History Carnival 146: Facets of Environmental History

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This month I am taking a break from our regular monthly #EnvHist Worth Reading posts to host the 146th History Carnival and focus solely on some of the best blogging that has occurred in the history community over the past month or so. Keeping with the mission of the NiCHE website, I decided to focus primarily on environmental history blogs, but have also included some posts dealing with the history of science and history in general.

Despite the transition to the (hopefully) slower-paced summer academic schedule, the month of May was a productive one on the NiCHE blog The Otter~La loutre: Amanda Robinson discusses the history of aviation in Oshawa, Ontario in “‘A Terrible Fright'”; Royden Loewen explores inter-species relationships in “Animals, Mennonites and the Modern World“; Claire Campbell describes some of the things she has learned after teaching Canadian environmental history in the US for over a year in “Postcards from America III”; and Mike Brennan considers the intersection of social systems and environmental history in “Radkau, Reflections, and the Purpose of Environmental History.

But let’s now focus on the excellent work being conducted at other blogs:


Women Ag TweetOne of the most fruitful (pun intended) topics this month was the history of agriculture. On JStor Daily, D. Joshua Taylor explores the intersection of environmental, social, and economic histories and genealogy and argues that scholars and genealogical researchers need to pay more attention to “Our Farming Ancestors.” On a similar note, on the Women’s Work in Rural England, 1500-1700 blog, Mark Hailwood asks “Did Women Work in Agriculture?” The answer to this question, according to some response Tweets that rolled in after I shared this article, seems to be obvious: of course they did! However, Hailwood demonstrates that it is not necessarily easy to find archival sources to support this exclamation. Hailwood looks at some of the sources that exist, including visual art.  Another visual source, provided by Sean Munger, is a photograph of a Russian vineyard, circa 1910. Munger speculates on the significance of the photograph and the short post is a good companion piece to Munger’s Planet Wine Series, including an older piece on the environmental history of German wine. On The New York History Blog, John Warren explores the history of apple cultivation and reviews Apples of New York by A.L. DuBois.

Landscapes and Parks

Old Point State Park
Point State Park, circa 1975

Fire is a natural element of the western Canadian landscape. On her blog, Merle Massie explores the harrowing events of “The Great Fire of 1919.” One of the largest fires in Canadian history, the fire of 1919 burned 2.8 million hectares of forest. On Ant, Spider, Bee, Wilko Graf von Hardenburg praises the US Geological Survey’s new historic topographic maps viewer, topoView. However, he laments that such a resource does not yet exist for European maps, which ultimately causes a “A Topography of Envy.” Moving from a topography of envy to a monastic topography, Eddie Proctor–on the blog, Landscapism–describes his upcoming Phd research which will explore the “Topographic Legacies of Monasticism.” Proctor argues that monastic estates have been ignored by historians and asks whether or not the examination of monastic estates can illuminate a kind of ‘religious topography.’ Monastic estates are a kind of park environment, not dissimilar to urban parks like High Park in Toronto. On the BlogTO this past month, Chris Bateman uses historical photographs to explore “What High Park Used to Look Like in Toronto.” On my personal blog, I also examined the subject of urban parks this past month. In “Do Not Look Into the Manly Void: Horsbrugh, Pittsburgh, and Point State Park,” I discuss how I inadvertently stumbled on an architect and urban planner from the 1960s that has helped shape my understanding of Point State Park and urban nature more generally.

Fish and Animals

On the SHRA (Stephen’s Historical Research Associates) blog, employees of the firm often post interesting archival finds. This month, Stephanie Milne-Lane looks at the history of Native American fishing rights in Washington State in “Go Fish.” From regulating fishing rights to regulating fish populations, Charles Herr shares an early example of wildlife management on the Adirondack Almanack: Fish Tales: First Stocking of the Fulton Chain (1876).” Continuing her examination of The Return of Native Nordic Fauna, Dolly Jørgensen provides an interesting post on the proposed “widespread domestication of reindeer and muskox in the North.” The desire to turn ‘useless’ land into profitable land, or “The Fruitful Arctic,” acts as the main impetus for the proposed project, connecting Jørgensen’s post to wider frontier narratives. On his blog, Richard Pickard further explores human relationship to animals in his review of Jim Sterba’s Nature Wars: The Incredible story of How Wildlife Comebacks Turned Backyards into Battlegrounds.


