Garden Spot

book coverGarden Spot: Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, the Old Order Amish, and the Selling of Rural America (Oxford University Press, 2002)

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, has been known since the eighteenth century as the Garden Spot of America. Today it is synonymous in American popular culture with Amish country, a place of peace, prosperity, and traditional values that has somehow survived unscathed the upheavals of the twentieth century. Yet Lancaster is also a rapidly growing and diverse population center with progressive farmers and booming industry. Garden Spot is about the ways Lancaster Countians have struggled to define their present and future in a time when their home — and rurality in general — is increasingly identified with the past. Underneath their struggles lies a pair of vital questions: Is there a future for rural America? And if there is to be a rural future, how can ruralites take charge of it?

North Carolina Digital History

I edited and developed an online textbook for secondary history students while working for UNC-Chapel Hill between 2007 and 2010. It represented the contributions of dozens of historians, students, librarians, archivists, museum educators, photographers, and videographers, and was a joy to build. Unfortunately, the program I worked for lost its funding, and the website was shut down. Much, but sadly not nearly all, of the content was absorbed into the North Carolina State Library’s ANCHOR project. What follows was the blurb for the project in 2010:

soldiers at a reenactment of the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, 2008LEARN NC’s “digital textbook” for 8th-grade North Carolina history offers a new model for teaching and learning. This “digital textbook,” designed for grade 8 and up, covers all of North Carolina history, from the arrival of the first people some 12,000 years ago to the present. Far more than a textbook, though, it’s a collection of primary sources, readings, and multimedia that you can search, select, and rearrange to meet the needs of your classroom. Special web-based tools aid reading and model historical inquiry, helping students build critical thinking and literacy skills.