Call for Papers – History on the Grand: People and Place, Local and Public History Symposium

The City of Cambridge Archives Board invites you to join them on Saturday October 22, 2011 for History on the Grand, a one day local history symposium being held at Cambridge’s City Hall in Downtown Cambridge Ontario. Continue reading

New Book Review: Gord Barnes on Ken Leyton-Brown’s The Practice of Execution in Canada

Today, we feature our sixth book review by somebody from outside of academia of a book written by a professional historian. Amnesty International volunteer, activist and fieldworker Gord Barnes, from Regina, SK, reviews Ken Leyton-Brown’s The Practice of Execution in Canada. Please read the full review HERE.

As always, if you’re interested in reviewing a book for please send us an email at info (at)

Step by Step: Zotero

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This is part of the ongoing ‘step-by-step‘ series which aims to guide users through online research tools and teaching aids. For Monday, stay tuned to a discussion about Twitter in the classroom.

In this post, I’ll explain to students how to install Zotero on their home computers. As a teaching assistant, I’ve found this to be the most useful technological skill that I’ve taught undergraduates – many have confirmed this by noting how they now use it. The explicit inspiration for this comes from William Turkel’s ‘Going Digital in Two Hours,’ a fantastic workshop that he ran for York University’s Graduate Programme in History last year. Kudos to him!

Why Zotero? In short, it will properly format footnotes/citations (critical if you’re taking courses amongst several disciplines) and keep a research database in the ‘cloud’ (i.e. you can log in on any computer and it’s all there). For graduate students and faculty working on large documents, it can also streamline referencing and make sure that you have perfect footnotes.

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Canadian petition to save the Historical Archives of Hungarian State Security

By Christopher Adam

The Government of Hungary faced widespread international criticism last December, after it introduced legislation that curtailed press freedoms. The outcry came from all corners of Europe and North America, and Budapest had little choice but to bow to European Union pressure and amend the ominous law. But journalists, political analysts and foreign politicians paid far less attention to an announcement by Bence Rétvári, the secretary of state at the Ministry of Justice, when he noted that his government would enact legislation leading to the removal and possible destruction of original archival documents currently stored at the Historical Archives of Hungarian State Security (ÁBTL).

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The Revolution Will Be Rubbernecked

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Egypt Revolution (edited)..
Picture remix by Emad Raúf; original photograph by Yannis Behrakis of Reuters. Tahrir square, Cairo, Egypt, 29 January 2011.

While the recent protest movements in the Middle East reveal much about the present state of civic community among the people of those nations — Iran, Tunisia, and Egypt (and a growing list of others) — our reaction to them reveals more about ourselves than we should perhaps find flattering.[1]

I will explain.

Consider the Egyptian “revolution” that started with a few demonstrations on 25 January 2011 and snowballed into a national movement that came to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak and his thirty-year reign — and succeeded in securing it by 11 February 2011.[2]

And Tunisia’s “Jasmine Revolution” that also ended a presidential career — the twenty-four year rule of President Ben Ali — with Ali’s resignation on 14 January 2011, some few weeks after protests broke out in December 2010.

And, of course, Iran’s “Green Revolution” that raged into 2010, long after the initial fury over electoral fraud during the June 2009 presidential election — now, admittedly, less successful by Egyptian Tunisian standards (since President Ahmadinejad has yet to resign) but presumably still simmering.

These revolutions belong to their respective peoples and nations and no one else; yet, they are being championed as proof of the inevitable march of history — aided by technology — toward progress. Continue reading

Buy Domestic, Buy Local, Buy Union? Historical Lessons for Today’s Consumer Activists

American Federation of Labor union label, circa 1900.

Published in: American Federation of Labor: History, Encyclopedia, Reference Book (Washington: American Federation of Labor, 1919); additional digital editing by Tim Davenport, no copyright claimed.

Consumer activism has a long history in Canada. From the union label campaigns of the early North American labour movement, to the more contemporary “Buy Domestic” slogan of some unions, to the “buy local” movement popularized by environmentalists, the link between activism and consumption has long been recognized. I would like to suggest that this trajectory has not been entirely progressive, and that current consumer activists need to learn from the past. It’s not enough to just buy domestically, or locally: people involved in the production process need our attention, too. For example, it is laudable to call for local, sustainable agriculture, but we cannot ignore the exploitative working conditions that can also grow in our local communities.

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Call for Proposals: “Philanthropy and the Environment”

The Rockefeller Archive Center (RAC) invites proposals for a week-long workshop on “Philanthropy and the Environment” to be held in May 2011 at its location in Sleepy Hollow, NY. Proposals are invited from scholars from across a variety of disciplines and in various stages of their career, from post-comp grad students to junior or senior scholars. Participants will be given an opportunity to engage in a number of activities, including working with archival staff to identify relevant document collections, use of environmental collections held by the RAC, and engaging with other scholars across a number of disciplines that are interested in environmental issues. All expenses, including travel, lodging and meals will be covered by the RAC. A brief proposal of no more than 1000 words is due by 15 March 2011. Please see the link below for further details on the program.

Ecological Indigenization: Buffalo-Clad Imperialists at the 49th Parallel

I am going to tell you a story.  It belongs to the time before flour.  Before flintlock muskets.  Before paisley-pattered skirts and starched cotton blouses.

A man wakes up somewhere near Little Missouri National Grassland, North Dakota – except, he didn’t call it that back then.  He looks at his wife, admires the curve of her hips and her soft belly, a half-moon pushing against her buffalo robe.  “Wife,” he says, “We’ve got this river flint.  I am travelling northeast to trade.”  Maybe he wanted some miskwaabik (copper) from around Lake Superior.  Hard to say. Continue reading

New Book Review: Kurt Heinrich on John English’s Just Watch Me: The Life of Pierre Elliott Trudeau: 1968-2000

Today we are publishing our fifth review by someone outside of academia of a book written by a professional historian. Public relations consultant and blogger, Kurt Heinrich, reviews English’s second bibliography of Trudeau. Read the full review HERE.

If you would like to review a book for please send us an email: info (at)

Watching History Online

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I have just completed a dissertation on the history of the Lower River Lea and West Ham on the eastern edge of London in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. During years of research and writing I’ve looked at a wide range of sources from this time period including government documents, newspapers, photographs, maps, oral history interviews, civil engineer’s records and public health reports. Together these sources allowed me to know this area very well, but until today I’ve never seen film footage of the landscape from the late-nineteenth century.

Through pure serendipity I decided to write a post about historical films on the internet two days after the British Film Institute (BFI) uploaded a fifty-five second clip to their YouTube Channel of the launching of the HMS Albion from the Thames Ironworks Shipyard in West Ham. The HMS Ablion was one of the last battleships built on the Thames. This film records a major tragedy, as the launch created wave that capsized a jetty killing almost forty onlookers (it is not easy to figure out exactly where this takes place watching the film). While I knew about this tragedy, I was more captivated by this very short footage of the landscape I’ve been studying for more than five years. The abundance of smoke and smokestacks, the scale of the warship built near the mouth of the Lea and the huge piles of coal in the right of the frame all add to my existing knowledge of this space. This moving image, even of limited quality and length, is different from all the other sources I’ve consulted; it seems to bring history to life.

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