The Power and the Water project blog published a number of interesting pieces this past month. In “Harvesting Oral Histories: Life, Work and Fog on the Tyne,” Leona Skelton discusses the way in which she is using oral history in her dissertation, an environmental history of the Tyne River, and argues for the increased usage of oral history techniques by environmental historians. In “Plastic Oceans: Connectivities of Waste,” Marianna Dudley describes how the plastic debris that we see today in waterways will make up the historic, environmental evidence of tomorrow. She also argues that plastic waste also illustrates the connectivity of the global environment. Dudley’s post is largely based on a recent visit to Bali. In a similar vein, Catherine Knight, at the envirohistory NZ blog, describes the impact of a recent storm in Wellington. Washed up on the beach after the storm was a plethora of debris, some natural–driftwood–but much of it unnatural–plastic–reminding, Knight argues, New Zealanders of their role in creating the Great Pacific Plastic Patch. Just as the constant movement of the ocean causes plastics to travel great distances, so too does it create difficulties for engineers, as Antony Adler discusses in his post “#PlatformsMatter: Design and the Marine Environment” on the History of Oceanography blog.

Globalization and the Anthropocene

On the Imperial & Global Forum blog, Patrick Porter discusses his new book The Global Village Myth, questioning the way in which technology has made the world ‘smaller’ when it comes to weapons and warfare. The geological and ecological equivalent of globalization is the concept of the anthropocene. Many recent articles and posts have been exploring and questioning the details of and the usefulness of the anthropocene. On the Inhabiting the Anthropocene blog this past month, Noah Theriault provides a fascinating post that emphasizes the importance of exploring the gender of the anthropocene.

History of Science

The Empire Trees Climate project is an excellent example of the connection between environmental history and science and the value of interdisciplinary cooperation. This month the project provides its third research profile of Kimberly Monk, a maritime archaeologist, who is a part of the project. Matthew Holmes, a PhD Student in the History and Philosophy of Science, reviews The Future of Scientific Practice. Holmes provides a great deal of interesting posts on environmental history and the history of science on his blog, Thinking Like a Mountain: The Weird & Wonderful in the History of Science & the Environment. On the Royal Society’s blog, The Repository, Anne Marie Roos discusses the importance of personal diaries and papers of past scientists for understanding the history of science, in “The Paper Chase.” And on Teleskopos, Rebekah Higgett looks at the “Eighteenth-Century Eclipse Maps of Halley and Whiston.”

Scrap of Wallpaper, Source: The Trickster Prince.
Scrap of Wallpaper, Source: The Trickster Prince.

To round out the collection on a slightly different note, Sarah Ruth Wilson published an interesting post on her experience at the 2015 meeting of The Western Association of Women Historians and Matt Houlbrook wrote a charming reflection piece based on a scrap of old wallpaper on his blogThe Trickster Prince.

Thanks to those who made suggestions this month!  Please post any blog posts that I missed in the comments. To keep up with future environmental history posts, please follow us on Twitter (@NiCHE_Canada), Facebook, and Google +.

Next month the History Carnival will be hosted by Panacea: Musings on the History of Medicine.

Feature Photo Source: Women’s Work in Rural England, 1500-1700 blogBrueghel the Younger: Summer. Source: Wikimedia Commons



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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, project manager, and digital communications strategist. She earned her PhD in History from the University of Saskatchewan in 2019. She is an executive member, editor-in-chief, and social media editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment (NiCHE). Additionally, she is the Managing Editor for the Chacruna Institute for Psychedelic Plant Medicines. She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon and a Coordinating Team member of Showing Up for Racial Justice Saskatoon-Treaty Six. A passionate social justice advocate, she focuses on developing digital techniques and communications that bridge the divide between academia and the general public in order to democratize knowledge access. You can find out more about her and her freelance services at jessicamdewitt.com.


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