Around The Web

This is the first installment of something I’m trying out.  I’d like to share some nerdy links with you guys, and I’ve been collecting them this week.  Here goes.


This is in no way a nerdy link, I just really like this picture of my dog.


Perfect for this time of year, The Evolving Face of Santa from Smithsonian Magazine.  Not only does this have a cool slideshow of past Santa images, but it gives you a basic intro to Santa in the US.

Why do we wear white wedding dresses?  Because Queen Victoria did.  Try explaining this one to your very old-fashioned grandmother, I dare you.

Did Civil War soldiers suffer from PTSD?  I’d wager that most historians, or anyone who’s ever studied the Civil War in an academic setting would say yes, this is not surprising.  But I’m quite glad it’s being talked about, because it may help to remove some of the stigma from modern cases of PTSD.


The Pantheon has withstood an awful lot of earthquakes, invasions, and weather over the last two thousand years.  How?  Apparently, it’s all about volcanic ash.

The oldest organized town in Scandinavia might be even older than anyone thought, from Archaeology Magazine.

Also, archaeologists have identified the oldest dated bronze item in Britain: a dagger found in 1989.  It was found with Racton Man, who stood more than six feet tall, and was older than 45 when he died.


Just For Fun
Things We Believe In Our Twenties That Aren’t Actually True – from Business Insider

How To Roast Tomatoes (do you know how long this task has been put off in my Any.Do?  DO YOU?  No, you probably don’t.  At least 45 days).

The Orphan Black Season 3 trailer is here!  Let’s freak out together!

Scorch Marks: A Poem



All Hallow’s Read

I really wanted to make this a video, but I don’t have time right now.  

All Hallow’s Read was created by Neil Gaiman, to create a tradition of holiday book-giving.  This is not in place of Trick or Treat, but rather, in addition.  Give the kids in your neighborhood regular trick or treat candy, and give someone (or several someones) in your life a scary book for Halloween.  Especially if that someone is a child.

 All Hallow's Read

Coraline – Neil Gaiman

What All Hallows Read list would be complete without at least one book by the founder?  Coraline follows the titular character when her family moves into a new house, and she meets the strange other residents.  Beyond a door hidden behind the wallpaper is a secret entrance to another world, a strange world with doubles of her family and neighbors.  This is appropriate for anyone over 7 or so.


The Graveyard Book – Neil Gaiman

This is meant to be for children, I’d say 8-13 or so, but I read it this year and loved it.  It’s about a young boy, Nobody Owens, who escapes a tragedy and is raised by spirits in the local graveyard.  He never leaves the graveyard until he’s about 10, and then the tragedy starts to shadow him again.  It’s an incredible book, with really beautiful illustrations.  Because it was written for children, it’s really appropriate for anyone over 7 or so, just like Coraline.


The Halloween Tree – Ray Bradbury

I’ll admit, I haven’t actually read this one yet.  But the movie version (also written by Bradbury) is my favorite halloween movie.  The book follows a group of kids after they find their friend in an ambulance on Halloween – his favorite holiday.  Then, they see him running away, but he looks kind of…odd.  They follow him to a mansion on a hill, where they begin a journey through the history of halloween.  This is appropriate for all ages as it was written for children.

 All Hallow's Read

The Devil & Daniel Webster – Steven Vincent Benét

This is a short story I’ve loved since I read it in ninth grade.  It’s about a lawyer defending a New England farmer against the devil, to whom he had sold his soul.  Much like Washington Irving’s The Devil and Tom Walker, this is a retelling of the classic Faust tale.  Daniel Webster, by the way, was a real person.  He was an incredible orator and a well-known lawyer.  The Daniel Webster in the story is a slightly fictionalized version of him.  I’d say this is appropriate for teens on up.


Carmilla – J. Sheridan LeFanu

This is another one I haven’t read.  It’s a novella, and it’s more than a quarter of a century older than Dracula.  Due to its age, it’s available free on Amazon Kindle.  Carmilla actually began the concept of seductive vampires, rather than just monsters.  The story follows Laura, who has been raised in near complete isolation.  When a carriage breaks down, and a sick girl her own age stays at Laura’s family home, she and this girl, Carmilla, become fast friends.  But there’s something off about Carmilla.  Since I haven’t read it, I have to make my best guess from what I know about it.  I would say this is appropriate for late high school on up.  (It’s recently been adapted into a web series which places Laura and Carmilla in college, and I LOVE the webseries).


