A Love of All Things Old: The Story of Jackie Clarke

Late in the spring semester last year, I was asked along with another Villanova student if I would be interested in acting as a guinea pig for a brand new two-month internship funded by the generosity of Emily C. Riley of the Connelly Foundation, the department, and the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick. The internship was a brand new collaboration between Villanova and the Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina, Co. Mayo. I jumped at the chance being that I have a passion for Irish history, and it was the perfect professional opportunity for someone just coming out of a Master’s program. It would turn out that this two-month internship would become so much more than a professional opportunity, largely in thanks to the nature of the collection itself.

The Jackie Clarke Collection in Ballina, Co. Mayo was born out of one local Mayo man’s love for all things old, and a passion for Irish culture and history. Jackie Clarke was a well-known and loved Ballina local and the son of newsagents and grew to love scrapbooking at an early age, making his first book of news clippings at the age of twelve. From there Jackie’s love grew as he did, culminating in a collection of over one hundred thousand artifacts relating to Irish history, covering a period of four hundred years by the end of his lifetime. Jackie was a fishmonger by trade, and lived above his shop with his wife Anne, and their five sons.


(A young Jackie Clarke)

By the time he had died, Jackie had made his wishes known in his will, asking that his wife donate the collection to the Mayo County Council with the hope that the Council would be able to facilitate the creation of a museum for Ballina. Jackie’s wishes came with several stipulations; the items could not leave Mayo, could not be sold, and any resulting museum had to be free of charge. He had hoped that it could be his gift to Ballina and Mayo.

The building that was eventually chosen to house the museum itself is a revitalized bank in the heart of Ballina, known as the Provincial bank. It is a stately and dignified three story brick and mortar building. It was originally built in 1881, and used as a bank until 1977. After the bank shut down, the building went through a series of different uses before falling into disrepair until the Mayo County Council rescued it in 2008 in order to give Jackie’s legacy a home.

Prior to being housed in the museum Jackie’s collection lived with the Clarke family in their apartment and was tucked into every nook and cranny, wrapped in paper bags and newspapers. After Jackie’s death, and Anne’s decision to adhere to his wishes and donate the collection to Mayo, the collection was placed in the repository above the local library a block away from the bank, where the archives remain today. And, despite the Jackie Clarke being a small house museum, it is flourishing today thanks to a wealth of exhibits, and a beautiful garden that is open to the public, and often used for community programing.

JCC Garden.jpg

(Part of the back garden set up for a civil ceremony)

The character of Jackie’s collection is part of what made the collection and the museum such a pleasure to work with. Each box, each artifact, held the potential for delightful surprise. Because of the inherent variety within the Collection itself, the work I was lucky enough to do was equally as varied. For example, one of our first assignments after starting at the Jackie Clarke was to help photograph and catalog a collection of pipes and other items that came from a pub that had closed in town, but the proprietor had not wanted the items to be separated, so he gave them to the museum for safekeeping.

We also worked reception twice a week where we greeted and helped visitors. It was the perfect balance of archival work and public history that culminated in a joint exhibit between myself and my fellow intern. Our exhibit was a visual exploration of Jackie’s own collection of issues of the Illustrated London News, one of the first illustrated newspapers of its kind:

exhibit photo

If the internship is to become a long-standing relationship between Villanova and the Jackie Clarke, as is hoped, its success will not hinge on what the museum has to offer alone. My time in Ballina was made complete not only by my own work but by the co-workers, neighbors, and friends I met while I was there. Ballina, Co. Mayo and its people have as much to offer future interns as the museum itself does, and I can only hope that it continues.


The Opening of the Museum of the American Revolution

“The American war is over, but this is far from being the case with the American Revolution. On the contrary, nothing but the first act of the great drama is closed.”
– Benjamin Rush, 1787

MoAR Image

The Opening Ceremony

The Museum of the American Revolution (M*AR) opened this Wednesday, April 19, 2017, on the 242nd anniversary of the Battle at Lexington and Concord and the beginning of the American Revolution. The opening ceremony represented the many components, exhibits, interests, and people involved in the creation of the Museum. On January 6, Blake McGready posted “Previewing the Museum of the American Revolution” after he attended a lecture by R. Scott Stevenson, the Vice-President of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programming, on the significance of the Museum. McGready wrote, “Since the War for Independence ended in 1783, all sorts of people have debated its meaning and legacy. However, the MoAR seems to be entering into this conversation at a precarious moment of heightened political divisions and fear of future uncertainties.”

