History Faculty Present at EurHo Rural History Conference in Girona, Spain

From the desk of Bailey Young:
Among the roughly 450 participants in the bi-annual EurHo Rural History conference held in Girona, Spain last week (September 7-10, 2015) were not one but two dauntless members of the EIU History Department, Drs. Deb Reid and B.K. Young, taking the scholarly partnership they launched with a successful Presidential Fund for Research and Creative Activity (PFRCA) in 2014 to a new level.  Though the Eur (for Europe) in EurHo accurately reflects its origins and continuing leadership, the scope of this prestigious meeting of  scholars of rural studies is truly global, with scholars attending from all over, and case studies from every continent featured.  

Dr. Deb Reid and Dr. B.K. Young at the EurHo Rural History conference held in Girona, Spain.

Dr. Deb Reid and Dr. B.K. Young at the EurHo Rural History conference held in Girona, Spain.

Dr. Reid was particularly active at this, her third EurHo conference:  presenting a paper on Race in a terrific panel devoted to the American South and West in the 19th and 20th centuries, and serving as one of three museum experts (the other two were from Spain and England) invited to offer, as the very last event of the conference, a keynote on the problems and potential of museums in preserving the rural heritage in the 21st century.  It was also at her initiative that an entire panel devoted the Walhain project was organized, with Dr. Young sketching the preliminary conclusions to be drawn from the first 15 years of excavation, while she drew attention to their implications for the long-term study of rural landscape, economy and social history in the heart of northwest Europe’s fertile farmlands.  

Finally Adam and Annie Tock Morrissette, both recent EIU MA  here making their international scholarly debut, presented a paper discussing the exciting new perspectives GIS can bring to this study.  An unexpected bonus: our visit to this very picturesque medieval Catalan town (narrow winding cobblestone streets, soaring Gothic cathedral, the old town huddled within lofty ramparts) coincided with the filming of Game of Thrones, the
absolute favorite of our student excavators at Walhain!

AIMA Executive Committee Met in Reading, England

From the desk of EIU’s Dr. Debra Reid, AIMA’s First Vice-President, webmaster and minute-taker:

The Museum of English Rural Life (MERL), headquartered at the University of Reading, provided plenty of stimulation for the executive committee meeting of the International Association of Agricultural Museums (AIMA) July 2-5, 2015. Attendees represented nine countries (Canada, England, Estonia, France, Germany, Poland, Slovenia and the United States, and the delegate from Indian connected virtually). The meeting began with discussions about diversifying financial support through heritage lottery funds and capital development campaigns and continued through conversations about broadening visitor access to museum collections using digital means and social media outlets. Representatives from the UK’s Rural Museums Network also participated. Executive Committee business included review of statutes, planning for future meetings including the 18th triennial Congress scheduled for May 2017 in Tartu, Estonia at the Estonian Agricultural Museum, and formation of additional professional networking opportunities focused on agriculture and art; digital media; and rye and other crops. These networks join already active working groups focused on bread and on living animals in museums [the topic of a conference planned at the National Museum of Agriculture and Food Industry in Szreniawa (scheduled May 13-16, 2016)]. For information: http://www.agriculturalmuseums.org


Professor Receives High Honor, Completes Agricultural History Society Triple Crown

Debra A. Reid received a high honor from the Agricultural History Society at that organization’s awards banquet on Saturday evening, June 6, 2015. AHS president Sally McMurry announced Reid as a Fellow of the Society, an honor that recognizes high standards of scholarship in agricultural history, broadly defined, and in service to the society and to the study of agricultural history. For information on the Agricultural History Society, see: http://www.aghistorysociety.org/

Melissa Walker and Debra A. Reid, named as Fellows of the Agricultural History Society, June 7, 2015, Lexington, Kentucky. Photograph by Chuck Reback.

Melissa Walker and Debra A. Reid, named as Fellows of the Agricultural History Society, June 7, 2015, Lexington, Kentucky. Photograph by Chuck Reback.

The context for receiving this award became even more memorable given the location – Lexington, Kentucky – and the timing – the running of the Belmont Stakes. David Hamilton, chair of the AHS local arrangements committee, and faculty at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, timed the reception preceding the banquet perfectly, to coincide with American Pharaoh’s bid to be the first Triple Crown winner since 1978. Deb took her post at a table a distance from but with a perfect view of the large-screen TV in the Hyatt in Lexington, Kentucky. Deb grew up watching horse racing, and reveled in the wins of Secretariat in 1973. But the break-down of Ruffian in a match race in 1975 destroyed the aura of the sport. Thus, the ascendance of Seattle Slew in 1977 and Affirmed in 1978 to Triple Crown status did not have the same romance as Secretariat’s win for her.


