The Princeton Guide to Historical Research

In spring 2021, Princeton University Press will publish my book, The Princeton Guide to Historical Research, a greatly expanded version of my teaching website,

For more on the series in which the book will appear, see: Peter Dougherty and Barbara Tonetti, “Skills for Scholars The New Tools of the Trade,” Princeton University Press (blog), August 18, 2020,

The allure of pseudonymous history

Published: “Interviewing everyman: William Sheridan Allen, Theodore Rosengarten, and the allure of pseudonymous history,” Rethinking History,

Non-paywall version for the first 50 downloads at

Accepted Manuscript version of the article, posted here per agreement with Taylor & Francis: .

Lewis Levin Wasn’t Nice

I present some of my research on Philadelphia in 1844 in Tablet Magazine:

Levin was a rabble-rouser, conspiracy theorist, bigot, and shanda fur di goyim. In an age of resurgent nativism and fake news, he is all too familiar. Yet he is also mysterious. As a newspaper editor and congressman, Levin spoke and wrote countless thousands of words against demon rum and the Catholic menace. But he offered hardly any account of his private life, leaving historians to wonder about both the facts of his biography and the sincerity of his tirades. Where did a nice Jewish boy learn so much hate?

Lewis Levin Wasn’t Nice,” Tablet Magazine, 22 October 2018.

Metro FAQ: Why doesn’t Metro have four-track routes?

Ten years ago, when Metro was still working well enough for people to wish for more, the more frequent question I got was about the lack of a Metro station in Georgetown. Now that the challenge is to keep the current system functioning, the question is why Metro has only two sets of tracks on each route, so that shutting one down for repairs causes slow service.

In my research, I found two documents that explained the decision particularly well.
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How Congress Undercut Its Own City’s Subway System

Published: “How Congress Undercut Its Own City’s Subway System,” POLITICO Magazine, 16 March 2016.

The most recent maintenance issues are just the latest consequences of a longer pattern of uncertain, interrupted federal financing that began while Metro was still just a paper proposal. Metro was born and built in financial jeopardy. Now, like so much of the nation’s infrastructure, it needs reinvestment, and that challenge may prove greater than the effort to build it in the first place.