Interview with Cassandra Good

headshotDr. Cassandra Good is assistant professor of history, as well as associate editor of the Papers of James Monroe, at the University of Mary Washington. Her first monograph, Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in America’s Founding Era, 1780-1830 (Oxford University Press, 2015), won the 2016 Organization of American Historians Mary Jurich Nickliss Prize in U.S. Women’s and/or Gender History. She also served as assistant editor for The Papers of James Monroe, Volume 5: 1803-1811, ed. Daniel Preston (ABC-Clio: September 2014).

What was the genesis of Founding Friendships?

I came to this project from sources that came up in my undergraduate thesis research over a decade ago.  I was writing about etiquette and politics in early Washington, DC, and read a letter Margaret Bayard Smith wrote about her relationship with Thomas Jefferson.  I was surprised to find that she shared a close, loving friendship with a man–and started to realize that I had seen a number of such friendships in my sources.  The questions this raised and they way they intersected with contemporary debates about male/female friendships stayed with me, and I knew when I started graduate school that this would be my dissertation topic.

When did you first attend SHEAR? Did your SHEAR experience help you with Founding Friendships?

I attended SHEAR for the first time in 2009, when it was in Springfield, Illinois.  I presented a paper on friendships between men and women in the political elite, which was my first year seminar paper in graduate school.  I presented another portion of the project in 2012 in Baltimore.  Through both of these panels I met other scholars working on similar projects.  I have met so many great people at SHEAR’s annual conferences over the years that helped me develop the arguments in the book as well as feel part of a larger scholarly community.

My Jacksonian American students read your book in the spring semester and loved it. Besides winning their admiration (and the Nickliss Prize, of course!), what kind of positive responses have you received about Founding Friendships?

It’s been really fun to hear from non-historians after I give a book talk or after they’ve read the book.  Many people want to share stories of their own friendships with the opposite sex and the challenges they’ve faced in those relationships.  My favorite response, though, came from a colleague who told me that his student read my book and she said that it made her want to be friends with me!  I hope all of this means I succeeded in my goal of making history and gender theory accessible and easy to relate to.

In addition to being the author of an award-winning book, you are also an associate editor at the Papers of James Monroe. How did you get involved in documentary editing?

I was actually doing documentary editing before I realized what that was!  During an internship at the local historical society in high school, I was asked to transcribe a woman’s 19th century diaries.  I became fascinated by her and ended up doing an exhibit comparing her diaries with her husband’s (both kept around a dozen volumes) for my high school senior project.  I also published an article many years ago with transcriptions from Margaret Bayard Smith’s commonplace books.  It wasn’t until I got to the Monroe Papers, though, that I was formally trained in documentary editing.  There’s so much more work that goes into producing the edited volumes that historians all rely on for our research than I had ever realized.

What is the focus of your next book? 

My next project is on George Washington’s descendants and their political role in the new nation.  It will be a family biography using manuscripts, houses, and material objects to examine how the nieces, nephews, and step-grandchildren he helped raise constructed their public image.  I wrote about several of these individuals in Founding Friendships and started to wonder what happened to the family as a whole, particularly given republican fears of power descending through families.  The approach of studying relationships and politics will be the same as in my earlier work, but this will be in the form of a narrative and go further into the 19th century.

Read more about Dr. Good and her research at her website. She also has written extensively for the Smithsonian.

SHEAR 2016 Conference App Information

Cc app icon ba83e967db957a253ebbbdaafbffd791118128043a6f81afa8edb17f444504a9Hello SHEARites! The 2016 annual meeting for the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic is only two months away. We are no longer distributing a printed program in advance of the meeting. Instead, we’ve built a mobile app for SHEAR’s annual meeting that has everything you need to know for the conference, including the full program, locations, maps, travel information, links to registration, hotel, sponsors, and exhibitors, and much more. Using the app or the online version of the program, you’ll be able to create your own schedules, received texted program updates, tap into Twitter and Facebook threads, communicate with participants and attendees, take notes, and organize your thoughts.

If you haven’t yet preregistered for the conference, you can still access the online program via the app and/or the mobile version of the program. Just follow these steps:

Step 1: Download the App!
The first thing you’ll need to do is download the app on the device you’re bringing to the event. The app only works on iOS or Android devices. If you use a Blackberry or you want to use your computer and not a smart phone, skip Step 1 and go straight to Step 6 to use the mobile version of the app.