But Deb got to relish her own AHS Triple Crown of sorts, at the 2015 AHS on the same day as American Pharaoh’s win. . . Deb received 1) the John T. Schlebecker Award for Excellence from the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums (ALHFAM) in 2000, an award named for AHS president, former curator at the Smithsonian Institution, and ALHFAM founder, John T. Schlebecker; 2) the Gilbert C. Fite Dissertation Award from the AHS in 2001 (named in honor of a prominent historian of southern agriculture and EIU president from 1971-1976); and now 3) recognition as a Fellow of the Agricultural History Society. And the circle, it goes round and round. It’s been a long run, but Deb looks forward to many more years of racing!


Organization of American Historians (OAH) in STL: Gen Ed in the Morning; Cardinals at Night

From the desk of Dr. Debra Reid:

I had the pleasure of participating on a panel on designing general education courses at the Organization of American Historians conference in St. Louis, Missouri, April 17. The OAH Programsession brought together veterans who shared their perspectives on a process that people seem to love to hate – general education. I talked about the philosophy of general education, about differences between top-down and department-driven curriculum reform, and about methods that can engage students in the U.S. History survey since 1876. Other panelists talked about incorporating ethical conundrums (Robert Sampson, Millikin University) and about maintaining high standards (Maureen Nutting, North Seattle Community College).

Between sessions I met Lea VanderVelde (University of Iowa), author of Mrs. Dred Scott: A Life on Slavery’s Frontier (Oxford, 2010). I wish she could have met Bonnie Laughlin-Schultz who was at the conference but not in the room at the time. I am sure that the OAHlogowomen of John Brown’s family, the subject of Laughlin-Schultz’ award-winning,  The Ties that Bound Us: The Women of John Brown’s Family and the Legacy of Radical Feminism (Cornell, 2014) would have plenty of things to talk about with Mrs. Dred Scott. It sounds like an interesting possibility in light of the upcoming 150th anniversary of Reconstruction. Malgorzata Rymsza-Pawlowska presented at the OAH as well, in a session entitled “Working across Spaces of History Pedagogy: Classroom, Exhibit, Community.” She met David Thelen at her session. He co-wrote The Presence of the Past:  Popular Uses of History in American Life (Columbia, 1998), a book that the Historical Administration graduate students were assigned as summer reading last year.

In between all this stimulation, I took a break and went to the ball game. The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds on runs batted in by Yadier Molina. How sweet it is!

cards box


HA Gingerbread House Extravaganza (Part II)

Each fall semester, students in Historical Administration at EIU take two courses that emphasize material culture analysis — HIS 5050: History of American Architecture, taught by Dr. Nora Pat Small, and HIS 5330: Material Life and Decorative Arts in America, taught by Dr. Debra A. Reid (click here for Part I of this post). Students read theory and apply that to studies of decorative arts and the built environment. The goal is to move students away from identification of “styles” of furniture or buildings and toward context, analysis and interpretation. The team of students who created this 18th century Palladial structure did just that.

Caroline Martin, Cory Hurless, and Alex Stromberg laying the foundation for their graham cracker domicile. (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Caroline Martin, Cory Hurless, and Alex Stromberg laying the foundation for their graham cracker domicile. (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Cory applying some finishing touches (photo by Debra A. Reid)

Cory applying some finishing touches. (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

The finished house even had chocolate-covered waffle-wafer parts to create the look of diamond-shaped muntins on the upper story windows on the front facade. Caroline, Cory and Alex could have waxed eloquent about how this indicated glass-making technology of the time; and they left the interior unfinished, as scholars have argued that some rural residents of Deerfield, Massachusetts, had to do to maintain appearances along “the street.” And the winner of the Great Gingerbread Challenge of 2014 is (at least in the opinion of the bribed judges): the 18th century Palladial structure with real, not rusticated, graham crackers. But we have two more centuries to explore.

HA Gingerbread House Extravaganza

The Graduate Students in the Historical Administration program at Eastern Illinois University spend a lot of time with each other. A lot of time. The curriculum requires them to take five graduate classes each semester and work with five different instructors. In addition, each student works nearly 20 hours a week in their graduate assistantships. Course projects also require them to work independently and in group projects to satisfy programming, grant writing, and collections related needs of partner institutions (museums and historical sites in the area, and EIU’s College of Education this year). The students prove that they can “pull in unison” when it comes to having fun, too. On Dec. 11, 2014, the ten students hosted the faculty for an amazing example of giving from the heart. This is the first of four posts  to introduce you to the spirit of these ten amazing students, and three of the five faculty that have the pleasure of working with them.