The opening of the M*AR on Wednesday included such debates through a myriad of voices in the collections within the Museum and the speakers during the opening ceremony at the Museum’s outdoor plaza on the corner of 3rd and Chestnut Streets.

Opening day activities started with a tribute to the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier of the American Revolution at 8:00 a.m. in Washington Square Park and continued in front of Independence Hall. Around 10:30 a.m. the official dedication took place outside the Museum. Before the ribbon was cut and the Museum opened to the public, a number of speakers paused to reflect on the project and the contested meanings represented by the Museum.

The opening ceremony began with a performance of the Star-Spangled Banner by vocalist Jamez McCorkle. Michael Quinn, Museum President and C.E.O., was first to address the audience, followed by Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf. The following speaker, David McCullough, author of 1776, began his address by stating that “the American Revolution still goes on,” a theme that is prevalent in the Museum and in many of the speeches. “It’s not easy to understand the past,” he continued, “…it was their present, not ours…” Yet he and other speakers alluded to a continued legacy that is part of the nation’s present.

Ray Halbritter, an Oneida Nation Representative and Museum Board Member, commented on the omission of Native American’s from the national narrative and much of the discourse surrounding the Revolution, but added that, “these omissions only make this museum more significant.” Halbritter argued that the Museum is “not an exercise in self-congratulation.” The next speaker was Colonel John E. Bircher III, member of the Military Order of the Purple Heart, who discussed the Purple Heart and George Washington’s creation of its precursor the Badge for Military Merit in 1782.

Sydney James Harcourt then performed “History Has Its Eyes On You” and “The Room Where It Happens” from the Broadway musical Hamilton with students from the Philadelphia High School for the Creative and Performing Arts.

Following their performance, Cokie Roberts, author of Founding Mothers and Ladies of Liberty, described the long “eight years of American Revolution” and the importance of varied perspectives. Dr. Vincent Brown, Charles Warren Professor of American History and Professor of African and African American Studies at Harvard University, paraphrased a quote by Fredrick Douglass from his July 5, 1852 address, “What is the fourth of July to the African American?,” Brown asked. Douglass answered in his 1852 speech that it is “a day that reveals to him, more than all other days in the year, the gross injustice and cruelty to which he is the constant victim.” Brown argued Wednesday, that the opening of the Museum is a reminder to pursue a rendering of the American Revolution that rebukes triumphalism; one that is “not content with reassuring origin stories.”

Next to speak was the Museum Chairman, General John P. Jumper, followed by a few words of thanks from Marguerite Lenfest on behalf of her husband Gerry Lenfest, Founding Museum Chairman Emeritus.

The keynote address was given by former Vice President Joe Biden, who explained that when preparing his speech he settled on a fundamental question, “What is this museum intended to stand for?” A question that he argues is “as relevant today as ever.” Biden continued, “What was the experiment about? I think it was about an idea…the revolutionary idea of the consent of the governed.” He discussed the role of Philadelphia as a center of revolutionary activity as well as the development of  ideas after the meeting of the First Continental Congress in 1774. It took “…thirteen years to put ideas into a document of governance…” Biden argues, however, that the institutions created  by the Revolution are the “guarantor not the deliverer” of rights, alluding to the unfulfilled promises and internal contradictions of the Revolution. He concluded his speech by exhorting the audience to analyze political “judgement not motive,” to search for a consensus, and to remember the revolutionary legacy of the “consent of the governed.” [1]

Following Biden’s remarks the ribbon was cut and the Museum was officially opened to the public. I toured the Museum the next day, April 20, 2017.


Main Galleries

There are four main interconnected galleries inside the Museum, “Becoming Revolutionaries (1760-1775),” “The Darkest Hour (1776-1778),” “The Revolutionary War (1778-1783),” and “A New Nation (1783-present).” Upon entering the first of the galleries visitors are met with “Prologue: Tearing Down the King” a video representation of colonists removing the statue of King George III from its stand in Bowling Green Park, New York on July, 9, 1776 after the Declaration of Independence was read to the crowd. The video ends with the question, “How revolutionary was the American Revolution?”

