As many of you know, I recently returned from two weeks in Mongolia.  I’m still thinking over what I saw, but in the meantime, here are some photographs to tide you over.  (No dinosaurs, though–sorry!  No dinosaur photography was allowed in the natural history museum.)

Today Eric Johnson and I have a guest post at Museum 2.0 about Oldenberg’s The Great Good Place, part of this month’s discussion on the book.  Do go read it: we shoutout to John Cotton Dana.

I somehow agreed to do two lightning talks in two weeks, so if you’re in the Detroit area you have two chances to hear me speak fast for 5 minutes.  Brevity is the soul of wit, and since I love twitter so much, this is a neat way to twitterize my academic talks.

This Thursday, 2/25, at the Anderson Theater in front of the Dymaxion House at the Henry Ford Museum, I’ll be speaking at Pecha Kucha Night Detroit, which we’re hosting in conjunction with our new design exhibit.  I’m talking about my job, basically, and different ways of thinking about “connecting to people through technology,” including our ham radio collections.

Then, next Thursday, 3/4, at the Blau Auditorium at the U of Mich business school, I’m participating in Ignite Ann Arbor.  I’ll be talking about mechanical television and our guy C. Francis Jenkins.

Just over a month to go before this year’s National Council on Public History conference!  We’ll be meeting March 10-14 in Portland in conjunction with the American Society for Environmental History.  If you’ve never been before, NCPH is a great conference for meeting public historians and learning about amazing projects.  One of the NCPH conference’s greatest strengths is giving us public historians, who are often caught up in the minutiae of our programs, exhibits and other projects, a time to reflect on important theoretical and ethical issues in the profession.

On that note, I’ll be speaking at a panel about the future of public history on Thursday at 1:30:

Panel 3-C: Historians Look to the Future: Embarking on a
New Chapter in NCPH’s History
Cosponsored by the NCPH 30th Anniversary Committee
Chair: Allison Marsh, University of South Carolina
Suzanne Fischer, The Henry Ford Museum
Peter Kraemer, U.S. Department of State

Also on Thursday, Allison Marsh and I are planning to host a dine-around (an informal dinner) to talk about the material culture of technology coordinating group we’re been working on.

Please join us in Portland!

Currents of Change, March 10-14

Hilton Portland Hotel

The conference Program is digital this year, available as a PDF at Printed programs will be available only onsite in Portland.

This is a joint meeting of National Council on Public History and American Society for Environmental History, with 150 sessions and workshops, 15 working groups, 10 fieldtrips, Speed Networking, book exhibits, Consultants Reception, and much more. Come and experience the best in public and environmental history.  (Discounted registration is open to members and non-members before February 12.  Regular pre-registration is open through February 24.  Onsite registration continues at the conference.)

Keynote speaker, Adam Hochschild, is an award winning author and journalist who uses history to reveal the lingering inequities of the past. His most recent book, Bury the Chains, was a finalist for the 2005 National Book Award.  His address, “Adventures in Public History,” will be free and open to the public as well as conference registrants.

Make your Hotel Reservation at the Hilton Portland & Executive Tower today.  Discounted room rates for the conference may be secured before February 9.

Want to see how engaging history, especially environmental history, has become in Portland and its environs? Sign up for the tours. This year there is a floating seminar boat excursion on the Willamette River.  Want specialized professional development? There are top-notch workshops and how-to sessions on digital history.

Tours & Fieldtrips:


Read more about the conference in the current issue of Public History News at

I had a lovely time in Pittsburgh last weekend with a crowd of historians of technology.  Here, the highlights of the conference from a Suzanne perspective.  140 character highlights can be found by searching the #shot09 hashtag (which was mostly me).   (more…)

I’ve been having a busy fall; you can see some of the results on the museum’s blog and some will be announced later.  I’ll be making the rounds of some fall conferences, so here’s the details:

10/15 (this Thursday):  I’ll be poking my head in at the Michigan Museums Association conference in Ann Arbor before heading on the road to Pittsburgh

10/15 to 10/17 In Pittsburgh for the Society for the History of Technology conference .  My session is bright and early on Friday morning.


