Berks blog meetup: Friday, June 10th, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Come and git us!

Howdy, friends!  It’s just a month until the Fifteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women will convene at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst on June 9-12.  (See the program here–it explains it all.)  I can’t wait!

Tenured RadicalClio Bluestocking, Another Damned Medievalist, Janice Liedl, Knitting Clio, and I have found a good time for a blogger (and blog reader) meetup, after the sessions end on Friday afternoon, and before the dining hall closes at (the improbably early hour of) 7 p.m.  So, we’ll be hanging out in the Grad Lounge of the Lincoln Campus Center from 5:30 to 6:30–come join us and enjoy the beverage of your choice!  If you consult the campus map on page 27 of the program, you’ll see that the Lincoln Campus Center is also the conference hotel, and is right across the street from Worcester Dining, where you can find your dinner after the meetup. Continue reading

We dwell in possibility

Public History Tour 2010!

Where in the world is Historiann on this summer’s random public history tour?  Well, here’s a clue on the left–some of us dwell in possibility, wherever we go.  I had never visited before, and neither had my subset of the attendees of the Little Berks conference this year, at Mt. Holyoke College.  The Big Berks–otherwise known as the Fifteenth Berkshire Conference on the History of Women, will be at the University of Massachusetts next June.  (Check out that new website!)  The program committee meets tomorrow–so keep your fingers crossed if you submitted a proposal last winter.

So many interesting people are here–the elusive Clio Bluestockingshowed up, and seated herself near me at dinner last night.  (I’ve had a lot of people tell me they’re reading this blog–only compliments so far, but the conference is only half over!)  After dinner last night, Mary Beth Norton and Judith Zinsser spoke about the history of the Berkshire Conference, and the “ladies” who founded it (including the tradition of trillium-spotting and bourbon-drinking.  Unfortunately, threatening thunderstorms and hail had us looking for more indoor-oriented activities today.)  Norton noted that the official name of the organization is the Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, not the Berkshire Conference of Women’s Historians, and she lamented that there are very few non-women’s historians who attend any more since the Big Berks conference on women’s history effectively “took over” the identity of the organization. Continue reading

Spring breakin'

Catch you next week!  Don’t forget:  proposals for panels, workshops, and single papers for the 2011 Berkshire Conference on the History of Women are due March 19!  So spend whatever time you’d otherwise be spending at this week putting together a proposal for the Berks instead.

We’ll have to do a massive femblogger meetup there.  The conference will be in Amherst at the University of Massachusetss, June 9-12–the Pioneer Valley is lovely in the late spring, friends!  And remember:  this comet only comes around every 3 years, so if you miss this one, you’ll regret it for sure.

Historiann EXCLUSIVE: Classy Claude at the AHA in San Diego

Once again, Historiann’s better-traveled and more in-the-loop friend Classy Claude is at the American Historical Association’s annual meeting, and has volunteered to report back what he’s seen and heard.  Here, he updates us on the Doug Manchester/Hyatt boycott, a prominent American women’s history panel, and who puts on the best free reception.  Try not to hate him because he’s in San Diego–hate him because he’s beautiful, and employed!  

Greetings from sunny San Diego!  My view of San Diego Bay from the 17th floor of the Hilton gives some idea of just how lovely and temperate it is here right now (see the photo on the right, by Claude himself.)  And the Hilton conveniently provides running maps to cover various distances along the promenade.  Historiann, you would love it!  

 I have no actual idea of the numbers at this year’s AHA, but I can’t help but think that it’s down from recent years.  Not one of the panels I have attended so far, for instance, has had its full component of scheduled speakers. Reasons for these absences are manifold. First, the abysmal job market: if there are fewer interviewers and interviewees (the main purpose here for most), then fewer attendees.  Second, getting to San Diego is expensive for most North Americans.  Combine that with the fact that many colleges and universities have slashed travel budgets and it becomes prohibitively expensive for many.  Third, there are the Midwestern storms that certainly have delayed some people’s arrival and may well have stranded them altogether.  And fourth, the gay and labor boycott of the Manchester Grand Hyatt (led by UNITE HERE and Equality California, but with many other organizational supporters) seems to have led some gay would-be attendees to cancel as well.  

