The entire premise of this blog is: Doing Women’s History in the American Midwest. Yet I spend a lot of time wondering whether regional identity really matters when thinking about gender identity. In 1978, at the dawn of women’s historiography, historian D’Ann Campbell thought so, at least in the American West. Others have argued that the forces of gender shape our political, social, and economic existence without much regard for geography. So what is behind my Midwest to the tagline? Continue reading
As we wrap up the fall semester, I’m beaming with pride for the twenty first-year students in HI 130 – Is there an app for that? Doing Digital History. For the past fifteen weeks, we’ve learned about a variety of digital tools but focused our efforts on the Clio mobile app. Created by Dr. David Trowbridge, Associate Professor of History at Marshall University, Clio uses your smart phone’s location to find nearby historic sites. It is history’s answer to popular apps that lead you to restaurants or shops. Anyone with an internet connection and a little tenacity can create entries and participate in this collaborative venture.
Last week I attended the second national workshop for the Consortium on Digital Resources for Teaching and Research. Sponsored by the Council of Independent Colleges and funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the national workshop brings together librarians, staff, and faculty from liberal arts colleges across the country to develop digital collections using Shared Shelf. This year’s workshop featured updates from participating institutions which, by the end of the workshop, were less about digital technology and more about making a difference.
Unleash a historian in an archive and you never know what she’ll find. I recently stumbled upon this copy of He mau Himeni e ori ia Iehova, a 60-page, pocket-sized hymnal published in the Hawaiian language on Oahu, Hawaii in 1826. A hand-written inscription indicates it was a gift to Illinois College from a Mrs. Blatchely, “who has been a missionary to the Sandwich Islands.” Thus far I’ve focused on women who resided in Jacksonville, but this little gift is a reminder that this small, Midwestern city was also a crossroads for women on the move making national and international connections.
Indulge me this week while we depart from the 19th century and enter the 20th, to one of my pet projects: rural civil defense. Today, Boscawen is a lovely community of about 4,000 people, a twenty-minute drive north of Concord, New Hampshire. Eighteenth century homes line the main street, anchored on the north side of town by the Congregational Church. But in at the dawn of the Cold War, many believed the town was of strategic significance.
During the 1830s, single women who emigrated from New England to Illinois required permission from male relatives or religious leaders. In the case of Sarah Crocker, the sources say little of the family dynamics that led her westward. Emily Price, on the other hand, left a significant clue.
What prompted two New Hampshire teachers to emigrate to Jacksonville, Illinois in the 1830s? After visiting Boscawen, I sought answers in genealogies and local histories at the New Hampshire Historical Society. Though many of the details are still a bit hazy, Sarah Crocker’s story has a bit more depth and takes some surprising turns.
This is the first in a series of blog posts on my recent visit to Boscawen, New Hampshire, where I learned about the first two preceptresses of the Jacksonville Female Academy, Sarah Choate Crocker (1833-1835) and Emily Preston Price (1835-1837). Today’s post offers an introductory photo essay to establish a sense of place and show off the efforts of volunteers with the Boscawen and Webster Historical Societies. I owe them a debt of gratitude for their enthusiasm and kindness.
In Learning to Stand and Speak, historian Mary Kelly noted that alumnae associations from women’s schools reinforced “relationships they had forged at the intersection of female learning and female friendship.” Educational leaders of the 1830s and 1840s, like Sarah Sleeper of the New-Hampton Female Seminary, believed the combined intellectual powers within female networks could spark within the United States, “a more glorious revolution than that which gave it existence” (123-124). As we know, even in 2016 women are still awaiting that “glorious revolution.” True, we have a female presidential nominee for the first time in our history, and we can see how she arrived at this point through the help of female friends and colleagues, but there’s still a ways to go. So this begs the questions, in what ways did networks help and in what ways were they hindered in the 19th century?
Dr. Andrew McFarland, the second superintendent of the Illinois State Hospital for the Insane and the proprietor of Jacksonville’s Oak Lawn Retreat, is a central character in the American Athena story. Women in Jacksonville shaped and reshaped his career, for better or for worse, just as his medical treatment shaped and reshaped their lives. This week finds me at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord, New Hampshire, where Dr.McFarland began his career.