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by Matthew Gilmore [dc-edit@mail.h-net.msu.edu], H-DC Co-Editor, Web Editor

Just added to the H-DC website -- a page containing the summer 2001 discussion of swamps in Washington, D.C. -- validity or invalidity of the description, ramifications or implications (political and social) of use of the term definition of the term "swamp".

Begun on the H-Urban list, H-DC took on the discussion, offering up a whole variety of perspectives. Each message is included, however cited messages have been truncated from the postings. A link is provided to the original message and context for each message.

Also included on this page are:

* Links to an earlier thread on H-SHEAR about the term "mall" in Washington;

* Joel A. Tarr's paper on city development and the natural environment;

* Some examples of how the term swamps is used even today to describe the early condition and situation of Washington;

* A link to Sierra Club's definition of wetlands.


by Beth Salerno [BSalerno@Anselm.Edu], H-SHEAR Co-Editor

H-SHEAR was founded in 1995 by H-Net’s Vice President of Networks, Peter Knupfer, to provide a forum for the discussion of American history between the American Revolution and the 1850s.  In 1997, The Society for the History of the Early American Republic (SHEAR) adopted the list as its official electronic voice, and the two organizations have been linked ever since.  Although SHEAR's paper voice -- the Journal of the Early Republic -- provides an outlet for scholarly research on the period, Knupfer and others recognized the need for dynamic, ongoing dialogue regarding the powerful events of this period.  H-SHEAR brings together established scholars, graduate students, independent researchers, as well as non-academic individuals with a strong interest in the period. Bridging the gap between scholarly research and public dissemination, enabling scholars to counter ill-informed opinions, and engaging people in historical dialogue are all-important aspects of the list.

H-SHEAR's first book review editor, Bruce Baird, saw the potential of electronic book reviews quite early.  Baird helped to define this emerging field by commissioning longer reviews than were possible in paper journals, encouraging author response, and framing questions for list discussion.  Baird held reviewers to such a high standard that even skeptical scholars began to eagerly await the next review. These came quite frequently; H-SHEAR published 51 book reviews in 1999. Baird’s legacy lives on with Jonathan Sassi and, more recently, Stacey Roberston, who have joined H-SHEAR as book review editors.  Sassi and Robertson organized 43 book reviews last year, and have produced 16 more thus far this year.  Author response and reviewer commentary have become standards of H-SHEAR's book review process, and the list continues to innovate, publishing simultaneous reviews by scholars in different fields.

The list also organized one of the first interactive reviews of a scholarly journal, with commissioned essays and discussions by reviewers and authors of a special issue of the Journal of the Early Republic on Capitalism and the Early Republic.

This summer H-SHEAR sponsored the first teaching session at the SHEAR annual meeting. Exploring approaches to teaching the early republic has always been an important part of H-SHEAR's mission, and teaching editor Jamie Bronstein continues to try and steer list discussion toward topics in the classroom. Teaching-oriented discussions on the list have included the pros and cons of new textbooks, how to organize new courses, the locations of new primary sources, and debates on hot topics in the field that emerge in classroom lectures.

H-SHEAR is currently edited by Peter Knupfer and Beth Salerno, both of whom teach and research America’s early republic. H-SHEAR’s website is maintained by Hal Morris, who has included on the site significant primary documents for use by teachers and scholars.  The list has approximately 800 members, with recent discussion topics ranging from the controversy over a new book in the field to debate over the meaning of Thomas Jefferson's personal life.  H-SHEAR has clearly succeeded in bringing together scholars and readers, and has become a respected forum for book reviews, source concerns, and debates on the early republic.

View sample H-SHEAR Book Reviews:

Gelles on Casper, _Constructing American Lives_ (Mar. 2000). 


Mattern on Leibiger, _Founding Friendship_ (Oct. 2000). 


Hizer on LOC's Thomas Jefferson papers online site (1999). 



by Brenda Randolph [brendar@umd5.umd.edu], H-AfrTeach K-12 Editor

H-AfrTeach, a cyber-sister of H-Africa, is devoted to improving instruction about Africa.  In addition to Africanists, H-AfrTeach strives to reach an audience of educators outside of the Africanist community -- teachers who teach, or should be teaching about Africa, but who have limited expertise in the subject. Particular attention is given to primary and secondary school teachers.

The  H-AfrTeach discussion list and H-AfrTeach review database are the two major components of our service.  The discussion list provides educators with a forum to ask questions related to the teaching of Africa and to share ideas and best practices with other educators.  The H-AfrTeach review database provides in-depth, scholarly reviews of children's and young people's Africana.