Step 2: Log in
Tap the hamburger icon in the upper-left corner to open the side nav, then Log In.

Step 3: Enter your info
You’ll be prompted to enter your first and last name. Tap Next. Enter an e:mail address, then tap Next again.

Step 4: Verify your account
A verification email will be sent to your inbox. Open it and tap Verify Account. You’ll see your confirmation code has already been carried over. Just tap Finish.

Step 6: Access the mobile version and follow the prompts

Contact me at robyn.davis@millersville.edu or 405/409-5909 if you have any questions.

See you in New Haven!

Robyn Lily Davis, Ph.D.
National Conference Coordinator
Society for Historians of the Early American Republic

Reflections on SHEAR and History

We recently asked three long-time SHEAR members and recipients of the organization’s Distinguished Service Award to reflect on their careers and their connection to SHEAR. Connie Schulz, Craig Friend, and Jim Bradford were gracious enough to give their thoughts. Our thanks go to the following University of Oklahoma students, who are interning with JER editor Cathy Kelly: Terrence Robertson, Franklin Otis, and Sarah Miles.

Connie Schulz is Distinguished Professor Emerita and Project Director/Senior Editor at the Papers of the Revolutionary Era Pinckney Statesmen at the University of South Carolina.

1. What has surprised you about how research, teaching, or study of history has changed over the years?

While I have been using some form of digital technology since 1980 when I had an NHPRC fellowship at the Papers of the First Federal Congress (they had just purchased a Wang word processor), I am amazed at how much the digital tools that have developed in the last 15 years have affected all areas of historians’ work. Who would have imagined when I was in graduate school in the 1960s that as a researcher, you could sit at your desk at home and access every journal article in your field through JSTOR, or have free access through “Founders Online” to several hundred volumes of the edited papers of the founding era? The downside, I think, is that the ability that technology gives us to go right to the keyword in a document or the indexed article is that we have lost the serendipitous discovery of something we hadn’t thought to look for that happens when you read through an edited volume of documents, or browse through the hard copy of bound journals – or indeed see on the shelf next to the journals a book you had forgotten you had read a review about and turns out it has exactly what you need!.

2. How has SHEAR proven valuable to your professional career?

I spent the first dozen years after I received my PhD as an “underemployed historian,” teaching part-time at night or as an adjunct at local universities in the Washington DC area while being the “able to stay home” parent raising 3 young children, so SHEAR was my link to those in the profession who shared my intellectual interests. I volunteered to organize the “recent articles” section of SHEAR’s small newsletter and made many friends in the organization then through our pre-e-mail correspondence. (I even briefly edited the newsletter before SHEAR started the JER.) SHEAR was also a key professional organization for my development as a young historian because its members welcomed me even though I was not (nor was my grad school adviser) a recognized “name” in the field. Members like Ed Pessen and Bob McCauley and Joyce Appleby listened to what I had to contribute and engaged with me in discussions important to the organization and to me. I particularly appreciate that in those early years of SHEAR,  because we met on college campuses and stayed in dormitories rather than hotels, I could actually afford to attend the annual conferences. Even as SHEAR has gotten much larger, it has a “small and accepting community” feel to it – an organization where I know many of the “old-timers” but where I can also meet and get to know and learn from the young scholars just entering the field. For more than 40 years it has been my intellectual professional home ground.

3. Do you have any advice for aspiring historians?

Be a good citizen of the profession. Volunteer to help at professional meetings, or to serve on committees. If a fellow student or colleague asks for help in a project, if you can do it, pitch in, share your insights and tell them about sources you have found. We often are tempted to work in silos, but anything I’ve ever studied has benefited by the help others have given me, and the networks I’ve enjoyed as a result are often because I served on a committee with someone, or responded when they asked how I had learned about something.

And be curious! Follow through and Google (or search through some of the wonderful other digital tools we now have) the names of persons or places you haven’t noticed before when you come across them in a document or a monograph. Read books or articles outside your field that pique your interest. You never know where something unexpected will lead you in your research, or in your teaching interests.

