Happy holidays! This week we’ll keep it short and sweet with a touch of humor. As I go about thinking of women in Jacksonville, many of the main players were the wives of famous men. Unlike their husbands, however, they left few records as to how they actually felt about their families, their marriages, andContinue reading “Wives of Famous Men”
On November 1, 1848, twenty-two-year-old Mary Ann Lucas arrived the Morgan County Poor Farm, blind and destitute. Her widowed mother, Elizabeth, had fallen on hard times. It was up to her younger sister, nineteen-year-old Amanda Lucas, to support her mother, sister, and twelve-year-old brother, John. By the end of November, Amanda accumulated a debt of $16.50. She purchased shoes,Continue reading “One town, two worlds”
One of my big questions in American Athena is: What happens when you have a community of educated females? Do women agitate for and enjoy more social, political, and economic rights? Does it affect how they shape their institutions and move in public spaces?
In the previous post on finding a topic, I mentioned the benefits of taking a personal retreat. As we approach the holidays that require we think on gratitude and giving, it is a good time for personal reflection and setting new goals. That can be hard to do – and really do well – withoutContinue reading “The Personal Retreat”
Every writer has a unique way of arriving at their subject matter. For me, American Athena was something of a surprise. There were more than a few raised eyebrows when I announced to friends and colleagues in January 2015 that I was embarking on a history of Midwestern women in the nineteenth century because it was so unlikeContinue reading “Choosing a topic”
A year ago today, we dedicated the Khalaf Al Habtoor Archives and welcomed President Jimmy Carter as our very special guest. The Archives at Illinois College are dedicated to promoting peace and social justice through our collections. As a researcher, I share that commitment and want my work to promote social justice.
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”
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.
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.
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?