This halloween, choose a spooky read to share with someone important in your life.  For more ideas, check out The Book Depository’s Halloween section.  As for me?  I’ll be reading The Halloween Tree.

(Disclosure statement: the Book Depository links are affiliate links.  However, I do not get paid to include them, only if you buy something from the link.)

Undergraduate Research Guide

Undergraduate Research Guide


I’ve been doing academic research for many a year.  Not longer than any of you have likely been alive, but I did start doing research projects in sixth or seventh grade, so it’s been about 11 years.  In that time, I’ve learned how to gauge a good, credible website versus a bad, not credible website.  Which by the way doesn’t mean the information is automatically right or wrong.  A lot of history (and anthropology) is about your interpretation, so information is always subjective.  Additionally, history professors can make mistakes just as easily as history enthusiasts with no training can.  So always keep a critical eye no matter what you’re reading.  


WEBSITES | .gov .edu .org

Evaluating websites before you cite them is important.  I trust the websites that I’ve cited above, but there are plenty of other sites.  Most sites that end in “.edu” or “.gov” are credible, because they’re produced by educational institutions or government organizations.  When I was first learning to research I was also told “.org” but the rules have changed.  Be careful with “.org” sites.  Some of them are by religious organizations, which means the facts will be reflective of their religious views.  Which is not to say that religious websites are bad, but they are subjective.

This is not to say that no “.com” websites are reliable.  But anyone can get a “.com” website, so they require further vetting.

A web search can result in lots of options, but you should always look for an author.  Then take that author’s name and google them.  You never know, (not a real website, but one someone should totally make) could easily be run by Dr. John B. Doe, PhD in History.  But you won’t know unless you check.  I’m less critical of databases of texts, because they’re so easy to vet with other sources.




If you’re in university, you have access to your college’s library.  Most of them have subscriptions to various databases.  If you’re in high school, your library may still have some database access, or an agreement with a local college.  These are usually accessible through the library website.  Some are bigger than others, so it couldn’t hurt to ask a friend at a different, bigger school if their library has access to a database yours doesn’t.  A lot of city libraries also have access to a lot of databases.  I was spoiled during high school because I lived in New York and had an NYPL card.  The NYPL had a HUGE database.  It was easy to find just about anything I needed.  During college I used the DCPL database as well.  Most major cities have a lot of databases, and plenty of towns have some kind of database search.



If you are struggling, I can’t recommend enough to go ask a research librarian for help.  They’re trained to do research, they can suggest new keywords, new databases, maybe they even know a book or two before researching.  Just go in and ask for help.  Especially at a university.



I talked about this slant-wise in the section of my History Source Guide.  Lots of scholars, when legally possible, make their articles available for free.  Sometimes their doctoral dissertations too.  For my thesis I cited a doctoral dissertation I found on the internet.  Which sounds sketchy, but I researched the doctoral candidate.  (She’s a professor in Scotland now).  Google Scholar is a great source for this.  Sometimes you can find things like newsletters within departments that have been put online.  Sometimes, as a project, professors will have students create websites or blogs, and their citations can be very handy.  Sometimes professors blog, and cite sources within their blog posts.


Emailing A Professional

I have to preface this by saying I have never done it.  But, if you read an article, you can often email the person who wrote it.  Find an article through a database you really love?  Want to have a conversation with the professor?  It can’t hurt to email them. Their emails are often on the paper itself.  My classmate, lets call him B, actually emailed a PhD who had written a lot of books and articles in his topic, and that PhD responded!  The professor sent him an article, and gave him some ideas of where else to look.  So great things can happen from emailing a professional.



Scholarpedia |

An alternative to Wikipedia, this is a peer-reviewed online encyclopedia written by professors.  They write comprehensive, easily accessible articles with citations.  They do focus on science and math, but if that’s your topic, you’re probably set with the articles here and their citations.