4. What was the most recent good book you have read?

I loved All the Light We Cannot See when my book club read it.  And since we are currently beginning work at the Pinckney Statesmen Papers project on the years in which all were diplomats (and Charles Cotesworth Pinckney headed for France in 1796 for what eventually became the XYZ affair), I am delighted with Francois Furstenberg’s new book When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation.

From 2004-2015, Craig Friend, CHASS Distinguished Graduate Professor of History and Director of Public History at North Carolina State University, served as SHEAR’s national conference coordinator.

1. What has surprised you most about working with SHEAR? What do you think makes working with other historians in such an organization valuable?

Surprised me most? Well, to be honest, it was how people tried to avoid paying! But let us not linger on that. I don’t think anything else really surprised me. People are people.

As for what makes working with other historians valuable to me, I would say “intellectual engagement.” Like most other historians, I am passionate about history. It rewards me intellectually and even emotionally. During my years as conference coordinator, it was difficult to find time to engage intellectually at panels and even in informal discussions. When I did manage to participate, I was always impressed most with the collegial approach taken by most of my fellow historians. Despite the individualism of our projects, it always seemed as if we are undertaking a common discovery, rethinking, and re-narrating of the past. That sense of a collective undertaking inspires my own work.

2. What project has been the most fun or of the most interest to you during your career? Why?

Although it will never be published, the project that has brought the most enjoyment is my own genealogy, which has been an on-going project for years. On my paternal side, I discovered that my great-grandfather’s Confederate regiment fought against my husband’s grandfather’s US Colored Troops regiment at a skirmish in southwestern Virginia during the Civil War. Beyond the serendipity of such historical moments, however, I think there is a unique lens through which we historians view our ancestors since we are already aware of the historical contexts for their lives. On my maternal side, for example, I discovered that my ninth-great-grandmother Hannah Foster Stone (daughter of Ann Foster, an accused Salem witch) was murdered by her husband Hugh Stone. Such stories often stand out against the mundanity of most ancestors’ lives because of the sensationalism of the event. But as a historian, my first reaction to uncovering these ancestors was sorrow over the domestic abuse that framed Hannah’s married life and led to her eventual death. This is a connection that most people would not consider: they would find her murder sensational in itself as if nothing led to it.

3. What do you see as the role of public history and academic (professional) history in the coming years? How do you imagine the two being linked?

I think that academic history is approaching a crossroads, if it is not yet there: the public and its politicians increasingly cannot see the relevance of the humanities, which does not bode well in a political culture shaped by heightened budgetary concerns.

Recent calls for academics to embrace public history as a panacea, however, are misguided because public history is not solely or even primarily about the delivery of academic history to the public. Most certainly, public history is about making history useful to public audiences, but although good public history interpretation is informed by academic history, it is also circumscribed by traditions of public narrative and the expectations of advisory councils and funding sources.

Instead, I think the solution is that academic historians need to be proactive as public intellectuals. Some historians have taken to social media to relate academic history to hordes of Twitter or Facebook followers, placing contemporary events into historical narratives, and providing reasons for non-historians to appreciate the usefulness of academic history. Other historians have engaged cultural media like television shows—I am thinking of genealogy shows like Finding Your Roots—to do the same. I have started my own blog page to contextualize modern popular culture in historical contexts. But public intellectualism can also take place during a historians’ talk to a high school history class, a meeting of the local DAR, a family reunion (yes, I make powerpoint presentations of my genealogy with a lot of historical contextualization for family reunions), or any audience where we academics can inspire appreciation for our professional work.

4. On what are you currently working?

I am working on three book-length projects–a biography of Lunsford Lane, a slave born in 1803 Raleigh, North Carolina, who purchased his freedom in 1835 and became a black abolitionist; the revision of The New History of Kentucky textbook with Jim Klotter; and a historical novel about upcountry South Carolina in 1828, drawing from the real diary of Cyrus Stuart–and a handful of smaller article-length projects. I find that simultaneously working on multiple (and conceptually different) projects drives my creativity.

Texas A&M University Professor of History Jim Bradford served as JER book review editor for fifteen years (1981-1996) and as SHEAR executive director for seven years (1996-2003).

