200 and Counting

The post I did last week on the Women’s March was my two hundredth  on this WordPress blog. It was my 238th post if you count the thirty-eight I did  when I had a website hosted by Network solutions which had a sort of blog page.

238 is not that many since I  started blogging in February of 2008. It is about twenty-six a year. That is why I am trying to step it up and  blog at least once a week this year. I am also trying to tweet at least once a day.  I am doing pretty well with both tasks but it is not as easy as it looks.

Because of a time crunch I am doing this shorter, accounting type of post today but there will be longer posts in the future. Next week I plan to blog about one of my favorite topics – the brewing industry and taxes. In two weeks I will tackle beer history and the different meanings of that term. Looking further ahead, I  hope to post about my work on my new book about faculty wives.

See you next week.


A few years ago I started crocheting again after not having done it for a long time. I have wound up doing a lot of it. My latest creation is a Pussy Hat to wear at the Women’s March, January 21, 2017. We were going to attend the main demonstration in Washington D.C. but our schedule means we are going to the sister march in Boston. This is the pattern.

In 2015 I posted about my plans to go to Bowling Green for the ADHS conference. In that post I mentioned that I wanted to add something about crocheting and crafts to the website. That is a renewed intention for 2017.

I have always done some kind of craft. When my sister and I were teenagers we both learned knitting and crocheting She became a knitter while I gravitated to crocheting. When my children were little, I crocheted stuffed animals and other things for them. These are owls I made for some children I know.  For a while I made baskets but I have returned to crocheting. This is a miniature basket I made a few years ago.





Book Review: Gilded: How Newport became America’s richest resort

Gilded: How Newport became America’s richest resort by Deborah Davis is a history of Newport Rhode Island with a focus on its wealthy inhabitants. In many very short chapters she tells interesting anecdotes about some of the famous and not so famous people who passed through Newport.

I read this book because I am always looking at popular non-fiction to see if there are ways to make the book I am working on more marketable. The book was easy to read but it was a little light on substance.

I didn’t really know that much about Newport before I read the book. I have been there once and saw the Touro synagogue (which she doesn’t talk about) and one of the Gilded Age mansions – the Breakers I think.

Her narrative goes from the colonial period to the present. Newport gained its identity during the Gilded Age. Davis’s depiction of twenty-first century Newport does not seem that different from the nineteenth century period. She describes opulent, extravagant parties in both eras. The book is similar to taking a tour of one of the mansions where you get to peek in on the lifestyles of the rich and famous.


Links on the Chain

On Saturday, I went to Hartford to attend a Rally to Save the American Dream in support of the workers in Wisconsin. The best part of the demonstration was singing Solidarity Forever.  The events in Wisconsin seemed to have revived the labor movement, which has been quiescent for the last twenty years or so.

The past few months I have been wondering why there were no demonstrations in America over things like the failure to extend unemployment benefits to the 99ers, the war in Afghanistan, and the extension of the tax cuts for the rich.

Governor Walker’s naked power grab seems to have been the straw that broke the camel’s back and people are finally responding. One of the signs at the demonstration Saturday said Unions Make Us Strong. I really believe that. What you win in struggle is much harder to take away.

In such an overtly capitalistic country as America there must be a counter veiling force. Because we no longer make anything, it is much harder to have a viable labor movement. The low paying service jobs at McDonald and Wal-Mart’s have seemed impervious to organizing. The country needs a strong, vital labor movement that will stand for social justice.

The title of this post is from Phil Ochs  Links on the Chain, which explores the less than perfect record of mainstream unions toward people of color, women and gays. It also lays out the case for unions perfectly.
For more information about the Rally to Save the American Dream go to MoveOn.org

Links on The Chain


Onto Next Year

I don’t usually make specific New Year’s resolutions. I do frequently make lists and sometimes they include more long-term goals or projects. Over a year ago, I started tweeting, which led to a chain reaction where I wound up blogging less. When I started using wordpress for my blog, I did less with my website. Each new technological advance means you use an older thing less.

