Tuesday, July 25, 2006

July marks the start of a new administrative year, and this year the turnover has been larger than usual in the History Department. The big news is that Chris Kent is serving as acting head for the academic year 2006-07 while Brett Fairbairn is on leave. It is a huge job, and we are all very appreciative that Chris (who had already served his time as department head) has agreed to fill in for Brett.

In other switches, John Porter is the new Undergrad Director now that Martha Smith-Norris has completed her term in that post; Keith Carlson now chairs the Research Committee, succeeding Valerie Korinek; and Angela Kalinowski chairs the Instructional Committee now that Gordon DesBrisay has finished up there. Many thanks to the incomers for their willingness to serve, and to the outgoers for their dedicated efforts and many achievements over the past three or more years.

Meanwhile, over our CMRS colleague Carl Still has been elevated to the deanship of STM, and so Alan Reese succeeds him as chair of CMRS. Congratulations to both Carl and Alan.
The History Department's very own Geoff Cunfer has just been awarded the 2006 Theodore Saloutos Book Award for his On the Great Plains: Agriculture and Environment (Texas A&M University Press, 2005). This award is given by the Agricultural History Society for the year's most outstanding published work in American agricultural history. It was presented last month at the society's annual meeting in Cambridge, Massachusetts. May your work continue to flourish, Geoff!

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

We here at What's Up normally write our own copy, but our new friends at History Compass have been kind enough to send along this What's Up-friendly ad for their essay competition. We see no reason why U of S grad students ought not to be on the receiving end of these prizes. As my grandmother once said to my father (the context need not concern us here), "Better you than some bum."

Submissions are invited for the 2006 History Compass Graduate Essay Prize

History Compass publishes peer reviewed survey articles from across the entire discipline. Experienced researchers, teaching faculty, and advanced students will all benefit from the accessible, informative articles that provide overviews of current research.

Entries for the 2006 Graduate Essay Prize should contain a strong survey element which ensures the essay remains accessible to the non-specialist. The incorporation of advanced graduate work is strongly encouraged.

There will be a prize-winning graduate essay for each of the 9 sections on History Compass:

Deadline: 1 September, 2006.

What do I win?
Each section winner will receive $200/£100 of free Blackwell books and have their article published on History Compass

Can I choose my own topic?
Those entering can choose their own topic; however, as with articles already published on History Compass, submitted essays should have a survey element, putting the chosen topic in context for the non-specialist.

Is there a word limit?
The upper word limit is 5000 words, including endnotes and bibliography.

What is the deadline?
September 1st 2006.

Where should I send my article?
Essays should be submitted by email as a Word document to Associate Managing Editor Keren Oertly at: HICOeditorial@oxon.blackwellpublishing.com. Graduates must specify which section they are entering their essay for, and give details of their affiliation, and their supervisor's name and email address.

How is my essay reviewed?
The Review Panel for each section will comprise the relevant Editor(s) and three Editorial Board members. All submissions will be read 'blind'.

When will the winners be announced?
The winners will be announced at the 121st Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association, January 4-7, 2007in Atlanta.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Congratulations to Janice MacKinnon, who has been named Chair of the Board of Directors of the Institute for Research on Public Policy, an independent, national, nonprofit think-tank based in Montreal and dedicated to improving Canadian public policy by generating research, providing insight and sparking debate.

