Category Archives: research

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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Will the Federal Government Finally Deregulate Oral History?

Published:

“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.

You Can’t Ask That

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.