I really like twitter. It enables you to be part of conversation in real time. During the recent blizzard, Keith Olbermann tweeted almost every hour on the progress of the storm and the lack of any cleanup.  Apparently, people stuck at airports used twitter to try to get seats on flights.

I don’t want to stop blogging because I enjoy it and it helps my writing.  I guess one of my goals for 2011 is to get back to blogging more frequently. I am playing around with some ideas but I haven’t made any firm plans yet.

When I think about my website and blog, I would like to find ways to make them both more current. As I move into writing about faculty wives, I don’t want to abandon beer and brewing. If I want to change how the blog looks, I will have to tackle wordpress, which I have found very difficult in the past.

One big goal I have for 2011 is to continue to make progress on my new book. I have one chapter written and would like to complete at least three more before my year at the Five College Women’s Studies Research Center is up. I also want to try to get an agent and then a book contract. For Brewing Battles, I got the contract but no agent. This time I want to try to have the agent first. In some ways it feels more difficult. I will keep you posted on my progress.

Happy New Year!

Agent Anxiety

I found a publisher for Brewing Battles without the help of an agent. I wrote queries to both agents and publishers. I got two positive responses from different publishers before any agent said they would represent me. I sent eleven queries; eight were to agents and three were to presses. I found all of that very frustrating and time consuming.

One day when I was feeling particularly frustrated, I realized that a particular agent lived in my hometown. I thought I would call him since writing letters and emails felt so distance and impersonal. It was a big mistake. Apparently, there is an underwritten rule that you never contact an agent on the phone. He informed me in no uncertain terms that the fact that we lived in the same area was irrelevant. So much for local connections. Despite his very negative response to my calling him, he did look at the book proposal. He told me it would never be published.

This experience along with others I had while trying to get Brewing Battles published has left me with some anxiety about dealing with agents. I feel that there are some many “rules” about what you can and cannot say to them and that you must not do anything that they could perceive of as wasting their time.

Two weeks ago, I attended Write Angles 25, a writer’s conference. I had the opportunity to meet face to face for 10minutes or so with an agent. That alone was an unusual occurrence. The agent liked my pitch and said I should send him/her the book proposal and sample chapter as well as Brewing Battles. This, of course, was exciting. Unfortunately, he/she wrote all of the instructions on his/her card with a felt tip pen that ran.

I tried the best I could to remember everything he/she had said. I had a lot of trouble sending him/her the documents as he/she had requested. I thought, oh, no this will ruin my chances. I emailed to say I was having trouble and ask if I could send them a different way. I did not hear back for two days, which also convinced me I had broken some cardinal rule and lost my chance.  I did receive a response the third day.

This whole experience made me realize I am terrified of agents. I am so terrified that I do not want to reveal the agent’s identity, which is why I am obscuring the pronouns. I want an agent for my new project so I can get a better deal from a publisher. However if it is going to make me such a basket case maybe it is not worth it.


I recently got a yearlong appointment as a Five College Women’s Studies Research Center Associate. I actually found out in April but I have been very busy and a little reluctant to toot my own horn.  I got the associateship because of my new project, Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. I also will be giving a paper at the History of Education Society 50th annual meeting in November and I will be giving a poster presentation at the annual meeting of the American Historical Association.

Yesterday I spent a couple of hours putting the above information on my website. That felt a little strange because of course my website is entitled Amy Mittelman Brewing Battles. I have many questions about how I will maintain a focus on beer and Brewing Battles and move towards prompting and discussing the new book.

I have been on Twitter for about six months and I am one tweet away from 100. As if have probably said before I feel twitter is best for things I probably would not blog about. I also like that you can follow a conversation about trending or immediate events. It is a lot of fun to follow #Yankees during a Yankee game.

I still have not really figured out how my various online activates connect or should connect. I had decided to keep tweeting and the blog separate but I am rethinking that. I also do not really see how to keep the website vibrant since most of the new content winds up on the blog. One idea I have is to put my twitter feed on the website, but I am not sure how to do that. I also think it would be nice to give my readers the opportunity to tweet about the blog. Again, I will have to figure out how to do that.

