Midwestern Cities faded together

Many Midwests: Constructing Place, Recasting Identity

Thursday, May 19 - Friday, May 20, 2022

This conference continues a vibrant discussion that has grown significantly over the last eight years by placing Midwestern studies at the center of American historiography. Scholars from many different career paths and stages with original research gather at this annual meeting, striving to cultivate a rigorous historical understanding of a complex, dynamic, and often misunderstood region.

Midwestern History Conference 2022

The Midwestern History Association and the Hauenstein Center at Grand Valley State University invite proposals for papers to be delivered at the Eighth Annual Midwestern History Conference, to be held May 19-20, 2022, in Grand Rapids, Michigan at GVSU's Richard M. DeVos Center.

The conference hotel, Holiday Inn Grand Rapids Downtown, is accepting room reservation requests by telephone and online. We have secured a discount room block for May 18 and May 19. The number for the Reservations Department is 616-235-7611. Do not delay; our block will fill quickly. When you make a room reservation at this number, please inform them that you are participating in the 2022 Midwestern History Conference. You may also make a reservation using this Midwestern History Conference booking link, which automatically adds the group code: HHC

If you are a university press interested in exhibiting at this year's conference please reach out directly to Jakob Bigard at bigardja@gvsu.edu.

This conference continues a vibrant discussion which has grown significantly over the last seven years by placing Midwestern studies at the center of American historiography. Scholars from many different career paths and stages with original research gather at this annual meeting, striving to cultivate rigorous historical understanding of a complex, dynamic, and often misunderstood region. Plenary speakers at the Midwestern History Conference in previous years have included winners of the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Parkman Prizes, a National Book Award Finalist, and a past president of the Labor and Working-Class History Association.

Register for the conference here! 

Many Midwests: Constructing Place, Recasting Identity

Since 2015, the Hauenstein Center has partnered with the Midwestern History Association to host the annual Midwestern History Conference in one of the region’s fastest-growing cities, Grand Rapids. From an early focus on “the Lost Region” to this year’s theme of “Many Midwests: Constructing Place, Recasting Identity,” the conference has revitalized Midwestern studies. Having found “the Lost Region,” this year’s conference assembles a broad array of historians, scholars, and cultural commentators to continue rebuilding the infrastructure needed for studying the American Midwest. Paired with Michigan and other battleground states’ roles in recent national elections, the region has asserted itself as worthy of such research and scholarship.

Hosted for the eighth year by the Hauenstein Center in collaboration with the Midwestern History Association, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library & Museum, this year’s conference moves to sustain Midwestern studies by addressing the multitude of Midwestern life, from its role in the republic’s early days to its renewed importance in presidential elections. 


Schedule at a Glance

All times listed are in Eastern Daylight Time.
Please see the full conference schedule for specific information and details.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

8:00 AM Opening Remarks

8:30 AM Panel Session

10:20 AM Panel Session

11:50 AM Lunch Break

1:20 PM Panel Session

3:10 PM Panel Session

5:00 PM Social Hour & MHA Award Presentation 

Friday, May 20, 2022

8:00 AM Opening Remarks

8:30 AM Panel Session

10:20 AM Panel Session 

11:50 AM Lunch Break

12:30 PM Plenary Session

2:20 PM Panel Session




Full Conference Schedule

This conference will be held in hybrid format.  Register for the conference to join us in person at GVSU's Richard M. DeVos Center in Grand Rapids or receive the virtual event link for all panel sessions.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Breakfast, Registration, & MHA Business Meeting 7 AM – 8 AM EDT

Opening Remarks 8 AM – 8:15 AM EDT

First Panel Session

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM EDT

Chair: Jamon Jordan, Black Scroll Network

           "From Kentucky to Canada: The Journey of 28 Freedom-seekers, April 1853"

           Rochelle Danquah, Wayne State University

           "What an Odawa/Ojibwa Oral Tradition Tells Us about Michigan's Underground Railroad"