1. What made you want to pursue history as a career? 

For my first three years as an undergraduate, I was a “pre-law” major with a minor in history. I planned to practice law for a few years before entering politics. Halfway through my freshman year, I was elected treasurer of state association of college organizations of one of the two major parties. During my junior year I worked for a U.S. Senate candidate organizing support among college students until the incumbent senator died, the governor appointed a member of the House of Representatives to fill the vacancy, and the candidate I worked for withdrew from the race. At about the same time, a county officeholder announced his retirement, and I was encouraged to run for the position. After discussing this option, my wife and I decided against a career in politics, and I changed majors to history to pursue a career in academe—a decision we have never regretted. Why history? I had enjoyed the history classes more than any others I’d been taking and had gotten to know and respect two history professors—one as a teacher and the other a scholar in the era of the Revolution.

One of the major attractions of an academic career was the fact that college professors have their own classes to teach and select research topics of their own choice from the beginning of their careers. They do not have to spend several years “paying their dues” by doing menial tasks or understudying a more senior individual.

2. What do you like most about teaching and/or researching history? 

I enjoy teaching at all university levels, especially the opportunity to get to know students and observe their intellectual growth. Teaching survey courses provides opportunities to challenge students’ thinking, to introduce them to the nuances of history, and to broaden their perspective.  Upper division courses allow time to focus on narrower topics and examine a wider variety of viewpoints. Graduate seminars force me to think more deeply about the subject of the week and to watch students mature. Teaching in study abroad programs is particularly rewarding because I get to know most of the students on a more personal level than on campus and to see the impact the study abroad experience has on most of their lives.

Conducting research is equally rewarding. I enjoy traveling to archives; sifting through manuscripts, identifying themes or patterns, and discovering a document that provides a key to answering questions that intrigue me; and discussing my “discoveries” and conclusions with fellow historians. I draw satisfaction from completing a project—be it a chapter or a book.

3. What do you think makes SHEAR stand out as an outstanding organization?

SHEAR was founded in large part to expand opportunities for historians of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to exchange ideas both at annual conferences in the Journal of the Early Republic. Meetings of other organizations often focused on specific themes, while SHEAR is a forum for people working on any aspect of history in the era. SHEAR panels/sessions are less formal than those at many other meetings; the result being more discussion. Participants—ranging from graduate students to senior scholars—mix informally to discuss their research, share their experiences at archives, and teaching in a congenial atmosphere.

4. Do you have any advice for aspiring historians?

Set goals and adopt a “calendar” that assigns specific times to research/write, prepare for class, and read books and journal articles (both recent publications and important works from the past). Read widely, rather than focus on a narrow topic. This will prepare you to teach survey as well as upper division courses and to place your research in context. Review each lecture given and discussion led shortly after the class meets, noting strengths and weaknesses of each session. Such notes will be of great help when you revise course content and conduct.

Set aside blocks of time during semester and summer breaks to focus on research and writing. Set a goal when writing—so many words or pages each day or week.

Get to know people in your field—SHEAR’s annual conference is a great place to do this—as well as colleagues in your department.

SHEAR 2016 Conference Information

Hello SHEARites! The 2016 annual meeting of the Society for Historians of the Early American Republic is less than three months away, and plans are well underway. We are no longer distributing printed programs in advance of the meeting (printed programs will be available to conference attendees upon check-in). Instead, an online version of the program is available on the SHEAR website, and the mobile phone app / digital versions will be available after 15 May.  The digital program will allow you to create your own schedule, receive texted program updates, tap into Twitter and Facebook threads, and take notes and organize thoughts.

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

Accommodations

Conference Hotel:

A block of rooms has been reserved at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale, 155 Temple Street, right beside the New Haven green.  (A second block of rooms at the hotel, as well as a block of dorm rooms, have been reserved for graduate students; please see below.)  Rates are $179.00/king or double room, and are valid up to two days before and two days after the SHEAR conference, subject to availability.  The hotel amenities include an on-site spa, state of the art fitness center available to all guests, rooftop restaurant, and wi-fi.  Conference attendees are responsible for making their own room reservations directly with the Omni, either online via this link or by calling the central reservation line at 1-800-843-6664 and mentioning the conference name to ensure you receive the SHEAR room rate.  The deadline for making reservations at a reduced rate is Monday, June 20, 2016.  More information about the hotel and its amenities is available here.

