Just a short post today. I haven’t been posting for a lot of reasons. Mostly time, and the fact that I have to re-code all my data from the summer’s storage failure. I have all the sources! I have the spreadsheets! I still have to go through close to 50,000 images to figure out what’s what. Additionally, I had to take some time away from screens for a few months. Now that it’s (almost) spring, I’m clear of a lot of the issues that slowed my data recovery.

However, this has driven me to reprioritize this project and my workflow in general. This is a long-winded way of saying this site is now last on the list of things to update. I will be spending the majority of my energy on the YouTube Channel and my teaching work (since that pays the bills). If I’m able, I’ll post here as well.

I have some projects that will take writing out to get them sorted in my head, so that will likely be the focus of upcoming posts. Hopefully I’ll be able to jump back into this project soon.

Final Countdown

I’m a bit late for this update, for good reason. I’m in the final days of preparing for a research trip to the National Archives and Library of Congress. I’ll be in the DC area for close to 5 weeks. There’s a LOT to get done before then.

I hired an editor for the YouTube channel, and the first video she completed went live last week. I’m really pleased with her work and especially with the collaboration, and this means that Aytch 3 can move forward. Right now I’m staying on the every two weeks posting schedule because of this 5 week trip coming up. I don’t have the mental space to finish more than a couple of scripts in progress, so I’m getting what I can done and off to the editor. Right now I’m set through the middle of October, and I need 5 more to finish out the year. That’s a project for when I’ve arrived in Maryland.

I’m preloading weeks of lecture now, so that when I’m there I’ll only have to grade assignments. I also have to prep for the spring semester, but that’s a story for another day. And probably another video idea, now that I think about it.

The spanner in the works of all of this is that my long term storage device died spectacularly, and I spent a month coming to terms with the loss of 10 years of research materials. Happily, a data recovery service was able to get the raw data back. I have the spreadsheets! I’ll need to rebuild my file storage structure to see what’s missing, but once I do that I can get that stuff pretty easily. (I’m so glib here – it’s over 40,000 images!)

But rebuilding the storage structure is a project for after I’m back from the research trip. I know what my job for November – April is going to be and I’m excited about it! I’ll be able to finish some of the From the Archives scripts I had working because I finally will have the citations back. And I’ll be able to write more.

It’s busy, for sure. I’m still figuring this all out.

Adjusting the New Schedule

Last month was the start of a new schedule for Aytch 3. Essentially, I cut production in half. Videos every other week, posts here once a month, and progress notes (a Patreon thing) every other week. Since I only have one tier on Patreon currently subscribed to, I don’t have to worry about the benefits for higher tiers yet. I have the pieces in place, and I’m currently considering the frequency of those – though I kept that schedule lighter on purpose, because it does require input from other people. So I think that’s going to stay the same. (If you want to know more, check out my Patreon. You can subscribe at one of 3 tiers, each with increasing benefits.)

The new schedule is one month old, and it’s already a relief. I have learned that the posting schedule I want requires several people. I at least need help on the production side to handle the original schedule (weekly videos, 2 website posts, 4 progress notes). At least a video editor, and possibly some help with the recording process. I will need research and writing assistance to get the production schedule I want (videos twice a week, up to 4 website posts, and 2 progress notes). The amount of work that goes into each script, however short, is still a lot and no one will be able to have that many ideas and get them to the finished state in time.

Until that time, though, it’s still just me. There are some From the Classroom videos coming up – mostly because it’s syllabus writing time, so I’m thinking about it! There are a few videos in the works that require me to go back into my library and figure out which book each bit of information comes from. Sometimes I can find it right away, other times it takes a few hours of digging. I’d like to get more analytical videos up on the channel sooner rather than later, so that’s my focus next week, along with writing my syllabus.

Continue reading “Adjusting the New Schedule”

Learning Curves and Expectations

Aytch 3 is a new venture for me, and everything is a learning experience. I have experience in every aspect of the production process, but I’ve never put them all together into a single project. I knew I could produce 4 videos a month. I knew I could produce weekly project notes for Patreon. And I knew I can produce rigorous academic work along with intermediate essays about the process. Individually. But all together that’s 6 written posts and 4 videos, 10 pieces of content a month. That’s a lot for a production team.

I wanted to start slow, but without any metrics of what the workload would actually be, I did not actually know what “starting slow” meant. I based my schedule on the work I do for a semester’s worth of videos. I figured what I was doing was not that different.

Well, turns out I’m right and wrong. It’s not THAT different, but it’s different enough that there’s a much sharper learning curve than I anticipated. So I’m changing gears. The website will become more of a blog, with regular updates on my research process, with occasional posts of completed written work – the result of several weeks of research, rather than from 2 weeks of work. The videos will continue apace for now, though there may be a hiatus in August or September. I have to do a major research trip at the National Archives, and I don’t know that I’d be able to get enough queued to cover the time I’ll be away.

