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Uncommon Sense

By oieahc · January 18, 2017

The OI Guides to #VastEarlyAmerica

#VastEarlyAmerica 4 min read

OI travel guide

by Karin Wulf

Over the life of the Omohundro Institute, the staff here in Williamsburg produced resources with the aim of helping scholars to navigate the early American field. Like the Carnegie Guides I discussed in a previous post, these inevitably reflected a contemporary understanding of “the field” as well as the communication capacity and technology of the time.  A 1983 volume, The Early American Historian’s Travel Guide, was designed to give scholars “practical information on forty-nine cities and towns that will make life on the road more convenient, inexpensive, and productive.” The information was compiled from questionnaires mailed only to archives and libraries in the United States. The OI’s Travel Guide also focused mostly on the east coast of North America, with a few excursions west, to Kentucky, Illinois, and Michigan, and even to California—but only for the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA and the Huntington Library in San Marino.

We’re no longer feeling so well equipped to offer travel recommendations, though in the offing there might be a space hosted here for folks to exchange just that sort of information. What we have done is take up the digital challenge of transforming other sorts of scholarly resources.

It often seems impossible to keep up with this expansive field; that’s part of the challenge, but also the excitement of it. Over the last two years the Omohundro Institute staff has been working to develop a set of resources that help to keep us all connected and informed. Like all our best work, this is a community effort made possible by all of you who contribute information and who read, use, and offer feedback.

I hope you will bookmark for handy and regular reference:

The Octo, our selection of the latest posts from around the world of early American blogs.

The Map, which shows both in map and in list form the schedule of upcoming seminars and conferences on early American topics.

The List, which compiles travel, residential, and non-residential fellowships and grants for early American scholarship.

Works in Progress, a round-up of fellowship awards and project titles to help you keep abreast of new work that’s developing.

And of course our podcast series with Liz Covart and Ben Franklin’s World, Doing History.

We’ve wrapped up season one of Doing History: How Historians Work, and we’ve already posted a preview of season two, Doing History: To the Revolution!

The form of these resources reflects the open, expansive, and evolving nature of the field. For the Map, the List, or WiP, please send any additional events, opportunities, or announcements to Martha Howard (

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