Midwestern Cities faded together

Midwestern History Conference:The Midwest at the Intersection of Past and Present

Wednesday, May 26 - Thursday, May 27, 2021

This conference continues a vibrant discussion that has grown significantly over the last six 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 2021

The Midwest at the Intersection of Past and Present

As in 2016, the 2020 election year shined a spotlight on the Midwest. This conference continues a vibrant discussion which has grown significantly over the last six years, a collaborative conference designed to spark – and sustain – a revival of Midwestern studies in American historiography. Infused with the varieties of original research pursued by scholars from many different career paths and stages, this annual gathering strives to cultivate rigorous historical understanding of a complex, dynamic, and misunderstood region.

Hosted for the seventh year by the Hauenstein Center in collaboration with the Midwestern History Association and the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation, Library & Museum, this conference will assemble a broad array of historians, literary scholars, and cultural commentators dedicated to rebuilding the field of Midwestern studies. In casting light upon the vast expanse of scholarly terrain available in Midwestern history to those willing to cultivate it in their minds, classrooms, and research centers, “The Midwest at the Intersection of Past and Present” will continue the project of rebuilding the intellectual infrastructure necessary for studies of the American Midwest to flourish.


Schedule at a Glance

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

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

8:40 AM Opening Remarks

9:00 AM Panel Session

11:45 AM Lunch Break

1:00 PM Plenary Session

2:30 PM Panel Session

4:00 PM Panel Session

Thursday, May 27, 2021

8:40 AM Opening Remarks

9:00 AM Panel Session

11:45 AM Lunch Break

1:00 PM Plenary Session

2:30 PM Panel Session

4:00 PM Panel Session




Full Conference Schedule

Register for the conference to receive the link for all panel sessions.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Opening Remarks 8:40 AM – 8:55 AM EDT

First Panel Session

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM EDT

Chair: Mikal Ekstrom, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

            Inventing Pioneer Jews: Land, Settlement, and Violence in the 'Old West'

            David Koffman, York University

            Jewish Western Expansionism: From Trading Posts to Military Forts

            Jeannette Gabriel, University of Nebraska-Omaha

            Jewish Traders and Their Indigenous Wives: Myths and Reality

            Mara W. Cohen Ioannides, Missouri State University

Chair: Tracy Neumann, Wayne State University

            Forging Post-Industrial Identity through the Collapse of Steel, Pittsburgh, 1979-1988

            Benjamin Schafer, Yale University

            Milwaukee, 2000: A Post-Industrial Carceral City?

            Ian Toller-Clark, University of Illinois Urbana-Champagne

            Eric Michael Rhodes, Lamar University  

            From Crass Materialists to Missionaries of Culture: A Regional History of Cultural Ascendance and Economic
            Decline through the Cleveland Orchestra

            Jacob Bruggeman, John Hopkins University

            Poletown: Deindustrialization, Industrial Redevelopment, and Neoliberalism in Detroit, 1979-1982

            Kenneth Alyass, Harvard University

            Assessing and Mapping Squatter Populations in Illinois

            Wayne Duerkes, Independent Scholar

            Of Internal Improvements, Monetary Expansion, Wealth Taxes, and other Tools of Class Warfare in Lincoln's

            Stewart Winger, Illinois State University

            The Benefits of Activities by Reason: The "Sewer Socialists" of Sheboygan County, 1898-1939

            Tracie Grube-Gaurkee, Texas Christian University

            "The Third Power": James A. Everitt and the American Society of Equity

            Kristian Myrdal, Independent Scholar

            "It Is Vitally Important to Maintain Coal Production": The Influenza Pandemic in Crawford County, Kansas.

