Welcome to “…What Someone Wrote Down”. If you found this blog, presumably you’re interested in history or some aspect of history, and somehow you wound up here. That’s awesome! That’s why I’m doing this. I’ve been interested in history since I was a child; I blame American Girl books and Ann Rinaldi’s historical novels, as well as a few excellent history teachers in middle school and high school. I mainly read non-fiction because it’s so interesting and it really happened! I love fiction as well, but when given a choice, why read about a fictionalized account of a thing when you can read about what actually happened?
The people and things I’m interested in weren’t usually taught in school, or if they were they were just glossed over, and so I’m writing this blog in order to further learn about people, places, and things that interest me, and to share that all with the world (lofty goal, I know). I love movies and the actors in them, and popular entertainment; I love the early 20th century, especially between the two World Wars; I love interesting women, tragic stories, and fashion; I love weird and normal homes and the items in them; I love women’s work; I love learning about authors and their inspirations; I love art. These are all things that will turn up on this blog, if it all goes well, and I’m sure other things will make themselves apparent down the line.
I’ll be pulling inspiration for my posts from the books and authors I read; movies, tv shows, and documentaries I watch; art and artists I love; hobbies I have; podcasts I listen to; places I’ve been; anywhere else that inspiration strikes. I love looking through the sources and notes in the backs of books. I love watching the special features on movies; one in particular on The Patriot is why I went into museum studies in college. I love browsing the internet and finding something or someone I’ve never heard of, or a photo of someone I’ve never seen. I love Michigan and the amazing history that even just the metro-Detroit area has. Heck, I’ll probably even do a couple entries inspired by my cats, whose names are inspired by authors and book characters.
But. Why should you read me? Who am I? That I’m interested in history and want to share that with everyone is already clear, I’m sure. And to an extent, that’s enough. But I do have some credentials too. I went to undergraduate and graduate school for history at Central Michigan University. In my undergraduate work I studied Tudor England, and other English history. I also minored in art history and museum studies. By the time I went back for graduate school three years later I had switched to being more interested in early 20th century American history, and women’s history. Even in that though there’s still the draw of England; the Bright Young Things, and the novels of Evelyn Waugh and Nancy Mitford speak to me as much as F. Scott Fitzgerald and Prohibition do. My final graduate works were two papers on film in the early 20th century. The first was on The Birth of a Nation and how it was reported on by the African-American and white press at the time. The second was on WWII in the movies, and how, as America’s stance on the war changed, the themes in the movies changed too.
Since graduate school I’ve been trying to work in the museum field with various levels of success. For the past two years I worked at Greenfield Village in Dearborn, MI. For a year and a half of that time I also worked at the Edsel & Eleanor Ford House in Grosse Pointe Shores, MI. At the Village I drove the horse drawn carriages and told guests about the Village and about Henry Ford’s vision for what the Village could be. At the Edsel Ford house I told people about his daughter Josephine’s playhouse. I loved sharing what I knew with other people and answering their questions about the sites. I now live in Columbus, OH and am trying to break into similar positions here, or work with collections, or… anything really, to be hands on with history in some way. (Once I learn more about Columbus and Ohio, I’m sure I will find things to talk about concerning my new home.)
And so, to fill the gap that used to be filled with work, I’m starting this. I hope this will be a long term and fulfilling endeavor, even once I find work here. I already have two pretty long lists of people, places, and things I want to talk about. I’m sure once I start Googling, some topics will become more or less viable, but I have a solid start. Ideally I’m aiming for one or two entries on a topic, and one or two entries a week. That may be amended as we go on, but I think that’s a decent goal to start with.
Whatever you’re personally interested in, I hope you find something here that may strike your fancy. Please understand though, this will mainly be things I’m interested in. It’s no fun researching and writing about something that you’re not interested in. I did enough of that in school; I don’t want to do it when it’s just for me. Because I’m starting with thing I’m interested in, initially this will probably be heavily American, heavily female, and heavily 20th century. I do already know of some exceptions to this, but I wanted to say that out at the start. Depending on how big this gets, I hope to take suggestions and to broaden the scope of this crazy idea for fun I’ve had. And that’s it. This is supposed to be fun and I hope anyone who stumbles upon this project of mine takes it in that light. If it’s not fun, why do it?
(A note on the header quote. I realize A. Whitney Brown is a comedian, but who says that that quote isn’t still true. History *is* just “what someone wrote down” [I’m using wrote broadly, since I feel it also encompasses material culture] and I feel it’s our job to understand that and to interpret it to the best of our ability. I hope to do that here.)