Always cite your sources (correctly)!

Google Books has been a fantastic (and time-consuming) resource for writing and researching. However, Google is only as good as your search term or phrase. I was looking for more information about a citation from Justin Winsor’s 1884 French explorations and settlements in North America…, so I typed out the relevant quote:


Justin Winsor, French explorations and settlements in North America…, 1884: 94.

However, the original source (which I finally found after chopping off part of the sentence), reads:


Documentary History of the State of Maine, 1869: 393.

I guess Winsor got the gist of what Kohl was saying. It’s odd to me that he copied the first part of the sentence verbatim and then phoned it in by summarizing the second sentiment (with quotes! which was perhaps the most misleading part).

In conclusion, Google makes it easier to catch lazy nineteenth century scholarship (although the process was a bit ridiculous, and involved the Library of Congress,, and other digitized book sources, plus it led me down some other interesting research rabbit holes), and a lot easier to find tons of historical sources that otherwise might not be available at your local library; hopefully, it also raises the bar for accuracy and source citation!

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The Siren’s Call of Graduate School

Once upon a time, as we were disembarking an airplane in Chicago, my partner turned to me and said “I can’t believe we haven’t run in to anyone you know yet.” As we walked off the jet bridge, my uncle was waiting to greet us during his shift break. All that to say, if I’m in Chicago, I inevitably wind up knowing someone, or knowing someone who knows someone, or just running my mouth to make new friends.
One of the new friends I recently made happened to be from the same town in California where I used to live. Coincidentally, she has a kid who graduated from college with an Indigenous Studies-relate degree. That kid was foolish enough to ask me about life after college / university, which led to me composing a rambling email about grad school. I share it with you here in the hopes that some other poor college student can skip the part where they have to email me and just glean something useful from my peripatetic life story:
Biased as I am, I think you can’t go wrong with a BA in History because it helps you hone your critical thinking (and writing!) skills, which will be useful in many pursuits! But I’ll tell you a few of the things I have tried, so you get an idea of the range of graduate school experiences available to one of us. I’ll also send you to the American Historical Association page “What do I do with a degree in History?
Personal anecdotes ahead!
I wanted to get back to Chicago after I graduated from McGill (where I actually only minored in history… but that’s another story!), so I enrolled in the Master of Teaching History program at the University of Illinois Chicago campus. It was a good fit in some ways, because classes were in the evening so I could work during the day, but not a great fit in other ways. I worked full time starting at 5 am, and I am not a night person, so I was tired during night classes and a bit overwhelmed by the grad school work load!
I left the program after a year (it’s a two year program if you’re enrolled full time). My friends who finished now teach in Chicago area high schools and are quite content. My best friend from that program was changing careers, and I feel like it was the perfect program for that. She still had her day job, but she got experience teaching. The program was a great way to gradually move into teaching with support in place (the program helps you find placements to get teaching experience in high school classrooms).
All that to say, you can always try one thing and then successfully change careers later!
As seems to be the case with most people between the ages of 20 and 40 right now, I had a bunch of odd jobs. At some point, my friend who was in it told me about an MA program in Canadian Studies at Carleton University in Ottawa, Ontario. As an international student, I couldn’t work off campus, so I was a Teaching Assistant.
After completing my MA, I was invited to apply for the PhD. I suggest that, if you pursue international options for grad school, you check into your funding situation fairly carefully. International tuition is sort of like out of state tuition for undergraduate studies in the USA — expensive! When I was a TA at UIC it was a much better situation because, as an in-state student, I got paid a stipend in addition to a tuition and fee waiver. At Carleton, as an international student, I got paid but I didn’t get a tuition waiver so there were long stretches of eating ramen and Kraft Dinner laced with edamame. But there were a lot of people in the same situation, so it didn’t feel that weird while it was happening – and the restaurants on campus had student prices, which helped! Plus I had Canadian healthcare, huzzah!
I am currently enrolled in the PhD program at Carleton. I have been in the program for about ten years, with starts and stops for family related reasons. I quite enjoy it and would be happy to tell you more about it if grad school is something you’re interested in. It is also TOTALLY AND COMPLETELY FINE (an probably encouraged!!!) to not go to grad school! It is fairly expensive (in terms of tuition and opportunity cost) and time consuming. But it can also be a lot of fun if you like to read, write, think, and talk about ideas.
