Skip to main content


Showing posts from 2012

Thinking About Syria

Contemporary Fiction: Junot Diaz's This Is How You Lose Her

Pilgrimmage: Sam Houston Homesite, Independence, Texas

This past Spring Break I drove through Independence and Washington-on-the-Brazos on my way to Austin.  While serving in the US Senate, Sam Houston and his wife made a home here in Independence, close to her mother and the old Baylor University site.  The ruin of a springhouse remains on a nearby piece of land that the Houston's lived on before moving into this home in 1853, but that earlier home was torn down in the 1890s.  After elected Governor of Texas, the Houston's relocated to Austin and this home subsequently changed hands and remains privately owned today.  No tours, preservation efforts, refurbishments, or anything of that nature have been undertaken for this home and sadly, the back is draped in a large blue tarp while the grounds full of garbage worthy of an episode of Hoarders.   For home tours, an earlier, and much more modest, log house-style home that the Houston's lived in during the 1840s and the later "steamboat" style home where he died in the …

AHA 126th Annual Meeting: Chicago, Day Two

Friday, January 6, 2012 The first session of Saturday morning included a panel on Southern kinship during the Early Republic, chaired by Lorri Glover.  The papers all examined family networks as central features in the development of Native American relations with the emerging U.S. government in the immediate post-Revolutionary moment, as a central force in the lives of the generation of antebellum men of an understudy generation who came of age in the 1830s and 1840s, and as the foundation transcended by German immigrant iron masters as their ethnic network slowly subsided beneath a craft/trade and ultimately business elite network in the longer 19th century.
Natalie Inman, Cumberland University, argued that the nature of family networks in diverse tribes on the edge of an expanding U.S. created the social rifts and factionalism in tribes which then impacted negotiations between tribes and the British, Spanish, and U.S. treaty makers.  Her examination of several families within a half …

AHA 126th Annual Meeting: Chicago, Day One

Thursday, January 5, 2012 
After a pleasant enough flight from Houston to Chicago I arrived at O’Hare in the AM, took Chicago’s El trains to the Magnificent Mile shopping district just north of the Chicago River and checked in to my hotel.Everything was smooth, no major commute or registration hassles. After registering at the conference I strolled up Michigan Avenue to the Newberry Library, one of the most extensive independent research institutions in the nation.This privately funded archive and library is open to the public for scholarly and genealogic research.I spent two hours with the library catalog and read a few documents from the 1820s to 1840s that are related to my own research on antebellum Kentucky.I expected the Library would be overcrowded because of the AHA Meeting, but the reading rooms were very comfortable and the staff were pleasant and quick to pull the manuscripts for me.(Thanks especially to Lisa and Meagan)
The first panel that I attended of the weekend, hosted b…