Saturday, January 1, 2011

The Rebecca Gratz Blog in 2010

Although I have been writing this blog for a year and a half, I began to use Google Analytics to record statistical data about it only a year ago. This, then, is my first annual report.

A blog about an obscure 19th-century, Jewish-American woman, who lived her life doing good works and eschewing scandal, is not exactly a magnet for most internet devotees. However in 2010 it did receive nearly 1750 visits from about 1320 individuals who rang up 3280 pageviews.

About three quarters of the visits were from the United States, 75% of those from Pennsylvania and 75% of those from Philadelphia, which is what you might expect for a locally famous, minor historical figure. Surprisingly, at least to me, the blog received hits from more than 500 other towns and cities around the world, 46 other states and 59 other countries.

Here are the posts which were most visited in 2010:

Boys' Dresses and Breeching.* (Jan. '10) Who knew that this old custom was of such worldwide interest ?

Sully's First Portrait of Rebecca. (Nov. '09) This post, which contains an image of the painting, attracted those interested in Rebecca, but also those researching the artist, this specific painting and 19th-century American art.

Male Entitlement in Philadelphia, c. 1800.* (Apr.'10) I had not realized that "male entitlement" was such a hot topic.

Tall Tales about Rebecca.* (July '10) In which I described some of the biographical inaccuracies about Rebecca and considered why there were so many.

Washington Irving, Rebecca Gratz and an Unwanted Suitor. (Nov. '09) Rebecca's friendship with Irving greatly affected her life. This anecdote describes their first youthful meeting and how Irving helped her avoid a proposal. What's not to like?

The Gratz Sisters & Solomon Moses. (Apr. '10) Part of a five-post narrative about Rebecca's sister Rachel, the man she decided to marry and her sisters' reaction to her decision, it gives insight into the real Rebecca (without a pedestal) and the always complex relationships among siblings.

The Rebecca Gratz Club. (Aug. '10) I wrote this post in response to the many inquiries about the Club so I am not surprised by its rapid rise into the top ten posts of the year.

Rebecca Gratz & Baseball. (Oct. '10) This post was written after baseball historian John Thorn sent me some relevant material. Following its publication, Mr. Thorn alerted his baseball history buddies and they came en masse to read it. I am fond of this post, but without this generous help I doubt it would have climbed almost immediately into the most-visited list.

A Portrait of Washington Irving. (Nov. '09) A sort of coda to "Washington Irving, Rebecca Gratz and an Unwanted Suitor," the post includes an image of John Wesley Jarvis's luscious painting, making it of interest to students of art history as well as aficionados of Irving and Gratz.

The Indian Removal Act, Evangelicals and Rebecca Gratz. (Oct. '10) The Indian Removal Act of 1830 and the opposition to it did not warrant much ink in the history textbooks I read in school. Now it seems to be a lively research topic with interest split between the Act itself and the petition drive which was the first organized action by American women to influence politicians.

*Asterisks. Another way to look at the popularity of posts is not just by sheer numbers of visits but by the average amount of time readers spent at individual posts. The three asterisked posts in the list above had an average visit length of three minutes or more. Other posts which did not make the top ten but which were viewed at least 25 times and averaged three plus minutes were:

Sarah Gratz's Mysterious Malady. (Mar. '10) Bipolar disorder is with us today, and there must be some comfort to read about the difficulties of those who suffered from it in the past.

Rachel Gratz, Rachel's Romance, Rebecca Writes to Sally and What Was Wrong with Solomon Moses Anyway? (Apr. & May '10): These are the other four posts in the cycle about Rachel Gratz. (See The Gratz Sisters and Solomon Moses above.)

A Civil War Tragedy. (Sept. '09) The truth-is-stranger-than-fiction story of Rebecca's brother Benjamin Gratz and his family during the conflict.

Rebecca and Matilda Hoffman. (Aug. '10) This is another "tall tale" I try to correct.

An Unaccountable Wedding Fad. (July '10) Who doesn't love a wedding? But I just wish that someone with more information about the fad in question would give me their insights.

The First Waltz. (Jan.'10) Turns out that Rebecca's report of seeing the waltz danced may be the earliest eye-witness account from Philadelphia. Dance historians were interested.

Women's Charities, Philadelphia 1800. (Dec.'09) The title says it all.

Rebecca's Favorite Poem. (Sept. '10) It's a long poem which I think helps account for the fact that people spend so much time on the post.

A special thank you to the many repeat visitors from Philadelphia and Bala Cynwyd, PA; Santa Cruz, CA; Sheboygan, WI; Corvallis, OR and elsewhere. I have met several of you through email and in person and hope to correspond with others. Another big thank you to those who subscribe to or follow this blog: you are not included in the statistical reports, but I am always aware of you and delighted that you think the blog worthy of your time.

Finally, thanks to the following websites which in the past year have mentioned or provided a link to this blog: Scandalous Women; Brian Jay Jones (author of the most recent biography of Washington Irving); Jewesses with Attitude, the blogsite of the Jewish Women's Archive; the Gilbert Stuart blog; the Library of America blog "Reader's Almanac;" Books, Inq -- The Epilogue; A Momentary Taste Of Being; the (London) Sunday Times' Book News Mattters; Civil War Blog, Gratz Historical Society, Gratz, PA; Jewish Press International's Faceshuk; the American Philosophical Society on Facebook; Yesterday...and Today. I am honored.

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