March 8

Here’s an updated editorial to what I wrote after the Philadelphia conference in January, with added information about applying for their conference in San Francisco and the contacts I’d tried to make. This is especially informative if you are an educator, or if you’re an independent historian looking to make waves.

I’ve been thinking about all the organizations in Beloit that rejected my writing: the historical society, the art center, the league of women voters – all I have left for volunteer work is the Janesville Performing Arts Center, where I was told I couldn’t keep the tips from working the coat room. I wonder if she realizes that’s why she can’t get people to work that little prison? And the Rock County Dems, where I just today learned that I made a boo-boo and could I come in an hour early to discuss it? No, because I plan to sit on cold compresses and pain killers today and can be there only a half hour early. I swear, Beloit has it in for me. In every which way. I did not have this much trouble in Green Bay. I became a brief sensation nationally because they’d interviewed me for my anti-Columbus Day movement. I wish I could move back there. I never intended to make southern Wisconsin permanent. Anyway, here’s the update to my conference experience.

Cemetery where Ben Franklin is buried. Seems appropos somehow to my experiences in Philly.

Goals for attending a conference should be on anyone’s mind before committing to the expense. I budgeted $1100 and will end up topping that off with another $300. My goal was finding out how to be a successful AHA presenter by studying others. Oh, and the I-Pass worked great on all the toll roads between Chicago and there, but add another $150 toll charges.

I first wrote this after getting back, still in the “glow” of a conference unlike most I’ve attended — as a non-presenter. Now, several months later, I’m thinking once again about letting this membership lapse and joining the OAH instead. I was told, recently, when I lost my chance to present in San Francisco for the AHA next January, that the OAH does not require you to find a panel first. You are instead free to simply submit your own presentation.

Once again, I joined the wrong organization.

Like the Western Writers of America. My goodness, how wrong that was for me. I would have stayed with them if they had accepted my proposal for South Dakota, on how our government set up the loss at the Little Big Horn to have the excuse to take the Black Hills. I learned they rejected it while I discussed other disappointments there. Now, I plan to find a way to send copies of my Civil War & Bloody Peace to South Dakota and offer myself as a presenter to one of their libraries — hopefully one of their more liberal ones. South Dakota is such a red state that they’re trying to stop Indians from voting.

I had and have good ideas and my goals match those of the AHA. But the manner in which I go about it seem to bristle on their nerves. I’m not an educator. But I went to PA to learn more. I already know that it’s not enough to just give them some startling new information, as I’d tried to do in the past. I have to present it in context of what else was going on. The idea for an article is to have an argument to base the article around.

You see, most of the AHA members are educators. And from what I learned at this conference, arguing their points is a way of life. I became horrified at the reality I learned — that each state has its own set of rules for what can be taught. Look at what’s going on in Florida today. And that’s legal! Public schools were created in this country to make us good citizens. Then the Civil War comes along and we’ve been divided citizens ever since. The Republicans’ goal of Jim Crow, making it hard for Presidents to enforce black rights, is fully on display in my book “From Lincoln to Trump.” I created this as a resource for everyone’s library. So get a copy.

Unfortunately the AHA convention was not a good place for my self-published books. I finally snuck around the publishers’ room and just left them on a table to be taken, with my card in them, of course.

Someone at the convention must have thought it a good idea to mark the two main restrooms as gender-free restrooms. Problem was that the men’s restroom had urinals. I ducked out of there fast and went into the other one. Were they thinking? That women will enjoy seeing men’s dicks? They had the signage for gender-free taped over the regular signage and by the next day, these restrooms were back to normal.

I started to get an idea about my presentation next year in San Francisco, on breaking of myths around Virginia City, but also show where these myths come from in a historical perspective. It could fit into categories of Pivotal History Makers, Economic History and Popular or Public History. I’ve since talked to a few people about a panel to include my presentation, but got nowhere, and now it’s too late.

The first day’s sessions gave me some inspiration for how to present, but even with my hearing aids I couldn’t pick up much of what was being said. Didn’t get the jokes, as others laughed around me.

