Posted by: ushistoryfiles | May 29, 2015


USHistoryFiles is now thejollyhistorian.  Find out why:

Posted by: ushistoryfiles | December 1, 2014

Monument / Marker Mondays – Fort Magruder

I’m reblogging this on USHistoryFiles because I figure some of my readers haven’t made the switch yet.

The US History Czar

I want to use today’s Monument / Marker Mondays to highlight a battlefield preservation project near to where I live.  First, did anyone catch this yesterday?

The piece on CBS Sunday Morning highlighted two battlefields that I am quite familiar with.  I grew up in New Jersey just about 20 miles from the Princeton Battlefield.  When I left NJ, I moved to Murfreesboro, TN just about 30 miles from the Franklin Battlefield.  I can remember seeing the folks from Save the Franklin Battlefield every year when I went to the Nashville Civil War Show on the first weekend in December.  (I believe that it is now the Franklin/Middle Tennessee Civil War Show and no longer held on the Tennessee State Fairgrounds but I digress.)  I will say that I am both surprised and elated that the preservation movement has made the progress that it has.  Someday when I get a…

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Posted by: ushistoryfiles | November 10, 2014

Morphing or Rebranding

Back in April 2009 I started USHistoryFiles frankly, as an experiment.  I barely knew what a blog was, was working as the Facility Manager of a church, and except for some coursework at American Military University, I didn’t have much of an outlet for writing about history.  I really didn’t know how much I was going to write, what I was going to write about, or if anyone would read/follow the blog.  Lately, I’ve had the desire to go in a slightly different direction – still writing about history and teaching, but incorporating more of the ME persona into the blog.  Include more personal stuff if you will.  So with that being said, I am happy to announce that I have reinvented myself as the US History Czar.  As for USHistoryFiles, well that blog will remain right here and I may even add to it from time to time.  (I have a couple of book reviews that I will cross post with my new blog.)  So now, I invite you to join me at – lets see where it takes us.



Posted by: ushistoryfiles | August 26, 2014

New Semester

Class started yesterday at Southern Adventist University where I teach an on-line US History I class.  When I taught in the classroom I started off every class with a video relevant to the material covered that day.  With an on-line class I include the link in an announcement and keep my fingers crossed that the students will actually watch the video.  Most of what I use I find/found on YouTube so they aren’t super secret or anything.  The video I shared for this week is Why We Study History.


Posted by: ushistoryfiles | August 14, 2014

New Historian Online Magazine

I received this press release the other day and visited their website for a bit.  Thought maybe some of you would be interested too.



Online history magazine New Historian officially launches today, and brings together all the latest developments from history onto their website at It is launched by historical publisher Forgotten Books.

 “As Confucius said ‘To define the future, study the past.’” Says Editor Glynn Forsythe, “New Historian gives history lovers the opportunity to stay one step ahead of the herd when it comes to the latest discoveries from the past. “

 Past events may have happened long ago, but historians, archaeologists and interested amateurs are constantly making new discoveries that inform our understanding of what has gone before.

 Oliver Forsythe, CEO of Forgotten Books, considers moving into magazine publication a natural progression. “A significant amount of Forgotten Books’ customers are already using our service for access to historical sources. Bringing them more up to date news from the historical field is a clear next step.”

 As well as breaking news, New Historian already has a sizable collection of articles about fascinating events and people from the past, with more added daily.

Posted by: ushistoryfiles | May 19, 2014

Book Review – Autumn in Carthage


Part Sci-Fi, part love story, part historical fiction, part mystery, Autumn in Carthage is simply a good read.  College professor Nathan Price goes searching for his missing friend in the small Wisconsin town of Carthage.  What he finds is a close knit community facing their own troublesome issues.  Price also finds love, struggling to overcome his own demons in the process.

What I liked most about Autumn in Carthage was that Zenos (a pseudonym but more on that later) has created characters that are inherently human.  None of the characters are saintly and all of them struggle with their own human foibles.  But that is what in large part make them likable.  I found myself rooting for Nathan as he searched for his missing friend and pursued the woman who made him whole.  Perhaps I am a sucker for a missing persons story but the that particular hook grabbed me right away.

As I mentioned earlier, the name Christopher Zenos is a pseudonym.  The author is a university professor who struggles with mental illness.  Needless to say the academic world doesn’t look to kindly upon academics writing works of fiction instead of more academic works.  in addition the potential stigma of living/struggling with mental illness is a good reason for the pseudonym.

I gave Autumn in Carthage 4 stars on Goodreads and recommend it without reservation.

Posted by: ushistoryfiles | April 2, 2014

Where are your accents?

For some reason I have been asked about colonial accents a bunch lately.  The last couple of times were by fellows with a prominent English accent (yes, think John Cleese – and if you don’t know who John Cleese is shame on you).  Always being on the alert for the opportunity to dispel historical stereotypes and the myth that all English colonists were carbon copy Englishmen who talked alike, I sprang into action.

I start by jokingly asking, “To which accent are you referring?”  Next I quickly (before they can answer my mostly rhetorical question) point out that the colonists who came to what would eventually become the United States were not a homogenous group.  Looking at Great Britain alone you have England, Scotland, Ireland, and Wales each with a wide variety of their own way of speaking.  (As an elementary example I mention that the people of London speak differently than the people in Glasgow).  I also mention that it was the Dutch who originally settled the area around today’s New York and the Swedish settlers in the “middle” colonies.  By the time I mention that German colonists started arriving in the mid-1600s the diversity point is well made.

Moving to the colonies, I ask again “which accent” since the people of New York speak differently than the people of Boston or Raleigh.  Needless to say I rather enjoy dispelling the historical myth.


