August 24, 2019

Clara Barton lived in a boarding house on Seventh Street in DC; it’s where she ran her Missing Soldiers’ Office and is now a museum operated by the Museum of Civil War Medicine.

An article that I wrote on the owner of the building, a woman named Susan Ireland, is now online (first published in the museum’s magazine, The Surgeon’s Call.

Not knowing what to expert, I found that Ireland, a widow, had inherited money from a brother and invested it very wisely!

July 18, 2019

Muster, the blog of the Journal of the Civil War Era, published my article about Harriet Jacobs in Alexandria. Please go over to their site and give it a read. (Sharing it with others would be welcome, too. I am keen on ensuring that her work as an advocate and activist receive the attention it deserves!)

June 29, 2019


I am very pleased to be invited to return to my home state of Connecticut this fall to participate in The CtLit festival in early October. I’ll be part of a panel on “Gender across Genres.”

In May, I participated in a somewhat similar (although different, as every panel is, given the audience!) session at the Washington Independent Review of Books Conference. In this case, the topic was “Hidden Histories”—which often means women, people of color, and LGBT people.

Fellow panelists included (seated) Patty Pearson (Fly Girls), Gene Meyer (Five for Freedom) and (standing) Derek Musgrave (Chocolate City). Will Pittman, standing next to Derek, ably moderated the session.

June 3, 2019

I send out an occasional newsletter about writing and history. Here’s the most recent issue (June 2019).

(you can also  contact me  to be added to the mailing list.)

(you can also contact me to be added to the mailing list.)

April 30, 2019

IMG_1034 copy.jpg

I was very honored to receive the T. Michael Miller Award from the Alexandria Historical Society on April 24—the ceremony took place at the Lyceum on South Washington Street. (A place where Julia Wilbur visited, by the way.) Julia Randle sang my praises and gave me this lovely plate.

When I first started working with Julia Wilbur’s diaries, I inherited a file that included a memo from the 1990s from Miller, who was the city historian for many years. He had come upon the diary and was wondering whether Julia Wilbur was, basically, a heroine or a harpy. Hopefully I answered the question, with a preference for the former, over the last few years.

March 12, 2019

Late last year, I gave a talk to the Civil War Roundtable of DC (definitely a group of CW experts!). A recording of my talk and the photos I showed are now on the Roundtable’s website.


December 2, 2018

Latest issue of A Civil Life Update. (Much of the content in various places on this website, but all wrapped in one place.)

October 17, 2018

A month for Civil War fans to meet Julia Wilbur. Last week, I spoke at the Civil War Roundtable of Washington. Next week, I am headed up to Baltimore County for the Baltimore Civil War Roundtable. The following weekend, a meeting of the Daughters of Union Veterans (Julia wasn’t a “daughter,” but she was a sister-in-law). In between, presentation open to the public at the Duncan library in the Del Ray section of Alexandria.

September 1, 2018

A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time had its 1-year "book birthday"! Read a few things that I have learned along the way. (And sign up for future issues of my e-newsletter. I will aim for another issue in a month or so.)


July 5, 2018

A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time received some gratifying reviews in June from authoritative publications--Civil War Times and the Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, published by the Virginia Historical Society.. (Both are subscription-only, but I will extract a few excerpts in the Reviews section of this site.)

I also was on the other side of the page. I reviewed Jessica Ziparo's This Grand Experiment: When Women Entered the Federal Workforce in Civil War-Era Washington, D.C. (University of North Carolina Press) for the Kentucky Historical Society and John F. Ross' The Promise of the Grand Canyon: John Wesley Powell's Perilous Journey and His Vision for the American Press (Viking) for the Washington Independent Review of Books.

(My interview with Jessica, after I submitted the review, is on my blog.)

June 1, 2018

Julia Wilbur is a #HistoryHero! Read my guest blog post: from it, "Julia Wilbur's story exemplifies how “ordinary” people, at any age and at any time, can effect extraordinary change when they witness injustice and make the decision to fight to change it."

Read the entire post here:

[And nominate your own hero for a future post]



May 19, 2018

Despite a rainy day, at the end of a rainy week, the Gaithersburg Book Festival brought out interested readers of all ages. Gene Meyer, author of Five for Freedom, and I shared the stage to talk about principled, brave, but generally unknown Civil War era heroes--five African Americans who joined up with John Brown and Julia Wilbur. 

