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Upcoming events

Tuesday, June 15, 2021

6:30 PM EDT at the Historical Society of Philadelphia (virtual)

The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots

Mon, July 12, 2021

7:00 PM – 8:00 PM EDT at Lost City Books (virtual)

The Fires of Philadelphia by Zachary M. Schrag with guest Tyler Anbinder

Tuesday, August 3, 2021

6:00pm – 7:30pm EDT at A Novel Idea (virtual) The Fires of Philadelphia by Zachary M. Schrag, in conversation with Carly Goodman

Thursday, December 9, 2021

7pm EDT. Library Company of Philadelphia, Fireside Chats (online) Historians’ Methods and Philadelphia’s Nativist Riots

New in 2021: The Princeton Guide to Historical Research and The Fires of Philadelphia

I have two books scheduled for publication in 2021.

In April, Princeton University Press published my book, The Princeton Guide to Historical Research, a manual for writing history in the twenty-first century. Through August 31, 2021, use the code ZS30 to get a 30 percent discount. The book is also available as an ebook or an audiobook.

In June, Pegasus Books will publish The Fires of Philadelphia: Citizen-Soldiers, Nativists, and the 1844 Riots Over the Soul of a Nation, a narrative history of America’s first great urban riot.

I am grateful to all who helped bring these books into the world.

It Takes Two: Combining English and History to Team Teach Narrative Writing

My Mason colleague Scott W. Berg and I have an essay in this month’s Journal of American History about our experience planning and co-teaching a course on narrative history writing. “By teaching skills and approaches neglected in other courses, we wanted to empower students to tell those important stories in rewarding new ways.”

Oxford University Press graciously allows me to post a free-access link to a personal website. Just click on the title below.

Scott W. Berg and Zachary M. Schrag, “It Takes Two: Combining English and History to Team Teach Narrative Writing,” Journal of American History 107, no. 4 (March 2021): 968–73.

The allure of pseudonymous history

Published: “Interviewing everyman: William Sheridan Allen, Theodore Rosengarten, and the allure of pseudonymous history,” Rethinking History, https://doi.org/10.1080/13642529.2020.1718278

Non-paywall version for the first 50 downloads at https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/6RHXVGZQG6VKPPVGYJDJ/full?target=10.1080/13642529.2020.1718278

Accepted Manuscript version of the article, posted here per agreement with Taylor & Francis: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/13642529.2020.1718278 .

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.