As part of her work trying to nudge public policy debate along, Janice will be speaking at the University of Prince Edward Island's Confederation Centre of the Arts, on"Canada's Health Care System: Why the Long Waiting Lists and High Costs?" on Thursday, July 20, as part of the 2006 Dr. Frank MacKinnon Lecture Series. "In a recent Supreme Court of Canada decision," she says, "Canada's health care system was criticized for having some of the longest waiting lists in the developed world despite the fact that Canadians are among the biggest spenders on health care. Facts like these are especially troubling since health care is sometimes seen as an essential part of Canada's identity, even though the evidence suggests that other developed countries have been more successful in creating affordable and effective health care systems." Janice will address these issues by looking at the origins and evolution of Canada's health care system and comparing it to other health care systems, like those of Western Europe.
Pam Jordan is in St. Petersburg, Russia, for the G8 Summit. She is affiliated with the University of Toronto-based G8 Research Group, whose members receive press passes to attend press conferences with G8 leaders. Pam hopes to interview several Russian officials at the Summit about their foreign policy perspectives and impressions of Russia's work on nuclear non-proliferation policy through the G8. She's also looking forward to free food and drink at the International Media Centre, as well as possibly meeting Bono or other lesser world-historical figures. She's renting an apartment in central St. Petersburg by the Fontanka Canal (right), just a block away from the building where Leo Tolstoy lived in the 1850s.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Bill Waiser, nominated by his colleagues here in the department, is among the five finalists for the 2006 Pierre Berton Award for achievement in popularizing Canadian history. The award celebrates "those who bring the past to life ... the wordsmiths who have dedicated their lives and careers to reminding us of our identity, our successes and our failures so that our future continues to grow strong." In announcing the nomination, Canada's National History Society noted, quite rightly, that Bill is “exceptional because he is so well regarded for the rigor of his research as well as his ability to tell a really good story.” This talent is evident with CBC-TV Saskatchewan’s popular history series Looking Back, which he hosted. His most recent book, Saskatchewan: A New History, released last year to mark the province’s centennial, is regarded as “the new definitive reference to the province's history.” Other finalists for the award include military historian Ted Barris, Ottawa Citizen journalist Randy Boswell, author Ken McGoogan, and the CBC Digital Archives. Canada's National History Society publishes The Beaver and Kayak, a Canadian history magazine for kids. This year’s winner will be announced in October at the National History Conference in Vancouver.
While Lisa Smith has been in London conducting further research, the fruits of other recent work have just been published in the Journal of Family History, available in our library on-line. If you are on campus or logged into the library from afar, click here to read more. Otherwise, you can easily fetch it for yourself: Lisa Smith, "The Relative Duties of a Man: Domestic Medicine in England and France, ca.1685-1740", Journal of Family History 31, 3 (2006): 237-265.
The library has just added the Catholic Periodical and Literature Index (CPLI) to its online resources. A bibliographic database compiled by the American Theological Library Association (ATLA) and the Catholic Library Association, covering all aspects of the Catholic faith and lifestyle. It indexes articles and reviews published in Roman Catholic periodicals, Papal documents, church promulgations, and books about the Catholic faith that are authored by Catholics and/or produced by Catholic publishers. Click here to check it out.
Historical Statistics of the United States (HSUS) is the latest online miracle added to the University Library collection. The standard source for the quantitative facts of American history, the site includes the capability to customize and download tables of data. So, you can:

* Download tables in Excel or CSV; also download entire groups of tables as a zip file.
* Create custom tables; merge columns from multiple tables to create custom tables, which can also be downloaded, printed, or graphed.
* Advanced searching of the tables, their documentation, and essays.
* Full citation downloading in RIS, text, or CSV format.

Click here to learn more about HSUS. You never know, you could get hooked and become a specialist -- a Dr. HSUS.

The innumerate among you ought not to flinch, because the spreadsheet you likely have already (Excel, for example, which is usually bundled with MS Word) means, in essence, that you have a machine that can do the math for you, thereby putting the power of quantification at your fingertips. Feel the power!

If you are new to spreadsheets, by the way, your friends at Google are beginning to make available their own free Google Spreadsheet, which is very easy to use. Being internet-based, it allows you to share your number crunching activities with all designated Google-spreadsheet-equipped friends (or colleagues or students or classmates, whether friends or not), and it is also a simple matter to save your work to your own hard drive for smooth integration in and out of Excel and other heavier-duty terrestrially-based spreadsheets. You probably need one of Google's e-mail (GMail) accounts to use the spreadsheet, but that is free too, and worth having if only for this purpose. Click here to learn more.
Just so you know, as of Wednesday, July 5th, "select campus buildings will be locked overnight from 8:00 p.m. until 7:00 a.m. in order to improve the personal safety of the many young people who are staying here on campus." Fair enough. The policy of not over-burdening such announcements with useful information remains in effect, however, and so it was not felt necessary to specify which campus buildings have been deemed select. Rest assured, though, that when faculty and staff find themselves locked out of where they wish/need to be, they are invited to call Campus Safety at 966-5555 in order to be let in. Any questions or concerns can be directed to Communications at 966-2213.