In my newest piece for The Atlantic, I examine the history of the idea of "stick to sports" in the United States. Many commentators have traced this message opposing athletes' involvement in social and political debates to the civil rights era. I argue that it dates back to the late nineteenth century, the earliest decades of professional team sports in the United States.
My newest article, which addresses the links between children's publishing and football in the U.S. during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, appears in Smithsonian this morning. Here's an excerpt:
"The centrality of wealthy white boys these now-familiar debates over football’s safety may seem peculiar now when it’s poor and minority young men who predominate in the game. Camp’s books, though, exemplify more than just this inversion. They also reveal that football, like series books and other leisure products and activities, thrived during his time as part of a reconstruction of American childhood. Parents’ focus shifted away from sheltering children from the outside world and toward helping young people develop skills that would enable them to prosper in a rapidly changing culture. It was under these transitional circumstances that football gained legitimacy, and only after this acceptance was the game able to expand into the mass-market entertainment that it is today."
In the most recent entry of History@Work, the community blog for the National Council of Public Historians, I address the question Can Facebook Help Public Historians Build Community? Using our Facebook page for the William Penn Project as an example, I argue that Facebook can help historians not only to gather information for public history projects, but also to build community support for their endeavors. Thanks to the blog editors for allowing me to make this contribution!
I was honored to be asked to deliver the annual Rembert W. Patrick Lecture to the History Department at Guilford College on April 24th. My talk, entitled Why Children's Magazines Matter: Studying Artifacts of Popular Culture, focused on my research process for Commercializing Childhood to illuminate how we can use popular artifacts such as children's magazines to discover broader cultural patterns in U.S. history.
I was pleased to present my latest work on the Royal Rooters at the Popular Culture Association Annual Meeting in San Diego on April 13th. This paper focused on how the genre of biographical writing and the history of that genre are shaping my ideas for how to structure my book.
Today I had the pleasure of speaking to graduate students at the Bank Street School of Graduate Education in New York City. I gave a brief talk entitled "Why 19th Century Americans Wanted Their Children to Read," and then we had a terrific conversation about how the literacy practices of the 19th century continue to shape the way that their students learn to read in 21st century classrooms. Thanks to Mollie Welsh Kruger for inviting me, and to the students for such an engaged and thought-provoking discussion.
I'll be talking about Commercializing Childhood on the WUNC NPR program The State of Things between 12 and 1 pm on October 11th. Please listen, or if you're in the area join us in the live studio audience!
My most recent article for the Atlantic examines the history of censoring children's books in the U.S., and considers the impact that quiet censorship (the choice not to include certain books in libraries or to relegate them to a restricted content shelf) has on young readers and their families.
Backlist is a website where historians recommend the books they love on the subjects they research. They asked me to provide a list for those who were interested in learning about the histories of baseball. It was challenging to get it down to just ten, but I think I've produced a good diverse starter list.
My newest article is a follow-up to the Ring Lardner/Babe Ruth piece from a couple of weeks ago. I thought it would be interesting to explore the experiences of professional ballplayers outside the major leagues in 1916.