My Oldest Friend

My oldest friend, by which I mean the friend I have known the longest, leaves the country today. She is off on her first posting as an employee of the US Agency for International Development (USAID), and over the next twenty or thirty years she will get to live in all sorts of interesting places. …

11 September

This day had a huge impact on my undergraduate life. 2001 was the beginning of my sophomore year of college, in New York State, only about 2 hours by train from New York City. My parents and sister were in northern Virginia. When I finally understood the scale of what had happened, I knew it …

My Grandfather

My paternal grandfather died on Saturday. He turned 87 at the beginning of this month. I’m doing my best not to focus on the loss, on the fact that (more than likely) whoever I marry will never have met my wonderful grandfather, and think instead about what time I did have with him. After all, …

One man’s past is another man’s present

The last two days I have heard things on the local NPR station which very clearly brought to my attention how things I consider to be very much The Past are still The Present for others. The first was not a full story, but the lead for a story later on (which I didn’t hear). …

A little secret

I twittered this earlier and a number of people have picked it up, so I figured I’d repost it here, for posterity (even if the Library of Congress has archived it somewhere): “The secret of many historians is that we’re gossips who are too polite to talk about the living”

Home Sweet Home

I started writing this post almost a year ago, when a number of stories all came together at once. There was  NPR  talking about the effect of the recession on home ownership, and a promotional piece from one of the local stations about a woman who was presenting her research on the Sears homes-selling method, …

Thoughts from Virginia Forum

I spent the last two days at my first Virginia Forum. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I really enjoyed myself.One of the strengths of the Forum is the diversity of the attendees: professors, graduate students, museum types (like me), university librarians, museum librarians, library librarians, archivists, historical society staff, independent scholars, and I’m …

The Man Behind the Curtain

In case you don’t recognize the source of the post title, it’s from the Wizard of Oz (the film). All four travelers are in the Emerald City, awed by the Wizard, and then Toto pulls aside a little curtain to reveal an ordinary person. “Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain!” says the …

Conincidence or Serendipity

My master’s thesis grew out of an internship at the National Museums of Scotland, checking a transcription of the only extant early 18th century Edinburgh goldsmith’s ledger and doing some digging into the goldsmith’s life.  Within a few weeks of working with the ledger I knew that I wanted to study it extensively, and that …