Author

Megan Kate Nelson

Megan Kate Nelson is a writer, historian, and cultural critic. She has taught American history and American studies at Texas Tech University, Cal State Fullerton, Harvard University, and Brown University....

Meat and Potatoes: The Reminiscences of Alonzo Davis

In April 1863, the men of the 4th California infantry were hungry. They were posted at Drum Barracks outside of Los Angeles, and were preparing to march to Arizona to...

Waking the Spirits: The Diaries of John A. Clark

The archival box containing John Clark’s leather-bound diaries is heavy; this is because it contains twenty-five leather-bound journals, filled with meticulous entries and some intermittent maps detailing Clark’s daily life...

Searching for Emmett Mills

It was springtime, in 1920. Three men disembarked from a train in a high desert town and loaded their luggage into a chauffeured car. The men swayed, bumped, and jostled...

Making Claims

As I traveled through the Southwest over the past few months, I met a lot of people. Some academics and archivists and National Park Service rangers, but also waiters, bartenders,...

A Complicated Man: John Baylor’s Letters to His Family

In February 1854 John Robert Baylor wrote a letter to his wife Emmy from Austin, where he was serving in the Texas state legislature. He wrote to tell her that...

Reading the Landscape

For the past two months, I have been on a researching road trip through the West and Southwest—Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, and now Texas. As readers of this column know,...

Visualizing History

What can visual images tell us about the past? For most historians (who are not art historians), the answer to this question is, “not much.” They use images only as...

Finding Your Place in Letters

In nineteenth-century America, letter writing was the only way that people separated by long distances could communicate with one another. High rates of literacy and mobility, along with a growing...

Finding Your Place by Looking at Maps

How do you know where you are? Sometimes you know by experience—you have been to this neighborhood before, walked along or driven these streets. Your geographic knowledge and memory grows...