Polar Historian

Histories of Antarctica, the Arctic, and Beyond

Month: May, 2014

In Alaska

I’m currently in Alaska conducting research for an environmental history of the Polar Regions.  So far I’ve visited Anchorage, Cordova, and Valdez, and my research has mostly focused on the history of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.  The archives at the University of Alaska at Fairbanks were very useful, although memorial day weekend reduced my research time a little.  I’ve also been very impressed with the history museums in all three towns I’ve visited.  The Anchorage Museum was particularly impressive, although its displays on the trans-Alaska pipeline and Exxon Valdez oil spill are noticeably less critical than the displays in Cordova and Valdez.  

Scotts Bluff Project Website

I’ve been developing a wordpress website at scottsbluffhistory.wordpress.com for our Public Lands History Center project on the history of Scotts Bluff National Monument in Nebraska.  The aim of this site is to facilitate communication and collaboration for the history project we are working on.  We hope to use the site to inform the wider community about our work, and also to use it to collect historical materials for the project.  If anyone has any experience of using websites for this sort of thing, please have a look at the site and get in touch if you have any comments or suggestions.


Getting Started With GIS

I have just enrolled in Mooc titled Maps and the Geospatial Revolution run by Anthony C. Robinson at Penn State University.  My recent experiences of working with scientists on the McMurdo Dry Valleys Long Term Ecological Research site have convinced me that digital cartography and GIS are great tools for bridging disciplinary boundaries and integrating history into contemporary ecological research.  But the learning curve with this technology seems quite steep and my previous efforts to learn more about geospatial technology have come in fits and starts.  If all goes to plan I should have some time over the next few months to dedicate to learning more about digital mapping and GIS.  I’m hoping the Mooc will be a good place to start, but if anyone has any other suggestions please let me know.


I am planning to use this blog to publish ideas, book reviews, and short essays relating to the history of the Polar Regions and other historical themes that interest me (environmental history, history of science, public history, the history of the U.S. West, etc.).  In keeping with the developing theory and practice of digital history, everything on this blog should be seen as a work in progress and a contribution to an ongoing conversation.