           Dr. Roy Finkenbine, University of Detroit Mercy 

           "The Odyssey of John Freeman"

           Leon Bates, Public Historian

            Midwest Local Agents of the Industrial Removal Office 

            Dakotah Willems, Hastings College 

            Industrial Removal Office: Jewish Women as the Gatekeepers of Detroit’s Jewish Community 

            Emily Murphy, Eastern Michigan University

            Rethinking Midwestern Catholicism: The Importance and Impact of Smaller Dioceses

            Joshua Hoxmeier, University of Illinois Chicago

            Catholic Responses to the Kennedy Candidacy During the Wisconsin Primary 

            Adam Petersen, Marquette University

Chair: Dustin Gann, Midland University

           “I Gave a Dam about a Dam:” Jim Jontz and the Fight for Big Pine Creek 

            Ray Boomhower, Indiana Historical Society Press

            Planting Seeds and Preserving the Land: Understanding Sierra Club Offshoots in Nebraska, 1971-1990

            Dustin Gann, Midland University

            A Century of Crop Consolidation and Agricultural Land Use Change in the Midwest

            Christopher Laingen, Eastern Illinois University

            Chicago’s Second Greatest Fire: Union Stockyards Fire of 1934 

            Jeffrey Stern, Independent Scholar


Chair: Jeff Wells, University of Nebraska-Kearney

           Common Good of All: Suffragists, Prohibition, Temperance, and the Fight for the 1916 Iowa Suffrage Referendum

            Tracie Grube-Gaurkee, Texas Christian University 

           “The internationalism that is so peculiarly American:” Jane Addams, Grace Abbot, and the Promise of the Cosmopolitan
            Neighborhood, 1907-1917

            Michael Steiner, Professor Emeritus of American Studies at Cal State Fullerton

            Gateways to Reform: Pathways Forged by Women of the Great Plains Within the Populist Movement, 1880-1900 

            Ann Vlock, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Second Panel Session

10:20 AM – 11:50 AM EDT

Co-Chairs: Jacob Bruggeman, Editor-in-Chief, Cleveland Review of Books, and Mitch James, Managing Editor, Great Lakes Review

            Andy Oler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University 

            Kari Gunter-Seymour, 2020 Ohio Poet of the Year, Poet Laureate of Ohio

            Ron Riekki, Independent Scholar

            Chris Harding Thornton, Independent Scholar


           “I forgot you were a cheesehead:” Colin Kaepernick and Wisconsin 

            Eric Burin, University of North Dakota

            The Black Separation Movement in the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod

            James Huenink, Independent Scholar 

            Bringing the History of Anti-Black Violence in Indiana into Public Spaces 

            Madeline Hellmich and Haley Brinker, IUPUI  

Chair: Tony Mullis, US Army Command and General Staff College

           Why Did a ‘Howling Wilderness’ Become Michigan’s Capital? 

            Eric Dobberteen, Independent Scholar

            Combatting Insurrection in Kansas: The Limits of the 19th Century Communication Revolution

            Tony Mullis, US Army Command and General Staff College

           “Chronicling the ‘Polar Bears’: The American Sentinel and the ANREF Experience, 1918-1919”

           Jeff Schultz, Luzerne County Community College

           Immigrant Americanization as a Threat to Civil Liberties: World War I Iowa as a Test Case 

           Robert Zeidel, University of Wisconsin-Stout

           The Paradox of Vigilantism in World War I Wisconsin 

           Leslie Bellais, University of Wisconsin

Chair: Jayson Otto, Michigan State University

           The Importance of the Midwest and a Survey of Race and Ethnicity 

           Jo Ellyn Clarey, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council

           A Close Look at African American Women Outside a Major Urban Center

           Sophia Ward Brewer, Grand Rapids Community College

           The Personal Lives of Professional Women 

           Ruth Van Stee, Greater Grand Rapids Women’s History Council

Lunch Break 11:50 AM – 1:20 PM EDT

Third Panel Session

1:20 PM – 2:50 PM EDT

Steel Valley Elegy: Poems about Life in Ohio 

            William Heath, Mount Saint Mary’s University

Chair: Emily Conrow-Krutz, Michigan State University

             “Open a Fountain for Future Generations to Drink At”: New England Congregationalists, Settler Colonialism, and
              Education on the Illinois Frontier, 1830-1860” 

