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


Upcoming African American Heritage Month Panel: Images of Race in American History (Feb. 11)

From the desk of Dr. Charles Foy:

As recent events have demonstrated race significantly impacts all our lives.  How does the study of history illuminate our understanding of race as a construct? On Wednesday, February 11, three of Eastern’s history professors, Drs. Charles Foy, Lynne Curry and Malgorzata Rymsza-Pawlowska, will discuss how images of race – a colonial tobacco advertisement, a portrait of an 18th century black poet, a photograph of a 19th century reflect and a 20th century photograph of civil rights demonstrators – have shaped and reflect Americans’ construction of race.​

Images of Race in American History Panel

Notes from the Front: Annual Meeting of the American Historical Association

From the desk of Dr. M.J. Rymsza-Pawlowska:

This past week I had the opportunity to attend the annual meeting of the American Historical Association in New York City. Conferences are always great fun: you get to visit another city, catch up with friends and colleagues from all over the country, and peruse the newest offerings from the academic presses at the book fair.

AHA logo

But most importantly, the annual meeting is a lens on the state of the field—new perspectives, new approaches, and new topics, all of which inform and shape my work as a teacher, a researcher, and a professional historian. This year’s conference theme was “History and the Other Disciplines,” a topic that is extremely important to my own work as a cultural historian and interdisciplinary humanities scholar. I had the opportunity to attend panels on several interesting topics: history museums, media history, and digital scholarship.

I also organized and presented on a roundtable on history pedagogy entitled “Making History “Popular”: Challenges and Opportunities in the College Classroom.” We had a fantastic group–Kathleen Casey of Virginia Wesleyan College discussed her experiences teaching the history of leisure, while Charles Baraw of Southern Connecticut State University explained his interdisciplinary approach to teaching comics. Polly Beals, also of SCSU provided commentary and moderation.

My own paper was about my teaching here at Eastern, in HIS2020: U.S. History, 1877-present, in which I use popular culture to help students think about the relationships between historical developments in social, political, economic, and cultural spheres, and about the “work” of history in general. This approach closely reflects my research interests in popular culture, in the course of the class, we examine and discuss such topics as world’s fairs, television, the birth of advertising, and fashion, as a way of looking at and evaluating other changes during the period. I greatly enjoy teaching this class, and had a wonderful time reflecting on some of my classroom experiences, as well as comparing approaches and ideas with my co-panelists and with the audience. The panel was written up in Inside Higher Ed, so you can read more about it here.


I’m already looking forward to the Spring semester, and to incorporating many of the topics and ideas that were introduced on my panel and others into this semester’s courses!

“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”



Historical Administration Graduate Students Work on Textile Exhibition

Dr. Malgorzata J. Rymsza-Pawlowska teaches a two-semester course in the Historical Administration graduate program entitled History Museum Exhibits. Over the course of the academic year, students learn about the history, theory, and best practices of exhibition work. They then apply this knowledge to their own history exhibit. This year, the class has been working with the Tarble Arts Center on an exhibition showcasing the Tarble’s Buzzard Textiles Collection—handicrafts collected and made by Irene and Guy Buzzard, Eastern’s third President and his wife. The Buzzard collection was donated to Eastern over thirty years ago, but has never before been exhibited.

During the first semester, ten H.A. students worked in three committees: Audience/Design, Curatorial, and Artifact. The class spent the semester surveying the exhibit’s potential audience, identifying key exhibit themes, selecting objects from the Tarble’s collection, and doing research on the lives of the Buzzards. At Eastern’s Booth Archives, they found a wonderful scrapbook made by Dr. Buzzard, detailing their lives together.  The scrapbook and the handicrafts will be at the center of the exhibition, which will be on view in the Tarble’s E-Gallery from April 12th to June 29th.

For the Spring semester, students are working in thee new committees: Exhibit, Publicity/Marketing, and Education. They will finalize design plans, fabricate exhibition elements and props, develop marketing and programming, and install the exhibition. They are currently planning a digital database of artifacts, an exhibit blog and website, posters and brochures, and several interactive elements including an audiotour and a weaving activity. Stay tuned to this space for more links and information!

HA - Tarble