An example of their creativity – the inaugural Gingerbread House Extravaganza. Students formed four teams, invited a faculty member to join them, and set about solving a challenge – constructing a domestic structure representative of either the 17th, 18th, 19th or 20th centuries. We’ll start with the oldest. . . chronologically. The team with Dr. Nora Pat Small, vernacular architecture expert, had to build a 17th century structure. They used their pretzel sticks to construct an example of impermanent architecture. The team (fig. 1): Dr. Nora Pat Small, Amy Wywialowski, Brian Failing, and Dan  Hess. And (fig. 2) Dr. Small with the finished product, and the proud teacher of the course in historic architecture. But this is not the “winner” of the Great Gingerbread House Challenge. Stay tuned.
Dr. Nora Pat Small, Amy Wywialowski, Brian Failing, and Dan  Hess (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Dr. Nora Pat Small, Amy Wywialowski, Brian Failing, and Dan Hess (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Dr. Small with the finished product (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

Dr. Small with the finished product (Photo by Debra A. Reid)

“Revolutionary Decade: Reflections on the 1960s” at Booth Library

Booth Library’s new exhibit and program series, “Revolutionary Decade: Reflections on the 1960,” will be taking place throughout the Fall semester. Throughout the series, faculty and students will take “a fresh look at the achievements, tragedies, triumphs, extraordinary personalities, and everyday lives of average people during what was arguably one of the most turbulent and eventful decades of the 20th century.”

Booth Fall 14

Many members of the History Department faculty, along with some of our graduate students, will be participating in the “Revolutionary Decade” programming (for the full schedule of events, please visit the exhibit homepage on the Booth Library website):

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 7 p.m Booth Library West Reading Room
Opening Night/Reception
Dr. Edmund Wehrle, Keynote Address: “No Problem of Human Destiny is Beyond Human Beings: John F. Kennedy and the Spirit of the 1960s”

Tuesday, Sept. 23, 4 p.m., Booth Library Room 4440
The Other Side of the ’60s: Hidden Dimensions of One of America’s Most Significant Decades
– Dr. Lynne Curry, “Sex, Drugs, and the U.S. Supreme Court”
– Dr. Debra Reid, “Between Cairo and Chicago: Resistance to Rights Expansion During the 1960s”
– Dr. Charles Titus, “Cold War Classrooms: How American Education Served the National Security State”

Wednesday, Sept. 24, 4 p.m., Booth Library Room 4440
MA History Student Research Panel: Global Diplomacy in the 1960s
– Moderated by Dr. Edmund Wehrle:
Kimberly Jones, “No Place Like Home: Robert F. Williams — World Exile”
Michael Ludwinski, “The Kennedy-MacMillan Affair: The Making of a
Special Relationship”
Adam Mohebbi, “Inaction, Not Indifference: Rhodesia and Postcolonialism in the 1960s”

Thursday, Oct. 2, 3:30 p.m., Booth Library Room 4440
Fantastic Sitcoms of the 1960s: “I Dream of Jeannie” and “Bewitched”
Dr. Malgorzata J. Rymsza-Pawlowska, “Fantastic Sitcoms of the 1960s: I Dream of Jeannie and Bewitched

Wednesday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m., Booth Library Room 4440
Thursday, Nov. 13, 7 p.m., Lone Elm Room, Mattoon Depot

Reflections on Sixties Music
Dr. Newton Key, “Global Influences on the American Pop Charts of the Sixties”



EIU’s Walhain-Saint-Paul Project Study Abroad Underway in Belgium

Dr. Bailey K. Young has partnered with the Catholic University in Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium, since 1998, offering a one-month immersion experience in historical archaeology — The Walhain-Saint-Paul Project Study Abroad.

The students completes paperwork as Bailey K. Young looks on (Photo: Debra Reid).

The students completes paperwork as Bailey K. Young looks on (photo: Debra Reid).

The 2014 dig runs from June 28 through July 25 and includes two students from EIU (Nathanial Rees, History, and Bradley Ogilvie, Computer Science) and ten students from nine other universities (alphabetically: Colby College (Maine), Fordham University (NYC), Ohio Wesleyan University, Portland State University; two from the University of Chicago, University of Delaware; University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point; University of York, England; Wittenberg University.

Laurent Verslype, director of the Centre de recherches d'archéologie  nationale (CRAN), headquartered at the Université catholique de Louvain) in Louvain-la-Neuve, orients students to the site on June 30, 2014, while his students dig on the medieval residence behind him. (photo: Debra Reid)

Laurent Verslype, director of the Centre de recherches d’archéologie nationale (CRAN), headquartered at the Université catholique de Louvain) in Louvain-la-Neuve, orients students to the site on June 30, 2014, while his students dig on the medieval residence behind him. (photo: Debra Reid)


The EIU students received some financial assistance to participate this year, thanks to a Presidential Research & Creative Activity Fund grant awarded to  co-investigators, Bailey K. Young, director of the Walhain project, and Debra A. Reid, to launch a three-year project focused on the rural and agricultural history of the site.