8.30-10 AM

3.   Web 2.0 and the History of Technology

Chair: Sheldon Hochheiser (IEEE History Center)

Commentator: Thomas J. Misa (Charles Babbage Institute)

Organizers: Michael N. Geselowitz (IEEE History Center) and Thomas J. Misa (Charles Babbage Institute)

Stephanie H. Crowe (Charles Babbage Institute): Experimenting with Web 2.0 at the Charles Babbage Institute

Suzanne Fischer (The Henry Ford): The History Museum as Communication Platform

Michael N. Geselowitz (IEEE History Center): The IEEE Global History Network

10/21 I’ll be attending TEDx Detroit, along with my THF colleague Eric Reasons.

11/5 to 11/7 In St Louis for the Association of Moving Image Archivists conference.  Yes, I’m clearly not a moving image archivist, but I’m excited to have been asked to speak on an awesome panel about open media and to bring lessons from public history to moving image archives colleagues.

Saturday, November 7

10:45 AM – 11:45 AM
The Problem of Open Media

Jack Brighton – Illinois Public Media

Peter Kaufman – Intelligent Television, Inc.
Rick Prelinger – Prelinger Library & Archives
Suzanne M. Fischer- The Henry Ford
Karl Fogel –

The term ‘Open Media’ has gained currency with the explosion of online archives. Some media collections are open for people to download, share, mashup, and reuse. Others seek to prevent their works from being copied. To the extent that there is an “open media community,” it envisions a large and active public media commons, providing global access to historical, cultural, and other materials relevant, and in many cases vital, to the public interest. Meanwhile, copyright and intellectual property laws add layers of confusion and conflicting interests, while new technologies make controlling and monetizing media problematic for all concerned. How might we solve the problem of open media? This session will address some of the obstacles and opportunities, and suggest new business models that allow content to breathe freely while still paying the rent. We’ll also discuss the role of the archivist as key to an open media future.

If you’d like to read my dissertation, here it is.

Please cite as:

Suzanne Fischer, “Diseases of Men:  Sexual Health and Medical Expertise in Advertising Medical Institutes, 1900-1930,” PhD diss., University of Minnesota, 2009.

Creative Commons License
Diseases of Men: Sexual Health and Medical Expertise in Advertising Medical Institutes, 1900-1930 by Suzanne M Fischer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.

Well, I’m pleased to tell you all that my defense went well, and that this is my first blog post as a doctor!  

I gave a presentation with copious just-scanned-that-morning medical institute advertisements, and took a few questions.  Various Minneapolis friends came to the public part of the defense, and my dad and his wife flew in for it.  Then I was sequestered with my committee, who asked me various tough and not so tough questions, and we had an interesting conversation about my work.  ( One of my committee members was on speakerphone, and there were no technical problems.)  I was sent out of the room while the committee deliberated, and spent the time staring at a mysterious photo display in the hallway of the physics building and reciting psalms to myself.  Then my advisor came out and shook my hand, everyone congratulated me and gave me some revisions to do, and I was suddenly Dr. Fischer.  A party ensued, and there was much celebration, including pickled carrots, lots of my favorite people, small children, discussions of Minnesota politics and SQL jokes.  The lilacs were blooming and Minneapolis was as lovable as ever.

I do want to clarify that I am a doctor of the history of science and technology, not of public history.  I’m a public historian because of passion, not training!


 “Suzanne Fischer will defend her dissertation, “Diseases of Men: Sexual Health and Medical Expertise in Advertising Medical Institutes, 1900-1930,” on Monday, May 18, in Physics 236A, beginning at 1:00 pm.

All members of the History of Science, Technology, and Medicine Program [and everyone else] are invited to attend her opening presentation (about 20 to 30 minutes, including questions), and then the examining will convene in private for the examination.”

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