            Gari-Anne Patzwald, Independent Scholar

            The Social Aspect of Quarantine: From Tuberculosis to COVID-19

            Grace Moore, Wayne State University

            Midwestern Asylums: How Folklore Informs Historical Perspectives

            Megan Hillier-Geisler, IU Bloomington

            The Best Kept Secret in Medicine: Laura Mabel Davis, A Nurse Anesthetist

            Allie Penn, Wayne State University

Second Panel Session

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM EDT

Chair: John Bowes, Eastern Kentucky University 

            Resisting Settler Colonialism in the Eastern Great Lakes: The Creative Adaptation of Joseph Brant and Peter Jones

            Dr. Aaron Luedke, Michigan State University

            An Indigenous Electorate: Anishinaabe Engagement with Electoral Politics in Nineteenth-Century Northern

            Michael Albani, Michigan State University

            Widening the Scope of ‘Adaptive Resistance’: The Miami Experience, 1812-1826

            John Peyton, Indiana University

Chair: Jennifer Stinson, Saginaw Valley State University

           The 200-Pound Servant in the Room: Creating a First White Man Founder and Erasing a Black Man in Bondage in
           Early Wisconsin

            Jennifer Stinson, Saginaw Valley State University

            The Strange Case of Peter Betters: The 1887 Black Intraracial Lynching of Jamestown, Ohio

            Matthew Peek, State Archives of North Carolina

            ’Holy Cause’ or ‘Odious Doctrine’? Wisconsin, Democracy, and Black Suffrage, 1846-1866

            Frank Kalisik, UW-Milwaukee

            How to Read a Cookbook: Deciphering the Life of Malinda Russell

            Dani Willcutt, Michigan State University

Chair: Jon Lauck, Midwestern History Association

            Andrew Seal, University of New Hampshire

            Gleaves Whitney, Gerald R. Ford Presidential Foundation

            Joseph Hogan, Retro Report

            Paul Murphy, Grand Valley State University

Chair: Mark Clague, University of Michigan

           Banding Together Against – and for – Nazism: Bands as Cultural Brokers in Chicago’s German-American

           Alyssa Wells, University of Michigan

           Modernism in the Midwest: The Chicago Allied Arts

           Carolyn Watts, Princeton University

           Opera Evangelism: Creating a Musical Metropole in 1920s Chicago

           Cody Norling, University of Iowa

Lunch Break 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM EDT

Afternoon Plenary

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM EDT

Chair: Erik McDuffie, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne

           Courtney Pierre Joseph, Lake Forest University

            Gerald Horne, University of Houston

            Nikki M. Taylor, Howard University

            Terrion L. Williamson, University of Minnesota

Third Panel Session

2:30 PM – 3:45 PM EDT

Chair: Tracy Neumann, Wayne State University

            Billy Winkel, Wayne State University

            Grace Moore, Wayne State University

            Kayla Wendt, Port Huron Museums

Chair: Andrew Klumpp, State Historical Society of Iowa

            Ashley Howard, University of Iowa

            Dwain Coleman, University of Iowa

            Patrick Jung, Milwaukee School of Engineering

            Sara Egge, Centre College

            Food in the Midwest: Probably Not What You Think

            Cynthia Clampitt, Independent Scholar

            A Taste of Paradise? On Beer and Wine in Midwest Utopian Communes

            Damien Rousselière, Institut Agro (France) and UQAM (Canada)

            Tzedakah and Gefilte Fish: Jewish Foodways and Philanthropy in the Twin Cities

            Steven Green, University of California, Santa Cruz

            Alma Lach: How A Midwestern Food Editor Connected the Past and Present

            Kimberly Voss, University of Central Florida

Chair: James Huenink, Concordia Lutheran Church

            How the Methodist-Presbyterian Rivalry Created Evangelical Culture in the Antebellum Midwest

            Douglas Montagna, Grand Valley State University

            (Not) Set in Stone: The Church of God Camp Meeting Tabernacle as a Site of Institutionalization and Change

            Laurel Overstreet, Independent Scholar

           "Let my people go": Catholic Responses to Minneapolis's Plymouth Disturbance

            Adam Peterson, Marquette University

            Marmaduke Nathaniel Carter (1881-1961): Black Lutheran Pioneer and Church Planter in Chicago

           James Huenink, Concordia Lutheran Church

Fourth Panel Session

 4:00 PM – 5:15 PM EDT

            Problematic Preservation: Finding, Keeping, Losing, and Reclaiming Ohio's Ancient Earthworks.

