JHU Press Blog

Could the famed B&O Railroad be saved? In 1858, one man thought it could.

by krm | Friday, July 21, 2017 - 6:00 AM

A few blocks away from Baltimore’s lively Inner Harbor stands one of railroading’s most iconic buildings: the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Roundhouse, known as the “Birthplace of American Railroading” and now the home of the B&O Railroad Museum . Built in 1884, this historic building celebrates not only the country’s first railroad, but also the man who commissioned it: John W. Garrett, seventh president of the B&O from 1858-1884.

A full biography of Garrett was long overdue. After writing a biography of his daughter, Mary Elizabeth Garrett: Society and Philanthropy in the Gilded Age , I thought it was time to turn my attention to Garrett. Father and daughter had a very powerful, complex relationship; they greatly influenced and admired each other. But writing about the two proved very different. Mary came of age after the Civil War and, like many women of her generation and background, kept countless diaries and journals and left a copious paper trail of her innermost thoughts. Her father, also a product of his times — the male-oriented, show-no-weakness persona of Gilded Age industrialists — left few personal reflections. He was all business and what we know of...Read More

Achieving the “Greater Good”: Is Lack of Education Beyond High School the Culprit?

by krm | Monday, July 17, 2017 - 6:00 AM

The main cause and best permanent solution to the populist dissatisfaction that led to the 2016 electoral revolt in the US and in Europe lies in the issues discussed in this book. Colleges and universities do not produce students, they produce human capital skills that are used throughout life not just to increase earnings, savings, and income but also during times not at work to produce better health, children’s health, children’s achievement, greater longevity, and happiness. During time spent in the community, the human capital skills of graduates operate civic institutions, contribute to lower crime rates, increase tax revenues, and generally improve the quality of life and life’s chances. Beyond this, there is a race between new technology and education. Research universities produce both. This book addresses, and documents, how these processes occur.

The 64% of the US population that have a high school education or less have not enjoyed these benefits. Their plight is real. They have not benefitted from the economic growth generated by freer trade and advancing technology, but instead have been left behind with no increase in their real earnings since 1980. Many suffered reductions as they lost their manufacturing jobs and now lack the...Read More

The Erie Canal’s bicentennial: a reminder of what happens when wealth, politics, and science converge

by krm | Friday, July 14, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Two centuries ago, when the richest man in America ran for higher public office, he prioritized the public good above personal gain, and he cultivated American science and technology as key potential contributors to general prosperity. Stephen Van Rensselaer’s behavior certainly contrasts in interesting ways with the political realities of the early 21 st century in the United States. Readers of DeWitt Clinton and Amos Eaton: Geology and Power in Early New York learn about how the Erie Canal’s construction initially depended upon, and then, in turn, boosted, the growth and development of American geological theory and practice.

"Schenectady" (from The Water Ways of New York, in Harper's New Monthly Magazine , vol. 48, no. 283, Dec. 1873, p. 13).

DeWitt Clinton was the newly elected New York governor on July 4, 1817, when he thrust a shovel into the ground at Rome, New York to initiate the ambitious 350+ mile-long canal construction project. A Jeffersonian Democrat, Clinton shared very few things in common with the Federalist Rensselaer, but there were three key points on which these two men agreed.

Both shared an abiding personal fascination for the...Read More

“Perfectly Polite and Agreeable”: Anglo-American Encounters on the Far Side of Jane Austen’s World

by krm | Monday, July 10, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Rear Admiral Charles Austen (1779-1852) and Sir Francis Austen (1774-1865)

In June 1812, just after Jane Austen had completed her inaugural novel, Sense and Sensibility , the US Congress astonished Britons by declaring war on their nation. Through the War of 1812, Austen would continue to publish, producing some of her best-known works: Pride and Prejudice in 1813, Mansfield Park in 1814, and Emma in 1815, though she would write nothing about Americans.

As Lauren Gilbert observes, in an article entitled, appropriately, “Unrequited Love,” Jane Austen had little to say about America, and that little was not good.” A letter of September 2, 1814, noted, “I place my hope of better things on a claim to the protection of Heaven, as a Religious Nation, a Nation in spite of much Evil improving in Religion, which I cannot believe the Americans to possess.” Americans have since shown more love for Austen than she showed them. Yet, Austen’s readers may have thought that the atmosphere of gentility and politeness that she explored in her wonderful novels aptly conveyed the relationship between the two countries—encounters of “pride and prejudice,” but little “sense...Read More

Examining Jewish Life Through Objects

by bjs | Friday, July 7, 2017 - 6:00 AM

For a short time, Fisher Price made a set of Little People toys to help celebrate Hannukah. You can only find the set on the collectible market these days, but the figurines served as an easy starting point for Lauren Leibman's introduction to a recent special issue of American Jewish History on Jewish American material culture.

Leibman, a professor of English and Humanities at Reed College, said the toys exemplify "the variety of ways in which objects can embody what it means to be Jewish in American life." The special issue contains a diverse set of articles which dig deep into that concept. She joined us on our podcast to talk about the issue.

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Heels, Flats & Ankle Straps: Transitional Shoes In Jane Austen's World

by krm | Thursday, July 6, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Excellent example of "exotic" kid slippers with Alhambra-esque pattern, c. 1790-1800. This is a quality slipper with a high level of finish detail. Note the very low leather heel. Courtesy, the Portsmouth Historical Society.

