About

8459329076_8836fcb14e_hHello! I live in Athens, Ohio, and write about history and culture for magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. You can see my clips—subdivided by publication, theme, and format—here.

I run a blog on Slate.com called The Vault, where I post historical objects and documents that are particularly funny, sad, provocative, or beautiful. (More on that project here.) You might like to browse the most popular Vault posts, or see a list of my favorites.

In my academic incarnation, I’m a cultural historian of the twentieth-century US, and my research interests include the history of American popular science, childhood studies, education, environmental studies, and visual and material culture. I hold a Ph.D and an MA in American Studies from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA in American Studies from Yale University. I’m a visiting scholar in the Department of History at Ohio University. 

My book project, Innocent Experiments: Childhood and the Culture of Public Science in the United States, is based on a dissertation written in the Department of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. The book is about ways that twentieth-century American adults have tried to make science “fun” for kids, and what that effort can tell us about science as a public project in the twentieth-century United States. The book is under advance contract with the University of North Carolina Press, and will be published in 2016.  (Read much more about this project here.)

Here are continually-updating, searchable Twitter archives for my two feeds: @rebeccaonion and @slatevault. (Thanks to @mhawksey for the hack that made this possible.)

This site’s CMS is WordPress, and the theme I used to build it is BigBang, by developer Brancic1979.

If you are a publisher looking to send me a galley, please email me for my mailing address, which has recently changed.

A note on this site’s images

I’ve captioned where possible, but sometimes (as on the website’s front page, or on the portfolio page “Academia”), the image gets divorced from its metadata. As a historian, I abhor this, so I’m going to provide citations below.

I owe a big debt of gratitude to the people at The Public Domain Review, an amazing project that excavates and publicizes collections of images, film, audio, and text that are freely available for reuse.

  • On the website’s front page: 1865 “Map of the Oil District of West Virginia and Ohio,” via David Rumsey Map Collection.
  • In Portfolio “Academia,” images for category “Research”: Selected pages from Shin-Bijutsukai, a Japanese Design Magazine, issues from 1901 and 1902. From the Internet Archive, via The Public Domain Review.
  • In Portfolio “Academia,” images for category “Teaching”: Graphics from back covers of Time-Life science books from the 1960s. Via Aqua Velvet.
  • In Portfolio “Academia,” images for category “Digital”: “Images from an Arabic manuscript featuring schematics for water powered systems, pulleys and gearing mechanisms. The date is unknown but is thought to be from sometime between the 16th and 19th century.” Max Planck Digital Library, via Wikimedia Commons; I saw it on The Public Domain Review.