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.
On Friday, May 4, I will moderate a Congressional Briefing on US Infrastructure with historians Janet Bednarek and Peter Norton.
Lance Hosey has published an essay questioning whether the label “Brutalist” describes Harry Weese’s design for the Washington Metro. The essay usefully complicates the term, but I think it underplays Weese’s commitment to the materials and forms he used.
[Lance Hosey, “Is the Washington Metro ‘Brutalist’?,” Huffington Post, July 5, 2017.]
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.
Published: “Ethical Pluralism: Scholarly Societies and the Regulation of Research Ethics,” in The Ethics Rupture: Exploring Alternatives to Formal Research-Ethics Review, edited by Will C. van den Hoonaard and Ann Hamilton. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2016.
“Will the Federal Government Finally Deregulate Oral History?,” American Historian, November 2015, 20-22.
On September 8, 2015, sixteen federal departments and agencies jointly released a notice of proposed rulemaking that would amend the federal regulations (known as the Common Rule) that govern IRBs. Among many other reforms the new rules would, the notice explains, “explicitly exclude oral history, journalism, biography, and historical scholar- ship activities that focus directly on the specific individuals about whom the information . . . is collected.” If enacted as written, the proposal would resolve the longstanding acrimony between IRBs and historians.
Rutgers University cartographer Michael Siegel has made a magnificent slideshow of maps to accompany my entry, “Nativist Riots of 1844,” in the Encyclopedia of Greater Philadelphia.
Many thanks to Mr. Siegel, to encyclopedia editor Howard Gillette, and all the Encyclopedia crew.
Published: “You Can’t Ask That.” Washington Monthly, September/October 2014
Enacted a generation ago in response to real abuses by some notorious medical researchers, so-called institutional review boards have morphed into entities that are stifling and distorting important research throughout academia.
I get all gushy about Metro architecture.
I had a chance to discuss Metro’s architecture on the Kojo Nnamdi Show, on the occasion of the system’s winning the AIA’s 25 Year Award.