The Year in History Blog History

Mr. Murphy dropped a note through the contact form last week suggesting that I write a Year in Review entry, a summary of the most popular posts both in views and comments, favorite stories, favorite referrals, all that good stuff. I thought that was a brilliant notion, especially since the Christmas-to-New Year’s interregnum can be something of a news desert. Strangely, I haven’t had much trouble finding stories to blog about this holiday season, but I’m still doing the review because it’s a great idea that I hope to make a year-end tradition.

Pedant note: I’m going to refer to the blog as “we” in this entry. This is because it looks weird saying “I” when I mean “the blog” and it looks weird when I say “the blog” over and over again instead of using a handy pronoun. Also I like sounding like the Pope.

Beggar Boy with a Piece of PieIt’s been a busy year here at Ye Olde Blogge of Histories. Starting in September of 2010, viewership doubled from an average of about 20,000 views a month to between 40,000 and 50,000. The major bump can be traced directly to the Master of Blue Jeans entry which was linked to by two bloggers with huge audiences: Jason Kottke and Andrew Sullivan.

In March of 2011, we crossed the 60,000 views a month line and hovered around it until September when we were just 462 views shy of 70,000. November was our biggest month to date with 88,943 views and December will almost match it (we’re at 84,262 at print time) despite the usual holiday decline in readership. The total number of views for 2010 was 386,069. The total for 2011 two days before the end of it is 803,854.

Many of those views seem to be the result of Google searches, often image searches. Sometimes search terms you’d never expect just explode out of nowhere and send us crazy traffic for a day or two. Our busiest day was May 1, 2011. We got 11,541 views (it used to be over 12,000 but the number dropped after an update to the stats plugin), 8,597 of them on an entry from two days before, Roman Ship Found at Ostia.

For some reason that is beyond me, on May 1, 2011, 8,482 people typed “roman ship found” into a search engine and ended up here. They actually started the night before, because that entry got 4,672 views on April 30, 2011, from 4,606 “roman ship found” keyword searches, all of them after 8:00 PM. You can imagine my surprise when I woke up and checked the dailies. I thought my counter had broken.

That freak search event didn’t quite put the Roman ships entry on top for the year, though. It has the third most pageviews with 14,850. The most viewed entry in 2011 was Michelangelo’s David on the Duomo roof, with 32,965 pageviews. That’s also mainly from search engine traffic, only instead of a huge crazy spike it’s from a hundred or so searches for “Michelangelo’s David” every day. Same goes for the second most viewed entry in 2011, Virtually raising the Titanic with 32,192 pageviews. In shocking news, people dig the David and Titanic.

It’s number four in pageviews that is probably my favorite entry of the year, and it’s without question the longest and most varied comment thread we’ve ever had. Library of Congress gets unique flat earth map featured an absolute superstar work of art that appeals to map lovers, scientists, theologians, historians and pretty much everyone else. All kinds of different blogs linked to it. The best part for me was that in the comments several people who had their own copy of the map but had no idea of how rare it was made themselves known. Because of that we even got a link in a local news story about the map.

That was a sweet referral, but my favorite has to be the one from The Atlantic newswire/Yahoo! News. In May I posted a story about an original piece of Frank Miller Batman art breaking sales records. Many moons later, in mid-November Frank Miller ranted incoherently against Occupy Wall Street. Ted Mann wrote an article for The Atlantic Wire about Frank Miller’s anti-Jihadist OWS screed which was picked up and distributed far and wide by Yahoo! News. In the last paragraph it linked to my article about the art sale earlier in the year. Hello 4,499 pageviews.

As far as favorite posts on their own merits, my favorite to research was the one that almost gave me an aneurysm when I lost the first version in an unfortunate log out incident: the entry about Seneca Village, the African-American (later also German and Irish) community that was destroyed in the building of Central Park. I had already spent the day engrossed in researching the details, but the rewrite gave me another day to go even further afield finding sources and maps to flesh out the context.

My sentimental favorite is the Valentine Day’s post about the Art of Kissing, a booklet from my mother’s childhood that I found in my childhood copy of The Whispering Statue, Nancy Drew adventure number 14. The discovery was thrilling to me and the history of the Little Blue Books series turned out to be nothing short of fascinating.

My favorite update is the one about the 2500-year-old brain found in York. The original story was from 2008, but this year we got a big juicy picture of glistening 2500-year-old brains and you just can’t put a price on that.

I also loved following the story of Shackleton’s deep frozen whisky. When I saw the National Geographic Channel special about the discovery and the recreation of the thawed whisky, I felt like I was with old friends. Seriously I was smug as hell about knowing everyone involved. I still haven’t gotten my hands on a bottle of the replica, unfortunately. Pity. It would have made an ideal New Year’s toast.