One of our high school history teachers told us that school was a great place to be when the economy is not doing well, and I’m not sure if that was the best advice, but I took it (I started grad school around 2008).
Some of my other friends who did graduate studies in the USA (and are USAmerican) had a great time at UIUC (University of Illinois Urbana Champaign). In part, this is probably because you get paid basically the same stipend as a TA regardless of if you live in New York City or Champaign, Illinois. All of my friends who went to grad school in NYC are still paying off their student loans, while all of my friends who went to UIUC are into their tenth year of paying off their mortgages on their houses! (It’s a different story for my international student friends who went to UIUC, of course.) Champaign / Urbana is a very inexpensive place to live, and that makes it a pretty great place to be a grad student or raise a family as a grad student. This also seems to be a selling point for places like Rochester, NY, and other places that might be considered small college towns.
Kids / family / house / mortgage stuff is probably not on your radar right this second (or maybe it is! you do you!), but if you are considering grad school, those might be things that come up while you are enrolled (if it takes you the 5-10 years to finish that it takes many people in the humanities). The cost of living / international tuition / kids pieces are things I didn’t think too hard about beforehand. Therefore, I bestow this wisdom on you in hindsight!
Whatever decision you make, you can always change your mind if things aren’t working for you / change advisors / change your career, or power through and then move on to the next thing.
There are lots of opportunities with on-line teaching and distance courses, but there are definitely benefits to being on campus. I got my first two TA jobs by schmoozing in person with the right faculty member at the right time. Those positions led to other work as a TA and a Research Assistant. I think this holds true in most industries — you have to put yourself out there, show up, get lucky, and then do the work, so I’ll cross my fingers for you!
In academia more generally, there are loads of options for research grants, travel grants, and fellowships that are worth looking into if you go that route. UIUC has a pretty good fellowship finder list that is public. I have applied to several grants and landed a few, but the few I have gotten have been great! This professor’s CV of failure is pretty fantastic if you are ever feeling down about the opportunities you didn’t manage to snag.
I have found it helpful to join list servs and look for obscure research grants. I am on a map list serve and a comix list serv (my dissertation is about maps, comics, and Indigenous erasure / toponyms / a lot of stuff… It has kind of gone off the rails, but that’s part of the fun of research, or at least that’s what I keep telling myself!).
There are loads of conferences, and if that isn’t something you looked in to during undergrad, it might be worth looking in to now. Sometimes they are very pricey, but they often offer reduced rates for students or underemployed folks. A local conference or two, if you’re near a campus hosting such an event, could be a good way to meet more people and learn more about different career options. You might also want to look into your alumni association’s support system. Sometimes they have mentorship programs with people in a field you want to know more about, and you can get connected that way.
Hopefully this is useful and not overly terrifying to a young historian venturing out into the world of not-school. Lots of people enjoy not-school, and lots of people take some more time in school before they get their legs, and some people never leave school (ahem, many professors)! I am sure that whatever you do will turn out to be awesome, and then twenty years from now, you will be emailing (or virtual reality pinging?) youngsters with all of the life advice you have gathered during your adventures that are just ahead of you now!
In conclusion, good luck, you can do it! And there’s no harm in trying different things until you figure out what is going to work for you. Godspeed, young grasshopper!
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Scrabble & Snow

scrabble3Inuit Magazine Issue 116, Winter 2015


Norm Muffitt (?) in the Polar Lines exhibit.


Piccolo & Hilary B. Price, 26 January 2018.



In conclusion, “Inuits” is still not a word.

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Swipes #54: Star light, star bright…

Yep, I was a grown-up adult when I realized that The Starry Plough, The Drinking Gourd, and The Big Dipper are all one and the same constellation (Ursa Major).




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Swipes #53: Fishy Cartouches


Left Herman Moll, circa 1715. Right Veduta d’un palco, e della maniera colla quale si pesca acconcia e secca il Baccala in Terra nuova,” circa 1763.

PS “Happy birthdays” to Nunavut (today) & Newfoundland and Labrador (yesterday). More on birthdays soon…

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#AHA19: Reflections

This is my 250-word reflection about the American Historical Association conference in Chicago (January 2019), written in exchange for a travel grant to attend the conference. “Reflections should not be a summary but rather a provocative and interesting reaction,” so hopefully I delivered.