Visitors are then introduced to the many peoples living in British Colonial America and their views regarding the British crown in the aftermath of the French and Indian War (1754-1763). The following room includes “Boston’s Liberty Tree” a life-sized replica of the elm near Boston Commons under which the Sons of Liberty often met. The room includes an analysis of Paul Revere’s engraving of the Boston Massacre, “The Bloody Massacre in King-Street, March 5, 1770 by a party of the 29th Regiment” (Boston, 1770). The exhibit draws attention to the depiction of colonists as innocent and unarmed victims. It also notes the exclusion of Crispus Attucks from Revere’s engraving and compares it to the lithograph by J.H. Bufford, “Boston Massacre, March 5th, 1770,” (Boston, 1856), which places Attucks in the center of the frame and clubs in the hands of the Boston colonists.

The next main gallery, “The Darkest Hour,” features the “Oneida Nation Theater” which explores the Oneida’s debates prior to the decision to ally with the American revolutionaries despite the alliance of most of the nations within the Iroquois Confederacy with the British, who promised to protect Iroquois land in return. Visitors can also enter the “Battle of Brandywine Theater,” an immersion experience which depicts the loss of lives during the battle.

FullSizeRender (1)

The final two main galleries include the final years of the war and the establishment of the United States of America. “A Revolutionary War” gallery is home to a replica privateer ship and a gallery devoted to the war and its affect in the southern colonies. The gallery poses the question “Could enslaved people find liberty, either in the American or British Armies?” by considering the hopes and risks of enslaved people in joining the fight. Many hoped that their service would be rewarded with freedom, but this was seldom the case. In 1795 Britain announced that enslaved people owned by rebelling colonists would be freed in return for joining the British army. Most of the enslaved people who enlisted with the British died of disease, starvation, or battle wounds. Any hope of freedom was lost after the American victory at the Battle of Yorktown. Similarly, few enslaved people who fought with the revolutionaries and survived the war were freed.

The final gallery features the debates surrounding the end of the Revolution and the formation of a new nation. The film “The Ongoing Revolution” asks, “What type of nation did the Revolution create?” It considers the legacy and promises of the revolution and implies that the American Revolution is not yet complete, that its future remains undecided. [2]


In addition to the videos and small theaters within the galleries there are two large theaters. The film “Revolution” can be viewed on the first floor in the Lenfest Myer Theater and “Washington’s War Tent” is in the second floor theater. The first film is comprehensive and includes many of the images from the gallery. Visitors may choose to view it first in order to provide themselves with a framework, or, as I did, last as a summation. “Washington’s War Tent” includes one of the most remarkable artifacts housed in the museum, Washington’s marquee.

My discussion of the galleries is in no way comprehensive. All tickets to the Museum provide admission for two consecutive days. In order to fully engage in each of the galleries, many visitors may find that one day is simply not enough time. There are numerous exhibits, films, and interactive displays each of them as layered and complex as the ideas they represent. By including varied perspectives, voices, and primary sources the Museum is engaging the ideas of the Revolution and the concepts of liberty and freedom, fraught with disparity and conflict. The result is a museum in which the American Revolution is simultaneously grounded in a specific historical moment and extended into the present as an idea.


Visitor Information:

The Museum of the American Revolution

101 South Third Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106

(877) 740-1776

Extended summer hours: 9:30 a.m.- 6:00 p.m.

Tickets are available online or at the Main Entrance [3]

The Grand Opening Celebration continues this weekend April 22-23.


[1]  The Opening Ceremony at 10:30 a.m. was a seated ticketed event. The ceremony was streamed live online: https://www.amrevmuseum.org/opening-celebration-livestream

[2] “Museum Guide & Map” Museum of the American Revolution, 2017.

[3] Information can be found here: https://www.amrevmuseum.org/visit


The “IT” of the “Information Wanted” Project

 Written by Margaret Strolle, Karyna  Hylvynska and Chris Byrd

About six weeks ago, the Monday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer ran a story entitled “Families torn apart by slavery sought lost loved ones in newly archived ads.” It covered a joint project between Margaret Jerrido of the Mother Bethel AME Church and Villanova History Department’s own Dr. Judith Giesberg, that seeks to provide a free database of “Information Wanted”Ads. “Information Wanted” Ads are ads that freed slaves placed in newspapers before, during, and after the Civil War, requesting information on family or friends that the searcher had not seen for many years, usually owing to one of the parties being sold or one running away. This project has been a multistep and sobering experience. Thanks to the article and a subsequent NPR interview, The “Information Wanted” project is becoming very well known. It has taken a team of people to bring it this far, and this article focuses on the technical contributions of volunteers and graduate assistants that make this project possibly.

