History Carnival #166

Some of the best historical blog writing from May 2017

I’m excited to be hosting the 166th installment of The History Carnival, a monthly showcase of some of the best recent blogging on historical topics from around the world. Each month it’s hosted at a different blog to provide a variety of approaches and perspectives, and this month the pleasure of compiling this eclectic mix is all mine!

First off, it’s an incredibly interesting and important time to be a historian, and it’s good to know they’re not a dying breed. Yale University just released some encouraging news about how history as a major is making a comeback. The future may be in good hands yet.

Two Perspectives of the Smithsonian

Just down the hall from each other at the Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History

There were two recent articles about The Smithsonian Institute’s National Museum of American History that caught my eye. One was an insider look from the museum’s blog by Catherine Eagleton reflecting on six things she discovered during her first 100 days as associate director of the office of curatorial affairs – including the breadth of the museum’s collection: two million objects in their 17,000 cubic foot of archives.

A very different article, which the blog The Way Of Improvement Leads Home led me to, takes a critical but fascinating look at the Smithsonian’s American history museum. Called Blight At The Museum from Current Affair Magazine, it asks whether the museum has become too corporate.

When I visited there last year, I was struck by the combination of pop culture and more traditional serious history, but I kind of love how Elmo and this massive statue of George (a monster in its own right) can co-exist.

Book Reviews

Two bloggers from my US presidents niche, DeadPresidents and The Presidentress, both wrote reviews of some historical books that make me want to buy them.

Anthony Bergen of the spectacular Tumblr DeadPresidents compared the size of David J. Garrow’s new biography Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama to The Complete Works of William Shakespeare – Garrow’s biography (which doesn’t even include Obama’s presidential years) is bigger. 

I don’t know how this is possible unless he included the full text of Obama’s The Audacity of Hope, but I look forward to reading it in forty years when I get that far in my presidential biography reading.

The Presidentress reviewed a very different presidential book, Lincoln in the Bardo. I’m intrigued to read this, partly because my mother-in-law read it for her book club recently and the way she described it made it sound like a bizarre and depressing historical cocktail about Abraham Lincoln, and I am totally down for that.

In his blog Frog In A Well, Jonathan Dresner reviewed a historical comic about a 16th century Korean war that he found at a Kansas City Comicon. I’m not so intrigued to pick this one up, because Dresner ultimately decided it was a “terrible historical comic.”

American History

Last month, Jonathan Rowe looked at what America’s founders meant by the freedom of religion, and how “religion” referred to more than just Christianity in Islam & The American Founding.

I’ve had a lot of people tell me that Andrew Jackson was “a man of his time,” but that always seemed to miss the point of just how influential he was in his time. Last month at the US Intellectual History Blog, Michael Todd Landis looked at how presidents can shape their times in Can Presidents Shape An Entire Era? Trump and the Possibility of a New “Age of Jackson.”

Pocahontas statue in Gravesend, England where she is believed to be buried

Frankie at The Mayfairy related her journey seeking out a famous figure in American history whose story ended across the pond in Pocahontas in Gravesend

And last month, my post The Hypocritical Hagiographies of Harlow Giles Unger looked at what happens first when a biographer lionizes his subjects so much that he ends up contradicting himself, and then what happens when I confront that biographer on Twitter.


If you’re looking for a medieval story about Viking king Cnut the Great’s brutal mutilation of hostages at Sandwich, then lend Matthew Firth your ear. And your other ear. And your hands and your nose and sweet Jesus you do not want to mess with Cnut the Great.

Speaking of Jesus, Matthew Firth also wrote about Easter at his medieval blog The Postgrad Chronicles, and how the reported date that Alfred the Great began to take back Wessex from the Vikings (Easter) may have been a propaganda tool to liken Alfred to Christ.

British History That Goes Up, Blows Up, And Measures Up

Writing for the aeronautical blog From Balloons to Drones, Dr Michele Haapamaki looks at how how British efforts to master heavier-than-air flight suffered from a battle between rival clubs, one of which never even got off the ground. Literally.

Hels at the blog Art and Architecture, mainly, laments the fact that Guy Fawkes Night is less fun in Australia without fireworks and looks at the infamous Gunpowder Plot of the fifth of November, 1605, and the role of Guy Fawkes’s 12 lesser-known Catholic co-conspirators.

The Gunpowder Plot was the work of more than one Guy.

Dr Jonathan Fennell applies his fascinating method of measuring morale to the British Army and the Northwest Europe Campaign.

Horrors of War

In another entry from Art and Architecture, mainly, Hels looks at the devastating consequences of France denying asylum to desperate refugees of the Spanish Civil War in 1936-1944. And Hans Metzner writes about the horrors of Herbert Lange, Nazi founder and commander of a special detail focused on gassing the mentally ill.

Australian Women

Laura Rademaker introduces us to Agnes Maude Royden, a pioneering female preacher in the 1920s in her post Sex in the Pulpit: The feminist preacher for Aussie flappers. Royden was ahead of her time, and preached that female sexuality and pleasure was not something to be ashamed of but in fact a gift from God.

In another post from the Autralian Women’s History Network, Blair Williams looks at Australian prime minister Julia Gillard and why she and other female politicians experience misogynistic media representations.

The next History Carnival will be at Military History and Warfare and hosts are needed from August 2017!




  1. Jonathan Dresner
    June 2, 2017 / 1:27 am

    Nicely done, and thanks for the mention!

    • Howard Dorre
      June 7, 2017 / 12:20 am


  2. Mari Bukofsky
    June 4, 2017 / 7:51 pm

    Perhaps history is not dead after all! There are still those of us who appreciate the fact that the forces that shaped past events are still at play today.

    • Howard Dorre
      November 29, 2017 / 7:13 pm

      I could not agree more!

  3. Joseph
    June 6, 2017 / 8:12 am

    We love the History Carnival each month because it opens new posts that we would never normally see. The post on misogynistic media representations is a breath of fresh air.Hels and JosephArt and Architecture, mainly

    • Howard Dorre
      June 7, 2017 / 12:21 am

      Agreed! Thanks for reading!

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