While hunting for primary materials covering early contacts between English-speakers and Native Americans, I stumbled across Encyclopedia Virginia. I was quickly hooked. The design is easy on the eye, and the navigation made simple, especially for a site that offers a tremendous amount of informative data and in a multitude of forms. The only downside to the site is the (more…)

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In my hands were the papers belonging to a seized ship from 1743. The ship was French and was sailing from Martinique to Brest. Close to home, a British man of war named the Captain appeared over the horizon. A few hours later, the French merchant vessel was boarded and the crew surrendered. The commander of the HMS Captain was Captain John Byng, who promptly took Captain Simon Daragorry and the crew of Le Dauphin de France to Portsmouth, in southern England. Le Dauphin de France and its contents would become in the parlance of eighteenth-century naval warfare
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Admiral John Byng lives an immortal life. Executed by his government for the crime of “not doing one’s utmost”, time and history have worked to mythologize events.

The latest in memory-making belongs to The Telegraph of London. The newspaper printed one of those ‘On this day’ articles: in this case, a commemoration outlining Byng’s execution by firing squad aboard HMS Monarch (14 March 1757).

Yet The Telegraph’s brief article contained many egregious errors, (more…)

I came across a blog post written by Ted Lienhart entitled, “Characteristics of Historical Thinking.” Here, Lienhart listed fifteen of his favorite history-learned abilities (list provided below). As I read the list, I could not help but think that most, if not all, can be taught and assessed.

Take Lienhart’s first must of historical thinking: the ability to (more…)

Richard, my supervisor, and I were musing over a primary document some years back. Our attempt to dissect the words of an eighteenth-century letter had somehow devolved into a curious struggle to pinpoint the author’s state of mind. How can you really see tone in a letter written in the 1750s? Can you truly get inside the mind of someone who lived 270 years ago and judge their emotional state (more…)

Professor Joyce Appleby stood at the podium one April day in 2002, at San Diego State, University. She had driven down the I-5 from Los Angeles (she teaches at UCLA) to take part in bestowing the Andrew Appleby Memorial Award (I, being the recipient).

With a small crowd gathered, this award-winning historian began with a story about (more…)

It’s true, for years I have extolled the virtues of Wikipedia before my students. As a research tool, “wiki” offers numerous pointing mechanisms that sometimes, at the click of a button, will take a researcher to a (more…)