal of the Early Republic on the historiographical trends of our field.  At this plenary, John Larson revisits those categories with a group of young scholars to explore how that historiography has evolved over the past dozen years. 

Tour:  Western Reserve Historical Society, Saturday 21 July.  A one-hour introduction to the archival and material culture holdings of the WRHS’s Cleveland History Center.  Resources relating to the early republic will be highlighted, including the Center’s renowned Shaker Manuscript Collection, material relating to the War of 1812, and portraiture from the period.  Bus seating is limited and reservations are required.  Bus departs hotel at 4:00; begins return at 5:45.

Presidential Address, Saturday 21 July.  The 2018 presidential address begins at 6:30.  President Craig Thompson Friend will discuss Lunsford Lane and Me:  On Biography, Empathy, and Reciprocity.  The President’s Address is free and open to all conference participants.

Awards Reception, Saturday 21 July.  The SHEAR awards reception follows immediately after the presidential address.

Founders’ Breakfast, Sunday 22 July.  Forty years into the enterprise that they conceived, SHEAR’s founding members will be honored at a breakfast on Sunday morning, from 7:30 – 9:00 am.

Tour:  Shandy Hall, Sunday 22 July.  Located in Geneva, Ohio, Shandy Hall is a property of the Western Reserve Historical Society.  Built by Robert Harper in 1815, his descendants occupied the structure until the 1930s, expanding it to seventeen rooms and accumulating a wide variety of furniture and household items.  Most of them remain in the house.  This is a very special opportunity to visit one of the most important historical structures in northeastern Ohio.  Seating is limited and reservations are required.  Bus departs at 2, returns at 5 – timing can be adjusted to cater to the travel needs of participants.


Information about the conference is available under “Annual Meeting” on the SHEAR website.  Preregistration opens 1 May and is $78 for members and $114 for nonmembers; graduate students, public history professionals, independent scholars, and k-12 educators pay $52 (inclusive of online transaction fee).  Once again this year, SHEAR will waive the conference registration fee for all graduate students appearing on the program.  Pre-reregistration must be completed online by Thursday 5 July 2018.  You do not need to be a member of SHEAR to present at the conference, but everyone on the program must register.

If you do not preregister, you may register on-site at the conference. The on-site price will include a $30 on-site registration fee and must be paid in cash or a check made out to SHEAR.

On-site conference check-in will be open at the Marriott from 5:00 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 19.  Registration will continue on Friday, July 20 and Saturday, July 21, from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday, July 22, from 8:00 am to 10:30 am.

If you have questions about registration or any aspect of the conference itself, please feel free to contact me by email or via text or phone call to my mobile 405.409.5909.

I look forward to seeing you in Cleveland this July and, as always, I send you traveling mercies.

Robyn Lily Davis, Ph.D.

SHEAR National Conference Coordinator

SHEAR 2018: Hamilton in Cleveland!

SHEARites! Hamilton the musical opens in Cleveland during SHEAR’s 40th annual conference. The show will run 17 July to 26 August and the only way to purchase tickets to Hamilton is visiting on April 13th beginning at 9 AM. Please make sure you only purchase tickets by visiting to avoid third parties and scalpers!

CFA: SHEAR 2018 Graduate Research Seminars

REMINDER:  Applications due April 20th

SHEAR is pleased to open registration for the 4th annual graduate student research luncheon seminars.  Reserve your spot for a free catered luncheon facilitated by two senior scholars in the field on Friday, 20 July 2018.

These seminars permit grad students and senior faculty to discuss common themes, important areas of research, and the challenges faced by scholars in the field.  Conversations in each group may turn alternately to subjects like archives, methodologies, and important secondary literature in their area. Best of all, these seminars help participants to network amongst like-minded scholars, and to find potential partners for organizing panels for future conferences.


  • The program and lunch are free, but you must be registered for the conference.
  • You need to be currently enrolled in a graduate program or have received an AY 2017-2018 degree.
  • If necessary, preference will be given to those who did not participate in last year’s graduate seminars and who do not already appear on the conference program.


  • Capitalism and Market Culture led by Tamara Plakins Thornton and Christopher Clark
  • Women, Gender, and the Family in the Era of the American Revolution led by Charlene Boyer Lewis and Craig Thompson Friend
  • Legal History and Culture led by Honor Sachs and Sarah Barringer Gordon

Enrollment in each seminar is limited. We aim to assign participants to their first choice; but if that session fills early, we will accommodate participants in other sessions. To apply, please email a dissertation abstract (250 words max) to with YOURNAME_Grad_Seminar in the subject line by April 20thInclude your graduate program (advisor, department, university), expected completion date, and your first and second seminar choice.