Howard & Frances Keller Endowed Professor of History, University of Washington
Resources & links
"There is a new profession of trail blazers, those who find delight in the task of
establishing useful trails through the enormous mass of the common record."
Vannevar Bush, 1945
Why I love the Internet
It's a great time to be a student and teacher of history, because so many amazing things can be discovered online, from original documents to extraordinary digital maps and visualizations of the past. This section has some of my top places around the web to learn about history, especially three things that I teach and write about most often: American national politics, the history of technology and computing, and the history of cities in the US and around the world. I've also added in lists of how-to resources for undergraduate and graduate students, including my top ten tips for getting the most out of History grad school.
General U.S. history
Here are my go-to resources on American history, all written and edited by professional historians, all geared for public audiences. If you are a K-12 history teacher, also check out the abundant resources compiled by the American Historical Association and the Organization of American Historians.
Historically informed commentary from The Washington Post.
America then for Americans now, written and edited by top scholars.
Online magazine aggregating quality, historically-informed journalism and commentary on current events.
The blog of the Organization of American Historians.
The award-winning blog of the African American Intellectual History Society, readings and analysis of black thought and culture from early America to the present.
From the Society for U.S. Intellectual History, historiographical debates and commentary on the practice of history and its role in public life.
History in photographs
There's so much to explore in this category, and it's expanding every day. But remember that there's a lot of stuff out there that isn't accurately captioned or sourced, or it's used without the photographer's permission. Here are some of my top sources for high-definition, properly sourced and credited vintage photographs. If you reproduce any of them, please properly caption and credit as well.
Here's the place to start for the definitive collection of photographs and print images from U.S. history, largely pre-World War II, and mostly in the public domain.
Outstanding collection of digitized manuscripts and photographs relating to Pacific Northwest history, from multiple regional archives and depositories.
Remarkable collection of color photographs from the Great Depression and World War II made available as part of the Library of Congress' photo stream on Flickr, where you also can find excellent archival collections from other American museums and libraries, as well as snapshots of everyday life taken by ordinary people (like these). Filter your search for images with Creative Commons licensing.
Their tagline is "always something interesting," and they're right. A vintage photography blog featuring thousands of high-definition images of everyday life in America from the 1850s to 1950s. New photographs added nearly every day.
Another excellent, well-curated site featuring a wide ranging array of subjects. Particularly good if you are looking for non-U.S. images. Prepare to get lost down this rabbit hole for a while.
The tech industry, past and present
Based in the heart of Silicon Valley, the CHM has online collections on all things computational, from artifacts to documents to advertisements, plus a great repository of oral history interviews with Valley pioneers.
Large and growing collection of documents and personal recollections, a collaboration of IEEE and others.
Oral histories of the semiconductor industry, including interviews with early leaders of Fairchild Semiconductor, Intel, and more.
Recollections and personal histories of the men who built and financed the technology industry. A project of the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley.
Collection of primary source documents on the history of the integrated circuit and the development of the modern computer.
Data and standards for measuring growth of internet and related technologies worldwide, and their social impact.
Board on Science, Technology, and Economic Policy of the National Academies
Access to full text of major reports relating to innovation and technology-driven economies in the US and abroad.
Understand how the past informs the present by keeping up on the latest news in the technology industry. Seattle is home to one of the best ones out there, for news and views on what's happening in the region's tech community, Silicon Valley, and beyond. They're so cool that they actually talk to history professors.
American political history
Any student of mine knows that I roll these out nearly every term. Archive of television commercials from every major-party candidate from Ike to Donald. Excellently curated online exhibition from the American Museum of the Moving Image.
Based at the Miller Center of Public Affairs at the University of Virginia, contains refereed online resources on American Presidents and the Presidency, from the founding to the present.
Established in 1999 as a collaboration between John T. Woolley & Gerhard Peters at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Their searchable archives contain more than 110,000 documents related to the study of the Presidency.
The National Archives' affiliated presidential libraries now have extensive online exhibitions and document collections on presidents and their times.
The lecture series behind the book. Videos of my 2012 public lecture series on the elections of 1912, 1932, 1968, and 1992, aired on Seattle's UWTV.
Curated and annotated list of urban research institutes and programs in U.S. and global universities.
From the University of Richmond's Digital Scholarship Lab, unprecedented online access to the national collection of "security maps" and area descriptions produced between 1935 and 1940 by one of the New Deal's most important agencies, the Home Owners' Loan Corporation (HOLC).
The blog of the Urban History Association.
Urban Planning, 1794-1918
A searchable anthology of primary documents discussing city planning in the United States and Europe, compiled by Prof. John Reps.
Pictures of American Cities
Photographs from the holdings of the National Archive and Records Administration.
Two glimpses into America's urban past from the Library of Congress: The Life of a City: Early Films of New York, 1898-1906 and Before and After the Great Earthquake and Fire: Early Films of San Francisco, 1897-1906.
The Welikia Project
Historical visualization project of the Wildlife Conservation Society that explores the original ecology of Manhattan. Uncover pre-European Manhattan Island, block by block.
The extraordinary photographs of Camilo Jose Vergara, documenting thirty years of changing landscapes in poor, minority communities in the urban United States.
Metropolitan Policy Program at the Brookings Institution
Research and commentary on land use, regional governance, transportation, education, and housing in American cities and suburbs.
A moderated, multi-disciplinary forum for discussion and dissemination of scholarship on urban history and urban studies. Features teaching center with syllabi, primary resources, and other tools for teaching about cities and suburbs.
London School of Economics research institute addressing urban sustainability in the world's megacities.
