design history pragmatic historian product packaging

Scented Toilet Paper, Pastel Toilet Paper

Early on in the COVID-19 pandemic, when people were faced with a lockdown for several weeks, there was a run on toilet paper, paper towels, and facial tissue. Entire sections in stores where these were kept were empty. Strict limits were put on the number people could purchase at any given time. For months, there were gaps on the toilet paper shelves. Where there used to be several options for purchase, you were lucky if…

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history museums pragmatic historian preservation

Whose History Belongs to Whom?

As per usual, existential questions related to the history field have bubbled to the surface on Twitter. I’ve got two of them to discuss in this post. They appeared on Twitter within a week of each other and though they were posted separately by different people, they speak to each other. The first existential question was raised by applied math professor Chad Topaz. I know Chad personally because he was my daughter’s advisor at Macalester…

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history observations pragmatic historian

Let’s Not Wait for History to Make Judgements

Throughout the four years of the Trump regime, as report after report came out about corrupt, unethical, possibly illegal, democratic-norm-breaking behavior, joined by an incessant number of lies, conspiracy theories, threats, and nasty comments, there has been a common refrain on Twitter. “History will not judge these individuals well.” As though merely pointing out how future people will look back on this time, shake their finger, and say, “Tsk, tsk,” and individuals currently engaging in…

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history pragmatic historian writing

Leaving Behind a Written Legacy

I finished reading a novel called “When You Read This” by Mary Adkins last night. I bought it at Savers thrift store and was attracted to it by the cover and inside flap text. The general gist of the story is that a woman named Iris has died of cancer and has left behind a blog that she wants her boss to publish as a book. The book is written as a series of Iris’s…

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history museums pragmatic historian reading

How Did I Miss This Book as a Kid?

After getting off to a slow start, with my parents called in to school when I was in first grade because teachers were concerned I wasn’t picking up reading quickly enough, I have been a voracious reader most of my life. My memory is fuzzy on this point, but I think my interest in reading kicked into high gear around third grade and by the time I was in eighth grade I was an advanced…

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