Blog Posts

  • JSTOR Daily: Surviving a Pandemic, in 1918

    I explored the first-hand accounts of the nuns who volunteered as nurses during the 1918 influenza pandemic in Philadelphia for JSTOR Daily:

    For all the devastation of pandemics, there is a historic forgetfulness around them. They are not events that get grand public memorials, and their tolls tend to be remembered individually, rather than collectively, by those who experienced loss.

    It was this scarcity of historical on-the-ground experiences that the Rev. Francis E. Tourscher was thinking of in 1919, when he compiled first-hand accounts from nuns who had worked as nurses during the influenza outbreak that had just ravaged Philadelphia. Their stories filled over a hundred pages, published in installments in the Records of the American Catholic Historical Society of Philadelphia in March, June, and September. In an introduction, Tourscher wrote that it was important to “assemble facts while they are still a living memory”

    Read more at JSTOR Daily.

  • Lapham’s Quarterly: Remember You Will Be Buried

    Lapham’s Quarterly published my essay “Remember You Will Be Buried” on the changes in remembrance in cemeteries from the Victorian to Gilded Age:

    Tombstones have always been tools of memory. “If a man do not erect in this age his own tomb ere he dies, he shall live no longer in monument than the bell rings and the widow weeps,” Benedick warned in Shakespeare’s sixteenth-century play Much Ado About Nothing. And few want to be forgotten, as the rows of carved granite and marble that fill cemeteries across the United States attest—even if the methods of rendering that remembering into a symbol or setting have changed and the context of these memorials has altered enough to make it hard to understand what we were supposed to remember in the first place.

    Read more in Lapham’s Quarterly.