             Jenny Barker-Devine, Illinois College 

             From Sioux County to Bloemfontein: Rural Religion and the Building of a Global Community, 1870-1902

             Andrew Klumpp, State Historical Society of Iowa

             The Town’s Preachers: Community, Identity, and the Fundamentalist-Modernist Debates of the 1920s 

             David Mislin, Temple University

Chair: Lynne Heasley, Western Michigan University 

            “Not Endowed with Extraordinary Natural Features’: Re-imagining Midwestern Places and the Failed Attempt to
             Create The Lincoln Homestead National Recreation Area”

            Camden Burd, Eastern Illinois University 

            “Rewilding a Silent Spring: The Pine River, Community Health, and Urban Renewal in St. Louis, Michigan” 

            Brittany Fremion, Central Michigan University

            “Saving a Cursed Dumping Ground: Local Activism, Binational Ambition, and Stymied Plans in the Detroit River" 

            Ramya Swayamprakash, Michigan State University

            “Toxic Time Bomb: Deindustrialization and the Changing Face of Environmental Activism in Southeast Michigan,

            Brandon Ward, Perimeter College-Georgia State University 

Chair: Sara Egge, Centre College

            Irish and German Immigrants in Madison, Wisconsin, during the Civil War 

            Jesse David Chariton, Iowa State University 

            Budding Roses, or Withering Weeds, in the New Eden? The Rise, and Fall, or Irish Colonization on the Minnesota
            Frontier, 1876-1884 

           Timothy Forest, University of Cincinnati 

           Great Migrations: Black Homesteaders Stake Their Claims in the Great Plains

            Jacob Friefeld, Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library, and Museum

            Does Census Nativity Data from 1880 Support the Concept of Latitudinal Migration?

           Gregory Rose, The Ohio State University at Marion

            From War to Horror and Black Humor in Comics of the Postwar Midwest

            Mike Kugler, Northwestern College

           Midwestern Congressmen and the British Loan Bill of 1946 

            Philip Grant, Pace University

Fourth Panel Session

3:10 PM – 4:55 PM EDT

           10 Questions for Henry Ford (Documentary Screening)

            Andy Kirshner, University of Michigan

           Expulsion, Erasure, Rememory, Restoration: Dakota Reclamations in the Shadow of Gustavus Adolphus College 

            Misti Harper, The University of North Carolina at Pembroke

            Anishinaabe Place and Identity in U.S.-Canada Borderlands: The Swan Creek Black River Ojibwe, 1830-1950 

            Deborah Jackson, Earlham College

           The Cross at the Straits: Northern Michigan Tourism, Religious Heritage, and Anishinaabeg Perseverance 

           Sean Jacobson, Loyola University Chicago

           “They Are, Relatively to Us, What the Ancient Pict And Celt Were to Britain:” Indigenous North Americans Recast as
            Europe’s Barbarian Tribes in The Writings of Henry Rowe Schoolcraft  

            Brandon Dean, Wayne State University 

            Ecce Homogenize: Indigenous Christian Identity in the Jacksonian Osage Plains

            Joshua Rice, Christar International 

Chair: Gregory Rose, The Ohio State University at Marion

            Do We Have Anything in Common? Grassroots Research and the Quest for Midwestern Identity 

            Stephen Cusulos, Independent Scholar 

            An Outsider’s View: Searching for an Understanding Within the “Many Midwests: Constructing Place, Recasting

            Peter Krats, University of Western Ontario

           Public Memory and Politics in the Making of Iowa History 

           Mila Kaut, Northwestern University

           Recentering the Fringe: Exploring the Anti-School Centralization Policy in Chautauqua County, New York

