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.
It’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:
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!
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).**
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?
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 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.
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.