Bailey K. Young orienting students to the features in the Renaissance  portion of the Walhain Castle using a map color coded to the stone types,  prepared by Erika Weinkauf, PhD student at the CRAN and field director of  the excavation (photo: Debra Reid)

Bailey K. Young orienting students to the features in the Renaissance portion of the Walhain Castle using a map color coded to the stone types, prepared by Erika Weinkauf, PhD student at the CRAN and field director of the excavation (photo: Debra Reid)

Reid is also working with Historical Administration student Amanda Hursch to partially fulfill her internship requirement while developing a comprehensive feasibility study for the site’s interpretation and fine-tuning two grant applications).

Amanda Hursch works on clearing a foundation in preparation for future  excavation (Photo: Debra Reid).

Amanda Hursch works on clearing a foundation in preparation for future excavation (photo: Debra Reid).

History graduate program alumns Annie Tock and her husband, Adam Morrisette joined the dig to work on digital humanities components to further the dream of site interpretation. Three more weeks remain, and the future seems bright for finding new features and increasing the data about this important medieval site.

Bailey K. Young and Dana Best-Mizsak, site supervisor and field  laboratory director, conferring over a find   unearthed by Luke Bretscher, University of Chicago. (Photo: Debra Reid)

Bailey K. Young and Dana Best-Mizsak, site supervisor and field laboratory director, conferring over a find unearthed by Luke Bretscher, University of Chicago. (photo: Debra Reid)

You can follow the progress of the dig at The Walhain Saint-Paul Project’s facebook site.

Dr. Young and Dr. Reid Awarded President’s Fund for Research and Creative Activity Grant

Dr. Bailey K. Young and Dr. Debra A. Reid have been awarded a PFRCA grant to support their collaborative project, “Walhain: Landscape of Domination. The Origins and Transformations of a  Medieval Lordship,”  which will expand the Walhain archaeological site into a major site for investigation into agrarian and rural history.


Dr. Bailey Young has managed an international project to document an early medieval farming estate on the south side of Walhain-Saint-Paul, Belgium since 1998. The project has involved 110 undergraduate and 8 graduate students from 62 universities, including 12 undergraduate and 6 graduate students from EIU, over these years. These students have worked on excavations led by faculty from at least four universities, but Dr. Bailey Young has provided intellectual direction as well as instruction to students through study abroad experiences for all 15 years. The international partnership has allowed students unique opportunities to engage with faculty through archaeological field work, artifact stabilization and documentation through lab work, coursework in medieval history and culture, and research into written evidence of the early middle ages. The project has continued due to Dr. Young’s commitment, diversified fundraising, and international networks, all critical to sustaining the project.

The Walhain Project, since its inception in 1998, has pursued two linked goals: to provide a unique, interdisciplinary study abroad experience in medieval archaeology, and to conduct an innovative international research program centered on the excavation of Walhain Castle (near Louvain-la-Neuve, Brabant Wallon).  It has been largely financed, through 2012, through the fees paid by the American students signed up for the Summer Archaeology Program in Belgium, administered by the School of Continuing Education at
Eastern Illinois University (EIU).  The Centre de Recherches d’Archéologie Nationale (CRAN), based at the Université Catholique de Louvain (UCL) in Louvain-la-Neuve, our principal partner in this project, has contributed its infra-structure, expertise, and personnel to make the four-week excavation which is at the heart of the academic program possible. UCL students have also worked regularly alongside the American students, further enriching the Study Abroad experience.

WSP_Team_2010 (2)

The 2014 study abroad experience marks an expansion in goals that will enhance the site’s prestige by showcasing evidence of agriculture as practiced by the pre-modern peasants on an early lordship. It will also build on the local initiative to protect the property with a feasibility study to launch an interpretive center and institute to study pre-modern

The European Rural History Organization (Eur-Ho) began in 2010, dedicated to European rural and agricultural history. The second conference, convened in Bern, Switzerland in September 2013, provided a forum for medieval scholars to converse about diverse definitions of the uneven origins of lordships in the middle ages, and the factors that affected the ways lords and other religious or political units administered the landscape that fed the population. Dr. Reid has been involved in this organization from the beginning, and the board has selected Louvain, Belgium, as the site of the 2017 meeting. This will be the perfect opportunity to feature the by then twenty-year international partnership that preserved, documented, and interpreted what is a relatively rare early medieval site. This conference will provide the opportunity to engage in an international dialog about the history of food and politics, the consequences to the landscape and environment, and to the evolution of agricultural markets and market systems over time