I (Margaret Strolle) was the first graduate assistant to join the project in Fall 2016, followed later by Chris Byrd that same semester, and by Karyna Hlyvynska and Bonnie Loden this semester. As graduate students, our main jobs are divided into locating and then uploading images of ads. To locate most of the ads, we have to turn to an older technology, microfilm and a microfilm reader. Feeding the microfilm through the two remaining microfilm machines at Falvey, we look for sections that would contain ads. For much of the early days of the project, we focused on Mother Bethel’s The Christian Recorder, which placed many of its ads under a column or titles specifically called “information wanted.” However, they could also be placed under the heading of “Notice.” Once located, the Ads were scanned using the ImageScan program, a program so old it prompts you to save on a floppy disk. Suffice to say, in 2016 and 2017, we save them on USBs. Once a day’s shift at the microfilm machine is completed, it is time to upload them to the website.

The Process of Uploading

Before uploading, the scanned images have to be cropped and, sometimes, go through a Photoshop filter to look clearer. We upload them on our website and assign them a title, usually the name of a person who sent the ad to the newspaper. We then add a short description of the ad (for instance, “John Walker is looking for his wife Peggie”), the name and the date of the newspaper, and list ourselves as contributors. Sometimes the process is really tricky: the newspapers are old, their pages are blurred, torn apart, or darkened by age, the copies might be of low quality. It becomes hard to decipher the names. As time passed, we started discovering that the same person would have their ad posted in multiple issues of the same newspaper over and over again. The text of these ads would be absolutely identical. Perhaps such people paid regularly to the editor to have their ad posted in each issue. It did not make much sense for us to publish multiple copies of the same ad. Thus, the process of uploading became even more complicated: before putting an ad on the website, we had to make sure the same ad had not already been posted. It did slow down the whole process, which is one of the reasons new ads do not appear often on the website.

This is how an uploaded ad looks:


The process of transcribing the ads, while fairly straightforward, bears elaborating upon, if only to call attention to its importance in making the text of the ads available for others to search within.  The first step is to register as a user on the informationwanted.org site, which can be accomplished in as little time as it takes one to type in a username, display name, password, and email address and then, of course, to prove that one is human (and not perhaps a clandestine microwave). From there, step two is to register again as a user for MyWiki and the Scripto transcription software. This differs from registering as just a site user in that a potential transcriber must provide their name, another username (though it can be the same as the one used for the regular site), some sort of group affiliation (though one can simply put “unaffiliated”), their email, and their zip code. If one is so inclined, she or he can also provide their reason for wanting to transcribe said ads, but this is not required. After this is completed, the MyWiki administrator will put in the user-provided information and send the new transcriber a temporary password and instructions for how to get started transcribing — the most important one being to make sure to verify one’s email on the MyWiki site. (The time from registering on the MyWiki site to being approved and receiving a password vary slightly depending on if the book the administrator is reading is any good or if he’s baking something.) Once a user is registered in the appropriate places, the time for actual transcribing has almost arrived as they should first study and etch upon their souls the guidelines provided on the informationwanted.org site for proper transcription. These guidelines are thankfully relatively simple: Transcribe the ad exactly as it appears, punctuation and misspellings and all; do not guess if one cannot read a word but instead write “[undecipherable]” where the said word appears in the ad; leave any comments that one might have in an email to the editors of the site; and finally, do not use the “Tab” button for reasons too gruesome to list here. The process of actual transcription is simply to read the ad and re-type what it says into a text box, click submit, and then admire one’s work. Once the ad has been transcribed, its full text (such as places, names, dates, or certain words and phrases) can then be searched by anyone looking for a particular piece of information contained within an ad on the site.

Potential Uses

There are many potential uses for this site. It can be used by genealogists to search for ancestors and/or relatives of ancestors that that were separated by slavery. Teachers at all levels  may also find this site useful as a database of primary sources for African American history in the era of Reconstruction. Historians may also find it useful for the same reasons. The possibilities are manifold. It is simply our job to upload these ads to our free database so that the larger online community may decide how best to use and and learn from them.

This has been an overview of the process of posting these ads. To explore the website please follow this link: http://www.informationwanted.org/ .