           Casey Jakubowsky, Medaille College

Chair: Nikki Berg Burin, University of North Dakota

            Transvestites in the Heartland 

            Robert Hill, Independent Scholar 

            Documenting Chicago’s Transgender Community and its Bonds and Splits with the Broader LGBTQ+ Movement 

            Sarah Woods, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

           Celebrity, Divorce, and the Melodrama in the Civil War Era 

           Anthony Stamilio, Loyola University Chicago 

           “Dear Florence:” Writing the History of an Early 20th Century Statutory Rape Case in the Era of Me Too

           Nikki Berg Burin, University of North Dakota

Chair: Luke Pickelman, Northwestern Michigan College

            Hoosier Prophet: The Humanitarian Vision of Dan West, Founder of Heifer International 

            William Kostlevy, Asbury Theological Seminary 

            The Great Hope of Western Conservatives: Edward Bates, the 1860 Presidential Election, and the Many Midwests 

            Andrew Wiley, Cumberland University

           “Unswerving Integrity:” The Radical Friendship of Eugene V. Debs and Robert Ingersoll

           Justin Clark, Indiana Historical Bureau

Social Hour & MHA Awards Presentation 5-6 PM EDT

The Knickerbocker by New Holland Brewing Company

Friday, May 20, 2022

Breakfast & Registration 7 AM – 8 AM EDT

Opening Remarks 8 AM – 8:15 AM EDT

Fifth Panel Session

8:30 AM – 10:00 AM EDT

            Mapping of Midwest in the History of Experimental and Electronic Music in the 20th Century

            Anastasia Chernysheva, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

            The Detroit River Story Lab: Experiments in Community-Engaged Research and Teaching

            David Porter, University of Michigan

            Exploring the Mahjari Arts & Letters Movement in the Midwest

            Richard Breaux, University of Wisconsin La Crosse

            Making Dances: El Gran Baile and the Creation of Texas-Mexican Musical Community in Michigan and the Midwest

            Richard Cruz Davila, Michigan State University

Chairs: Mary-Elizabeth Murphy, Eastern Michigan University 

            Evangelism Afloat: Protestant Missions on the Ohio River 1889-1910

            Gari-Anne Patzwald, Independent Scholar

            “God Was Not in the Wind” Or, Maybe He Was: Religious Disputes in the Wake of the 1913 Easter Sunday Tornado in
             Omaha, Nebraska

            Catherine Biba, Hastings College

            Women and Recasting the American Muslim Identity in the Depression Era Midwest

            Ashley Johnson Bavery, Eastern Michigan University

Chair: Jon Lauck, University of South Dakota University

            The 1984 Election: Morning in America and the Demise of the Midwestern Liberal Order

            Jeff Bloodworth, Gannon University

            Red Power Turned Blue

            Sean Flynn, Dakota Wesleyan

Chair: Briana DeValk, Minnesota State University at Mankato

           Introducing English : Language, Acculturation, and Norwegian American Children in Norman County Common Schools,

           Briana DeValk, Minnesota State University at Mankato

           Michigan’s Trailblazers: The Michigan State Normal College, Marvin Pittman, and the Grassroots Transformation of
           Rural Education, 1921-1934

           Maxwell Harrison, Iowa State University

           Colonized Bodies: Shared Practices of the Lapeer State Home & Training School and the Mount Pleasant Indian
            Industrial Boarding School

           Allie Schloten, University of Chicago

           From the State Public School in Owatonna, MN to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, DC: The Life of August

           Andrew McGuire, Steele County Historical Society

Chair: Cynthia Clampitt, Independent Scholar

           Catherine Lambrecht, Greater Midwest Foodways Alliance, Highland Park Historical Society

           Nicole Stocker, Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County, Illinois

