Thursday, May 13, 2010

Blog L (50): Honors to the Blog

In a New York Times article on the high failure rate of blogs, one person joked, “There’s a joke within the blogging community that most blogs have an audience of one.” There were days when I wondered if that was the case with this blog, but I feel that it is now achieving in a small way the mission I set out for it in 2009. Today I am going to take a few minute to document this success.

There are a number of ways to measure its effectiveness. First, and foremost, is the number of people following the blog: 103 people are following the blog either through Facebook or through the mechanism that Blogger/Blogspot provides. I feel a real sense of gratitude towards all of you.

Next, a number of history departments recommend this site as either a link on their website or on the page that their library staffs maintain for their history majors. These schools include: Ambrose University College, Temple University, University of Memphis, the Villanova University public history program, Villanova University, the Intute consortium (a combination of seven British universities: University of Birmingham, University of Bristol, Heriot-Watt University, The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Nottingham, and the University of Oxford), Kean University, and Miami University.

In December, 2oo9 Michael Creswell had his essay “Navigating the Graduate Admissions Process" published in the American Historical Association's newsletter, Perspectives on History. This article originally appeared as a "guest column" for "In the Service of Clio" back on April 16, 2009 as Blog VI.

On February 11, 2010 Jim Broumley wrote a lengthy essay in his blog "The Roving Historian" about a flattering essay about "In the Service of Clio," even if he had some out of date information about my employer:
In Greek Mythology, Clio is the muse of history. Therefore, “In the Service of Clio" is what historian Nicholas Evan Sarantakes has titled his blog. I have been following this blog for several months now and enjoyed it so much that I went back and read every post in it. In the Service of Clio is a good read for those who have considered taking on the challenge of obtaining a doctorate in history. The benefit for the rest of us is seeing what there is to do in the field of history other than teaching on the university level.

Dr. Sarantakes is a military, diplomatic, and political historian who is the author of several books and multiple published articles. He has his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California and is currently an associate professor at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. What is unique about his blog is that he has “guest bloggers” post articles concerning a career in academic history and the state of the profession. In the earlier postings on his blog, Dr. Sarantakes has discussed some alternate employment options for Ph.D.s in history. In the last couple of months, the subject is the budget strategy taken by universities to hire cheaper adjunct professors over more costly tenured positions and what effect that has on the job market in that field.

The bottom line is that there are too many Ph.D.s for the number of university teaching jobs available. That drives down salary and benefits, as it would in any profession. I hate to sound like my dad here, but a couple of old adages used to fly around my house, as I am sure they did in most of yours. The first piece of advice is to “do what you love and the money will follow.” The other thing dad used to say was “Whatever you do, be the best at it and you’ll always have a job.”

The best example I know of these wisdoms in action is my friend John. We met in the masters program at Shippensburg. We have a lot in common and I have a great admiration and respect for him. John retired from the army and is better read on the Civil War than anyone I know. The job market for MAs in history is as tight and pay is as low as it is for Ph.D.s. Nevertheless, John started the program knowing what he wanted to do when he finished. He wanted to work for the National Park Service and be a ranger at one of the Civil War Battlefields. While still pursuing his masters, John interned with the NPS. He networked and he studied the job market. Today, John is leading tours at Gettysburg Battlefield. I wonder if he knows how really amazing that is. Do what you love and the money will follow. Be the best at what you do and you will always have a job. Livin’ the dream. Way to go, John!

On February 23, 2010, the blog "Goose Commerce" run by an anonymous graduate student made this observation:
Finally, Nicholas Evan Sarantakes’s In the Service of Clio, updated regularly, offers non-depressing first-person profiles of historians working outside of universities.

On April 1, 2010, historian Lyndsey S. Brown wrote on her blog "The Wynds of History":
Nicholas Sarantakes provides a very useful answer to the question What is Public History?

On April 1, 2010, the American Historical Association recommended the site in its daily summary of web sites and blogs important to the historical profession. Here is what they said, including reproducing a small typo that I have since corrected:
XLVI: The History PhD as Public Historian The often thorny problem of defining just who is a public historian and where they are employed is taken up by Nicholas Evan Sarantakes at In the Service of Clio.

Brett Holman of the University of Melbourne maintains a blog called "Air Minded: Air Power and British Society, 1908-1941," which he uses to discuss his dissertation and historical issues. He wrote:
Finally, an inspiring blog I recently discovered is Nicholas Evan Sarantakes’ In the Service of Clio, which is aimed at providing advice to history graduate students on the subject of career management. It’s all there, from choosing a university, to conference strategies, to having a life. For me, the best posts are the numerous guest blogs from people who got their PhDs and then got jobs, mostly outside traditional academia. So it can happen.

One of his readers responded to that posting:
I have been encouraged to write as much as possible as that is, as you say, very important. I too have found Nick Sarantakes’ blog interesting. So many different avenues to consider.

1 comment:

  1. Nick,

    I'm a first year graduate student in history and have found the blog incredibly useful. Keep up the good work!