#EnvHist Worth Reading: July 2015

The town of Ste. Agathe, Man., is seen from the air showing the flood breach area in this 1997 photo. Source: Globe and Mail (Handout/CP)

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Every month I carefully track the most popular and significant environmental history articles, videos, audio, and other items making their way through the online environmental history (#envhist) community. We are taking a break from our #EnvHist Worth Reading videos over the summer; look for their return in the Fall. Here are my choices for items most worth reading from July 2015:

1. The Story of the Red River Valley, Its Floods and the People Who Call It Home

In this Globe and Mail article, Roy McGregor looks at the way in which Manitoba’s Red River has acted as a “major Canadian historical political figure.” MacGregor discusses the river’s historical propensity to flood and the way in which this flooding has affected both indigenous and settler communities. MacGregor demonstrates the way in which efforts to engineer flood protection in Winnipeg backfired, particularly during the Flood of ’97. The author also speaks to current residents along the river, painting both a historical and a contemporary portrait of the river’s cultural and ecological significance.

2. The Past Isn’t What it Used to Be 

In this post on the Ancient Forest Exploration & Research blog, Michael Henry discusses shifting baselines and the ecological and historical complexities of the forests that we consider to be “old-growth.” He talks about his research in old-growth forests in Ontario, including Temagami and Algonquin Provincial Park and talks about how “these fragments were left by chances of history or geography, and were once average, or sometimes below average, in terms of size and density of old trees.” The article is a good example of how the sciences and environmental history can play off one another and are fundamentally intertwined.

3. Creating a Digital Wonderland: Environmental and Cultural History in the Digital Age

In this post, Yolanda Youngs discusses the app that she and others have been creating called “Digital Wonderland.” The app allows users to use their smartphones to explore the environmental and cultural history of Yellowstone National Park. Youngs demonstrates the opportunity for these kind of apps to broaden public engagement in the field and to increase the impact of environmental history scholarship. Youngs ends the article by providing examples of some of the “Digital Wonderland” app’s features.

4. Hats Off To Women Who Saved The Birds

This is a really interesting piece that explores the intersection of fashion, environmental, and women’s histories. As the article opening paragraph states, “The battle over the commercial trade in bird feathers in the late 19th and early 20th centuries ‘was one of the first times we saw a popular movement coalesce in defense of the environment, and not surprisingly it was to save birds,’ says Brigid McCormack, executive director of Audubon California and vice president of the National Audubon Society.” The article traces the efforts of women conservationists to change fashion trends and hunting laws to save endangered birds, eventually leading to the Migratory Bird Act of 1918.

5. Environmental Humanities Book Chat 4: Living Oil

In this installment of Environmental Humanities Book Chat, Sarah Elkind and Catrin Gersdorf discuss Stephanie LeMenager’s Living Oil: Petroleum Culture in the American Century drawing on their expertise in ecocriticism, environmental history, and environmental humanities approaches.

Remember to follow #envhist hashtag and NiCHE (@NiCHE_Canada) on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ to keep up with the latest environmental history content.

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is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States, editor, 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). She is also a working board member of the Saskatchewan History and Folklore Society and Girls Rock Saskatoon. 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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