Graduate Student Hotel Block:  Rooms are available for graduate students at the reduced rate of $75.00/person.  All hotel rooms must be shared.  Students interested must contact the conference coordinator directly (robyn.davis@millersville.edu) 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.  The deadline for making reservations is Monday, June 20, 2016. 

Dorm Rooms:  A block of single and double dorm rooms has been reserved for graduate students.  The cost is $92/single $64/person/double.  Dorm rooms are air conditioned, with a shared common space, kitchenette, and bathroom.  Bed linens are included.   Students interested in booking these accommodations must contact the conference coordinator directly (robyn.davis@millersville.edu).  If you do not have a roommate in mind, the coordinator will keep a list to facilitate rooming options. The deadline for making reservations is Monday, June 20, 2016. 

Getting There

Planes:

From Philadelphia, American Airlines flies directly into Tweed New Haven Regional Airport, New Haven (HVN).

Approximately 45 minutes away is Bradley International Airport, Hartford (BDL), served by nine domestic carriers as well as Air Canada.

Two to 2.5 hours south by train, the New York City area airports – John F Kennedy (JFK), La Guardia (LAG), and Newark (EWR) – are served by all major carriers.

Seven major carriers serve T.F. Green airport, 2.5 hours to the east in Providence (PVD).

Ground Transportation Service from Airports:

Red Dot Airport Shuttle, Serves JFK and LaGuardia International Airports. 800-6-RED-DOT or 203-330-1005, , www.ridethedot.com

Connecticut Limousine serves Bradley, JFK, LaGuardia, and Newark International Airports. 800-472-LIMO or 203-783-6800, http://ctlimo.com

GO Airport Shuttle Connecticut Service offers door-to-door service to and from JFK and LaGuardia as well as transportation services to and from White Plains Westchester County Airport, Hartford Bradley Airport, and Newark Liberty Airport. 866-284-3247 or 203-891-1280, http://www.2theairport.com

Trains:

Amtrak at Union Station, 50 Union Avenue, New Haven provides both Northeast Corridor and Vermonter Service with connecting service from Boston South Station and New York Penn Station.

Metro-North Railroad to Union Station, New Haven.  The New Haven line runs from Grand Central Terminal, NYC.

Automobiles:

Approximately 90 minutes north of New York City, the Omni New Haven at Yale is easily reached from Exit 47 on I-95 North and South.  After exiting, proceed onto Route 34. Take Exit 1 on Route 34 and follow to the first traffic light. Turn right at the light (Church Street) and follow to the third traffic light. Turn left at the third traffic light (Chapel Street) and follow to the first traffic light. Turn left (Temple Street) and the hotel is on your left (155 Temple Street). Directional city signage (large yellow signs) is also available to assist from the I-95 exits.

Parking:  Covered self-parking is available for $23/day and includes in in/out privileges.  Valet parking is also available for $28.75/night.

Buses:

Greyhound Bus Lines provides service to Union Station. www.greyhound.com

Peter Pan Bus provides service to Union Station. 800-343-9999 for reservations. www.peterpanbus.com

Conference Highlights

Field trip to Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center, Thursday, July 21.  Includes a guided tour led by Ned Blackhawk, Professor of History at Yale University, lunch of Native American cuisine, and a presentation at the Research Center and Archives. Gather at Phelps gate (344 College Street) at 10:15 am, return by 4:00 pm.  Transportation provided by Yale’s Center for Race, Indigeneity, and Transnational Migration.   Tickets are $15.00; registration is required and seating is limited.

President’s Plenary, Thursday, July 21.  SHEAR’s 38th annual conference opens with the President’s Plenary, A Conversation with Lin-Manuel Miranda, Creator of the Musical “Hamilton” with Joanne B. Freeman and Brian Phillips Murphy, Filmed in New York April 2016.  Begins at 6:00 pm in the Omni Hotel at Yale.

Plenary Reception, Thursday, July 21.   In the Omni Hotel at Yale immediately following the Plenary, from 7:30 to 9:00.   Free to registered conference-goers, guest tickets are $15.00.

Friday Evening Reception, July 22.  The Friday reception will be held at St. Thomas More Catholic Chapel & Center at Yale University (268 Park Street), a half-mile walk from the conference hotel, beginning at 6:30 pm.  Pizza &c. provided by Big Green Truck Pizza, run by descendants of the Coffin whaling family.  Free to registered conference-goers, guest tickets are $15.00.

