12/11/2012 08:58 am ET

History With A Beer Chaser - The Chronicle Of Higher Education


By Michael B. Smith
Not far from the campus of Cornell University sits a slightly shabby watering hole redolent of popcorn, old wood, and, on winter nights when it's all closed up, stale beer. The walls of the Chapter House are adorned with the visual flotsam of a college town: photos of bygone athletic events, old composite photos of fraternities, scarves of European soccer teams, and graffiti carved into the tables and scrawled on the walls.

Occasionally the Chapter House plays host to a group of historian friends—a beloved little community whose advice about writing and life has sustained its members for more than a decade. With our sheaves of papers and pens sharing the table with pint glasses and popcorn bowls, this group is both an oddity and perfectly in keeping with the eclectic atmosphere of the place.