Since starting my own blog last month, I’ve gained a greater appreciation for the efforts of other history enthusiasts who have produced impressive blogs for a long time. How do you find these worthwhile history blogs? A Google search turns up much bad with the good. The History News Network publishes a list of history blogs, but it hasn't been updated for a year, and it’s far too big to sample systematically.
So, to advance the cause and reward the worthy, here’s my list of four top history blogs. I’m not saying these are the very best — please let me know your favorites in the comments section below or by contacting me directly. I’ll profile more history blogs in future posts.
Four history blogs I find essential, enjoyable, and useful
Wonders and Marvels. Edited by the polymath professor and talented author Holly Tucker, this blog initially focused on the history of medicine and has expanded into wider explorations of historical storytelling. With such monthly contributors as Tracy Barrett, Stephanie Cowell, and Lindsey Fitzharris, the quality of the writing is high. Posts have covered Roman toilet paper, the history of the barber’s pole, and early midwifery. I will soon join the blog’s roster of monthly contributors.
History in the Margins. This blog follows freelance writer Pamela Toler’s pursuit of historical stories, and she reports on some wonderful topics: history documentaries, the significance of the War of 1812, and the difference between pirates and privateers, along with frequent book reviews. Pamela is also a monthly contributor to Wonders and Marvels.
Past Imperfect. Much of my best recent reading in history has come from this blog from the Smithsonian, which is written by the formidable trio of Karen Abbott, Mike Dash, and Gilbert King. They can all spin tales. Abbott is the best-selling author of American Rose and Sin in the Second City. Dash, a prodigiously productive and interesting writer of historical books that include volumes on the Mafia, corruption in the New York City police department, and the wreck of the Dutch ship Batavia, has been blogging on history for many years. And King is a skilled historical detective with intriguing interests. I’ve yet to find a dull or spiritless post in Past Imperfect — far from it.
HNN’s Breaking News. This is more of a news feed than a traditional blog. Here the History News Network of George Mason University offers history-related stories culled from a variety of news sources. Much of what I tweet in history news comes to my attention via this blog. (One shortcoming: the Breaking News blog seems to find it unnecessary to include any history stories from The New York Times. Hey, most people — including me — don’t read The Times every day!)
That’s a good start for any history reader, and I’ll publish a roundup of more history blogs soon. I’m especially on the lookout for top-notch blogs covering U.S. regional history (Midwest, West, and South), 20th century American and European history, the history of psychiatry and the neurosciences, and true crime and legal history.