Research & Digital History

My work broadly centers on twentieth century political and environmental American history. My work ranges from political and cultural change, urban and environmental history, political culture, historical memory, and the North American West. Posts collected here are items related to my research projects. See my vita for more information about my research and community engagement.

My first book, tentatively titled Suburban by Nature: Environmental Politics and the Imagining of Silicon Valley, explores the postwar growth of the cities in Silicon Valley and the ways that their growth not only led to ecological disaster but introduced social inequality that fueled an environmental politic that redefined liberal and conservative politics in the region. While Silicon Valley’s high-tech companies were imagined as a clean and green alternative to industrialization, the growth, manufacturing, and economic activity introduced challenges to the region’s wildlife and its residents. Suburban by Nature looks at how local communities confronted these challenges and offers a case study for other high-tech regions seeking to balance nature and city.

As a public historian, I find ways to make academically-oriented history accessible to the general public and involve communities in their local histories. My belief in the importance of public history enhances my approach to digital history. As a digital historian, I collaborate with colleagues, students, and the community to create digital projects. I am interested in exploring how digital history can intersect with public history and generate projects that conserve and interpret the past.

I serve on the editorial board of The Middle West Review, a peer-reviewed journal of Midwestern history, and serve on the digital content advisory board for The American Yawp, an online, free, collaboratively-written textbook of American History.

I’m also something of a scholar-hacker. I prefer plain text where ever possible and write scripts to make my workflow fit my needs. The posts here reflect my attempt to integrate plain text into my academic workflow, discuss programming in the humanities and its application to research, and digital history methods generally. Digital history provides historians new ways to think about historical causation and events through new research methods and visualizations.

Select Books, Articles, Book Chapters

“A National Monument,” with Douglas Seefeldt, The Companion to Custer and the Little Big Horn, edited by Brad Lookingbill (Hoboken: Wiley and Sons). (2015) · We explore how shifting interpretations of the Little Bighorn by Native peoples, Custer enthusiasts, and the National Park Service shape the dominant public memory of the Little Bighorn National Monument.

“Crowdsourcing Public Digital History,” with Gabriel K. Wolfenstein, The American Historian. (2015) · The digital turn has offered new technologies to harness communal knowledge and engage with communities. We discuss some successful and well-known crowdsourced projects and explore one of the projects underway at Stanford’s Center for Spatial and Textual Analysis.

“A Call to Redefine Historical Scholarship in the Digital Turn,” with Alex Galarza and Douglas Seefeldt, The Journal of Digital Humanities vol. 1, no. 4 (2012) · This is a collaboratively-written call for the American Historical Association to appoint a task force to survey the profession as to the place of digital historical scholarship in promotion and tenure and graduate student training and to recommend standards and guidelines for the profession to follow.

Select Digital Projects

Machines in the Valley: Growth, Conflict, and Environmental Politics in Silicon Valley (2016) · The digital component of my PhD dissertation using spatial history and digital narrative to explore the environmental history of Silicon Valley.

Framing Red Power: The Trail of Broken Treaties, the American Indian Movement, and the Politics of Media (2009) · The digital component to my Master’s thesis using text analysis to explore how media received the American Indian Movement’s message during the Trail of Broken Treaties.

Geography of the Post (2014) · In collaboration with Cameron Blevins, we visualized the spread of 14,000 post offices in the nineteenth-century American West.

Marriage of Thames and Rhine (2016) · In collaboration with Molly Taylor-Poleskey, we created an interactive narrative of the journey of the court of Prince-Elector Friedrich Wilhelm.

Visualizing Chinese Keyboard Input (2016) · In collaboration with Tom Mullaney, we visualized the keyboard input of Chinese input editors to explore what Chinese writing looks like in the 21st century.

“Self-sustaining and a good citizen: William F. Cody and the Progressive Wild West (2012) · William F. Cody and the Progressive Wild West seeks to examine Cody’s attitudes towards American Indians and present a scholarly argument in the digital form.

Select Research

Machines in the Valley: Community, Urban Change, and Environmental Politics in Silicon Valley, 1945-1990 (May 2016) · My Ph.D. dissertation explored the rise of environmental politics in Silicon Valley during the postwar era.

Research Posts

Digital History Posts