Museum Matters: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

Museum Matters: The National Museum of African American History and Culture

On Friday, March 3rd, I was lucky enough to get a same-day online ticket for the newest Smithsonian museum, the National Museum of African American History and Culture (MHAAC) in Washington, DC. Established by an Act of Congress in 2003, the museum opened its doors in 2016, and has been drawing large crowds who are eager to tour the museum. Currently, the museum is “sold out” for individuals- advanced timed tickets are free, but necessary to enter the building- through June, so if one wants to visit, they must either come with a large group of 10 +, obtain one of the limited number of online same day passes that go on “sale” at 6:30am (!) or wait in line for the limited number of individual tickets handed out on site at 1pm on weekdays. So, while it is not impossible to visit the museum, it requires advanced planning.

NMAAHC is located on the north side of National Mall, towards the Washington Monument. On a smaller plot of land then other museums on the mall, NMAAHC is more vertically orientated. The museum exterior features lattice ironwork and is influenced by classical, Yoruba, and African American design. (See image below) The museum’s ground/street level floor serves as a welcome center, featuring an information desk, the gift shop and lockers for oversize bags. Upon walking in I noticed, that while the crowd was a slight majority African-American, there was still plenty of other groups represented. This floor also serves as a division between the museum’s aboveground and belowground galleries.

The museum’s history galleries are underground and to reach them you first to descend to the first concourse level, which features the Sweet Home Café and Contemplative Court which I will discuss later in the entry. (Interestingly, the history galleries are named for D.C. philanthropist David Rubenstein, who was a major donor, but is Caucasian. Other galleries bear the name of corporate donors, as do many galleries in museums, but I suppose there just seems something off to me, about having galleries dedicated to the struggles of African-Americans named for a white billionaire, no matter how upstanding he is.) You stand in a hallway lined with pictures of moment from African American history, before entering a large elevator that takes you down to the bottom of the museum where the actual exhibits start. As the elevator descends, the dates move backward from Present to 1400s, informing the audience that they are figuratively going back in time.

The first gallery is “Slavery and Freedom: 1400-1877.” The exhibits begin with a discussion African and European around 1400s before transitioning into the start of the slave trade and its relationship to the colonial experience. The full geographic extent of slavery is highlight as the gallery highlights the experiences of the enslaved in both north and south. Additionally, there is a wall that details the lengths of time that various participated in the slave trade. The focus shifts from the colonial to national experience in the section entitles “The Paradox of Liberty,” which charts the contrast between republican ideas and the practice of slavery. One of the most interesting sections of this exhibit is a display box labeled “Generations of Enslavement,” which features shackles hanging over a cradle. A simple, but profound arrangement. The last few rooms of the museum are dedicated to the Civil War and emancipation which help to transition to the next gallery. Before leaving this level, visitors can sit in a reflection room and record their thoughts on the exhibit. This feature is also included on the other two floors.

Climbing up the ramp to level C2, visitors encounter a video giving an overview of Reconstruction, which serves as a segway to the next floors topic, “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: The Era of Segregation, 1876-1968.” This gallery features many larger objects, including a plane flown by one of the Tuskegee Airmen, a segregated train car, and a guard tower from Louisiana’s Angola Prison. However, smaller objects do leave and impact as well. In a small room, off the side of the main gallery, Emmitt Till’s original casket stands as a reminder of how even the young were not safe from the violence of racism. One of the main gallery’s most interesting features, is an interactive lunch counter that poses questions to visitors concerning the experiences of civil rights activists, and asks how they would react in those situations. The galleries show the degradation and violence that were rampant for African Americans, but also their strength in combating these offenses. This sets the stage for the mainly post-Civil Rights Era galleries.

The final history gallery, on level C3, is “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.” This gallery connects the waning years of the Civil Rights Era, with the movements and events that came after. While this gallery does highlight many gains of the communities, it also addresses ongoing problems such as in the “City and Suburbs” room, which notes how many African-Americans still live in urban areas, much of which are economically struggling. A small room and one of the last two video screens are dedicated to the election and presidency of Barack Obama, initially giving a sense of a triumphant ending. However, the last video screen includes images from Ferguson and Baltimore, showing that while there has been significant progress, the African American community still faces struggles because of slavery and segregation.

