Vol. 16 No. 3 :



Mark Twain… and Zombies!

In violation of his own rule “ that always the reader shall be able to tell the corpses from the others,” Twain’s writings are full of the walking dead.


Capital in the Eighteenth Century

If Piketty had turned to literary writing before Austen, he would have found a world teeming with the world-creating energies of overseas trade that economic historians take very seriously.

Future by Numbers

To speak of the imperfection and incompleteness of numerical data is, for Piketty, a way of speaking about the work of the economist.


Steven K. Green, Inventing a Christian America: The Myth of the Religious Founding.  Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015. 312 pp., $29.95.

Defining A “Christian Nation”: or, A Case of Being Careful What You Wish For

Steven K. Green demonstrates how easily the historical inventions of one era may become the historical facts of another.

Abram C. Van Engen. Sympathetic Puritans: Calvinist Fellow Feeling in Early New England. Oxford University Press, 2014. 328 pp., $74.

Go on—Have a Good Cry

After reading Van Engen’s iconoclastic work, it is difficult to remember why New England Calvinists are so often caricatured as cold and unfeeling.

Philip F. Gura, The Life of William Apess, Pequot. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2015. 216 pp., $26.

Introducing the Life of an Early Native Writer to a Wider Audience

Looking for connections between various reform movements, rather than examining them as distinct entities, can reveal surprising convergences.

Francois Furstenberg, When the United States Spoke French: Five Refugees Who Shaped a Nation. New York: Penguin Press, 2014. 512 pp., $20.

The American Republic and the French Revolution

The birth of a nation is not only or always a national story.

Notes on the Text

Silver beaker by John Dixwell, 4 5/8 in. x 2 3/8 in. (c. 1715), Henry Needham Flynt Silver and Metalware Collection. Courtesy of Historic Deerfield, Massachusetts.

“Feed on Humane Flesh and Blood? Strang mess!”: A Puritan Communion Cup

Although Puritans designed their service in direct opposition to the Catholic mass, its practitioners’ version of the Lord’s Supper had more in common with the mass than they wanted to admit.

Object Lessons

Figure 1. The Moran family’s gondola installed in the Mariners’ Museum courtyard, c. 1950. In this view, the gondola’s felze is installed atop the boat. Photograph courtesy The Mariner’s Museum, Newport News, VA.

A Surprising Souvenir? Thomas Moran’s Venetian Gondola

After spending the summer of 1890 in Venice, the American painter Thomas Moran boarded a steamship with a seemingly odd (and cumbersome) souvenir.

The Common School

Recent scholarship on the Vikings, sometimes blending history and archeology, highlights the resonance between Viking colonizations and early American ones. Photo courtesy of the author.

Atlantic Adventurers of the Middle Ages: Do the Vikings Belong in Early American History?

Vikings—Scandinavian adventurers who expanded, as far east as the Ukraine and as far west as Greenland and coastal Newfoundland, between the eighth and eleventh centuries C.E.—deserve a more prominent place in early American history than they have yet garnered.

Web Library

1. The homepage of MEAD: The Magazine of Early American Datasets. Courtesy of the University of Pennsylvania Libraries.

Constructing the Magazine of Early American Datasets (MEAD): An Invitation to Share and Use Data about Early America

As a profession, we are experiencing a generational shift, and much of the data created several decades ago has already been lost.

Tales from the Vault

8. Cover page of The Prince of the House of David by Rev. Joseph Holt Ingraham, New Sabbath Library 1, Vol. 7 (Chicago, October 1898). Courtesy of the New Sabbath Library Collection, Villanova University Library Special Collections, Villanova, Pennsylvania. Villanova University Digital Library, last modified January 18, 2015. Creative Commons License (CC BY-SA 3.0).

Divine Dimes: My Adventures Down the Rabbit Hole of Religious Pulp Literature

The lines between high and low culture were blurry in nineteenth-century America. Dime novels lacked critical acclaim, yet famous authors like Samuel Clemens readily drew from dime novel conventions.

Poetic Research

2. Life mask of John Keats. Photo courtesy of Steve Kronen.

My Father in the New World

Those Americans will, I am afraid, still fleece you. —John Keats in a letter to his brother George living in Louisville, Kentucky, 1819.

Ask the Author

16.3 Cameron 1

Reframing Abolition: African Americans and Calls to End Slavery in Revolutionary Massachusetts

Common-place talks with Christopher Cameron, author of To Plead Their Own Cause, about the chronology of abolition, the role of religion in the movement, and the importance of African-American voices in intellectual history.