Google Scholar |

When searching for academic articles without a university database, Google Scholar is your best friend.  While your results will sometimes be met with paywalls, you can also find some freely available sources here.


Directory of Open Access Journals |

Many scholars want their research to be available to all.  If only five people read your article, you’re not going to get much discussion out of it.  So some journals have made their contents freely available through the Directory of Open Access Journals.  You will have to search, but nothing is behind a paywall.



Once you’ve found one source, you’ve got a foothold.  Check the reference page of that book or article.  They have to have referenced someone else.  Then check that article’s reference page.  Search the authors’ names.  Chances are if they’ve written one article about English piety under viking rule in Jorvik, they’ve written two.  Or they’ve written something related.  Use keywords from that book/article in your search.  Really, finding your first source is the biggest sigh of relief moment.


Thank you for making it all the way to the end of this long, everlasting guide.  Check back to my website ( for an anthropology guide, a history guide, and more.

To download this guide as a PDF click here: Undergraduate Research Guide

History Student Source Guide

History Student Source Guide copy I studied history.  In a couple of years, I’ll be teaching history to high school students.  In the time I spent preparing for research papers, I’ve found a few great free databases for primary and secondary sources.    


Internet Sacred Text Archive | Lots of history classes include religion and religious texts.  This archive has an awful lot of texts that are sacred to various religions and cultures.  Because most of them were composed millennia ago, they’re public domain and free to share.  The Archive also has sagas, myths, and legends, including Arthurian legends, and Icelandic sagas.  There are also sections on various topics.  It’s very handy to have around.

SagaNet | SagaNet used to be hosted at Cornell, but now it’s hosted through an Icelandic site.  However, it’s still the same material.  It’s a collection of Icelandic sagas for free access.  If you’re studying the vikings, this is very handy to have around.

Perseus Digital Library | This is a vast collection of classical literature and mythology.  My professor for my online Greek & Roman Mythology course recommended it as a source of very accurate translations of classical material.  It’s also hosted through Tufts, which bolsters its credibility. 

Internet History Sourcebook | Run by Fordham University, this is one of the first sites I would turn to when looking for source material but not knowing any titles.  It is separated by time period and area, and is easy to search.  There are also subject headings.

Project Gutenberg | At Project Gutenberg you’ll find transcribed public domain books.  Word to the wise: you need to know exactly what you’re looking for.

Amazon | Surprisingly, Amazon is a good source for public domain books.  That can include translations of ancient, medieval, or early modern literature, historical texts, and religious texts.  Also, many religious groups offer free e-book versions of their religious texts as a method of evangelizing.  This is really handy when you need to cite a portion of that religious text to back up an interpretation of cultural norms.  It’s also really handy if you take any religious studies classes.  Personally, I have a mega ton of ancient epics on my e-reader.  I really recommend getting the Kindle app if you don’t have an e-reader, it’s available for essentially every format there is.  


Library of Congress | The LOC has an enormous collection of historical images, and because it’s a government facility you can download the photos for free!  This is super handy if your topic is relatively modern and you want to use images, especially in a presentation.

Bodleian Library | Oxford University has shared a lot of incredible medieval imagery from their collections.  Because they’re so old, they’re all public domain.  Paintings and images are useful for presentations, but also for papers and you can tell a lot about a culture by their art.

Index of Medieval Medical Images | From UCLA, this index gathers images of medieval medicine, as implied by its title.  Super useful for any project related to the medieval world or history of medicine.  

SCHOLARLY ARTICLES | Here you can search for papers that have been made accessible by the authors.  This is great, because so much academic research is behind a paywall, which blocks anyone who doesn’t have the database access from the research.  But with a search on you can find plenty of possibilities!

Google Scholar | When searching for academic articles without a university database, Google Scholar is your best friend.  While your results will sometimes be met with paywalls, you can also find some freely available sources here.

Directory of Open Access Journals | Many scholars want their research to be available to all.  If only five people read your article, you’re not going to get much discussion out of it.  So some journals have made their contents freely available through the Directory of Open Access Journals.  You will have to search, but nothing is behind a paywall.  