Graduate student Meet-n-Greet, Friday, July 22.  Graduate students from the area will welcome their colleagues at in informal gathering immediately after the Friday reception.  Gryphon’s Pub at GPSCY (204 York Street), beginning at 8:30 pm.

Boydston Women’s Breakfast, Saturday, July 23.  The women of SHEAR will gather for their eighth annual breakfast honoring the life and career of long-time SHEAR member and supporter Jeanne Boydston.  Reservations required.  Tickets are $25.00 for a delicious, hearty, and heartening breakfast.  Scheduled from 8:00 to 9:00 in the Omni, this event is sponsored by the Women’s Faculty Forum at Yale.

Graduate Research Seminars, Saturday, July 23.   Continuing SHEAR’s long tradition of mentoring graduate students, eight senior scholars will host four concurrent research seminars, each with twelve advanced graduate students, devoted to different scholarly topics in the history of the early republic.

Film Screening, Saturday, July 23.  A screening of Ghosts of Amistad:  In the Footsteps of the Rebels, directed by Tony Buba and produced by Marcus Rediker.  Winner of the 2015 John E. O’Conner Prize for best documentary film, awarded by the American Historical Association.  Running time, 56 minutes.  Begins at 4:00 pm with a discussion following the screening led by Markus Rediker, University of Pittsburgh, and Joseph Yannielli, Princeton University.  For more information, go to www.ghostsofamistad.com

Presidential Address, Saturday, July 23.  The 2016 presidential address begins at 6:30 in the Omni Hotel Grand Ballroom.  The President’s Address is free and open to all conference participants but please arrive early to ensure a good seat.  President Jan Ellen Lewis will discuss What Happened to the Three-Fifths Clause:  The Relationship Between Women and Slavers in Constitutional Thought, 1787 – 1868.

Banquet, Saturday, July 23.  The SHEAR awards banquet follows immediately after the presidential address, in the Omni Hotel Grand Ballroom.  Tickets are $65.00 per person and include dinner and wine.  A cash bar will also be available.  Seating is limited and reservations are required.

Registration

Preregistration for the conference opens 1 May 2016 under “Annual Meeting” on the SHEAR homepage, where you will also find the conference schedule.  The phone app and digital program will be available on 15 May 2016.

Preregistration costs, exclusive of internet fees, is $75 for members and $110 for non-members; graduate students, public history professionals, and K-12 school teachers pay $50. All preregistration must be completed online by 6 July 2016.

If you do not preregister, you may register on-site at the conference. The on-site price will include a $10 on-site registration fee and must be paid with cash or a check made out to SHEAR.

On-site conference check-in will be open from 5:30 to 7:30 pm on Thursday, July 21, at the Omni New Haven Hotel at Yale. It will continue on Friday and Saturday from 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, and Sunday 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 (robyn.davis@millersville.edu).  I look forward to seeing you New Haven this July, and I send you traveling mercies.

Robyn Lily Davis, conference coordinator

SHEARites’ Perspective on the $20 Bill

Andrew Jackson gets bumped from the $20 bill by Harriet TubmanUnless you spent 24/7 in an archive last week or went into isolation to put the finishing touches on your 2016 SHEAR conference paper, you know that the U.S. Treasury Department announced that it was replacing Andrew Jackson with Harriet Tubman on the front of the $20 bill.

The news was met with mixed reactions. Andrew Jackson VI blamed political correctness for his ancestor’s move to the back of the $20, while former U.S. senator Jim Webb made a similar argument: “This dismissive characterization of one of our great presidents is not occurring in a vacuum. Any white person whose ancestral relations trace to the American South now risks being characterized as having roots based on bigotry and undeserved privilege.” Former presidential candidate Pat Buchanan called the change “affirmative action raised to fanaticism, a celebration of President Obama’s views and values, and a recasting of our currency to make Obama’s constituents happy at the expense of America’s greatest heroes and historic truth.”