At #AHA19, I was able to reconnect with colleagues, forge new connections with other historians of cartography, and score some free books in the Exhibition Hall. I also attended several fascinating panels and had an invigorating poster presentation session.


After reading Dr. Owens’s call for land acknowledgements on Twitter, I was pleased to note that two of the speakers in Panel 100: “Indigenous People, Colonialism, Sovereignty, and Dam Projects in the Americas” offered territorial acknowledgements during their talks. Drs. Bauer, Stunden Bower, Garza, and Huettl presented a transnational panel about Indigenous removal and resistance to water projects in Canada, the United States, and Mexico.

As an interdisciplinary scholar, I appreciated their use of photographic archives, oral histories, and cartography. As a transnational scholar, I enjoyed the broad range of their case studies, which covered ground from the Round Valley Indian Reservation in California to Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation and Historyland in Wisconsin to Métis communities in the Canadian Prairies to Mexico City.

This panel offered excellent examples of oral history, “red-lining” the archive (offering an Indigenous [a play on the trope “red Indians”] reading of official government documents – looking for who is present and who is absented), personal experiences, and Indigenous counter-mapping. Much more work remains to be done in these areas, and I look forward to AHA’s continued involvement in supporting local, transnational, and Indigenous historical research.


While I was impressed with the facilitation, presentations, and audience engagement during the question and answer period, I echo Dr. Owens’s request for stronger Indigenous involvement at future AHA conferences, including land acknowledgements beyond Indigenous-topic panels as well as local community engagement.

As a Twitterstorian, I enjoyed connecting with various digital personalities at the Twitterstorians reception on Thursday evening.


On a personal note, I would like to thank you for the opportunity to avail myself of the plentiful hors d’oeuvres at the reception for Graduate Students. It was a fun kick off the conference.

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Swipes #52: First Welfare Recipients

Everett Soop and Marty Two Bulls are both fantastic cartoonists. Although they are separated by several years, they cover a lot of similar topics, possibly because settler colonialism just keeps manifesting in the same ways over and over…

Both point to the original welfare recipients:

Left: Marty Two Bulls, 2003. Right: Everett Soop, 1980.

Left: Everett Soop, January 1970. Right: Marty Two Bulls, November 2018.

And, in more recent events:

Left: Everett Soop, November 1969.
Right: Colten Boushie, 2016, from “I am Colten Boushie. Canada is the all-white jury that acquitted his killer.” by Julian Brave NoiseCat.

Left: Kaya Taitano, January 2019. Right: Everett Soop, July 1976.

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Swipes #51: CAN’t do it without Quebec

CANS SWIPES Oct5 1977 02 17 Quebec

17 February 1977, The Daily News, St. John’sCANS SWIPES 1964 09 22 Quebec

22 September 1964, Peter Kuch, Winnipeg Free Press

Images courtesy of the Begbie Society Contest.

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Stars & Stripes 4 Evah

Because I love, love, love Banal Nationalism by Micheal Billig, I’m going to talk about it some more. I love it. (I’m trying to keep things professional here in case anyone from the American Historical Association conference next month ends up reading through my recent archives. Hello! I love Banal Nationalism and researching banal nationalism in visual culture.)

Anyhow, there are so many USAmerican maps everywhere all the time that I doubt that anyone can keep track of them, but here are some more items to throw into the fray regarding, what else, statehood and the US flag:

Library of Congress

“Waiting for their stars.” Udo Keppler, 23 July 1902 via the United States Library of Congress

“I bought a forty-eight-star American flag, from the 1940s. The flag would remind MDash that his adoptive nation is never finished building itself—that good citizens have a place somewhere in her fruited plain just as more stars can fit in the blue field above those red and white stripes.” – Uncommon Type by Tom Hanks (yeah, that Tom Hanks wrote a book of short stories!)

Mauldin - Stop whistling and move over - 13 March 1959

“All right, all right! Stop whistling and move over!” Bill Mauldin, 13 March 1959, via the United States Library of Congress.




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Cabotia & Fredonia


If you like maps, I have a guest post up at Borealia about Cabotia and Fredonia, alternate names suggested for Canada and the USA, respectively.

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