C-Span's Book TV was on hand to film our talk.

March 14, 2018

Happy Women's History Month! Several groups asked me to speak about Julia Wilbur as a way to mark the month. Last night, I spoke to the Vienna Branch of AAUW. This coming Sunday, I'll head out to the Manassas Museum.

But today, I did my first Facebook Live Q and A at the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers Office in downtown DC. Barton first boarded on the third floor of this building during the Civil War, using it as her base of operations when she went into the "field." After the war, she set up an office, where she received tens of thousands of letters from families desperate for any word about the fate of their loved ones. She and a small staff provided news about approximately 22,000 men. Unfortunately, most had died in the Andersonville Prison, but at least the families could know that.

The interview was with Jake Wynn, one of the outreach people at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine (which operates the Barton museum). We found after the fact that the room was a bit echo-y, but it was the room where Barton and company truly did their  work.

If the link doesn't work, you can also watch the interview, which lasts about 30 minutes, here:


February 10, 2018

The week's comings and goings included a talk I gave at the Alexandria Black History Museum on Harriet Jacobs and Julia Wilbur--then two days later, meeting Nikki O'Dell, an actor who portrayed Jacobs in the PBS documentary "Slavery and the Making of America." I also was the "local author" for Local Author Thursday at The Old Town Shop on South Union Street.

January 23, 2018

Books, clothes (including lots of turtlenecks and boots, my blood has gotten thin), presentation notes, and more are packed for my trip up north (#JuliaWilburRoadTrip, anyone?)

Stops along the way:

  • Jan. 23--Historical Society of Pennsylvania, to use the archives for a future project

  • Jan. 24--Oakwood Friends School, the legacy school of Nine Partners (which Julia Wilbur attended in 1828), then on to Central Connecticut State University. Talk with students in Writing on Social Issues class, taught by Mary Collins.

  • Jan. 25--Talk with students in Women's History since 1865 class, taught by Heather Prescott. Then public talk at Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, in Hartford (5:30 pm).

  • Jan. 26--Talk at the Public Library of New London (my home town)

  • Jan. 27--No talks! But a stop with a friend and my son in New York--plan is lunch in Harlem and visit to Museum of the City of New York (once a history nerd, always a history nerd).

  • Jan. 28--Pendle Hill Quaker Retreat Center in Wallingford outside Philadelphia (4 pm)

  • Jan. 29--Home! Whew. Expect to have great experiences and learn lots of new things in my travels.

In the meantime, The Day, southeastern Connecticut's newspaper, published an interview with me


January 17, 2018


A few weeks ago, Dean Karayanis, creator and host of the History Author Show, was in Alexandria. We met at the Lyceum for a very "in situ" interview. The interview ran today--I am honored that it did so on Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday.

Listen here: 


January 3, 2018

A new year, with a book trip to Connecticut and Pennsylvania later this month and several events in early February to plan. Check the Events page for the details.

December 7, 2017

Sent out my newsletter to mark the 3-month anniversary of the release of Civil Life in an Uncivil Time. Lots of great conversations and connections along the way. Contact me if you want to receive the next issue (probably sometime in January) mailed to you.

December 6, 2017

Talk at the Athenaeum last night--used in the Civil War as a commissary. Julia was here in the 1860s (and eerily on the screen in this photo).




November 14, 2017

My November newsletter (please let me know if you want your very own, free copy delivered right to your e-mail inbox)

(Click on the screenshot or on "November Newsletter" to see the whole newsletter.)

(Click on the screenshot or on "November Newsletter" to see the whole newsletter.)

November 10, 2017

If you are too far away for a signed book, here's a solution:

1. Purchase the book on your own (note the links in the sidebar on this page, or go to your own favorite)

2. Email me with a request for a book plate--what you want it to say and your postal address.

3. I mail the plate to you, you unseal the sticky side and place it inside the book, and Instant Personalized Gift!




November 9, 2017

Book signing at the National Museum of Civil War Medicine in downtown Frederick. Thanks to bookstore manager Kari Stewart for including the book in the museum's great inventory! (and love the posters behind me)





October 24, 2017


Filmed an interview for Fairfax Channel 10 with Dianne Hennessy King. I was really impressed to see the studio and meet the people who volunteer their time to make the programs very professional (producer Ruth, director Sid, sound person Bob, and camera people Stephanie and Liz). Expect it to air, then be on Youtube, in November. 