I didn’t get involved in any social hours, because, frankly, I’m not the type to go up to people and start talking. If they’re standing alone, yes, but I noticed that people were either alone because they wanted to be or had plenty of people to chat with. So I went back to my hotel to have dinner and work. But social hour is what many of these people go to conventions for. I should have tried, and would have, if I were staying at the convention site.

On the second day there were a few exciting sounding panels. The first was  “Defund the Police? A history,” but they really didn’t talk about racism much, or the KKK or even once mention George Floyd. Instead it was all about law and the courts. I came up with the following question: “I think the police perform a vital function but because of their early history, we need a way to purge the racist attitude that still permeates, thanks to FOP. This needs to be addressed, as does lax gun laws that make them jumpy.”

Monica Martinez on this panel would be a good one to read “Mexican Wall Affair.” So I contacted her  at the University of Texas at Austin on 1/13/23. To date, no response. You’d think they enjoy conversing with people.

My problem in not being able to make myself known by asking questions that are intelligent and related directly to their conversations is my inability to follow their conversations. I hear snatches and yet if I ask a question it might be one they addressed that I just didn’t hear.

One of the panelists talked about the LA Police, so I emailed him to ask about the LAPD, FOP and RFK’s murder there. No response from him either. What is that, a rule? Overall I learned that the police do not feel guilty over how the courts handle the suspects they turn in. He also related how the police don’t seem to change, even as society changes. We weren’t given much time for questions.

A bit of excitement at one panel; there was a film crew filming the panel and audience questions. I don’t think they got much. The panel did say that conservative groups discourage questioning history. But we need to in order to be informed voters. I kept hoping someone would bring up PC or woke standards, but no one did.  They asked us to write to our legislatures whenever they post an issue to us, and also to get on our school boards, which I learned is official AHA policy.

I came up with the idea of researching Hawaii’s takeover by the US more fully. I’ll have to see if AHR or anyone else came up with that idea first. You can see a summary in that issue in From Lincoln to Trump. But I’d really like them to publish my Red Bird article. I’ll have to try them on that before I make the decision to leave.

The next session was the best, but only because the room was small and they had food, including small bags of beef jerky. They know what historians live on! Here they talked about what kinds of articles the AHR is looking for, and how well articulated the idea needs to be, even if not well written; is it something they can work with? I asked how far back I needed to look to see if a topic had been covered, but the response was vague. They told me to search their press website, not their own. In perusing the journal, as I have been doing, I noted that they seem to prefer that we insert photos of documents used, rather than typing up the text in them.

I got to thinking about my writing nonfiction overall; three organizations rejected it here in Beloit: their historical society, their art center and the League of Women Voters. I just sent a voting editorial to the newspaper. Will the Janesville Dems reject it? Maybe I need to take a hint. But I rarely got rejected in Green Bay, so what gives?

At the 1:30 presentation I saw the type of presentation I planned to make. One lady’s book could be helpful for my research on the Beloit Black Migration project, and I’m reading a sample of it now: Jim Crow and Journalism. I need to find out how to get my hands on some Chicago black newspapers of the early 1900s.

The Presidential Address was at 5:30, by the president of UW-Madison, Jim Sweet. I went thinking I might know him, but also thinking we’re going to hear about the AHA. I didn’t know him and he wasn’t president of the AHA. He started out introducing his topic, saying he didn’t know what he was going to find, and that he thought the best history is when you surprise yourself. At the end he said we should strive to be as impartial as possible when we write history, so that everyone can really see and understand an event without our attempt to prove an argument. I contacted him about my work being that way and offered CWBP; no response, and this is a fellow Wisconsinite.

I didn’t stay for the last two days. I had to leave hubby alone without a car.

So, now I have a plan and decisions to make. I won’t be going to San Francisco in January, which I was hoping to turn into a family event by bringing Joe along. Now, maybe our trip can be to South Dakota in June, and from there, to Yellowstone.  All research and no fun is no longer how I want to live my life. After all, as it is for all of us, timing is running out.


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