The First Female Graduate

The Provost asked me to find a photograph of the first female graduate from IC to set right a cluster of photos in her office featuring prominent white men. Illinois College first admitted women in the fall of 1903 when it merged with the Jacksonville Female Academy. Legend had it that Antoinette Pires graduated in 1904Continue reading “The First Female Graduate”


Emerging Experts

American Athena reached two important milestones today. First, at 1:30pm, Christian Flores ’18, finished digitizing the final artifact from the JFA collection for Shared Shelf. After months of setbacks and technical issues, we’ve digitized 72 original documents, consisting of more than 1,600 pages as part of our project with the Council of Independent Colleges’ Consortium on Digital Resources for TeachingContinue reading “Emerging Experts”

The Case for Local History

Academic historians need to reclaim “Local History,” and negate the unspoken understanding that we must never, ever identify our work as such. We somehow believe that doing so compromises our professional status and undermines our marketability with publishers. That’s not to say academic historians don’t do local history – they simply rebrand it as caseContinue reading “The Case for Local History”

The Slow Professor: A Review

In The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy, Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber clearly state that slowing down is not to be conflated with unchecked leisure. Rather, “Slow professors act with purpose,” they write, “taking the time for deliberation, reflection, and dialogue, cultivating emotional and intellectual resilience” (11). In the pastContinue reading “The Slow Professor: A Review”

The Morgan Co. Poor Farm Cemetary

The beautiful spring weather last week drew me out-of-doors and took me on a field trip to find the Morgan County Poor Farm Cemetery. Drawn more by curiosity than necessity, I simply wanted to gain an idea of where the farm was situated. With Google Maps, a GPS, and vague description, I found more thanContinue reading “The Morgan Co. Poor Farm Cemetary”

Time to call a Genealogist

These days, my research takes me to the Morgan County Courthouse to explore nineteenth century legal records. As a historian trained in researching late-20th century America, this is unfamiliar territory. To learn the ropes, I turned to my friend Kathy. Not only does she possess an encyclopedic knowledge of Morgan County history, she is a seasoned genealogist with a knackContinue reading “Time to call a Genealogist”

Race, Class, & the Temperance War… Part 3

In our final installment on the Temperance War of Spring 1874, we’ll consider the identities of the women who participated in the Woman’s Temperance Crusade. You will not be shocked to learn they were primarily white, educated, middle class women with some social standing and extensive social networks in Jacksonville. Of course they were. ButContinue reading “Race, Class, & the Temperance War… Part 3”

Mansplaining Temperance (or Temperance War, part 2)

Last week, we looked at the temperance education curriculum at the Jacksonville Female Academy. This week, we’ll consider the first two weeks of the activism that led to the adoption of that curriculum. On Monday, March 16, 1874, a headline in the Jacksonville Daily Journal announced, “The Temperance Crusade: The Ladies Organized and the Assault Commenced.” Jacksonville, it seems, wasContinue reading “Mansplaining Temperance (or Temperance War, part 2)”

Temperance War, Part 1

In May 1874, May Dummer wrote to her brother, Frank, that Jacksonville women were embroiled in a “Temperance War.” This week and next we’ll explore that war and its rhetoric, beginning with women’s scientific temperance education. While at the Watkinson Library in Hartford, CT, I focused on the Henry Barnard Textbook Collection to better understandContinue reading “Temperance War, Part 1”

Domestic Servants: Seen, but Rarely Heard

American Athena will consider the relationships between women of varied ethnicities, religions, and social and economic backgrounds. I’m especially interested in those women who worked as domestic servants because of their close relationships with the middle class women who attended the female schools in Jacksonville. Finding that information, however, is not easy. During the nineteenthContinue reading “Domestic Servants: Seen, but Rarely Heard”