One of the greatest problems facing educators is the scarcity of good materials on Africa at the pre-collegiate level.  For this reason, the editors at H-AfrTeach have focused much of our attention on the development of a review database.  The database is designed to help educators identify accurate, balanced materials on Africa and to become aware of the myths, stereotypes, biases and errors one frequently encounters in materials. Our intent is to provide serious assessments of the content as well as the aesthetic and grade level appeal of children's and young people's literature.   Our international review staff includes university professors, librarians, and teachers, most of whom have lived in Africa and have graduate degrees in African Studies. H-AfrTeach reviews also appear in Africa Access Review, an extensive online review database of children's Africana (http://www.AfricaAccessReview.org).  Collectively, H-AfrTeach and Africa Access Review provide the most extensive analysis of children's and young people's Africana on the worldwide wide.

A host of people benefit from H-AfrTeach reviews. Publishers use our reviews to identify problems in published materials and to locate scholars who can assist them with future projects.   Educators have an authoritative source to turn to evaluate classroom materials. Librarians are using our reviews to build quality collections on Africa. College students in schools of education have access to reliable information about Africa before they enter the classroom.  Members of the general public have a resource they can use to build personal Africana collections.

Non-Africanist educators are not the only beneficiaries of H-AfrTeach reviews. Africanists benefit as well, most specifically those who review materials for the African Studies Association's Children's Africana Book Awards. Each year, the awards' committee selects the best books on Africa published in the U.S. in two categories: young Children and Older Readers. The awards' committee relies heavily on H-AfrTeach reviews, using them to help identify the best books on Africa and to evaluate nominated titles.  Committee members compare their comments about nominated titles with those provided by H-AfrTeach reviewers, and occasionally ask reviewers to illuminate or clarify issues.  This collaborative process stimulates debate and ensures the soundness of the awards' selection process. 

All of us are connected in some way to youth. We invite you to explore H-AfrTeach reviews, to join our discussion list and participate in our efforts to expand perspectives on Africa.

View sample book reviews from H-AfrTeach:

Sylviane Anna Diouf. Kings and Queens of West Africa.


Margy Burns Knight and Mark Melnicove. Africa Is Not A Country.


M. E. Chamberlain. The Scramble for Africa



by Wendy Plotkin [wplotk1@uic.edu], H-Urban Founding Editor

H-Urban, launched on February 23, 1993, was H-Net's first on-line forum.  As the inaugural venture of the fledgling organization (then known as "History On-Line"), H-Urban introduced many of the elements that today define H-Net networks: an editorial board consisting of top scholars in the field, use of scholar-editors from around the world to screen content, the distribution of announcements and calls for papers, the collection and archiving of threads for retrieval at a later date, and the use of surveys to collect information on subscribers.  Since its inception, H-Urban's editorial board (http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~urban/disclist/edboard.html) comprised of leading authorities in urban studies and history from around the world, has advised and supported the list. H-Urban's editorial staff, past and present  -- including Alan Mayne, Martha Bianco, Mark Peel, Keith Tankard, Maureen Flanagan, Mickey Lauria, Kevan Frazier, Ulf Zimmermann, Elizabeth Kent, and myself -- has been drawn from universities in the U.S., Australia, and South Africa.  The list's 2200 subscribers come from almost 50 nations, including the U.S., Canada, Great Britain, Australia, Germany, Italy, France, the Netherlands, Spain, Brazil, China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and many others.

H-Urban has always had a vision that the Internet should be more than chat. From its discussions to its newest Web-based features, the emphasis has been on ensuring that it offered material of enduring scholarly substance.  Its discussions are noted for an insistence that those posting include citations of works on their topics -- one of the most common praises from subscribers is the broad knowledge that they attain of the work in the field.  On queries for readings on a certain topic, the editors have often urged those responding to include brief descriptions of the works that they recommend rather than just titles.  Those asking for suggestions for readings are asked to provide descriptions of their own projects, as well as to offer the major works they have themselves identified on their topics. In some cases, subscribers have been more than generous after asking for readings on the "literary representations of space" (1), Daryl Watson of the University of Adelaide offered an excellent list of scholarly sources on the topic.

The editors have also taken a leading role in providing material for the list, including obituaries on key figures in urban history such as Jean Gottmann (2), overviews of the work of leading scholars such as that of Zane Miller (3), and extensive bibliographies such as that on automobile accidents (4) in American cities by Clay McShane.  After the recent tragic events of September 11, H-Urban encouraged both personal reactions to the destruction of one of the world's leading symbols of urbanism (5), as well as discussions of the effects upon cities and skyscrapers (6)

H-Urban has expanded beyond its discussions, and to a great extent, is now associated with these Web-based features (the H-Urban Website received over 2300 "hits" in the week ending October 21).   In 1995, Clay McShane created a major book review operation (http://www.h-net.msu.edu/reviews/revlist.cgi?list=H-Urban) which, with the support of Roger Biles (the U.S. Review Editor since 2000) and Contributing Editors from various subject and geographical areas, has published over 850 reviews to date, of which approximately 350 were commissioned by H-Urban (others were cross-posted from other H-Net lists).  Bibliographic essays on topics such as "American Cities, Suburbs and the Dual Metropolis,"  "The City and the Natural Environment," and "Berlin and Urban Modernity" have complemented the individual reviews (7).