A number of SHEAR members weighed in via the media as well. Andy Burstein and Nancy Isenberg supported the change, remarking, “Ultimately, the question we face is how important an honest encounter with history is, versus how needful some will always be to cling to the rule of the patriarchs, to our long-dominant national mythology that consecrates the singularity of founder genius.” Dan Feller, chief editor of The Papers of Andrew Jackson, pointed out that “we don’t honor people on the currency just because they’re important. We do it because we admire them, or because they represent something we value.” Jackson, in other words, no longer represents American ideals. Catherine Clinton outlined the historiographical shift that now recognizes women’s contributions. “Historians and biographers, professors and students, pundits and theorists, and the inevitable legions of naysayers may find these critical moments challenging and often unsettling,” Clinton observed, “but they signal change is afoot.”

The alterations to the $20 bill, as well as to the back of the $5 and $10 bills, will take years to implement, and it seems likely that the debate over the decision will only add to the heated political discourse in which the nation is currently engaged.

SHEAR 2016: Graduate Research Seminars

SHEAR is pleased to open registration for the 2nd annual graduate student research luncheon seminars.  Reserve your spot for a free catered luncheon facilitated by two senior scholars in the field on Friday, July 22, 2016.

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.

Eligibility:

  • 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 2015-2016 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.

Sessions:

  • Capitalism, Labor, and Political Economy with Ellen Hartigan-O’Connor (UC Davis) and Joshua Rothman (University of Alabama)
  • Slavery and Race Formation with Thavolia Glymph (Duke University) and Craig Steven Wilder (MIT)
  • Women, Gender, and Sexuality with Kathleen Brown (University of Pennsylvania) and Erica Armstrong Dunbar (University of Delaware)
  • Politics and Political Culture with Francois Furstenberg (Johns Hopkins University) and Rosemarie Zagarri (George Mason University)

Each session is limited to 12 students. We will try to assign participants to their first choice; but if that session fills early, we will try to accommodate participants in other sessions. For the best chance of participation, complete the form (found at the Annual Meeting tab on the SHEAR homepage) by June 1 and email a one-page dissertation abstract to ceastman@vcu.edu.

Harold D. Moser, 1938-2016

Moser, Harold D.

Harold D. Moser, longtime editor of both the Daniel Webster and Andrew Jackson Papers projects, passed away on April 4, 2016. A published obituary notes his contributions to the field of documentary editing and the Early Republic:

Harold’s more than thirty-year career was under the aegis of the National Historical Publications and Records Commission’s (NHPRC’s) mandate to publish the papers of national political figures. From 1971 until 1979 he was a documentary editor and then editor of the correspondence series at the Daniel Webster Papers Project at Dartmouth College, Hanover, N.H., producing five volumes of Webster’s correspondence. From 1979 until his retirement in 2004 he was editor-director of the Papers of Andrew Jackson, first at the Hermitage in Nashville and then at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville. Under his direction, the project published volumes 2-7 of the Jackson Papers. He also published two book-length bibliographies, of Daniel Webster and of President John Tyler.

As Dan Feller noted in posting the news to the Scholarly Editing Forum (SEDIT-L), “Harold introduced new editorial policies at the Jackson project, including the inclusion of a calendar, which have been retained in later volumes. Harold also oversaw the project’s physical removal from the Hermitage in Nashville to the campus of its institutional sponsor, the University of Tennessee at Knoxville, where it remains today.” In another SEDIT-L post, Charlene Bickford shared her memories of Moser:

I was so sorry to read about Harold Moser’s passing. The news caused me to reflect upon the unfortunate reality that when documentary editors retire, we often lose touch with them. I have strong memories of informal conversations with Harold during professional meetings–discussing and planning advocacy efforts. I remain grateful that he was such a strong and creative supporter in our seemingly never ending battles in defense of documentary editing and on behalf of the federal programs that assist our work. He was instrumental in the Tennessee Presidents consortium (the Andrew Jackson, James K. Polk, and Andrew Johnson papers), which worked to educate members of that state’s delegation in Congress and convert them into supporters of the cause of saving the NHPRC’s grants program. We can all be grateful for his activism in support of documentary editing.

The End of the Republic

Taking the lead from the nation, which believes that nothing occurred between the Constitution and the Civil War, the Republic is coming to an end after a short tenure.

Let’s be honest–SHEARites have nothing to contribute to the nation’s historical illiteracy. Weighing in on 21st-century debates about race relations and immigration doesn’t really make sense. Modern-day presidential politics are so different from that of, say, the Jacksonian period that making comparisons would be absurd. And none of the historical figures of the period are cool enough to write a musical about.