            Michael Sherfy, North Central State College

            "No Darker Page in American History": James A. Frear and the Progressive Response to Native Americans in Crisis

            William Kostlevy, Asbury Theological Seminary

            William Swan among the Greensky Indians

            Roy Finkenbine, University of Detroit Mercy

            "A Series of Doors Pretending to Be Walls": Jacksonian Era Jackson County, Missouri

            Sherilyn Farnes, Texas Christian University

Chair: David Gellman, DePauw University

           Western Citizen: At the Confluence of Liberty and Bondage in Antebellum Illinois

            Jeanne Gillespie McDonald, Waubonsee Community College

           Elijah Lovejoy, Antislavery, and Nationalism

           Graham Peck, University of Illinois at Springfield

           “The False and Arrogant Claim of the Van Buren Party:” The Presidential Election of 1836 in Illinois

           Jason Duncan, Aquinas College

Chair: Alice Schreyer, Newberry Library

            Alice Schreyer, Newberry Library

            D. Bradford Hunt, Loyola University Chicago

            Jeanne Long, Chicago Collections Consortium

            Mary M. Case, University of Illinois – Chicago

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Opening Remarks 8:40 AM – 8:55 AM EDT

First Panel Session

9:00 AM – 10:15 AM EDT

Chair: Edward Curtis, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts

            Ethnic-Religious Difference as Racial Assimilation: Syrian Muslims in the Midwest from World War I to World
            War II

            Edward Curtis, Indiana University School of Liberal Arts

            Whiteness as Property: Syrian Homesteaders in North Dakota

            Rana Razek, University of California

            The Right to be Different: 21st Century Arab American Citizenship in Dearborn, Michigan

            Sally Howell, University of Michigan – Dearborn

Chairs: Robert Morrissey, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne and Susan Sleeper-Smith, Michigan State

            Draining the Swamp: The Destruction of Essential Lands

            Dale Mize, Michigan State University

            Internal Improvements, Indian Removal, and the Conquest of Space in Frontier Chicago, 1815-1837

            John Nelson, Texas Tech University

            Dredgescapes: Artifacts Connecting the Past and the Present

            Ramya Swayamprakash, Michigan State University

Chair: Karis Blaker, University of Michigan

            Scottsboro North: Black Women and the Struggle for Racial Justice in Depression-Era Cleveland

            Melissa Ford, Slippery Rock University

            Claiming Sojourner Truth: The Construction and Reconstruction of a Buried Hero in Battle Creek, Michigan

            Karis Blaker, University of Michigan

            Treatment of Blacks in Baseball in Iowa (1901 to 1903)

             Paul Spyhalski, Independent Scholar

Chair: Philip Vogelwede, Purdue University

           Draining the Swamp: A Socio-Material Study of 170 Years of Tile Drainage in Midwestern Agriculture and the
           Development of the Gulf of Mexico's Hypoxic Zone

           Philip Vogelwede, Purdue University

           Two Different Types of Settlers: Effects of Selection into Purchase and Homesteading  

           Katherine Hauck, University of Arizona

           Who Settled the Corn Belt in 1880?

           Gregory Rose, The Ohio State University at Marion

           The Changing Rural Landscape of Odin Township, Minnesota

           Christopher Laingen, Eastern Illinois University

Second Panel Session

10:30 AM – 11:45 AM EDT

Chair: Mike Amezcua, Georgetown University

            The Mexican Right in WWII Chicagoland

            Nathan Ellstrand, Loyola University

            The Selma of the North: Conflicting Local Identities in the First Suburb West

            Jojo Galvan Mora, University of Illinois Chicago

            Nuestras Historias: “Chicano Students Asked to Report”

            Veronica Duran, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

            Concrete Votes: Ethnic Mexicans and Puerto Ricans in the Sidewalk for Votes Scandal

            Emiliano Aguilar, Northwestern University

            More Than a Job: Gender, Journalism and Gilded Age Reform on the Nebraska Great Plains

            Ann Vlock, University of Nebraska – Lincoln

            Tshusick, Real and Imagined: Playing the White Man's Indian in early 19th century Washington D.C

            Justin Carroll, Indiana University East

            The Human Sacrifice: The Trial of Lucy Bagby and the Secession Crisis

            Daniel Sunshine, University of Virginia

            Daring Dames and Dirty Deeds: A History of Chicago Burlesque from 1870 to the 1940s

            Lucas Bensley, Loyola University Chicago

            Documenting Highland Park, Illinois 150th Anniversary One Piece at a Time, 1869-2019

