Starting in the spring of 1911, counterfeit $10 bills of reportedly remarkable quality appeared in a number of western and midwestern American states

Counterfeiters and perhaps anarchists: Historical research examines Latvian criminals in America

Starting in the spring of 1911, counterfeit $10 bills of reportedly remarkable quality appeared in a number of western and midwestern American states. By the end of the year, authorities had charged three Latvian immigrants with making and distributing the phony money. The three men were identified in various newspaper reports as Albert Leon, Fred Marneek, and Rudolph Swanson. A fourth man, Oscar Litchen, also was named but not charged. They worked out of a small shack on remote Nootka Island in Canada’s British Columbia, living in what was described as an anarchist colony. Leon, the so-called mastermind of the group, produced the bills in part through a photographic process.


August 6, 2017

Plan to re-read Swedish crime novels begins with Irene Huss story

Kurt Wallander, Martin Beck, and now Irene Huss. Over the years, I have worked my way through the stories of these three fictional Swedish police detectives and have decided to revisit them, one by one.

July 28, 2017

Lincoln County colony once home to Latvian immigrant farmers

While most late 19th and early 20th century Latvian immigrants to the United States settled in urban centers, some found new homes in rural areas. The most deliberate effort to establish a Latvian “colony” was in Lincoln County in northern Wisconsin.

July 13, 2017

Experience of other students builds confidence

Since last September, I have been in the shoes of a student, pursuing a graduate certificate in digital public humanities through George Mason University. This summer my focus has been on remaking a history of mass communication course. And as a student, it is reassuring to know that others have faced this challenge before.

July 6, 2017

An elevator pitch for a history project

As part of a course at George Mason University on teaching and learning history in the digital age, we have been asked to develop an “elevator pitch” for our final projects. My project will have students study and report on the first newspaper published in Pierce County, Wisconsin.

July 6, 2017

Teaching how to verify facts benefits citizenship

Education Professor Sam Wineburg in 2015 told a conference of historians about his concerns regarding the veracity of information encountered on the internet, noting especially the need to train young users how to test what they encounter. The internet, he warned, has “obliterated authority.”

July 6, 2017

Challenging historic site visitors to evaluate evidence

In a recent article in the journal Public Historian, Daniel E. Coslett and Manish Chalana offered an analysis of and suggestions for improving the diversity of historical interpretation in sites managed by the U.S. National Park Service. They point out the larger problem of an increasingly diverse American population that is not reflected in the staffing or audience of national parks.


Just a list of books on my nightstand. #tsundoku

The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera

By Adam Begley, published 2017 by Tim Duggan Books.

The Great Nadar: The Man Behind the Camera

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

By J.D. Vance, published 2016 by Harper​Collins Publishers.

Hillbilly Elegy


By Jeffrey Pomerantz, published 2015 by The MIT Press.


Jauno latviešu valoda

By Ilmārs Šlāpins, published 2017 by Ascendum.

Jauno latviešu valoda

Gaiļu kalna ēnā

By Osvalds Zebris, published 2014 by Dienas Grāmata.

Gaiļu kalna ēnā