Tag: Memory

A Letter to the Lady in Pants: Dr. Mary Edwards Walker and the History of Women (Un)Worthies

“WALKER, Mary Edwards (Nov. 26, 1832 – Feb. 21, 1919), Civil War medical worker, dress reformer, and eccentric.” So begins the description of the collected papers of Dr. Mary Edwards Walker at Syracuse University: a strange summary of a strange life.1 Dr. Walker, though she was a contemporary of Drs. Elizabeth Blackwell, Ann Preston, and… Read more →

Pink Hollyhocks

This month, National Poetry Month, we encounter a poem both contemporary and historical — “Pink Hollyhocks,” a piece from Diane Gilliam Fisher’s 2004 collection Kettle Bottom that imagines the voices of dozens of residents of Mingo County, a small Appalachian coal mining community, during the West Virginia labor battles of 1920-1921. Fisher brings a poet’s… Read more →

Public Health and the Dead at Johnstown

In the twenty-four hour news cycle we live in, we frequently are treated to instantaneous images of disasters unfolding around the globe. I am often reminded how disasters do more than destroy the physical infrastructure of the affected areas; they strike at the very core of individual and community identity. The normal rituals of everyday… Read more →

The Paradox of Thanksgiving

With its odd combination of tradition and invention, its appeals to the past and to the future, its ancestor worship and its acceptance of diversity, Thanksgiving is not merely America’s most treasured celebration but its most paradoxical. But at a moment when we are increasingly confronting the United States’ less-than-perfect history and challenging sacred myths,… Read more →

Nursing Thanksgiving

In November 1820, the Reverend John Marsh delivered a Thanksgiving Day sermon in Haddam, Connecticut that couldn’t have been more orthodox and run of the mill, despite its auspicious occasion, the bicentenary of the Pilgrims’ First Landing in 1620. The town fathers deemed the homily worth publishing, and reading it today is perhaps a slog…. Read more →

Heritage is Not History: Historians, Charleston, and the Confederate Flag

It’s hard to be a historian these days without constantly hearing about the supposed irrelevance of your work. After all, it must seem to many observers like we exist in our own academic echo chambers, engaging in ivory tower intellectualism that has little bearing on “real life.” And then, as a nation, we have a week… Read more →

I Was a Bystander in a Police Shooting: What It Taught Me about Police Violence, Memory, and Public Trust

I was returning from a productive, fun academic conference in Tampa, Florida last March, getting in on a 7:35 flight to the Southwest terminal in the New Orleans airport. While I had enjoyed the conference, I was incredibly happy to be coming home to my husband and four-year-old daughter, her souvenirs, or “souvers” as she… Read more →

You’re Wearing That?

In February of this year, Urban Outfitters began selling a tapestry covered with faded gray stripes and adorned with pink triangles. It didn’t take long for customers to notice that the tapestry looked “eerily reminiscent” of the uniforms and badges that the Nazis required gay men wear during the Holocaust. This is not the first… Read more →

George Washington’s Bodies

Many Americans could tell you that George Washington was tall and that he had false teeth. Why? Although he is disembodied in national symbols such as the portrait on the one dollar bill and the massive obelisk and the capital city that bear his name, Americans are no strangers to George Washington’s body. The history… Read more →