So, we go gentle into that good night, not with a bang but with a whimper!

Patricia Cline Cohen Remembers the Late Drew Cayton

Picture for cayton.3Patricia Cline Cohen (President, 2012) concludes this series with her memories of Drew Cayton:

Before 2011 I had only met Drew in passing at various SHEAR meetings over the years. Our friendship really began when I joined the troika of future, current, past presidents of SHEAR. Our two years of overlap on the executive committee were active years indeed, and I can recall countless three-way conference calls and emails aplenty – my inbox contains 200 messages from Drew from 2011 to 2013. It is both heartening and immensely saddening to look them over now; his judicious voice is so vibrant in all of them. He handled high priority questions as well as mundane organizational matters with grace and tact. He was thorough in his consultations and made excellent decisions.

His presidential year came at the 2012 Baltimore conference. As his understudy, I watched in wonder as he overscheduled his time in the three hours before his presidential address by hosting a meeting to assess social media in SHEAR that was shoehorned into the late afternoon break. Immediately after came the business meeting, leaving a very short downtime before his pre-dinner address. I figured he must be really well prepared, to require no mental rehearsal space.

It was my privilege to introduce him at that address.  Drew sent me his full CV–a very impressive and dense 22 pages. Three things struck me in studying his CV. One was the high caliber of research productivity, honors, residential fellowships, and awards; no surprise there, he fully lived up to his job title, University Distinguished Professor. A second feature of his career, one not so common at all, was the extent to which he engaged in collaborative publications with other historians. And third, his presidential address that night marked a major departure from his career-defining research agenda, a move from the old Northwest, war and imperialism, into the field of early American novels and gender, presaging Love in the Time of Revolution (2013). The range of his interests and expertise was truly remarkable.

After Drew rotated off the executive committee, our contact became less frequent. Yet he did write me a break-a-leg note of encouragement about two weeks before my scheduled presidential address, in which he revealed that every past president he was aware of had started writing their speech about two weeks before the big event. I had started writing mine, but I sure had not finished, and it was so thoughtful of him, and reassuring to me, to let me know that fevered fast finishes were the custom of our tribe.

Losing Drew Cayton, and at such an untimely age, is such a huge loss to all of us.  I feel privileged to have worked with him in SHEAR.

Patricia Cline Cohen, 2012 SHEAR President

Next month’s OAH program includes a session, “Remembering Andrew R. L. ‘Drew’ Cayton,” which will be held on Thursday, April 7, from 1:45-3:15 P.M. If you will be in Providence, please make plans to attend.

Paul Gilje Remembers the Late Drew Cayton

 

Paul Gilje (President, 2008) offers his thoughts on Drew Cayton in the second post of our series:

I first met Drew about forty years ago – when he began his graduate studies at Brown. What struck me about Drew from the very first day was his enthusiasm for history. Over the years, at Brown and after, I watched as Drew took that enthusiasm and applied it to the history he wrote. He developed into one of the premier historians of the early republic. He did so not only because of his enthusiasm. No, there was a suppleness of mind and a willingness to ask new and tough questions, finding answers in interesting places. These qualities appeared in his books, essays and articles. Several of his shorter pieces are classics in terms of research, writing, and most important, thinking (see for example his essay on the Treaty of Greenville). Recognized as the scholar who best understood the Old Northwest, Drew was willing to turn to new vistas. I was blown away when Drew presented his SHEAR presidential address on literary and cultural history and read his elaboration on the subject of that lecture in Love in the Time of Revolution with awe at his versatility and breadth of knowledge.

Drew was a clever, funny, and engaging man. He was an absolute natural in the classroom. I envied his ease of style and ability to relate to those he was teaching. I feel blessed that he came to an NEH Institute I was directing because I had the opportunity to experience his teaching at first hand. Finally, when I think of Drew I most remember the personal moments: when we danced (not with each other) at a disco party at Brown (it was the mid-’70s), or drove together to a mall near Providence to buy Christmas presents for our wives, or decades later in a Washington bar chatting late at night at the AHA, and most recently, spending two days together when he came to Norman in the summer of 2014. I consider myself lucky to have known Drew and that I could call him a friend.

Paul Gilje