First, a very happy 50th birthday to the National Endowment for the Humanities today! If you want to participate in their celebrations, tell them why you love the humanities on Twitter @NEHgov, with #NEHturns50. We are celebrating here at IC because in 2014, an NEH Challenge Grant made the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives into a reality.
I personally love the humanities because through art, literature, history, and many other fields, we can communicate complex feelings and ideas to a wide audience. During the early 19th century, a highly literate generation of women began publishing in unprecedented numbers. The women of Jacksonville were no exception, joining the trend with gusto and adding their own “frontier flair” to poetry and the short story. Women rarely show up in official government documents, so without the humanities, and their drive to share their ideas, they would otherwise be lost to history.
The cover photo for Americanathena.com comes from one of Jacksonville’s key landmarks, a memorial to Morgan County residents who served in the Civil War. Dedicated in 1920, the monument provides some clues about how Jacksonville residents of the early twentieth century perceived men’s and women’s civic responsibilities. Continue reading
With American Athena, I want to write a new kind of book – one that exists in a dynamic and living space, responsive to readers and as instructive in design as it is in content. This new kind of book acknowledges the reader as an active participant in producing new knowledge. A kind of crowdsourcing. Continue reading
With its ever changing stock of artifacts and vibrant community of collectors, eBay is a wonderland of material culture waiting to be discovered. Most of the items related to the history of Jacksonville hint at popular culture, like this vintage leather postcard from the Illinois Women’s College (now MacMurray): Continue reading
At some point Jacksonville acquired the moniker, “The Athens of the West.” A curious and bold title to claim for one’s town, we have to ask: is it for real? Continue reading