In 2000, H-Urban's Teaching Center (http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~urban/teach) was launched by Charlotte Agustin and Wendy Plotkin, building on the earlier efforts of William Wright. The first initiative of the Center, the Syllabus Archive (http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~urban/teach/syllabi), today has over 100 syllabi in courses ranging from "The Culture of Cities"(http://www.hnet.msu.edu/~urban/teach/syllabi/graff2000syl8.htm) to "Third World Urbanization" (http://www.hnet.msu.edu/~urban/teach/syllabi/kohl2000syl2.htm).  In the same year, H-Urban's Web Links  (http://www.h-net.msu.edu/~urban/weblinks) page was introduced, consisting of annotated links to urban history and studies websites around the world.  Clay McShane created and continues to maintain the concept and content of the site.  All of these Web initiatives have benefited from the outstanding Web designs of Charlotte Agustin, who will receive support from a new set of Assistant Editors who will begin work in late 2001.

Although these are the most visible features, H-Urban has had much key "behind-the-scenes" assistance from junior scholars such as Michael Czaplicki, Tim Draper, Heather Barrow, Ben Schrader, Sara Cormeny, and Elizabeth Earle.  In their roles as subscription and assistant book review editors, they have added immeasurably to H-Urban.

H-Urban continues to expand its horizons, with plans for a Scholar's Directory, an interactive Bibliography project, and a Working Papers Series.  It will seek support for these efforts from H-Net and as part of our affiliation with other professional organizations such as the Urban History Association (http://www.unl.edu/uha/assoc.html) and the Society for American City and Regional Planning History



(1) See Daryl Watson's  "literary representations of space" bibliography at
h-urban&month=0107&week=d&msg=joJN 9XESt4WxP4qAzfKemw&user=&pw

(2) See obituary on Jean Gottmann, at
h-urban&month=9403&week=b&msg=vXAT P1f8W0Bz/n5wA84s/Q&user=&pw

(3) See tribute to Zane Miller, at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=
h-urban&month=9911&week=a&msg=2FHp gOgYSQJnrN7vDvoR2g&user=&pw

(4) See Clay McShane bibliography on automobile accidents at
h-urban&month=0104&week=b&msg=DZdg P07xwI3XAWQywK0hSQ&user=&pw

(5) See all postings with the Subject Line "Historical and Analytical

Perspectives on US Urban Terrorism" or "Historical and Analytical

Perspectives on US Urban Terror," but in particular:

Description of the World Trade Center collisions by a stonemason from the top of the Pan Am building  at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=
H-Urban&month=0109&week=e&msg=eecm NNfQyL9g4Ik6Stlzuw&user=&pw

Comments by Max Page, cultural historian, on popular culture depictions of the destruction of New York, at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=
H-Urban&month=0109&week=e&msg=8n9n gPHXHNItcA0fQiyFtg&user=&pw

First Hand Account of Deborah Gardner, New York City Landmark Preservation Commission, at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=
H-Urban&month=0109&week=c&msg=n3to qwx9xbz8/4YFXPAVEQ&user=&pw

(6) See in particular:

Myriam Daru's account of European perspective on urban destruction in light of WWII experience, at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=
H-Urban&month=0109&week=e&msg=X8 sK1dkFTf%2bVEXMQWrCq2Q&user=&pw

"The End of Tall Buildings"  [a controversial essay authored by James Howard Kunstler and Nikos A. Salingaros in the wake of the September 11 events], at
H-Urban&month=0109&week=c&msg=TK4o j1P9jjuscdJpDSYyNw&user=&pw

Sharon Irish's comment on "The End of Tall Buildings" [one of many comments on the essay], at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=
H-Urban&month=0109&week=c&msg=zzWv UMHj4WZ0UevytnRtNQ&user=&pw

(7) See "American Cities, Suburbs and the Dual Metropolis" at
h-urban&month=9711&week=b&msg=nnFr uObnmksD/Vf84IxgKg&user=&pw

"The City and the Natural Environment" at http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/logbrowse.pl?trx=vx&list=h-urban&mont h=9801

"Berlin and Urban Modernity" at
h-urban& month=0002



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