Resources for undergraduate students
You are taking a History class or, even better, majoring or minoring in History. Way to go! In terms of preparing you to write, talk, think, and argue effectively, "History is kind of the king." Here are some resources that can help you ace that course and wow your professors, friends, and future employers.
First, here are some of the how-to handouts I've put together for my students over the years (other teachers and professors should feel free to download and use, but please give me proper attribution).
Next, here are some resources at the University of Washington.
Assistance with writing problems and issues encountered in crafting successful History papers
The Center offers tutoring, class discussion sections, and a drop-in Writing Center for writing help.
Offers writing and research assistance by appointment.
Students can meet individually with a librarian who will help them research a particular topic.
Last, some resources beyond the UW.
A basic introduction to historical research for anyone and everyone who is interested in studying the past, from Prof. William Cronon of the University of Wisconsin.
Step-by-step aids to developing and writing an outstanding college research paper, from Prof. Patrick Rael of Bowdoin College.
Very useful handbook on organization, tone, structure, and style, from the History Department of Hamilton College.
From the Boston University Department of History.
Resources for graduate students
The University of Washington History Department currently enrolls more than 60 scholars pursuing MA and PhD degrees in a wide range of fields. Ours is in the top third of History PhD programs nationwide, and benefits from a large and vibrant university community and a location in beautiful Seattle. We work hard, have fun, and get to do a lot of hiking.
If you are a prospective student and would like to learn more about our program, our people, and application information, please visit the Department of History's Graduate Studies page.
If you are a current student here or at another program, there are a number of resources that can help you get the most out of your training, enjoy this intellectual journey, and prepare for the professional world ahead. Inspired by Claire Potter's Ten Commandments of Graduate School, here are my suggestions of twelve things you can do to link into grad school life and the broader profession (and none of them will cost you a dime):
1. Sign up for H-Net. This is an invaluable professional network that hosts edited listservs, job boards, conference announcements, teaching resources, book reviews, and more. You can subscribe to email listservs that correspond to your scholarly interests as well as find the most comprehensive job board in the profession.
2. Make the American Historical Association website your browser's home page. You'll keep up with key developments in the academic world as well as public issues of relevance to historians.
3. If you are on Facebook, "like" the UW History Librarian to get Theresa Mudrock's carefully curated feed of interesting news about history and the humanities.
4. Sign up for Twitter and get to know the world of #twitterstorians. Think about how you want to join the historians who are getting their research and insights out there into the public discussion: write an op-ed, a blog entry, even just a thoughtful 140 characters.
5. Get to know the major journal in your field. For Americanists, this would be The Journal of American History. Keep up with what's new in these and other journals by subscribing to Table of Contents alerts and availing yourself of the free content online. But also remember that you can read the full articles through your university's institutional subscription. What's your go-to journal? Find out by consulting the AHA's Directory of History Journals.
6. Go to talks on campus. Attend talks even if they seem far afield from your interests; you will be amazed by how this will help you think about your own work in fresh ways. If you are here at the UW, participate in the History Colloquium on a regular basis, and consider presenting your own work for feedback. (And when you do that - on campus or at academic conferences - make sure you read up on how to give a great academic talk.)
7. Embrace the digital. Technological tools are altering how we research, teach, and publish. You don't have to become an expert programmer (although the free tutorials at codecademy.com are pretty nifty), but you do need to understand how digital tools relate to what you do and how you do it. At UW, a great place to start is the Simpson Center for the Humanities' Digital Humanities program.
8. Think about your online professional identity. Make sure you have a page on your departmental web site. If you want to go one step further, build a web page of your own using Google Sites, Wordpress, or another platform. (I built this page using Strikingly.)
9. Teaching and public speaking is a huge part of what we do, but often graduate students get thrown into the deep end without getting some pro tips first. I've become a better teacher the longer I've been at it, but I also benefited greatly from watching other great teachers do their thing. To get started, check out How to Give a Lecture, where the prize-winning Stanford historian David M. Kennedy explains how it's done. Then, in addition to attending public talks by visiting speakers, consider auditing lectures given by faculty in your department who teach your subject to get a better sense of lecture structure and content. Last, get attuned to research about attention spans and figure out your go-to techniques for keeping students engaged and learning.
10. The life of the mind costs money. Throughout graduate school and beyond, you'll be repeatedly having to convince people why they should give you money to support your work, and apply early and often to all the external sources you can (hey, you never know if you'll get funding unless you try!). The Graduate Funding Information Service at the UW is a one-stop shop for identifying internal and external funding sources. The UW Graduate School holds information sessions about many of these larger programs and keeps a calendar of fellowship deadlines. Two great guides for perfecting your pitch: The Art of Writing Proposals (by the Social Sciences Research Council) and Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competitions by Christina Gillis.
11. Get career-minded from Day One of graduate school. Don't let it consume you, but have a clear sense of the kinds of jobs you'd like to have and build the skills you need to get them. Be deliberate, be confident, and be prepared. To get a sense of what's out there, check out the AHA Career Center, the H-Net Job Guide, and the Organization of American Historians Career COACH. Understand the other places the PhD might take you by watching the web series sponsored by the AHA profiling historians beyond academe: What I Do: Historians Talk About Their Work. And if you land an interview for an academic job, it is useful to review Mary Corbin Sies' list of questions you should be prepared to answer.
12. Have a life outside graduate school. In between all that reading and writing, make time to sleep, exercise, and spend quality time with people who do entirely different things for a living. If you are in Seattle, this is one place to start.
Last: remember that you aren't supposed to know everything. If you have a question or concern, talk to your faculty committee members, your Graduate Chair, and your graduate office staff before small problems become big ones.