Getting the Associateship is a wonderful opportunity; I am most excited about having a Mount Holyoke College library card. I feel motivated to think about new directions for both my work and my online presence.

Women’s Dinners

I attended the Little Berks Friday and Saturday at Mount Holyoke College. The Little Berks dates back to 1930, starting as an organization for historians who were women.  In the 1970s, the group began holding conferences on women’s history, broadly defined. This is the Berkshire Conference; the next will be in June 2011 at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Last night, many of the sixty women attending the Little Berks got “dressed” for diner. Most people were wiring skirts, dresses, or nice pants. When I looked at the assembled group in their finery the first thing that came to mind was how similar they were to the women from the University of Chicago who organized and attended the yearly Faculty Wives Dinners.

These dinners began as a response to the male only trustee dinner that the University held every year. The faculty wives wished to have alternative entertainment on that evening and in an eventually very elaborate volunteer effort provided dinner and a skit.  These women wanted to have something of their own in a similar fashion to the women who founded the Berks. Those historians desired have a network that would be comparable to the “old-boy network” they observed at meetings of the American Historical Association.

I find the discovery that the two groups of women have much in common very interesting because I am fairly certain that the individual who comprises the two groups would not feel that they are comparable.

Book Review: Good Morning, Miss Dove

Frances Gray Patton published Good Morning, Miss Dove in 1954. It was an immediate success. Prior to writing this novel, she had published short stories in various magazines, including Harpers and the New Yorker. Patton was also a faculty wife who lived her whole adult life in Durham, North Carolina.

I read this book because I thought I might do research on Patton when we went to North Carolina. Duke had several faculty wives organizations including Law Dames (wives of law students) and the Reviewers Club. The Faculty Wives of NCSU occasionally had joint luncheons or meetings with wives clubs from the surrounding area.

Good Morning, Miss Dove is not about a college town or an academic instruction. Liberty Hill is not even a southern town. The book is about learning and the role of teachers.

Good Morning, Miss Dove is very sentimental and somewhat unrealistic.  Patton’s portrayal of Miss Dove borrows from other literary figures, including Mary Poppins. One character in the book even remarks on Miss Dove’s similarity to the British nanny.

The two characters share certitude and high self-esteem. Miss Dove does not possess any of the whimsy or magic of Mary Poppins. They also share an ability to transform the lives of their charges. Patton does capture the phenomenon that teachers can sometimes be the most important figure in a student’s life.

The book is dated both in use of language – “colored” and in the portrayal of the relationship between nurses and doctors. Although it is set in the present, 1954, it has an old time feeling. The only modern element is her discussion of World War II and the fate of some of her students.

The plot, if you could call it that, revolves around the sudden onset of paralysis for Miss Dove.  Her hospitalization and surgery allows Patton to explore and elucidate Miss Dove’s character and memories. The outcome is unsurprisingly positive. Both the town and Miss Dove have gained greater appreciation of the meaning of her life.

In 1955, Jennifer Jones starred in the movie version of Good Morning, Miss Dove. I wish I could see the movie because Miss Dove was not supposed to be a beautiful woman. So far, I have been unable to find the movie in either VHS or DVD format, which is surprising.

Movie Poster Good Morning, Dove
Movie Poster Good Morning, Miss Dove

New Year Plans

My friend Jan, who blogs at Restaurant-ing Through History, has an excellent post with ideas for her blog in the coming year. I like what she did so I thought I would do the same.

I hope to post more about our recent research trip. On the way home, we stopped at Gettysburg and I have few things to say about it. We are planning more research trips so those will probably generate posts as well. One place we are thinking of going is Chicago, which would certainly enable me to compare another big city with New York.

I also hope to post more about my new project, Dames, Dishes, and Degrees. The upcoming political year promises to be very challenging so it is more than likely that I will have something to say about that.

I also plan to change the look of musings a bit. Some blogs will be leaving the blog roll and new ones taking their place. It is nothing against the ones I am removing; I just feel it is time for a change. I am now on twitter and I am hoping to display some of my tweets.

I wish everyone a healthy and happy New Year. Cheers!

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