October 10, 2017

I send out an occasional newsletter that lists upcoming events and other information. Read the October issue. If you want to receive a copy next time (probably around mid-November), let me know.


October 9, 2017

Live interview (yikes) on Mike Slater's Biographer's Corner, AM 760 KFMB San Diego. He asks authors to list three characteristics about their subject. I listed: (1) dissatisfied (since Julia Wilbur would not accept the status quo); (2) gutsy; and (3) optimistic. 

Listen here. 

October 2, 2017

Interview on "A House Divided," part of Author's Voice at the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop in Chicago.


September 20, 2017

Next week, I am going multimedia. On Monday, Sept. 15, I am taping a program for the Story Hour with host Wendy Mann. It will air on WERA-FM and also be online. Later in the week, I fly to Chicago to participate in the Author's Voice, a webcast produced by the Abraham Lincoln Book Shop.

As someone more comfortable with the written than spoken word, I anticipate both these interviews with excitement with a dollop of dread. But, heck, if Julia Wilbur can tackle new things, so can I! Will post the links after they take place.


September 12, 2017

Check out my most recent e-newsletter, A Civil Update (I am clearly getting into the "civil" theme in a big way). Sign up to receive it in your in-box on the Contact page of this website.

August 31, 2017

Book launch! A lovely evening the garden of Lloyd House in Old Town Alexandria, co-hosted with the Office of Historic Alexandria. Books sold out--with proceeds to the Alexandria Black History Museum. Friends, colleagues, neighbors, reviewers, volunteers all mixed, mingled, and celebrated the life of Julia Wilbur!


August 17, 2017

Attention, book clubs, classes, and other groups! I have created a Discussion Guide that includes 10 questions to consider as you read my book. You may view it online, or you can download it share or print out

August 9, 2017

A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time in a Book Note in Civil War Books and Authors

August 2, 2017

Please check out my August newsletter. Granted, much of the information is here and there on this website, but it compiles it into one convenient place.


July 20, 2017

The big reveal! (Although I wish I had closed the doors to my kitchen pantry.)


July 19, 2017

The light at the end of the tunnel is showing. I am starting to schedule events beginning in September. Although official pub date is supposedly September 1, people who pre-ordered from Amazon are getting word that the book will ship next week. 

June 19, 2017

On July 13, 6 pm, I will be part of a panel to talk about the Clara Barton Missing Soldiers' Office on Seventh Street NW. I did research on the owner of the house, a woman named Susan Ireland. Others will talk about Barton's friends, coworkers, and family. More info and to pre-register here:

June 1, 2017

Index prepared (by a professional indexed), reviewed (by me), and submitted. The project editor told me that she was handing off the galleys and I would now deal with the marketing department.

May 4, 2017

The University of Nebraska Press Fall/Winter catalogue arrived in the mail today. See Page 39....


April 24, 2017

Proofed Galleys sent back to the publisher. I found an embarrassing number of author-created errors, despite previous reviews and a copy edit. But I caught them. (Hope there aren't others that I did not catch....)

April 6, 2017

Publisher sent the galley pages to proof. I have until the end of the month. Book is 300 pages including Endnotes and Bibliography but not the Index.


February 22, 2017

Publisher sent draft "cover text" (including blurbs & bio) for my review. A Civil Life in an Uncivil Time will be in the Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press Fall-Winter 2017 catalog!

November 30, 2016

Manuscript received (see below), reviewed, re-reviewed (X many), then returned to the publisher's copyeditor tonight, to meet the deadline.

October 30, 2016

Copyedited manuscript received. About four weeks to review the editor's changes and give it a last thorough look before it goes to production.

October 6, 2016

My manuscript has its project editor and copy editor, with the plan to wrap up the editing stage of the process by mid-December. 

September 15, 2016

With a very positive third-party review, my manuscript will soon be assigned to a project and copy editor at Potomac Books/University of Nebraska Press, my publisher!

August 31, 2016

I have a guest blog, "8 Tips to Meet a Deadline that Worked for Me," on She Writes. Give it a look if you have a looming deadline--or if creating a deadline will spur you to action.

August 1, 2016: Publication Progress

I received word from my publisher that the third-party reviewer will return comments in late August.