History Pin | I was first introduced to History Pin by my public history professor.  History Pin is a collaborative project to place “pins” in an electronic map of the world and identify historical happenings.  You can put in your area, or any area really, and find photos pinned to the map.  I just found a picture of the first post office in my town.

Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy | A lot of history includes philosophy and theory.  Maybe you need to find some data about Karl Marx or Emile Durkheim.  Maybe you need to understand a topic quickly.  This is your spot for that.  It’s provided by the University of Tennessee, so it’s credible.

History Lessons on YouTube | I make short history lessons on my YouTube channel.  They’re researched, and I use sources to back up my information.  For quick lessons in a topic or time period, check them out.


There are obviously many more databases, but these are databases that are free.  I’m sure there are many more free databases I never found, as well.  Anyone can access these as long as you have an internet connection.  If you’re attached to a school you’ll undoubtedly have access to other databases.  Those are great, use them.  These are also great, use them too.

Download this guide as a PDF here.

Twentieth Century Books

Today on my YouTube channel, I’m sharing a booktube video.  Lately I’ve run across a lot of people having done the “Twentieth Century Tag”…about a year ago.  But because I’m always late to the party, I decided to throw my hat into the ring.  Even if the rodeo’s closed, and the ring is just a circle in the dirt now.

Essentially for this tag, you choose one book for each decade of the twentieth century.  You’re supposed to pull it off your shelf, but I didn’t do that.  First of all I don’t actually own that many books, and second of all because I don’t have all  my books in my house.  So I broke that rule and felt a little more free to choose.

But because I’m super indecisive when it comes to books (really, I often read two or three at once) I had a lot of runners-up.  So I’ve decided to write a blog post about them, that way I get to talk about books for twice as much time.


First though, the books I chose and links to buy them:

1900s: The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle
1910s: Revelations of the Secret Service by William Le Queux
1920s: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
1930s: Fer De Lance by Rex Stout
1940s: The Stranger by Albert Camus
1950s: Breakfast at Tiffany’s by Truman Capote
1960s: We Have Always Lived In The Castle by Shirley Jackson
1970s: Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt
1980s: Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
1990s: The Perks of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky


Okay, now for my runners-up.  Some decades have none, some decades have three, it all just depends on the decade.

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum

For the 1900s I struggled so much to think of even one book.  Then I surprised myself by having two!  My first thought for this was The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, which spawned an incredible series and has helped to shape American fantasy writing for over a century.

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

Siddhartha by Herman Hesse

For the 1920s my runner-up book is Siddhartha by Herman Hesse.  I read this in my senior year of high school and it really sparked my interest in Buddhism and the relationship between religion and history.  It’s a very unusual book, and it represents Hesse’s fascination with Eastern religion and mysticism.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

For the 1930s my runner-up was Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.  Initially I planned to choose this as my 1930s book, but then I got to thinking about what has shaped me the most as a reader.  Nero Wolfe is definitely more influential on me.  But Of Mice and Men is one of those rare books that is short but incredibly moving.  I vividly remember finishing it on the bus on the way to school, and just bawling my eyes out over the ending.  I won’t spoil it, but if you haven’t read it yet, keep a pack of tissues in your pocket, it sneaks up on you.

1984 by George Orwell

The 1940s was another decade where I reconsidered my first choice, and made it my runner up.  That would be 1984 by George Orwell.  This is one of my favorite books, and definitely the one that sparked the most distrust in authority figures and government agencies.  My friends and I were OBSESSED with 1984 in high school, and when the English classes read it, there was always a wave of small-scale civil disobedience in our school.  It’s an incredibly influential book, and if you know the book then you see references in all sorts of media.

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

The 1950s was a hotbed of great literature, and choosing just one book was almost impossible.  But I narrowed it down, and came up with three, then chose just Breakfast at Tiffany’s mostly for its cultural impact.  But my runners-up are almost as influential.  Firstly, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis, which is the second book (but probably the most famous) in the Chronicles of Narnia series.  It’s influenced most fantasy, especially epic fantasy, ever since, and it married modern (at the time) with epic fantasy.  I think every kid I knew read the Chronicles of Narnia books when we were in middle school.

