Unwritten Histories

The Unwritten Rules of History

Author: Andrea Eidinger (page 1 of 22)

Canadian History Roundup – Week of February 11, 2018

This is a Valentine's Day card that shows a cartoon grey kitten with a bow standing next to a gift box with flowers and a heart-shaped box of chocolates. The sentiment says: A Valentine gift for you.

A Valentine Gift for You
1900-1960, 20th century. C271_B8.03. McCord Museum.

This week’s top stories include the latest on Black History Month, the history of Canada at the Olympics, Valentines Day, and the role of history in the Stanley verdict.


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Inconvenient Pasts: Women’s Suffrage in English Canada

Picture of an old fashioned pen nib.

If you’ve been watching the news lately, you may have seen several recent references to the British suffragettes. That’s because last week marked the 100th anniversary of women obtaining the right to vote in Britain. On this side of the pond, there have been some questions raised about why there hasn’t been a similar celebration of the women’s suffrage movement, particularly since some people consider 1918 to be the year when Canadian women received the right to vote. While I can’t speak on behalf of the government, I can tell you that historians have some major reservations when it comes to celebrating the accomplishments of Canadian suffragists. So, in this installment of Inconvenient Pasts, we’re going to take a critical look at the women’s suffrage movement in Canada, discussing what it did and did not accomplished, and whether or not it should be celebrated.


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of February 4, 2018

This image shows a woman competing in an Olympic downhill ski competition. She is on the slopes, having just gone through two slalom gates. She is wearing a blue and white uniform, and a fiercely competitive look on her face.

Canadian woman entrant in women’s downhill skiing, Tenth Olympic Winter Games. February 1968. H.J. Leclair / Library and Archives Canada / 3241319. Copyright: Library and Archives Canada

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

This week’s highlights: Color our Collections 2018 at Canadian institutions, Black History month, and the history of Canada at the Olympics.


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My latest post for Active History is up!

Check it out!

We Regret To Inform You: The Emotional Labour of Academic Job Applications

Andrea at the Canada’s History Forum!

Someone of you may also know this already, but last November, I was invited to give a talk at the 10th Canada’s History Forum. The video of my talk, completed with captions, is now available! Check it out!

Unpacking DNA Ancestry Tests

This photograph was taken from the perspective of someone standing on the ground, looking up in the the canopy of a forest. Tall tree trunks climb high in the sky, converging at one point in the centre of the image. You can see some blue sky between the leaves of the tree canopy.

Special thanks to Shannon Stettner for her help with this piece.

If you’ve spent any time either watching television or on social media in the past few months, there is a high likelihood that you’ve run into a commercial, blog post, or Youtube video featuring DNA ancestry tests. Companies like Ancestry.com and 23andMe have been pushing these tests as important ways to find out about your family history. Which sounds pretty cool. However, much like Canada150, many historians find themselves incredibly frustrated by the increasing popularity of these tests. I can neither confirm nor deny that some yell incomprehensibly at the television screen whenever one of the Ancestry.com commercials comes on. Now, there are numerous articles out there explaining the scientific limitations of these tests. For instance, this recent piece on Gizmondo talks about how the results of these tests aren’t always reliable, due to the limited availability of comparative data, which alleles are being used to access ancestry, and just plain error. However, there haven’t really been any detailed discussions about the limitations of these tests from a historical perspective. So, in today’s blog post, I’m going to talk about exactly that, with a particular focus on the complicated nature of historical populations, the “science” of race, the role of white privilege, and notions of belonging and community.


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of January 28, 2018

This image shows a Black woman who is presumably Matilda Newman, serving two little girls at a store counter. Newman is wearing a beige flowered shirt-dress. The little girl on the left is hearing a light blue jacket and grey skirt, and the little girl on the right is wearing a red jacket and knitted hat. In the background, there are shelves filled with grocery goods in 1960s packaging.

Ted Grant. “At Matilda Newman’s Store.” Africville Nova Scotia, c. 1964-1969. Library and Archives Canada / e002283006.

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.


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Best New Articles from December 2017 and January 2018

This is an image of a colourful pile of journals, stacked one on top of the other. You can only see the edge of the stack, however, and the rest of the photo is a grey background.

Because, let’s face it – who has time to catch up on all the journal articles published in Canadian history?


Welcome back to the Best New Articles series, where each month I post a list of my favourite new articles! Don’t forget to also check out my favourites from previous months, which you can access by clicking here.


This month I read articles from:

Here are my favourites:


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Canadian History Roundup – Week of January 21st, 2018

One male and two female skiers in a class at a winter resort in the Laurention mountains of Québec.

Gar Lunney, “One male and two female skiers in a class at a winter resort in the Laurention mountains of Québec,” February 1953, Library and Archives Canada. Copyright: Expired .

The latest in blog posts, news, and podcasts from the world of Canadian history.

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Guest Post: Checking Cows to Find the Crow: How Oral History Influenced my PhD Research

An image of Crow's Nest Pass, during the spring or summer. There are rocky outcroppings in the foreground, a green valley in the middle, and the Rocky Mountains in the distance, with some cloud cover.

By dave_7 from Lethbridge, Canada (Crowsnest Pass) CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Note from Andrea: Today we have a very special guest post from Laura Larsen on the adventure that is oral history! As a fellow oral historian, this is right up my alley. Enjoy!


Laura Larsen

Laura Larsen is a PhD Candidate in the Department of History at the University of Saskatchewan. Her dissertation explores rail rationalization and agricultural policy under the Pierre Trudeau government. It focuses on the tensions between government, farmers, grain companies, and railways created by attempts to modernize the grain handling and transportation system as well as the substantial changes to the underlying structure of prairie agriculture caused by these changes.

It would not be an exaggeration to say that oral history changed my life. If I had not conducted oral histories I probably would be doing a different dissertation project than I am.

On paper, doing oral history sounds relatively straight forward. Do some background research. Come up with a list of questions. Find a person. Ask them your questions. However, in reality, oral history is a messy and complicated process that, while at times extraordinarily difficult, is immensely rewarding on both a professional and personal level. In this blog post, I’m going to talk about my personal experiences doing oral history, how the interviews I conducted for my master’s thesis shaped my doctoral dissertation, and, hopefully, convince you to integrate some into your future research.


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