Sharing Our Work: Reflections on Digital History for the New Year

* cross posted from Educating Women *

Campus may be quiet but the Greenfield Center is open for business.
Campus may be quiet but the Greenfield Center is open for business.

Last week, I returned to Bryn Mawr after nearly a week in New York for the annual meeting of the American Historical Association (AHA). My meeting was a busy one — catching up with old friends and mentors, checking in with one of my other professional organizations (the Coordinating Council for Women in History), helping to organize THATCamp AHA, and chairing a panel on feminist work in digital history. It was an exhilarating and exhausting week. But despite the conference fatigue, I left New York feeling energized for the work I’ll be taking on for the Greenfield Center this semester: teaching my first course, Higher Education for Women: Bryn Mawr and Beyond; advising students doing archives fieldwork as part of Bryn Mawr’s Praxis program; continuing to work on the NEH-funded Seven Sisters digital project; and planning our May conference, Women’s History in the Digital World 2015.

Perhaps because our conference CFP is due later this week, I spent a lot of time at AHA thinking about how conferences bring us together, and about how we can support each other and build audiences for our work.

Read more at Educating Women, the blog of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. [link]

Can DH Answer Our Questions? Looking Ahead to AHA 2015

* cross posted from Educating Women *

digital iconIt’s finals week at Bryn Mawr, which means that campus is getting quieter by the day. But for historians, the December break also requires getting ready for the American Historical Association (AHA) annual meeting, held the first weekend of the new year. On Sunday, January 4, I’ll be chairing a fantastic session organized by Penn State graduate student Kathryn Falvo, featuring work at the intersection of women’s and gender history and the digital humanities. We’ll be joined by new University of Virginia Ph.D. Tamika Richeson, and Dr. Wendy E. Chmielewski, George Cooley Curator of the Swarthmore College Peace Collection.

Set your alarm clocks: we’re scheduled for a 9am start, discussing topics central to the Greenfield Digital Center’s mission:

AHA Session 159: Can DH Answer Our Questions? Using Digital Humanities to Address the Concerns of Feminist Historians …

Read more at Educating Women, the blog of The Albert M. Greenfield Digital Center for the History of Women’s Education. [link]

Upcoming Engagements (or, Where to Find Me)

It’s September, and with the last of my summer travel behind me, I’m starting to refocus on the mission of the Greenfield Digital Center and getting our work out into the world. So there’s a new page on this site: Upcoming Engagements. I might be talking about oral history, social media, and/or the digital humanities in a city near you over the next year, so let’s connect!

Moving On

I went to graduate school and all I got ...were these t-shirts?

 

I’m taking a break from packing boxes to show off two new t-shirts: one, from my first trip to the (16th Annual) Berkshire Conference of Women Historians, the other, my official University of Chicago History Department Alumni t-shirt (not available for sale, they’ll have you know).

About that alumni tee? Yes, I passed my dissertation defense on May 19! So with that, Dr. Monica, Ph.D., will see you in Philadelphia on July 1. Now, back to those boxes…

On Childhood

Yesterday, Lincoln Mullen‘s tweets (and some great responses) about sources for the study of “U.S. children’s religion” got me thinking about the ways in which the projects I’m working on increasingly flirt with the small but growing literature on religion and childhood.

Certainly, for the middle-class Catholics I study, providing children with new, distinctively “American Catholic” reading materials was the impetus for a wide range of new publishing ventures in the 1870s and 1880s. [Some readers will note this is also the era of the Baltimore catechism, published in 1885.]  Right now I’m writing on Isaac Hecker’s lesser-known labor of love, The Young Catholic, a monthly paper for children founded in 1870, and edited by his sister-in-law, Josephine Hecker. Yes, that’s her here, documented in a 1957 issue of the Catholic comic book series, Treasure Chest of Fun & Fact (digitized by the CUA Archives).**

Image

The Young Catholic provided children in Catholic academies and Sunday schools with games, stories, and the chance to see their names in print — all under the warm, loving guise of a fictional editorial family: columnists “Uncle Ned,” “Aunt Jane,” and a host of “cousins” meant to be understood by readers as running the show (and providing Josephine Hecker relative anonymity). But back to Twitter. Lincoln made a good point point — we talk about children in terms of education, but how are they understanding religion? How do they participate in the making of their own religious subjectivity?

Portrait, 1950s. Collection of the author.
Portrait, 1950s. Collection of the author.

I don’t have the answers to these questions yet, of course, but the other reason I’ve been thinking about childhood lately is a conference paper I put together for the upcoming University of Chicago conference “Invisible Designs: New Perspectives on Race and American Consumer Capitalism.” Thanks to a cache of found photography and a personal interest in midcentury Nuyorican memoirs, I’ve become increasingly fascinated by the visual and religious worlds of Puerto Rican Catholics in twentieth-century New York. At the conference, I’ll be speaking about First Holy Communion portrait photography, and the intersection of religious and commercial impulses in El Barrio. And now that the Archives of the Archdiocese of New York is back open to the public, this conference paper may spin itself into an article…someday. I have a dissertation to finish, after all!

In Chicago October 24-25? Join us at Regenstein Library for the conference and visit the new exhibit, “Race and the Design of American Life.” The conference schedule is now online [link].

** More interested in comic books? Check out Matthew John Cressler’s recent RiAH post, and join me at Loyola next Tuesday, October 15, where Robert Orsi will lead a discussion of his chapter “Printed Presence: Twentieth-Century Catholic Print Culture for Youngsters in the United States,” in Education and the Culture of Print in Modern America (2010).

Fall 2013: Teaching, Talking, and Tending to the Dissertation

As fall quarter approaches, I’m preparing to teach an undergraduate seminar at the University of Chicago. Sex + Sexualities in Modern U.S. History (GNSE22704|HIST27205) will kick off the second full year of the Closeted/Out in the Quadrangles project at the Center for the Study of Gender and Sexuality, in partnership with the University archives at Special Collections Research Center.

Interested in hearing more on our progress? I’ll be speaking about the project at the University’s Humanities Day (October 19) and the Gender and Sexuality Studies Workshop (October 29), and with the Digital Humanities Caucus at the American Studies Association annual meeting (November 22).

In addition, I’m thrilled to be named a Junior Fellow of the Martin Marty Center for the Advanced Study of Religion at the University of Chicago Divinity School for the 2013-2014 academic year. As a Marty Fellow, I’ll be completing my dissertation and teaching a course on U.S. women’s history in Spring 2014.

Fall quarter starts in 18 days. Are you ready?!

“Collecting on the Edges” at Big Berks 2014

I’m delighted that a panel I organized for the 2014 Berkshire Conference on Women’s History (aka the Berks) has been accepted. Collecting on the Edges: Gender and Sexuality in the University Archive will feature not only our efforts at the University of Chicago to build new archival collections in gender and sexuality, but also the work of graduate students, faculty, and librarians at repositories including the Women & Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago, the Pride Library at the University of Western Ontario, and the Transgender Archives at UVic.

Through collection profiles and explorations of queer and archival theory, we will highlight how sexuality has been hidden in established University archives, and can become a new collections priority at our institutions. In doing so, we hope to explore issues of public engagement in LGBT history, the role of archives in mediating knowledge of this history, and the challenges and opportunities of partnering with University repositories.

See you in Toronto next May!