The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger

The Catcher in The Rye by J.D. Salinger

My other runner up is The Catcher In The Rye by J.D. Salinger.  Most people I know read this in high school, but I didn’t.  I missed an entire year of English classes at my level freshman year because the system messed up and put me (700 on my Writing SAT, 670 on Reading) in remedial English.  It was pretty bad, although I had some good teachers.   But it meant that I missed out on reading a lot of the things my peers read that year.  I don’t know if they read Catcher in the Rye, but I certainly didn’t until junior year of college when I checked it out of the library.  I’m not going to say it was so good it completely changed my worldview or anything similar.  But I get why it’s considered a classic.  It’s a great book, and I really think everyone should read it.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

The 1960s was another hotbed of great literature, and I ended up with, again, two runners-up.  The first is In Cold Blood by Truman Capote.  I chose this as a runner-up in large part to be able to draw the contrast between the writing style of this book and Capote’s earlier work Breakfast At Tiffany’s.  Though I wouldn’t generally consider Breakfast At Tiffany’s totally lighthearted, compared to In Cold Blood it certainly is.  In Cold Blood is true crime, and in order to gather all of the information for the book Capote flew out to the Kansas town that had been rocked by this quadruple murder.  It’s the kind of sleepy little town where nothing ever happened – until four people were murdered in their beds.  Capote wasn’t alone on this trip though, he brought a friend – Harper Lee.  It’s always strange to think about how many authors know each other, and these two were childhood friends.

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Relatedly, my other runner-up for the 1960s is To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  This is another classic I didn’t read until junior year of college.  This one was actually amazing.  I now understand the incredible amount of references to it in modern media.  It’s definitely a classic that everyone should read.  And then reconsider your view of the local recluse.

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

For the 1980s I had a hard time choosing, but ultimately I chose Marquez over Francesca Lia Block.  For all of middle and high school Francesca Lia Block was my favorite author.  I first discovered her books in sixth or seventh grade, and I’ve read nearly everything she wrote before 2009.  I wore Francesca Lia Block books like armor during the most emotionally trying periods of my adolescence.  The book I picked as my runner-up was Weetzie Bat because it started the Weetzie Bat series.  I have a collection of the first five called Dangerous Angels, which is a bit beaten up because I carried it nearly everywhere with me when I was thirteen and fourteen, before I started carrying around the collected poems of W.B. Yeats.  Weetzie Bat is a really oddball character, and has a lot of strange adventures.  Each of the books is pretty short, so you should all go read at least one.

The Hanged Man by Francesca Lia Block

The Hanged Man by Francesca Lia Block

For the 1990s I had so much trouble.  A lot of books I loved as a child were published in the 1990s, and a lot of books I loved as a teenager were as well.  Ultimately, I narrowed it down to the most obvious choice, but I have two runners-up.  First, another Francesca Lia Block book, The Hanged Man.  If you’ve ever read a Francesca Lia Block book you know that they’re all a little bit weird.  The Hanged Man is no exception.  I remember reading it while walking home in seventh grade and having to stop and sit down on a stranger’s stoop because a moment in it was so intense I just had to stop moving.  Her books are incredible and I’m torn between wanting movie versions, and not being able to handle it if the movies were terrible.  It would be almost impossible to capture the ethereal, mystic feeling of the books in a movie form.  (Stay tuned, I might just make a series of videos about these books because they’re SO INCREDIBLE).

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver by Lois Lowry

My other runner-up for the 1990s was The Giver by Lois Lowry.  I remember reading this in fourth grade and then reading Gathering Blue in sixth grade.  These books are so strange.  The Giver was definitely my first experience with a post-apocalyptic dystopian world.  But more than that, I think it introduced everyone my age to the idea of going against your own society, and that the authorities and adults could be wrong, and that your actions could create change, even for one person.  I won’t spoil anything in case anyone hasn’t read it, but there’s a reason that The Giver is so popular amongst people my age.  There’s also a movie coming out soon, and I really hope it’s good.


I hope you’ve all enjoyed this trek through the twentieth century’s literature with me.  I hope you’ll go and have a look at the original video I made, and if you’re interested in making a video or a blog post about the same, please comment a link for me!