We passed a million pageviews this year (counting from September of 2009 when I installed the stats plugin). The uptick in traffic means that we’re already at 1,261,577 all-time pageviews now, so maybe we’ll cross the second million by next year’s review.

If you have any favorite or particularly memorable entries, please do comment. Also if you have any questions about this year that I didn’t cover in the review, please do ask them. Also welcome are rows of smilies, generic thanks attached to a website selling prescription meds/gold/Russian brides/shoes, aspersions on my parentage and justifiable outrage at any number of crimes I’ve committed against God and man.

My thanks to everyone who reads, even the Google Image searchers who only look, with much love to everyone who comments and emails me. I’ve received some of the most lovely compliments from total strangers via email. It means a great deal to me and is not an insignificant part of how I’ve managed to scrounge up the motivation to post daily for almost four years. :thanks:

Happy New Year!

27 thoughts on “The Year in History Blog History

  1. I love your blog 🙂 Thanks for all the research and fascinating articles! I read you in Google Reader though so you probably don’t get pageviews from me (or do you? I have no idea how this works) but I wanted to express how much I appreciate all your work. Happy new year and much continued success!

    1. I don’t think Google Reader views count as pageviews, but that’s great news. The stats are dubious because they don’t always reflect reading eyeballs — Google Image hits, for example — so I love the idea of a secret stash of uncounted readers. Thank you for being part of the secret stash! 😀

    1. I consider that a challenge. Expect a Pez dispenser post in the new year. Thank you for being the inspiration for this post, your many generous compliments and comments. :thanks:

  2. Kudos to you for your well-written and researched blog postings. Also, you are so prolific! I enjoy all your posts, and look forward to another year of History. Congrats on all the page views and loyal readers you have garnered (even the ones who just stop by to grab photos!). Happy New Year!

    1. Thank you, Map Monkey, and congratulations on your own outstanding blogging efforts. May the new year bring you a wide variety of weird and wonderful maps to regale us with. 🙂

  3. I love reading your blog every day when I get home from work! It’s well-researched but fun and engaging at the same time. History is my passion and I took it in uni but I haven’t been able to find related work so reading your blog every day keeps me smiling 🙂 All the best in 2012!

    1. Thank you so much, Caitlin. I hope 2012 brings you a dreamy job in a history-related field. And with Internet access, no less, so you can keep reading every day. :thanks:

  4. Excelsior!

    A million+ happy viewers. Thank you so much for the time and effort you put into this wonderful resource.

  5. I also enjoy your posts. I don’t know how you manage to get one out every day. Congratulations on a good year and how that The History Blog has an even better year in 2012.

    1. Thank you kindly, Vincent. Your blog is excellent and I’ll be adding it to my blogroll as soon as I submit this reply . Enjoy today’s New Year’s pyramid post. 🙂

  6. I am such a huge fan of your blog, and only sorry that I don’t comment or email as much as I should. You provide endless entertainment and fascinating information, and I offer my most sincere thanks for all your efforts.

    Have a happy 2012!

  7. In “The Hunchback of Notre Dame” Victor Hugo says about the Church of Our Lady, “To measure the great toe of the foot is to measure the giant.” I don’t know exactly who you are (as a person, as a history lover, as a human being), but by measuring your personal self by the posts that you put on the interwebs every day, there is no doubt in my mind that I’m reading somebody who can be rightfully called a “giant of history”! Thank you and happy new year, livius!

  8. Thank you for your time and energy and wonderful pages of fascinating titbits and background research. Happy New Year to you and the blog Livius and many more of them. :notworthy:

  9. I am adding my thank you to the growing list. I read you daily as part of my after work ritual of checking the links I have bookmarked as my “must read” sites.

    I pass on your link to friends through email and my facebook page when I know the day’s entry will spark great conversation and interest.

    The research and tidbits you add to stories in the news makes them even more interesting. You also tend to have me fall down rabbit holes looking for more information on some of them.

    Again, thank you and have a fantastic New Year!

  10. I have been a history buff since childhood, so imagine my delight in my recent discovery of such a well-written and lively site devoted to one of my favorite topics! I’m one of your new hits, and rest assured I’ll be helping keep the meter going in the future. Great work! :hattip:

  11. I’m one of the complete strangers you refer to. 😉

    As an infogeek, I was pleased to discover your blog. I have enjoyed reading several posts but this one, with your reflections on statistics and the cause/effect of posts and links in wider media, resonate at an even deeper level in my nerdy heart.

    Happy historicity,


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