The Elephant in the Room

Elephant - Western Observer - April 23 1831_Page_15

From the Western Observer, April 23, 1831.

I stumbled across this ad from the Western Observer, a Jacksonville newspaper, dated April 1831. It throws a wrench into everything we think we know about the frontier.

It is the literal elephant in the room that brings together various threads questioning standard historical narratives that privilege patriarchy, whiteness, and Americans’ obsession with manifest destiny.  Continue reading

Researching the Taboo

PHOTO_20151007_153304

The historical marker along Michagan Ave. in Jacksonville showing the location of the North Immanuel Cemetery, the burial grounds for the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane. Note that the first patient and the first person to buried here were both female.

What we know of history is heavily edited. Edited by memory, shame, pride, or one’s right to privacy. In American Athena, I’m not just interested to know what happened to educated women, I’m interested to know what happened to an entire community where women were educated. There’s a big difference. Simply educating women is not enough to overcome deeply engrained patriarchal systems. But does it help?

Continue reading