My Big Registration

“I don’t think I’m going to vote, I don’t know enough,” Jessie said. I lowered my clipboard. We were standing on East Campus Mall on a Monday afternoon in October. It was sunny but cold and windy. People weren’t stopping to fill out voter registrations; they just walked by while I asked anyway. But Jessie stopped for a full conversation.

Honorable mention in the 2013 UW System Liberal Arts Essay Competition. A piece on liberal education, and convincing one girl to register to vote. Continue reading

The Myth of Freemasonic Conspiracy

This is a story about a secret society, German politics, and the Holocaust, but it’s moral is as much about modern America and every other industrial society: be careful where you point your assumptions. From the early nineteenth century, suspicion surrounding Freemasonry mixed with antisemitism in the growing confusion of Modernity to bond Jews and Freemasons in the eyes of German people. Continue reading

Ghosts in the Soil

It’s not a new railroad being built; it’s all that remains of an old one. And it leads to something very strange. Down the line there’s a prairie preserve growing over an abandoned ammunitions plant, contaminated soil, and the bones of farm families from before World War II.

Honored as one of Prof. William Cronon’s exemplary place papers and published in the 2013 ARCHIVE, UW – Madison’s undergraduate history journal. Continue reading

Tragedy of The Southern Mines: Susan Johnson’s Roaring Camp

A diverse world of miners, prostitutes, dance halls, and gambling houses gave way, by the end of the 1850s, to a racialized, class-stratified, American culture. In a funny way, the crisis wasn’t yet resolved, and still isn’t today. Roaring Camp isn’t just about the transformation of Gold Rush California; it’s about how the Southern Mines continue to be misrepresented in American cultural memory. Continue reading