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Spring 2020

I usually spend much of the spring season on the road–it is a favored time for conferences, public talks, and consulting visits, all of which keep me busy. This year, the COVID–19 virus has upended that routine.

The spring 2020 public history tour had already begun when the first calls for physical isolation came out. What was supposed to be an eight-week trip was cut down to four weeks, and I headed back to my home base in Indiana, where I quarantined to make sure I had not picked up the virus in my travels. I’m pleased to report I am now well past the virus incubation period and have not showed any symptoms.

The cancelled part of the trip is on my mind this week, since I was to have given two talks. The past few days were to have been the annual meeting of the Organization of American Historians (OAH), in Washington, D.C. I worked at the OAH for thirteen years, and this conference is always a nice time to connect with long-time colleagues whose professional orbit no longer overlaps as much with mine.

This year at the OAH conference, I was also planning to be one of the facilitators of a day-long workshop entitled “The What, How, and Why of Life Working as an Independent Historian,” organized by my friend Bob Beatty of the Lyndhurst Group. The focus of the workshop was some of the various paths trained historians take in establishing their own businesses, and was part of the OAH’s recent effort to better address the needs of historians who work outside of the academy. Everything (everywhere) is still up in the air right now, but the facilitators are hoping there’s a way we might be able to retool the workshop and offer it online through the OAH at some point. If that happens, I’ll post an announcement.

Later this week, I was to have led a session of the Indiana University History Department’s graduate-level class on career preparation. Happily, I will still get to do this, although it will now be in a digital form, and as a consolation for not getting to work with the students in person, my time has now been extended into two class sessions. The first week, we’ll be exploring the process of deciding what career paths are a good fit. Next week, we’ll focus more on getting experience and credentials in the profession of one’s choosing.

In addition to these classes, I’m spending my unexpected time at home making progress on my four current large-scale research projects, detailed on my projects page. It’s a little challenging, since archives and libraries are all currently closed, but so far I’m finding enough sources online and in my own collection to keep the projects moving forward.

Wishing you all good health and calm thoughts…