My favorite answer to the world’s dullest party question — “What do you do?” — is “About what?” I do a lot of things.
I am, first, a historian. I hold a Ph.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill and wrote a book, Garden Spot: Lancaster County, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America (Oxford, 2002). For the past several years I’ve been working on a book on the history of American cooking and the cultural development of industrially processed food. My primary research interests have been rural history and culture, the history of U.S. food and agriculture, and historical memory.
I have a particular interest in historical education. While working with LEARN NC at UNC-Chapel Hill, I conceived, developed, and edited North Carolina Digital History (2008–2010), an online textbook of North Carolina history designed to teach secondary students the skills of historical inquiry. This project also led to significant work in public history and in digital humanities, as I worked with museum educators and librarians to digitize resources and to develop tools for analyzing various sorts of historical media, such as maps. I also wrote a number of articles for K–12 teachers and students on topics such as visual literacy and technology integration and have done work in instructional design, mainly for teacher professional development.
Along the way I developed a number of skills in web design and development. I designed and built the open-source content management system in which the textbook was built, including administrative tools, front-end design, cataloguing and search functionality, and various interactive tools for using historical resources. I have a particular fondness for maps and other visualizations, and I have designed a number of them for various projects, including a pair of maps used in a museum exhibit.
I am above all a writer. In addition to the work above I have written extensively on sustainability, small-scale agriculture, and related topics, both essays and how-to, for magazines and group blogs and for my own website, The New Agrarian. I have also written about food and cooking, both for magazines and at my own The Rooted Cook. I blog occasionally at Unhewn Stones; there are a few stories and some short poems there as well. At present I am working on a novel.
I do occasional contract work in writing, web design, and historical mapmaking, so please contact me at david at davidwalbert dot com if you are interested.
Samples of my work are available on this website. For a more complete and formal list, see my curriculum vitae.