The Elephant in the Room

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. 

Keeping a Writing Journal

A good writer must do two things every day: read a little and write a little. Today we’ll discuss the writing a little and why my writing this blog is worthwhile. It takes time to sit down every week and type up a few thoughts on my research, but that in and of itself is veryContinue reading “Keeping a Writing Journal”

Researching the Taboo

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 toContinue reading “Researching the Taboo”

Anonymous Was a Woman #NEHturns50

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 aContinue reading “Anonymous Was a Woman #NEHturns50”

Finding American Athena

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. 

Writing a Book in a Digital Age

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.

My Favorite Research Tools: eBbay

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):

Tour the JFA – Part 2 – Photograph Edition

Awhile back, I posted interior sketches of Academy Hall (home of the Jacksonville Female Academy), ca. 1890. Lamenting the lack of photographs and the ability to see what these rooms really looked like, I remained hopeful that one day photos would surface. The wait is over. And yes, there are photos of women’s dorm rooms.