Compiled by Jessica DeWitt and Sarah York-Bertram

Sarah York-Bertram is a PhD candidate in York University’s Gender, Feminist, and Women’s Studies programme where she researches gender and feminist history and affect theory. Sarah holds a Canada Graduate Scholarship and her SSHRC-funded Master’s thesis won the 2013-2014 University of Saskatchewan Thesis Award in Humanities and Fine Arts.

Jessica DeWitt is a Phd Candidate and Sessional Lecturer at the University of Saskatchewan where she specializes in comparative Canadian/American environmental history. She has served as Social Media Editor for the Network in Canadian History and Environment for three years. She is also Social Media Officer for the American Society for Environmental History Graduate Student Caucus and is in charge of operating three other academic Twitter accounts.

Emerging, in part, from the roundtable discussion on Canadian History and Social Media at the Canadian Historical Association meeting in May 2017, as well as discussions between the authors, DeWitt & York-Bertram discuss purposeful allyship formed between minoritized scholars on Social Media, how that allyship is often characterized, and practical ways allied behaviour can be applied online.

As longtime and long-distance friends who met in grad school, DeWitt & York-Bertram have witnessed each other’s careers flourish. Social Media has functioned as both a space to maintain purposeful bonds & a platform for supporting each other’s work. The support networks organized by minoritized scholars online have been integral to both DeWitt & York-Bertram’s experience getting through graduate studies. And purposeful supportive interactions have facilitated a great deal of networking opportunities with symbiotic relations between scholars and community. However, such allyship has, at times, been characterized as an impediment to dialogical methods of learning near and dear to Historians’ pedagogies and discourse. At times critics have called the style of interaction as “too supportive” and argued that such relationships prevent challenging conversations.

DeWitt & York-Bertram offer an alternative view that maintains that both critically cutting-edge work & purposeful allyship are not only possible but necessary. Considering personal experiences and recent writings by other scholars, which demonstrate what not to do as well as practical ways allied behaviour can be fostered online, DeWitt & York-Bertram take historians Beyond 150 into a brave new supportive world.

Land acknowledgments:

Saskatoon: Treaty 6 Territory and the Homeland of the Métis

Toronto:  Territory of the Huron-Wendat & Petun First Nations, the Seneca, and the Mississaugas of the Credit River as well as the Dish With One Spoon Wampum Belt Covenant.

Academic Sharing Circle

As a response to personal and public discussions of these topics, several Canadian historians created a secret Facebook group as a safe space for female-identified and non-binary academics to discuss issues and experiences. For more information or to join, DM Jessica DeWitt on Twitter (@JessicaMDeWitt) or email:

Other Facebook Groups:

Web Articles and Sources:

Twitter Threads and Sources:


Published by Jessica M. DeWitt

Dr. Jessica M. DeWitt is an environmental historian of Canada and the United States. She is passionate about the use of digital technologies to bridge the gap between the public and researchers. In addition to her community and professional work, she offers various editing and social media consultancy services.

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