            Catherine Lambrecht, Highland Park Historical Society

            The Bonds of War: How a Photograph of Immigrant Union Soldiers Inspired a Reinterpretation of the Identity
            of the Common Soldier

            Diana Dretske, Bess Bower Dunn Museum of Lake County

            Pounding Swords into Swords: War Monuments Lost During World War II Scrap Metal Drives

            Edie Hunter, Iowa State University

            Eighty Acres of Hell or A Grand Old-Time?: The War of Words Surrounding Chicago's Camp Douglas and Historical

            Jake McAloon, Independent Scholar

Chair: Joshua Jeffers, California State University - Dominguez Hills

            At the Center of the World: Blood Run, the Great Pipestone Quarry, and Seventeenth-Century Mound-Building in
            the Upper Midwest

            Joshua Jeffers, California State University - Dominguez Hills

            Midwestern or Mid-Continent? The Keweenaw, Michigan as a Transnational Hub        

            Peter Krats, University of Western Ontario

            Must the Chinese Go?: Chinese Sojourners, Iowa Republicans, and Chinese Exclusion Acts, 1882-1902

            Anthony Miller, Miami University Hamilton

Lunch Break 11:45 AM – 12:45 PM EDT

"CURED" Documentary Screening will take place from 11:50 am - 12:50 pm.

Afternoon Plenary

1:00 PM – 2:15 PM EDT

Chair: Jon Lauck, Midwestern History Association

            Amy Fluker, Youngstown State University

            David Brodnax, Trinity Christian College

            Michael Steiner, California State University-Fullerton

            Sean Flynn, Dakota Wesleyan University

            Jeff Bremer, Iowa State University

Third Panel Session

 2:30 PM – 3:45 PM EDT

            Bennett Singer and Patrick Sammon, Directors

            Covering Crisis: The Des Moines Register and the Farm Crisis

            Michael Knock, Clarke University

            The Last Enemy is Destroyed: May Wright Sewall, Booth Tarkington, and Neither Dead nor Sleeping

            Ray Boomhower, Indiana Historical Society Press

            Village on the Couch: Edgar Lee Masters, Carl Van Doren, and the Psychoanalysis of the Small Midwestern Town

            Jason Stacy, Southern Illinois University Edwardsville

            Women write the (Mid)West: Mary H. Eastman and her Contemporaries

            Eleanor Hannah, Ivy Tech Community College

            Sara Phalen, West Chicago City Museum

            Elizabeth Marston, Elgin History Museum

            Defining Midwestern Resilience: Reading the History of Environmental Change in the Social Survey

            Elizabeth Grennan Browning, Indiana University, Bloomington

            Narratives of Decline and Midwestern Persistence: A Community Archives Proposal

            Bradley Wiles, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee

            Open Doors and Closed Communities: Creating Community Colleges in White Flight Towns

             Kristy Howell, Johnson County Community College

             Is History a Failing Discipline? Are Historians, Historical Organizations, and Historical Societies Part of the
             Problem? Can They be Part of the Solution?

             Stephen Cusulos, Independent Scholar

Fourth Panel Session

4:00 PM – 5:15 PM EDT

            Esther Isaac, University of Chicago

            Kit Ginzky, University of Chicago

Chair: Paul Murphy, Grand Valley State University

           "Engineering the Dynamic Life of John S. Thurman: Regional Stereotypes and Technological Creativity in the
           Progressive Era Midwest."

            Robert O'Dell III, Providence College

            Committee Chairmen of Michigan, 1945 – 1995

            Phil Grant, Pace University

           "Paul Elmer More versus Jane Addams: The Role of the Midwest in Humanist Thought, 1900-1930"

            Paul Murphy, Grand Valley State University

Chair: Dustin Gann,Midland University

            Returning to Tomorrow: Municipal Planning and Urban Renewal Efforts in Minneapolis, Kansas City, and Omaha,

            Dustin Gann, Midland University

            Factories in the Woods: The Everyday Lives of Lumberjacks in the Northwoods, 1890-1910

            John Byczynski, Grand Rapids Community College

            John Morrell & Co. and its Role in the Story of Sioux Falls' Development

            Michael Mullin, Augustana University