Returning to the main concourse, the visitor is centrally located for that level’s other main attractions. There is the Oprah Winfrey Theater, named for another major donor. There’s also the Contemplative Court, a room where visitors can sit on stone benches surrounding a central pool of water supplied by a “ceiling fountain.” The walls also each feature quotes. The main space on this floor, however, is the Sweet Home Café, which serves as the cafeteria, but also highlights the importance of African American through both its menu and wall art.

The remaining galleries are aboveground. I began from the top (4th) floor on my visit so the floors will be discussed in top down order. The top floor contains the culture galleries, which explore the manifold contributions of African-Americans to American Pop Culture. A particular focus is the African-American musical experience. On the third floor are the community galleries, which are like the history galleries, but I supposed different enough that they are in a separate space. Topics covered included the African American experience in various American cities and neighborhoods, activist efforts, participation in professional sports, and the military experience of African Americans. The second floor is the “Explore More!” floor, which includes a family history research center, and more interactive experiences for children and adults.

NMAAHC is a vertical expansive, and at times, emotionally/mentally heavy. Nonetheless, it is very engaging and informative museum. While I do believe that the museum will have the highest emotional resonance with African-Americans, all Americans can learn from the museum. I highly recommend it as must-see and must-learn about on anyone’s next visit to DC.

“Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better”: A Look at the History of Women’s Ice Hockey in the United States

2017 is proving to be a busy year right out of the gate for a number of reasons, good and bad – however it is also the year that marks the one hundredth anniversary of the National Hockey League (NHL). Prior to the NHL, there was the National Hockey Association (NHA) also known as the National Hockey Association of Canada Limited, which was founded in 1909, by Ambrose O’Brien in Montreal, Canada. The NHA had teams in Quebec and Ontario, Canada, but when conflict between team owners arose, the NHA was suspended, and the NHL was created to allow hockey to continue while legal suits and resolutions were discussed. However, the conflict was never resolved, despite a number of years having been given to the process. As a result, the National Hockey League absorbed and adopted what had been the NHA and moved forward to create professional men’s hockey as we know it today.

And, while celebrating the one hundred year anniversary of what is arguably the best game on earth, is always worthwhile, and today is also international women’s day, which is a perfect reason to discuss the history of women’s ice hockey. And, although women’s hockey was played quite early on in the sports’ history, in both the United States and Canada, this article will focus on play in the United States.

Interestingly enough, Ivy League schools would be among the first to create programs for female ice hockey players, some dates of importance are below:

1964: Nancy Schieffelin attends a practice for the Brown Bears men’s hockey team with the permission of the head coach. Schieffelin was disguised as a man during the practice in order to show the team that women could play as well as men.

1965-66: Brown created a women’s team, the Pembroke Pandas. The women spent the year fundraising and borrowing equipment. They play their first game in 1966, against the Walpole Brooms.

1971: Cornell starts a women’s team.

1975: Yale’s women’s hockey team is founded.

1978: Dartmouth and Harvard found teams.

Outside of Ivy League schools, it was not until 1994 that girl’s hockey would gain more ground. In 1994 the Minnesota State High School League (MSHSL) sent out five hundred letters to member schools, wanting to know if there was any interest in making girls hockey into a league recognized sport. Out of those five hundred letters, twenty four schools responded. So, on March 21st, 1994, the MSHSL officially sanctioned girl’s hockey as a varsity high school sport, making Minnesota the first state to do so. Following the sanctioning of women’s hockey as a varsity sport in Minnesota, the American Women’s College Hockey Alliance (AWCHA) was founded in 1997-8, promoting the sport at all NCAA levels.

Both the inclusion of women’s hockey at the high school and collegiate level were and are incredible milestones, however, women’s hockey was not done yet. In 1998, women’s ice hockey was included in the winter Olympics for the first time. The XVIII Olympic Games took place in Japan, and the teams included were: Canada, China, Finland, Sweden, the United States, and Japan. The US women’s team took gold in their first showing, while Canada and Finland took the silver and bronze. Since 1998, the US women’s team has yet to win another Olympic gold medal, taking three silvers and one bronze.

