The Cones and the Enduring Legacy of Greensboro's Jewish Community

This afternoon at 5 pm, I will be moderating a panel at Temple Emanuel in Greensboro on the Cone family and their impact on the Jewish community of Greensboro. The event is in advance of the the Touring Theatre’s upcoming production, *Dr. Claribel, Miss Etta and the Brothers Cone," which will premiere in Greensboro on April 23rd. The event will feature a reading from the play, music from the Sinai Mountain Ramblers, and  the panel with author and historian Leonard Rogoff, family member Alan Cone, longtime community Dr. Edgar Marks, and Weatherspoon Art Museum Curator of Collections, Elaine Gustafson.

Facebook as a Tool for Teaching History

On February 10th, I presented a paper entitled "Using Facebook as a Community Engagement Tool for the William Penn Project" at the annual Pathways to Achieving Civic Engagement (PACE) Conference for North Carolina, which was held on our High Point University campus. This paper is part of my endeavor to spread the word about the value of Facebook as an instrument for organizing and enriching undergraduate history courses. 

Why Children Get Gifts on Christmas Published in The Atlantic

My piece on the origins of the American ritual of giving children presents on Christmas was published in The Atlantic on Christmas morning. Here's an excerpt:

"Christmas gift-giving, then, is the product of overlapping interests between elites who wanted to move raucous celebrations out of the streets and into homes, and families who simultaneously wanted to keep their children safe at home and expose them, in limited amounts, to commercial entertainment. Retailers certainly supported and benefited from this implicit alliance, but not until the turn of the 20th century did they assume a proactive role of marketing directly to children in the hopes that they might entice (or annoy) their parents into spending more money on what was already a well-established practice of Christmas gift-giving."

Star Wars article picked up by Time Magazine!

"Identifying these and other parallels between the Star Wars films and nineteenth-century children’s literature is more than just a fun parlor game for history and sci-fi nerds. It’s an indication of how little the moral expectations for children’s entertainment changed over the course of 150 years, even as the means of delivering that entertainment have increased so dramatically. These expectations derived largely from families seeking to shape the nature of their children’s consuming habits, and they predate and survive the twentieth-century expansions of corporate marketing to children that so many commentators have bemoaned. Thus when parents like me walk into a store and complain about the conflicts that omnipresent Star Wars merchandise create with children who beg for the newest action figure or t-shirt, we can place some of the blame on Disney. But perhaps we should also assign some of the responsibility – at least for the nature of those products – to ourselves."