history

history

Living in Interesting Times

Living in Interesting Times

Do you keep a diary?  In times of crisis, firsthand, contemporaneous accounts are among the most valuable to the historians of later decades.  We call these ‘primary’ sources – those created by the people who lived the events that are described.  Letters and diaries have long been fertile sources for understanding history, and the blogs and emails of today will likely inform the historians of tomorrow.  While our times can seem unprecedented, calamities of various sorts have always shaped the eras they happened in.  The Influenza pandemic of 1918, commonly called the Spanish Flu, is often held up as a comparison to today’s struggle with the COVID-19 coronavirus.  Studying how people survived previous crises and catastrophes; and the lived experience … Continued
Why voting matters

Why voting matters

While the right to vote has been part of the US Constitution since the founding of this country. it was originally limited to white male landowners – a wealthy elite in many cases.  The right to vote, considered a cornerstone in the popular conception of democracy, is a hard-won right earned through centuries of war, civic strife, protest and direct petitioning.  In honor of the struggles of those who have come before, and to preserve the liberties that this nation holds dear, it is worth understanding what voting means and why voting is such an important act. The first amendment to the Constitution related to voting came in 1870, almost 100 years from the date of its ratification.  The 15th … Continued
The 19th Amendment and Suffrage in Indiana

The 19th Amendment and Suffrage in Indiana

January 16th marked the centennial anniversary of Indiana’s ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment (which would become law later in the year, in August of 1920).  A vital milestone in the evolution of equal rights, the women’s suffrage movement had existed in one form or another since the nation’s founding, but had gained particular momentum in the Reconstruction era.  Even today, it continues to resonate, influencing the shape and ideals of modern inclusivity and equal rights movements.  Hoosiers are celebrating the milestone across the state, and after a commemoration led by the Lieutenant Governor, Suzanne Crouch, on the 16th, there will be events, lectures, and travelling exhibits about women’s suffrage to learn from.  A calendar of these events as well as … Continued
The American myth of Stagolee

The American myth of Stagolee

On the evening of December 25, 1895, “Stag” Lee Shelton  was doing the 19th century version of a bar crawl when he entered the Bill Curtis Saloon in St. Louis.  He took a seat next to William Lyons, and they talked about a number of different things.  But when the subject switched to politics, Lyons and Shelton, who whipped up support for opposing parties, began hitting each other’s hats as a form of retaliation. Shelton ultimately broke the crown of Lyons’ derby hat.  Lyons asked for five bits (about $1.25) to replace it.  When Shelton refused, Lyons took Shelton’s Stetson hat.  Shelton promptly shot Lyons, took his hat back and walked out of the bar.  Lyons died of his injuries only hours later.  … Continued
Three Women of Indiana’s Past: empowering change in education, housing & prisons

Three Women of Indiana’s Past: empowering change in education, housing & prisons

When one thinks of Indiana, thoughts may race from the Indy 500, grow to include cornfields and combines, then settle on limestone. The names Albion Fellows Bacon, Eliza Blaker, and Rhoda M. Coffin may not come to mind. Yet these three women were instrumental in laying the groundwork for how we perceive life in Indiana these days, whether it be housing, education, or correctional facilities. Albion Fellows Bacon (1865-1933) Thanks to the efforts of Albion Fellows Bacon (1865-1933), residents of Indiana had better housing options available to them in 1911. After two of her children developed scarlet fever, Albion went on a search to discover the source of her children’s illness and came across the riverfront slums in Evansville. Appalled … Continued