The first attempt at a professional women’s hockey league would come in 1999, and run until 2007. There were seventeen teams spread out over three divisions, at the height of the league. Eventually due to funding and resource issues it disbanded. Most recently in 2015, the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) was founded – although is distinctly separate from and unrelated to the old NWHL mentioned above. Instead of seventeen teams, the new NWHL has four teams: the Buffalo Beauts, Boston Pride, New York Riveters, and the Connecticut Whale. What sets apart the new NWHL from the old is that the new NWHL is the first professional/top level women’s league to pay its players, making it the first professional women’s hockey league to run nearly parallel to the NHL. However, work is still yet to be done, as professional female ice hockey players do not make the same amount as their NHL counterparts, nor do they receive the same television exposure.

Links of potential interest:

Ivy League Women 


1998 Winter Olympics





Comprehensive Examination Information Session

On Wednesday, February 8, the Graduate Student Forum held an information session for the benefit of our students taking their comprehensive exams in March. While this is definitely a stressful process, Dr. Giesberg and former graduate student Helen Gassmann (MA, 2016) agreed to help make this process as smooth as possible. Here are some of their tips for preparing for comps!

Helen’s Tips

  • Talk to board members, don’t stress out until you talk to them
  • Create flash cards for readings, both in your concentration and in the general, overarching works
    • Include author, title, year, thesis
  • Concentration
    • Questions are derived from main themes
    • These questions are created just for you, so they deal with things that you have studied and are passionate about
  • Study with others!
  • For each question, use 3-4 works as evidence
    • Don’t just name drop
    • Make sure to know key themes and thesis of work
  • Day of:
    • Time is essential, make sure to use it effectively!
    • Bring a snack to eat, campus eateries may not be open

Dr. Giesberg’s Tips

  • Four hour written exam
    • Two hours in the morning on your concentration
    • Two hours in the morning on general questions
      • Information from theory and methods will be quite helpful
    • Two hour break in between morning and afternoon sessions
  • Concentration Exam
    • As soon as your examiners are assigned to you, go talk to them!
    • Develop a defined concentration with your examiner(s)
    • Look at your transcript
      • Which courses are in your concentration?
    • Look at previously given comprehensive exams
      • This will give you an idea of what types of questions you can expect
    • Practice these questions
      • Time yourself to help work on time management
    • Work on bibliography
      • Give to all 3 examiners
      • Bibliography needs only to cover up through Fall 2016
      • Separate works by course
      • Include primary and secondary sources
      • A format guide can be found in the back of the Graduate Student Handbook
      • When you turn in your bibliography to examiners, include your portfolio reflection
    • Afternoon Exam
      • Important to use actual evidence from books to back up theory
      • Use book concentration coursework and theoretical course work
      • Try not to repeat books across questions and across sessions
    • Once bibliography gets narrowed down, make note cards
    • Exam is 100% computer based, but scrap paper is provided
      • Exam word processor does NOT have spellcheck
        • Ability to go back and edit, as well as copy and paste, are available
      • There is no “magic number” of sources used
        • Do not laundry list
        • Make sure response is meaningful, rather than just name-dropping
        • Know authors
          • Look acknowledgements and information about authors’ backgrounds
        • Exam is taking place in Mendel Hall on March 18th
        • Concentration knowledge
          • You should have a “textbook knowledge” of your concentration
          • An actual textbook may be helpful for your studying process
            • Exam will be more thematically focused
              • Exam does not test specific events, but if you reference specific events, you should not get them wrong



Previewing the Museum of the American Revolution

On a misty winter night, scores of people traveled through fog to the Washington Memorial Chapel at Valley Forge National Historical Park. Individuals of all ages braved the slick roads to listen to a lecture delivered by R. Scott Stephenson, the Vice-President of Collections, Exhibitions, and Programming for the Museum of the American Revolution (MoAR). Armed with images of artifacts and renderings of new exhibitions, Stephenson’s talk previewed what visitors will find in the museum when it opens in a few months. He addressed the history of the collections, the institution’s past and establishment, and the significance of the museum for twenty-first century Americans. Since the War for Independence ended in 1783, all sorts of people have debated its meaning and legacy. However, the MoAR seems to be entering into this conversation at a precarious moment of heightened political divisions and fear of future uncertainties. Furthermore, over the next nine years, amid this political climate, the country will be preparing to honor its 2026 Sestercentennial. The MoAR will certainly be a part of that conversation.


A rendering of the Museum of the American Revolution, which opens on April 19 on the corner of the 3rd and Chestnut Streets. Image from amrevmuseum.org.