That we have come to associate the emergence of Regency style in North America with Jane Austen is, of course, a tribute to the strength and power of her writing. The first of Austen’s novels to be published in America was Emma, appearing in 1816, within a year of its publication in Britain. [1] It is unlikely that Austen was aware of its release here. When Mansfield Park appeared in 1832, it was published with a title page which stated simply “by Miss Austen, Author of ‘Pride and Prejudice,’ ‘Emma,’ etc. etc.” [2]

Austen’s works offer insights into the material culture of the age. During the heady years of the Early Republic, as Jane Austen’s work was reaching a wider audience, society witnessed changes brought about by the era of Revolutions --the American Revolution, the French Revolution and the Napoleonic Empire (known as the Federal or Neoclassical era...Read More

When the National Pastime Wasn’t National

by krm | Monday, July 3, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Racial tension is alive and well in America. Think Ferguson, Missouri; politicians vying for the African American vote; disputes over statues of Confederate soldiers and the Confederate flag; the Supreme Court’s rejection of two newly-drawn electoral districts in North Carolina because the legislature relied too heavily on race; Freddy Gray’s death in the custody of six Baltimore police officers and the rioting that followed; racial slurs directed at Baltimore Orioles’ center fielder Adam Jones by a Boston Red Sox fan in 2017.

Racial issues have been with organized baseball since its inception shortly after the Civil War. My introduction to them came in the spring of 1948 at Cincinnati’s Crosley Field. I was seven years old. The Brooklyn Dodger’s black second baseman immediately caught my eye. “Who’s the black guy?” I asked my dad. “Shhh, not so loud, son,” he said. He quietly explained to me that Jackie Robinson was the first black to play in the majors and that it was a shame there weren’t more like him.

The game came back to me 60 years later as I was casting about for a book to write. Long a baseball fan, baseball...Read More

Five Steps to Treating Tinnitus

by krm | Thursday, June 29, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Many people with tinnitus (TIN-i-tus or tin-EYE-tus) describe a ringing in the ear although it may also sound like buzzing, humming or whooshing. These sounds do not come from an external source but are caused by an internal dysfunction of the auditory system. More than 30 million Americans report tinnitus and it can be severe in 5 to 10 million. Management of tinnitus may sometimes be confusing, but the vast majority of people with tinnitus can be successfully treated.

See an otolaryngologist, a physician specializing in disorders of the ear, to make absolutely sure that your tinnitus is not a symptom of a serious underlying disorder. Once you are certain that you are not at risk of an undiagnosed condition, you can relax and begin to deal with this bothersome symptom. The basics: reduce caffeine and stress. Both can make your tinnitus louder due to the effects of caffeine and stress hormones on neural activity. Exercise is great for stress and can improve your sleep. Avoid aspirin and NSAIDs, they can cause reversible tinnitus. Also be aware that some prescribed medications such as chemotherapy and some antibiotics and diuretics can affect tinnitus. Sound therapy...Read More

The Bison’s Legacy

by krm | Monday, June 26, 2017 - 9:06 AM

One year ago this May, President Obama signed the National Bison Legacy Act, naming the American bison as the country’s official national mammal. The following July, wildlife preservationist groups filed notice of their intent to sue the Department of the Interior in order to stop the annual slaughter of Yellowstone National Park’s wild bison. The park’s winter cull is mandated by the Interagency Bison Management Plan which calls for the maintenance of Yellowstone’s bison herd at about 3,000 individuals (out of estimated population of 5,500 in August 2016). The plan also requires the park to prevent those animals from straying into adjoining rangelands where they could potentially infect domestic cattle with the bacterial disease, brucellosis. Herd reductions are accomplished by hunting, capturing, and killing bison that migrate outside of the park in winter. Though the lawsuit to stop the annual slaughter was just the latest in a series of legal maneuvers launched by wildlife advocates seeking endangered species protections for the Yellowstone bison, the latest action seemed a particularly pointed rejoinder to the government’s entirely symbolic gesture of just two months earlier. At the end of the bison’s first year as the national mammal, over 1,200 of Yellowstone’s buffalo had...Read More

HHT Global Awareness Day

by krm | Friday, June 23, 2017 - 6:00 AM

Today is June 23, 2017 and it’s HHT Global Awareness Day ! As a person who has HHT disease and the author of a new book called Living with HHT , I’m excited to be part of this special day devoted to HHT awareness—and I hope my book will contribute to HHT awareness every day. If you’re like most people, you’re probably asking, what in the world is HHT? That’s because most people, including most doctors, have never heard of HHT. In fact, most people who have HHT don’t know that they have it! Which is precisely why awareness is critical to identifying and treating people who have this uncommon, but not-so-rare disease.

So what is it? HHT (Hereditary Hemorrhagic Telangiectasia) is a genetic blood vessel disorder, affecting approximately 1 in 5000 people, or 1.4 million people worldwide. HHT occurs in all ethnic and racial groups, and affects both men and women. If someone has HHT, each of their children has a 50% chance of inheriting the disease, which is caused by a mutation in one of several genes involved in blood vessel development. HHT results in some...Read More