           Nancy Webster, Archivist, Highland Park Historical Society

Sixth Panel Session

10:20 AM – 11:50 AM EDT

Chair: Andrew Klumpp, State Historical Society of Iowa

            From Coal Palace to Closing the Plant: The Social & Cultural Legacy of Coal in Southeastern Iowa

            Kevin Mason, Waldorf University

            "Atlantic Plans to be Righteous”: Iowa and the Culture Wars of the 1920s

            Leo Landis, State Curator, State Historical Society of Iowa

            “Iowa: Place and Identity” 

            Jeff Bremer, Iowa State University

Chair: Dr. Bryan Rindfleisch, Marquette University, and Dr. Samantha Majhor, Marquette University

            Clare Camblin, Marquette University

            Cameron Fronczak, Marquette University

            Danielle Barrett, Marquette University

            Rebecca DoBoer, Marquette University

Chair: TBD

            Ellie Lawson, IJHS Project Coordinator, Indiana Historical Society

            Maire Gurevitz, Archivist, Indiana Historical Society

            Kathy Mulder, Metadata Specialist, Indiana Historical Society

Chair: Sara Egge, Centre College

           The Bean Pie: Black Muslims, Identity, and Environmental Justice in Early Twentieth-Century Detroit

            Alexandra Bicknell, Western Michigan University

            Fires in the Naptown: Collaboration and Resistance in Indianapolis During the Summer of 1969    

            Edward Frantz, University of Indianapolis

            The People’s War on Drugs: Anti-Crack Marches in Post-Industrial Detroit, 1986-1992

            Kenneth Alyass, Harvard University

            Disarming the Urban Crisis: Gun Control in Chicago and the War on Crime

            Joshua Salzmann, Northeastern Illinois University

             Destination Heartland History

              Cynthia Clampitt, Independent Scholar

Lunch Break 11:50 AM – 12:30 PM EDT

Afternoon Plenary

12:30 PM – 2:00 PM EDT

Chair: Dr. Erik McDuffie, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

            Dr. Ashley Howard, University of Iowa

            Dr. Christy Clark-Pujara, University of Wisconsin-Madison 

            Travis Wright, Indiana University

            Angela Bates, Nicodemus Historical Society 

Eighth Panel Session

 2:20 PM – 3:50 PM EDT

Chair: Jon Lauck, Middle West Review/University of South Dakota 

           Theodore Karamanski, Loyola University-Chicago

           Donna DeBlasio, Youngstown State University/Editor, Ohio History

           Jacob Bruggeman, Johns Hopkins University

           Nicole Etcheson, Ball State University

           Liesl Olson, Newberry Library

Chair: Ashley Johnson Bavery, Eastern Michigan University 

            Morrill Hall Sit-in and Black Student Activism at the University of Minnesota, 1968-1969

            Christopher Getowicz, the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

           Suing for Front Seats: Black Women’s Lawsuits & Litigiousness Against Bus Segregation in the Midwest During the
           Great Migration

            Mary-Elizabeth Murphy, Eastern Michigan University

Chair: Cory Haala, University of Houston

            Justice or Efficiency: Rationales for Railroad and Grain Elevator Regulation in Nineteenth-Century Illinois

            Matthew Norvell, Loyola University Chicago

            You Can’t Live off Pride: Welfare and Farm Aid in the Reagan Era

            Jeremiah Brockman, University of Northern Iowa

            “Who is going to run this state: people or money?” Historicizing Rural Resentment in Wisconsin, from Dreyfus to

             Cory Haala, University of Houston

Co-Chairs: Andy Oler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Emiliano Aguilar, Northwestern University

            A Midwest Mexican Migration Story in Maria’s Journey

            Emiliano Aguilar, Northwestern University

            Going Home After Mom and Dad Leave

            Himanee Gupta-Carlson, Empire State College

            The Breakbeat Poets: Translocal Placemaking from the Windy City

            Andy Oler, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University

            Recasting Minnesota Latinidad in Star Girl Clan

            Jessica Lopez Lyman, University of Minnesota

Page last modified May 19, 2022