In his presentation, Stephenson praised the museum’s humble originator, an Episcopalian minister named Herbert Burk. In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, Reverend Burk founded the Washington Memorial Chapel and began preserving objects from the Revolutionary era, including Native American artifacts, the Marquis de Lafayette’s check for his military service, and other period documents. His crown jewel was George Washington’s marquee, the original canvas tent that served as the general’s headquarters throughout much of the war. Many of Burk’s objects, including the marquee, remain in the collections of the MoAR. Herbert Burk’s efforts attracted the attention of a likeminded supporter of historic preservation, Theodore Roosevelt. In 1904, the president and his wife traveled to Valley Forge so that he may deliver a speech on behalf of Burk’s project.[1]


Dr. R. Scott Stephenson previews the MoAR to a full Washington Memorial Chapel January 3rd, 2016.

Over a hundred years later, Burk’s instinct to preserve became Scott Stephenson’s calling. Stephenson, who received a Ph.D. in American history from the University of Virginia, has become a familiar face on network news programs over the past few years, speaking with reporters about the new museum’s collections and their significance. In his presentation at Valley Forge, Stephenson highlighted some of institution’s advanced and modern features: a digitally recreated statue of King George III that Patriots and their slaves destroyed at the New York City Bowling Green in July 1776, a life-size reproduction of the Boston Liberty tree, a replica of an eighteenth-century privateer ship constructed with the help of the Independence Seaport Museum, and a theater that recreates the British charge up Osborne’s Hill at the battle of Brandywine. Stephenson explained that the MoAR hopes not to heap facts upon visitors, but rather to provoke them with contemporary media and interesting questions.[2]


A rendering of the Boston Liberty Tree exhibit. Image from amrevmuseum.org.

But beneath these bells and whistles is a larger narrative about what the American Revolution means to the country in 2017. In his recent book The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution, historian Robert Parkinson claimed “What would become known as the American Revolution was a massive argument over the meaning of those words, whom they applied to, and who were the most legitimate, responsible guardians of those ideals.” The museum is a discussion about those very ambiguities. What type of nation did the revolutionaries create, and for whom did they create it? The War for Independence was more than a military slugfest; it was “a contest of injuries and of interpretation,” interpretations that continue to carry plenty of political weight. Politicians on both sides of the aisle often try to claim the mandate of the revolutionaries to support their political agendas. Bancroft Prize winning historian Jill Lepore believes that the fascination with connecting the ideas of the revolutionaries to contemporary issues is often problematic.

“What would the founders do?” is, from the point of view of historical  analysis, an ill-considered and unanswerable question, and pointless, too. Jurists and legislators need to investigate what the framers meant, and some Christians make moral decisions by wondering what Jesus would do, but no NASA scientist decides what to do about the Hubble by asking what Isaac Newton would make of it.

Many people with vastly different interpretations of the American Revolution will deem the MoAR as a bastion of historical “truth”. Museums are more than storehouses for old materials, they are spaces where individuals form and reform their understanding of citizenship, nationalism, and identity.[3]

The years between President Johnson’s Bicentennial Commission proposal in 1966 and the national celebration a decade later were years of intense divisions. As the commissioners planned how to best to honor the country’s birthday, they lived through the Vietnam War, political assassinations, Woodstock, Kent State, and Watergate. Similarly, the Museum of the American Revolution will open its doors at a time of hyper-partisanship with a major national anniversary looming. As the nation plans to celebrate its Sestercentennial, the MoAR will have to grapple with it all. The Museum of the American Revolution will open to the public this April 19, two hundred and forty two years after minutemen at the Lexington green and the Concord Bridge fired upon British regulars.

     [1] Lorett Treese, Valley Forge: Making and Remaking of a National Symbol (University Park: Penn State University Press, 1995), 88-89, 91-93.

     [2] CBS News, “First American Revolution museum set to open,” filmed [2012], YouTube video, 02:35, posted [July 2012], https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iqfAO7o4ggE; Alan Taylor, American Revolutions: A Continental History, 1750-1804 (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2016), 161.

     [3] Robert Parkinson, The Common Cause: Creating Race and Nation in the American Revolution (Williamsburg and Chapel Hill: Omohundro Institute of Early American History and Culture and the University of North Carolina Press, 2016), 4, 8; Jill LePore, The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity (New York: Vintage Books, 1998), x; Taylor, 372-73; Jill Lepore, The Whites of their Eyes: The Tea Party’s Revolution and the Battle over American History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2010), 124-25.