I love History. It’s as simple as that, really. I can remember as a tiny little thing, looking up at my father’s enormous collection of books ranging on topics from the Old West and World War II, to the Wright brothers’ flight and ancient civilizations, and wanting to devour them all. Over the course of my childhood I read quite a few of dad’s books, and what became clear to me was that it was the people in the books I was fascinated with. I loved their stories, their clothing, their technology–so different from mine–all things I would never know about personally because I lived in a different time. I didn’t know how these stories came to be, but I sensed the importance of their historical voices–these people standing witness to times and places I could never go except through them–and the awesome responsibility I felt to protect and document those legacies.
As I fell in love with history, and figured out how dad’s books came to be, a parallel passion emerged: writing. As a student who rebelled against most of the rules in school, who rejected the rigidity of curriculum, and the stagnation of standardized learning, it was a shock to realize that if I wanted to be a historian I’d have to go to university. Le sigh.
After a long and bumpy road, I did it! I entered college and became a History major. It was an impossibility for me to be there, this kid who got her GED because she’d blown off high school, paying her own way at a small California school. But I was studying history. During my university years, I discovered just how much I didn’t know, how much history there was out there to explore. I read. I researched. I wrote. A lot. I was fortunate to have mentors who took me under their collective wings and helped me grow into a true scholar, one who could take my love of the past and meld it with professional discipline. At once exhilarating and terrifying in the best of ways, my university years cemented my desire to write and teach about history.
Fast forward to now. I am honored and humbled to call myself a working historian. I received my BA and MA in History from the University of Colorado, Colorado Springs, and am currently working toward my PhD in History at the University of Colorado, Boulder. My focus tends to be on United States 19th and 20th century labor, culture and the environment, but I also research and teach the Civil War and Reconstruction, the American West, and Historical Clothing. I’ve an affinity for rooting out the myths and mythologies of the Old West, positively obsessed with cemetery studies, wonder constantly about the shaping of cultural identities, and am completely smitten with cross-disciplinary research. I’ve written about coal mine regulation at the turn of the 20th century in the U.S., child indenture in the American South in 1866, Nazi films and their depiction of women versus Reich propaganda, total war and the Civil War, the myth of Calamity Jane, and more. As I continue to explore these areas, new questions always arise. There is always more to learn.
I’ve recently taken a workshop on podcasting and found the medium well-suited to bringing historical research to a public audience. My overarching goal is to make history accessible for people like my parents, my children, and my friends who aren’t historians, so they can explore people and events of the past that intrigue them.
This blog is really about sharing my love of historical topics with the world at-large; to engage in dialogue about historical events, and perhaps to inspire thoughtful debate and discussion about current events as they relate to historical ones. We often care about past events because our present moment makes them relevant. My desire is for you to find information here that is useful, and fun, and entertaining. And perhaps ignites in you a passion for asking questions about the past.
I truly hope you enjoy your time here.