Category: Related Information

Digging in to the dissertation

Pun intended, of course.

I found a really cool piece of software that will, I believe, be very helpful in writing the dissertation. It’s a Mac application called Scrivener. I found it while reading up on an influential digital historian’s blog, William Turkel. I like it because it organizes the writing process in the way I already think about it. I can write, or rearrange bits of text as if they were note cards, and so much more… I’ll let a few screen shots speak for themselves:


As you can see, I’ve been working on my outlines for the first two chapters. I was worried about integration with Zotero, but found this tip to be helpful. It’s a bit of a process, but sure beats doing all citations by hand.

Funding Update

Also, for an update, I have now applied to two big fellowships, USHMM and the GHI, with one more to go at the National Archives. I should hear back about the USHMM this month.

After that, it’s the big two, the Fulbright and the DAAD.

Sources Update

I have most of the documents scanned from USHMM. There are still a bunch of microfilms I should get digitized from the National Archives (or the originals from the German Archives). Now I just need to start going through them and translating and organizing. I’ll have a post on that later.

Detail of A4 at Hadmersleben

Above is a teaser of one of the documents. This detail shows the location of the proposed tunnels in relation to the town of Hadmersleben, in Germany. The different areas of the tunnel are labeled.

Amber Room

Solving the history of Nazi Tunnels

Invariably, when I tell people about my dissertation topic, they reference a show they have seen recently about Nazi Tunnels. Usually they’re referencing this episode of Solving History with Olley Steeds on Discovery.

I thought it would be interesting to make a list of connections to the dissertation that I come across throughout this research and writing process. I’ll include links to news stories, TV shows (like the one linked above), or any other research and resources about the topic.

Solving History

Amber Room
Amber Room before World War II. (source: Wikimedia Commons.

The TV show linked above tries to track down the mysteriously missing Amber Room, a room decorated from carved amber and gems, once the pride of Russian czars. It was crafted by Prussian and Russian artists during the first decade of the 1700s, and given as a gift to Russian Czar Peter the Great in 1716. On June 22, 1941, the room was looted by Nazi soldiers as a part of Operation Barbarosa, and set up in the Königsburg (now Kaliningrad) castle museum. The current whereabouts of the Amber Room are unknown. At the close of the war many valuable art treasures were moved to more protective areas. A ship that could have been carrying the Room along with other treasures was sunk by a Soviet submarine. It is possible that the room was destroyed during Allied bombing in 1943.

Olley Steeds, in the Discovery show Solving History, tracks possible leads that the Amber Room may be stored in an abandoned mine shaft in the Czech Republic. Throughout the show, Olley Steeds goes through Nazi hideouts, underground fortresses, and secret tunnels.

Dissertation Relation

Tunnels, mine shafts, caves, and other underground structures had a variety of uses to the Nazis. Many of the most well known tunnels were for looted art and other treasures. Fortunately (I suppose) for me, the less well known causes were for protection of industrial factories. That’s what I’ll be focusing on for the dissertation.

This also brings in the question about public history, especially that used as entertainment. Don’t get me wrong, I think history, or learning about the past, is full of entertainment. And such shows definitely have worth. In the few short minutes I saw of this show, though, I was left wondering how much of it is simply myth hunting in order to make an entertaining show, and how much was trying to figure out what happened in the past. I haven’t seen a whole episode, so I can’t make any judgment calls, but it does bring up the larger issue of the possibility of degrading historical events for entertainment value. I guess the question is, does history and entertainment have a place together? Histertainment, if you will. If you judge by certain cable shows dealing with history, and the many books on the subject at any given book store, I would venture to say yes. Reality, as the saying goes, is often much stranger than fiction.


Images from Wikimedia Commons and the Wikipedia article linked above.

How to footnote a blog post?

Update: It appears that most people come to this page looking for how to properly attribute a blog post in their footnotes, not how to do footnotes in a blog post. 🙂 So, a different search shows how to do the former, while this post shows how to do the latter. Search tip, add the style you are looking for when you type in “how to footnote a blog”. So it would be “chicago manual style how to footnote a blog”. Below is the proper way to footnote a blog in your paper using the Chicago Manual of Style, taken directly from their site linked above:

Blog entry or comment

Blog entries or comments may be cited in running text (“In a comment posted to The Becker-Posner Blog on February 23, 2010, . . .”) instead of in a note, and they are commonly omitted from a bibliography. The following examples show the more formal versions of the citations. There is no need to add pseud. after an apparently fictitious or informal name. (If an access date is required, add it before the URL; see examples elsewhere in this guide.)

1. Jack, February 25, 2010 (7:03 p.m.), comment on Richard Posner, “Double Exports in Five Years?,” The Becker-Posner Blog, February 21, 2010,
2. Jack, comment on Posner, “Double Exports.” Becker-Posner Blog, The.


So the first hurdle I have come across, is how to do the footnotes on these pages and posts. I tried two different approaches before settling, with still some insecurity, on a plug-in to handle the formatting for footnotes. There are two options, and I’m kind of leaning on going back to the first option after writing this.

Option 1: By Hand

Zotero Adding a Citation
Zotero - Adding a Citation

Hand code the footnote numbers as links and the footnotes they link to. Well, you don’t actually have to format and code it all by hand. Microsoft Office and OpenOffice Writer actually do a pretty decent job of creating the links and formatting the footnotes to look and act decently. It’s a simple copy from the word file and paste it into the “Visual” editor in WordPress. After that I would switch to the “HTML” editor, copy the text and plug it into my trusty terminal using Vim to do some quick search and replace of unwanted things (like styled span tags for every paragraph and some CSS formatting). You can use any text editor that has the search and replace ability. Then I pasted the text back into the “HTML” editor, and I was good to go.

Option 2: Use a Plugin

Simple Footnotes Plugin
Simple Footnotes Plugin

This option has some benefits and drawbacks. I tried a number of different plugins but settled on the Simple Footnotes plugin by Andrew Nacin. The benefits are that you don’t have to hand code or edit anything. You just add in a [ ref] tag and put in anything you want to be as a footnote, and close it with a [ /ref] tag. 1 The plugin automatically takes care of formatting, and puts the footnote at the bottom of the post or page. Another benefit is that it adds the footnote text to the “alt” field of the anchor tag so it “pops up” when you hover the mouse over the footnote number in the body of the text. The big downside, and the reason I’ll probably switch back to hand coding it, is that this method is not very portable. If I ever need to grab the text out of the WordPress database, then I’ll have the footnote text in the middle of the text body. It is also that way as you are writing, so it kind of gets in the way. This is especially noisome when the footnote is rather large. True, you can copy and paste the displayed HTML or source HTML and have it turn out OK, but it is really a pain to have the footnotes in the body of the text as you try to write or edit.

Those were the options I see for adding footnotes to a WordPress blog post or page. It would have been really helpful to have a zotero plugin for WordPress that allows you to add a citation just like a Word or Writer document. I know there’s a way to export a “bibliography” from zotero with the selected works, but it doesn’t take care of formatting, adding the numbers and links and such. Hmmm, I wonder if that’s possible, and if I could/should write it…


  1. This example has a space after the first square bracket so that it does not render as an actual footnote.