As many of Historiann’s readers know, before the 2009 meeting it came to the attention of some AHA members that the owner of the Hyatt, Doug Manchester, had given about 100K to the successful Proposition 8 campaign (to ban same-sex marriage in California).  Continue reading

Big Berks 2011: hip, happening, and now. Dig?


You’ve been waiting for it all year long–and it’s here!  The next Berkshire Conference on the History of Women will be at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst June 9-12, 2011.  The call for papers and all of the details can be found here, and the deadline for proposals is March 1, 2010.  (That’s less than five months from now, girls and boys, so put your thinking caps on!  Tip of the thinking cap to Tenured Radical, who alerted me to this announcement.)

The conference theme for 2011 is “Generations:  Exploring Race, Sexuality, and Labor Across Time and Space.”  From the CFP:  Continue reading

Lessons for Girls #14: Don't just ask, insist on help

Howling for help!

Yesterday’s post on “Mentors and mentoring:  whose responsibility?” got Sisyphus thinking about her grad school days, and the ways in which gender and class work in relationships between students and their mentors.  In a post called “Don’t just ask, insist on help (even if it makes you feel weird),” fourteenth in our popular series, Lessons for Girls, Sisyphus writes that a roommate of hers, “Brilliant Grad,” was in the same program as she but he appeared to have a totally different relationship with the faculty in their department because of his attitude of entitlement:

Brilliant Grad knows he is brilliant. People have told him so, and he has wildly succeeded in everything he has ever tried. And he works damn hard so that he can do what he wants to do. . . .

Brilliant Grad and I loved to talk and would constantly share stories. It was through him I realized that my parents’ working-class upbringings flavored a lot of my experience, and through me that he realized he was not middle class, but upper class. He went to an elite east coast prep school. I learned that there is an entire east coast class of people who think “everyone” goes to east coast prep schools. . . .

Brilliant Grad also went to a top-of-the-line liberal arts school, one you’ve all heard of I bet (I hadn’t, heh). I know he didn’t work through school; I don’t think he ever worried about how it would be paid for. He constantly told me stories of the cool things he and his friends did, created, wrote, filmed — everything. And he seemed to have strong, even intimate relationships with all of his professors.

So when he would come home and tell me something that Professor Wonderful said to him in his office, or how he had had this idea and knocked on his door to run it by him, if not daily, then every few days, I was confused. “Wow, how often do you go see him? Aren’t you … bothering him?” I’d ask. “No — isn’t that what he’s there for, to mentor us? What?” he asked as I continued to stare at him with an eyebrow raised, shocked. Profs are here to do $hitloads of research, not shoot the breeze with their grad students. I know I don’t go to my advisor unless I have a specific problem that I need her help with and I have already tried three different ways of solving it on my own.

So, what was the result of BG’s breezily peer-like–or brashly demanding?–relationship with the faculty in his and Sisyphus’s department? Continue reading

Sister Agnes explains why you still need to visit the archives


Sister Agnes schools us on the archives

Like many historians, I have more than once discovered that the published version of a primary source is incomplete or even misleading when checked against the archival source.  One of my first missions as a graduate student was locating the archival court records for a New England colony whose records were published except for some cases of adolescent boys and young adult men who were convicted of sodomy.  (The sensibilities of the Victorian-era editor of the town court records were too delicate to include the details of those cases, and those cases only.) 

Indeed, the intimate details of historical documents–the marginalia, the burn holes, the water stains, the ink splotches, few of which are reproducible in published form or legible on microfilm or even in digitized versions–are some of the greatest pleasures of being a historian, archivist or librarian.  I have long felt that intimacy with the documents is not just desirable, but necessary–not just to be sure that published records haven’t introduced errors in my research, but because I like to touch things that the people I write about have touched.  I like seeing whose handwriting is clear and the product of an educated hand, and whose handwriting is crude and full of non-standard or phonetic spellings.  The rare letter from a desperate Anglo-American woman on the Maine frontier looks a lot different than an official dispatch from Governor Dudley, and those differences are flattened when the documents are published in books or transcribed digitally.  That stuff matters to me.

The immediacy and sheer volume of historical materials available on the world wide (and as it turns out, not peer-reviewed) internets demands our continued scrutiny and vigilance.  Here’s a recent lesson by Sister Agnes, who spent some time in a European archive recently and discovered that the compiler of an on-line series of summaries of medieval monastic charters provided false or incomplete data: Continue reading