So – I’m resetting expectations, starting with this post. That’s the joy of a new venture – learning and changing and adjusting to respect my needs while still producing something I’m proud of. I’m still here, still doing my thing, but for now, most of my energy is going to the YouTube channel and Patreon.

Here’s the YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCFIyol0kCAi34bZ7sd2u1-Q

Here’s the Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/aytch3

How To Do Research For a Project

I largely teach Introduction to World History, which at my university, is a general education requirement and has no prerequisites. I teach based on skills, rather than content, and one of those skills is research and analysis. So I assign a semester-long research project, and I also assign a series of research process assignments, to give them checkpoints along the way. So many students get stuck not knowing how to do research or even what research really means. This process is designed to help them through the whole process.

I create assignments that first discover where students are – their own personal baseline – and then assess based on improvement from there. It’s open-ended, and helps me assess their progress by asking for more and more analysis and writing from them at each level, culminating in a final project. 

So, to those who would like to know, here’s how I (and you) “do research” and produce a final project.

First: The Topic

Select the topic YOU want to study. You’re doing the work, so you need to be interested in it. If you’re not interested, you won’t finish, or if you do, it will be painful. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. As long as the story matters to someone, it matters. History is the story of human choice, and is marked by change over time. People make choices, other people react to those choices, and the world changes a little or a lot. That’s history – scale isn’t the important thing.

The idea that history is serious and must always tackle “serious” topics is classist, racist, and sexist – because those “serious topics” are political and intellectual histories of government and international politics. So many questions abound about everyday life and how people just like us, but because they’re the histories of marginalized groups like women, people of color, queer folks, and disabled folks, they’ve been minimized. And because several of these topics, like sports, makeup, and fashion, are considered “frivolous” in our society today, many students think these are inappropriate or unacceptable topics for their history projects. 

Ugh. No. Everything has a history. Small, huge, homely or the stories of kings – all of it has value and deserves study. And if that’s what you want to do, then do it.

Continue reading “How To Do Research For a Project”

Ladies and Soldiers Both: Creating Social Space for Women in the US Armed Forces*

*I gave this presentation at the 2022 Annual Meeting for the Society of Military History in Fort Worth, Texas, on April 30, 2022. The text is more formal than the actual presentation 

          This paper is the first step in my next major project. For today’s purposes, I have considered recruiting brochures from the USMC published in the early 1960s. I am currently considering what the end point of the project should be. I am leaning toward ending it when the military was fully gender integrated in the 1950s, though I am also considering the beginning of the All-Volunteer Force as my end point. I also have brochures published in the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.  As to why I’m working with USMC only at this point – Covid-19. Many of the archives I want to visit have only recently reopened, so I am working with what I have. I hope to be in the archives in the fall but given how many times I’ve said that over the last 2 years, I’m not holding my breath.

            These brochures offer a unique insight into contemporaneous changes in gender in the military. I have been calling it military femininity – a counterpoint, or perhaps counterbalance, to military masculinity. Military service has long been a route to manhood in the US – a point made explicit in a Navy recruiting poster for men in World War II titled “Healthy Bodies, Active Minds.” The poster showed before and after pictures of enrollees, highlighting their increased weight and muscle mass, as well as their improved posture. The poster text began with the explicit claim that “Men build the NAVY…the NAVY builds Men!”[1] With the arrival of women, the military could not sell itself as a man-making institution without complication. After the war, the impetus to maintain the women’s auxiliaries and later to fully integrate all genders into the military forced a reckoning I am not sure anyone was prepared for.

Manhood is something to be achieved, to be earned through appropriate strenuous activity. Military service fills this purpose, and by World War II, participation was becoming the key to successful military service. Womanhood is something to be protected and preserved – women are granted womanhood by reaching adulthood, rather than through any actions of their own. Military service would actually harm womanhood if it remained only a man-making institution.

I believe that the rhetoric changes in the mid-20th century to making citizens and “true” or “real” Americans instead of making men. Making citizens or making “real” Americans is not necessarily tied to gender, even though the military’s method of making citizens or “real” Americans was still based in earlier, single-gendered military structures and traditions. Recruiting material focuses on the benefits, as always, but over the course of a few decades, dating and marriage rules become less prominent in the recruiting material. World War II materials discussed marriage rules – who could the women date, what married women would be accepted, what happened if a service member married – because these were significant issues for women considering enrollment.

Continue reading “Ladies and Soldiers Both: Creating Social Space for Women in the US Armed Forces*”

Welcome to Aytch 3 Productions!

Aytch 3 Productions is committed to open access for rigorous academic historical work. We believe that everyone deserves to see the work of leading scholars in any field. We believe that access should not be restricted to only those people who can afford subscriptions to academic journals and databases, or those with university and college credentials to access those sites. We believe that academic work can be popular work – if the general population can find it. We believe that there should be no difference between research published for historians and research published for everyone else.

In the meantime, keep an eye on this page for a YouTube channel (launching June 2022) and a Patreon (launching May 2022). The first post of academic work is slated to post at the end of May, 2022.

Keep checking back for further updates!