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

Midwestern History Postcard

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 assembled 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.

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

All panel sessions were recorded to be posted on our YouTube page. Unfortunately, we had technical difficulties with nine of the sessions that we were unable to correct upon reaching out to Zoom. Thank you for your understanding.

First Panel Session

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Jews and Indigenous Peoples: Their Working and Personal Relationships

Prisons, Symphonies, Demolitions, Pamphlets: Twentieth-Century Responses to Deindustrialization in Rusting Steel Belt Cities


Public Health and Memory

Second Panel Session

Conflicted Histories: Midwestern Indian Struggles over Identity and Sovereignty in the Early Republic

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African Americans in the Nineteenth-Century Midwest

The Sower and the Seer (Roundtable)

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Musical Scenes and Cultural Negotiations in Interwar Chicago

Afternoon Plenary

Black Midwestern History Matters: African American Life in the U.S. Heartland and the Struggle for Freedom (Roundtable)

Third Panel Session

The Learning Environment

Iowa at 175: Thinking Critically about 175 Years of Iowa History (Roundtable)

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Fourth Panel Session

Indigenous Encounters: Misconceptions and Responses

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Antislavery and Presidential Politics in Early Illinois

From Collaboration to Community: The Chicago Collections Consortium (Roundtable)

Thursday, May 27, 2021

First Panel Session

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Race and Religion in the Arab American Midwest

Improver’ Landscapes of the Nineteenth-Century Southern Great Lakes

African Americans in Twentieth-Century Midwest

Midwestern Landscape Transformations

Second Panel Session

The Greater, Mexican Midwest


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Public History and Memory


Afternoon Plenary

The Past and Future of Midwestern History (Roundtable)

Third Panel Session

CURED Documentary Film Discussion

The Craft of Writing

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The Great Migration: Mexico to Illinois

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(Challenging) Narratives of Decline in the Midwest

Fourth Panel Session

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“Little University on the Green Sod”: Reviving Chicago’s Public Forum Movement

Midwestern Intellectual and Political Contributions

Development and Industry