It’s my pleasure and privilege to be the first to post on the history department’s new blog, Historians@Work. In a time when Facebookers, bloggers, tweeters, texters, and other electronic communicators clog websites and inboxes with musings and minutia, tirades and trivia, raves and rants, and sermons and surmisings, a “decent respect to the opinions of mankind,” to quote Jefferson’s immortal words in the Declaration of Independence, requires of any person or group proposing to enter the blogosphere, “that they should declare the causes which impel them” to add to the millions of words hurled into the internet every minute.
So here goes.
Historians@Work will highlight our roles as interpreters and writers of history, focusing on the journeys we make in the name of research, broadly defined. Some of these will be actual, physical journeys, to archives, to conferences, to places strange and familiar to our readers. Others will be intellectual, as we learn about our world and ourselves through our research. Still others will be practical, even prosaic, as we reflect on the process of revising books and articles for publication, of organizing conferences, of strategizing research arcs. Teaching will certainly appear from time to time—there is, we believe, no firewall between the classroom and the archive—and service responsibilities to our university and professional communities will make the occasional appearance. Occasionally, some of us will comment on how the past can inspire insights into current events or how contemporary life can inform our understanding of the past.
So keep checking in, as we historians of Marquette reflect and inform and ruminate about our journeys, our jobs, our coming to grips with the past and its relation to the present.
Jim is professor and department chair whose most recent book is Sing Not War: The Lives of Union and Confederate Veterans in Gilded Age America.