So, it’s the end of the year, and with it comes a lot of wrap-up, best-of and looking-back type posts. Originally I wasn’t going to do a “blog awards” post, but I was quite honored to have been selected last week by “Don Charisma” for the Inventive Blogger Award (the badge is at the end of this post) that I thought, in accepting the award, I would give some kudos of my own to the blogs that I enjoyed and learned the most from in 2013.
There is no requirement here; if I picked your blog you don’t need to re-blog, re-post, or pass it on. If I didn’t pick your blog, don’t despair–if I’m following your blog I do read it, and as I’m quite selective about the blogs I follow, I guarantee you’ve got something there I really like! In no particular order, though, here are the blogs that really stood out for me this year.
Most Socially Relevant Blog: Nursing Clio
In addition to being a great resource on history–particularly history that concerns or has anything to do with health, the medical profession or sexuality–Nursing Clio presented a wealth of cutting-edge, socially relevant articles during 2013 on a lot of very important issues. From teaching transgender history to the impact of Kinsey to gender aspects of health care debates, Nursing Clio applies a very sharp scalpel to some tough problems, and has made me see things in a new light on more than one occasion this year. (For the record, two of my colleagues at the history department contribute to Nursing Clio, so maybe I’m a bit biased…but it’s still a great blog!)
Most Passionate Blog: For The Lost
Back in August I ran a profile of Annie Keller, the webmaster of the For The Lost blog on missing persons, and she no doubt wins the award for the most tireless, passionate and dedicated blogger whose stuff I regularly read in 2013. For The Lost publicizes cold missing persons cases, often children that are the victims of family (or sometimes non-family) abductions. There are so many posts here run so frequently that it’s impossible to single out a few, but prototypical examples include the cases of babies Dalton and Vivian Ngo, Cynthia and Jackie Leslie who vanished from Arizona in 1974, and Taj Narbonne, a child who has been missing since 1981. These are cases that get very little press and deserve a lot more. For The Lost represents an immense amount of work and research, and a heartfelt desire to bring closure to these cases no matter how much time has passed.
Quirkiest Blog: The Cedar Lounge Revolution
I honestly don’t remember what first brought me to this blog, which started as a political blog by a bunch of Irish left-leaning progressives. I admit I know nothing about politics in Ireland, and I wouldn’t rank politics in Ireland as something I’m particularly concerned about. But in amongst articles on Irish political parties and LGBT pride in Ireland, there are interesting and quirky asides on all manner of topics, like weird 1970s Soviet sci-fi kids films and retro space missions. Cedar Lounge is an example of a blog with a primary mission but which isn’t afraid to branch out and present some very cool stuff, which is (if you haven’t noticed) also the operating idea of this blog. Anyway, some cool stuff here!
Most Fun-But-Controversial Blog: Crossroads
Crossroads is a history blog that focuses mostly on the 19th century and particularly the Civil War (and its long aftermath). Run by ASU history professor Brooks D. Simpson, I confess that I’ve gotten the most enjoyment out of Crossroads by reading its frequent corrections, call-outs and exposures of the appallingly bad behavior of neo-Confederate apologists in the South. You know, those people who think slavery wasn’t so bad and who write bad novels about heroic defenders of “Confederate heritage” against all those liberal Yankee haters. Dr. Simpson gives historical distortionists what-for in a highly entertaining and informative way. Easily the most addictive series on this blog is the lengthy saga of the “Virginia flaggers,” a bumbling group of Keystone Kops-like neo-Confederates who made a big fuss about putting up a Confederate flag on a Virginia highway whilst attempting (badly) to conceal that their group was rife with Neo-Nazis, race-baiters and white supremacists. Crossroads naturally attracts a lot of static in the comments, but it’s a fun blog to read, and it’s great to see a real historian setting the record straight on those who would twist historical truth to suit their own ends.
Most Fun Blog: Don Charisma
Don Charisma is another blog that I don’t remember how or why I followed, but which has been a source of more than a few grins and laughs over the past few months. This is a very eclectic, mostly light-hearted blog without a real unifying theme, although Don does post a lot of travel photos. The articles, when not presenting interesting pics of far-flung locales, range the gamut from an amusing indictment of Windows 8 to a lesson in “troll potency.” I was entertained recently by Don’s exchange with a blog reader unhappy at what he perceived was a surfeit of “Buddahs,” which most of the other readers who chimed in (including me) seemed to like. Oh well, no accounting for taste! Anyway, this is a very fun blog and one I look forward to reading each time I click on my WordPress reader.
Funniest Blog: Nerdy Life of Mine
This blog by Jason Bucky Roberts is just plain fun. You get exactly what you’d expect with a title like that, and a lot more. There are a lot of quick, rapid-fire posts on all things nerdy. To wit: Call of Duty ghost (with cats), a giant Koosh ball dipped in liquid nitrogen, an awesome Photoshop of Star Trek: The Next Generation characters in retro ’60s Star Trek uniforms, or a map of the San Francisco transit system rendered in the style of Super Mario Brothers. There’s nothing too heavy here, but just a lot of really fun stuff, and I tend to get more belly laughs from this blog than I do any of the others. Definitely check it out!
Most Enthusiastic History Blog: History Republic
Nine guys who are determined to bring you history with the boring parts cut out comprise History Republic, a blog so enthusiastic about telling cool stories about the past that you just have to admire their gusto and their dedication. History Republic covers all sorts of topics with an emphasis on entertaining, easy-to-read stories, a very polished and eye-friendly presentation, and no pretensions at all. Here you can find a perp walk of candidates for being the “last” Roman Emperor, an analysis of the rise of post-WWII Japan, a special report on the newest heir to the British throne, and a lengthy series on the French Revolution chock full of guillotines and people in white wigs shouting “Vive le France!” Don’t we all wish history was always like this?
Most Informative History Blog: If It Happened Yesterday, It’s History
Just browsing the “reblog” tag here on my site should tell you instantly that Robert Horvat’s “If It Happened Yesterday…” is one of my favorite blogs. Robert, like me, has a strong interest in Byzantine history, and there’s plenty of Byzantium and Rome here, including the Battle of Milvian Bridge, the philosophy of Marcus Aurelius and Robert’s 5 Favorite Emperors (a project I also took part in). There’s also more modern history, such as a battle involving Australians in the Vietnam War that I had never heard of before, or the real story behind Van Gogh’s ear. Robert has also scored some epic interviews with historians like John Julius Norwich and Roger Crowley. Oh, and he likes Pearl Jam. A lot. Robert’s blog is truly a cornucopia of history, a really enjoyable read and a prime example of how energetic, enthusiastic individuals make blogging so much fun.
Most Promising Newcomer Blog: Yesterday Unhinged
Yesterday Unhinged is a very new blog, having barely been active a month, but with its eclectic choice of subjects, its lavish and eye-catching visual design and engaging writing style it has the definite potential to become one of my favorite blogs in 2014. Some articles to get you started include this one on Cervantes, or this one on the iconic Delacroix painting “Liberty Leading the People.” This blog is so new that we have yet to see what is will develop into, but it’s definitely up and coming!
I hope you enjoyed my favorite blogs of 2013. There’s so much quality writing on WordPress that it’s so hard to limit my choices to just a few. Here’s looking forward to a year of more great posts ahead in 2014.