First and foremost, the writing and content are top notch. John manages to uncover obscure individuals and events through careful archival research while at the same time he is able to articulate a new twist on the popular stories that we think we already understand. At a time when predictions of blogging’s demise are on the rise, it is worth acknowledging that John has maintained this level of quality for a decade.
I have always felt a kind of blogging kinship with John’s site. Not only did we take up blogging at about the same time, we both seem to have leveraged it in the similar ways. It wouldn’t be a stretch to suggest that in both our cases, blogging made our careers as historians.
This blog turned out to provide my bona fides in the field of Revolutionary history since I don’t have a graduate education or institutional affiliation to point to. I’ve just laid out things I find interesting, and it’s gratifying to hear how interesting they are for others.
Boston 1775 opened doors for me. I got invited to speak on a panel about blogging at the Organization of American Historians meeting. I landed a contract to write a historical resource study for the National Park Service. The research behind my new book, The Road to Concord: How Four Stolen Cannon Ignited the Revolutionary War, started years before the blog, but Boston 1775 provides the platform for launching it.
I wasn’t expecting any of that. I just felt, back in 2004 or 2005, that I’d found some nifty stories that weren’t long or substantial enough to be print articles or papers. I thought it might be fun to share them on a website.
Substitute Civil War Memory for Boston 1775 and you pretty much end up with the same narrative arc. In both our cases blogging opened up writing opportunities – including our first books – speaking engagements, etc.
Best of all, John is a super nice guy. We began corresponding before I moved to Boston and since then we have run into each other on occasion at events here in town. It is always nice to be able to chat and talk shop.