Posted by: ushistoryfiles | March 1, 2014

Welcome back stranger

Longtime followers of USHistoryFiles by now have become familiar with my periodic hiatuses (<-look I spelled that correctly!).  The frequency of my blogging often decreases when I am taking a class (which I am currently) but since I have a variety of interests, they can eat into my blogging time as well.  This winter was our second in Williamsburg, and the first with my parents living less than a day’s drive from me.  Since they now live about a half an hour north of me, I got to spend some quality family time with them over the holidays.  January saw snow several times (more than I saw in Chattanooga, less than when I grew up in New Jersey) as well as a new hobby – I am practicing/teaching myself/learning a bit of close up photography.  As always, family, work, and school have their pulls.  But enough of that for now, look what I found in a local thrift store today:photo(1)

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it before, but Chattanooga, TN had the best used bookstore I have ever visited (and since I’ve got about a thousand books, I’ve visited a bunch!).  Moving to Williamsburg, VA, I have not found any used bookstores that match the selection of McKay’s.  McKay’s has three stores, the one mentioned in Chattanooga, one in Nashville, and one in Knoxville.  All three were on my regular visitation list.  You can find their website here.  If you are ever in the neighborhood of one of their stores I highly recommend that you check them out.  But I digress.

Since moving to Williamsburg, I’ve taken to raiding thrift stores for books (BTW, Chattanooga area thrift stores did not have many books – the Williamsburg area ones have more – there I go digressing again).  Needless to say, today’s find was exciting for me.

Anyway, I hope you all are well and I’ll see if I can’t get some more posts up (or at least not wait 3/4 months before posting again <grin>.

Posted by: ushistoryfiles | October 21, 2013

The Kennedy Half Century


I am a bit late in posting this announcement, but this online course starts today.  See the announcement below.  And look for an upcoming review of the book by the same name.

Enrollment opens for Professor Sabato’s 
free online course “The Kennedy Half Century”

The four-week, massive open online course (MOOC), “The Kennedy Half Century,” will begin on Oct. 21, with two hours of video instruction each week by Prof. Sabato. The course is available through Coursera, an educational website that partners with some of the world’s top universities, including the University of Virginia, to provide free online courses. Anyone can register for the course at

The MOOC is one of several initiatives the U.Va. Center for Politics is unveiling this fall in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of JFK’s assassination. Prof. Sabato’s latest book, The Kennedy Half Century: The Presidency, Assassination and Lasting Legacy of John F. Kennedy, will be released in October as the class begins. Also in October, the Center will premiere a one-hour national PBS documentary on the same subject, which is being produced in partnership with Community Idea Stations. The Center for Politics and Community Idea Stations recently received an Emmy Award for their previous documentary, “Out of Order,” which is about political dysfunction in Washington.

A trailer for the “The Kennedy Half Century” class is available here.

“The University of Virginia Center for Politics has long been committed to providing accessible educational tools about American politics and government. This free online course about how JFK and his legacy have influenced the public, the media, and each of the nine U.S. presidents who followed President Kennedy is one way we can deliver high-quality instruction, at no charge, to a large audience,” Prof. Sabato said.

The course begins with the early legislative career of John F. Kennedy and progresses through the 50 years since Kennedy’s death, focusing on how each president, Lyndon Johnson through Barack Obama, has used JFK to craft their own political image. The class offers more than eight hours of video consisting of 40 lessons averaging 10-20 minutes each in length. Each week, there will be at least two new hours of content, including historical footage from each of the 10 presidential administrations of the last half-century. Prof. Sabato will focus four lessons around Kennedy’s assassination as the nation marks the 50th anniversary of 11/22/63.

New portions of the class will be posted to the Coursera page each week. Students who complete the course do not receive university credit, but they will receive a statement of accomplishment. More information about the course’s specifics, including a syllabus, is available at

Online learning is not new to the U.Va. Center for Politics, which has provided online education tools through its Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) since 1998. YLI conducts regular mock elections for students, as well as an interactive legislative simulation called E-Congress.

“For the last 15 years YLI has developed and distributed free civics education lesson plans using the Internet,” noted Prof. Sabato. “Today YLI reaches more than 50,000 teachers and millions of students throughout the country and around the world.”


Posted by: ushistoryfiles | October 16, 2013

Gold Fever on the Discovery Channel

I found this little nugget buried in my spam box on Yahoo (thank you Yahoo SPAM blocker).  It premiered on October 11th but Discovery is running it again on October 18, 2013.


Discovery Catches Gold Fever in California Gold Rush Documentary Mini-Series
New York, NY – Discovery is going back in time to follow the story of the California Gold Rush from the very beginning in the four-part documentary miniseries GOLD FEVER premiering Friday October 11th and October 18th at 9 PM ET. See how American was transformed, after the chance discovery of gold, from a fledgling nation into one of enormous wealth and power.
From the executive producer of the Emmy-winning documentary miniseries, The Men Who Built America, GOLD FEVER follows the Boston Company, a real-life group of 40 men who, like tens of thousands of others, made the grueling journey out west with dreams of striking it rich. Viewers will a get a first-hand look through historians, experts, visual effects and dramatic scenes about how the men of the Boston Company pursued their opportunity for a new life while trying to survive from January 1848 to October 1850. After traveling to California, the men soon discovered the gold rush wasn’t exactly was hey expected. Violence, greed and chaos took over as tens of thousands of miners battled each other for the same small fortune of buried treasure. As the men fought and died for gold, they had no idea that the fortune they’d uncover – worth an estimated 25 billion dollars – would transform the country forever, laying the foundation of the American Dream and making possible the creation of an American empire.

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