About

8459329076_8836fcb14e_hGreetings! I am a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Philadelphia Area Center for History of Science. 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.

In addition to my academic work, I write about history and culture for magazines, newspapers, and the Internet. As of November 2012, 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.)

My book project, based on a dissertation written in the Department of American Studies at the University of Texas at Austin, 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. (Read much more about this project here.)

While at PACHS, I am working on this book manuscript while also launching my second academic project, which I’m nicknaming “Dark Futures.” This project will look at the role of childhood in late 20th-century pessimistic environmentalism, asking both how threatened childhood has been used politically to argue for environmental thinking, and how adults have talked to children about tragic topics like climate change, nuclear winter, pollution, and extinction. (Read more here.)

I’m a fledgling digital humanist, and have experimented with running various research blogs and course websites. I’m increasingly interested in databases, and have begun work on two database projects: the Science Talent Search Database and the Merit Badge Archive.

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.

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 pages “Academia” and “Writing”), 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.