From Connecticut to Chicago to New Mexico, we have been putting history to work. Check out our Fall 2023 Newsletter to learn more about our current projects.
I had the honor of chatting with today’s 4-H leaders about how the youth development program prepared me for a career in public history. I will forever be grateful for the leadership and life lessons I learned in 4-H and am so glad the program continues to provide life-changing opportunities for today’s youth.
This has been a year of tremendous change for Omnia History. Check out our Fall 2022 Newsletter to learn more!
We at Omnia History have been hard at work using the past to promote social change. Check out our Fall 2021 Newsletter to learn more!
Here is a round-up I put together for the National Council on Public History on the state of precarious labor in public history, and how the pandemic is accelerating already existing trends toward unstable, part-time, and temporary work.
We at Omnia History hope that you, your loved ones, and your communities are surviving this challenging year. Like many of you, we have been focusing on navigating multiple overlapping crises and adjusting to continually changing circumstances. Through it all, we continue to be guided by our ever more urgent mission to use the past to promote social change.
To learn more about what we’ve been up to, check out our Fall 2020 Newsletter.
In a recent article for Belt Magazine, I chart the history of Big Ole, a 28-foot-tall Viking statue that stands in the heart of the Minnesota town where I went to high school. Although many consider Big Ole a kitschy tourist attraction, I argue that he promotes an imagined white past like a cross between Paul Bunyan and a Confederate monument. I believe it’s important for white settler Alexandrians–myself included–to reckon with this harmful symbol of our cultural heritage. Check out the link below to read more!
Our scholarship informs our work at Omnia History, whether engaging public audiences online, through exhibits, or in classes and workshops. Understanding the past is a critical part of our mission to promote change in the present. In an upcoming adult education seminar at the Newberry Library, we will be focusing on women in turn-of-the-century Chicago to explore the changing nature of gender and violence in an industrial city. Check out this excerpt from my research to get a glimpse of what we’ll be discussing in the course.
“Biler Avenue” was the nickname for a two-block stretch of Pacific Avenue in late nineteenth-century Chicago made notorious by “women without husbands” who “got ‘biling drunk,’ and were in a “state of constant riot and effervescence,” according to the Chicago Tribune. The women of Biler fought, drank, stole, and engaged in sex work to forge tenuous lives in an unforgiving industrial city. Although the women’s economic activity rarely translated into expanded wealth, it did provide the foundation for ward bosses to secure personal fortunes and political power.Continue reading “The Notorious Women of Biler Avenue”
Head over to the Nursing Clio to read my latest piece on the murder trial of Emma Simpson in 1919. Was she a hysterical victim or dangerous New Woman? Read to find out!
For the past several years, articles on Midwestern History and Culture seem to follow this same basic outline:
~ Personal anecdote about author’s small town roots or first visit to the Midwest~
~Inevitable description of a cornfield~
~Cutting remark about liberal coastal people’s perceptions of the Midwest made by an author from a liberal coastal publication~
~Tired revelation that Midwesterners are not simple provincial folk~
~Obligatory reference to 2016 election~
~Cautionary warning against generalizing a region at the end of an entire article generalizing the Midwest~
Even as Seemingly Every Article on Midwestern History and Culture aims to complicate understandings of the Midwest, they still start with the assumption that the Midwest is a static, white, rural place. This assumption is not reflected in the historical record, contemporary scholarship, or the lived experiences of so many Midwesterners (including myself); rather, it is a harmful and political statement. For example, in Minnesota the narrative justifies elevating violent legacies of colonizers while erasing past and present Indigenous presence in battles over place names at Bde Maka Ska and Historic Fort Snelling at Bdote. Meanwhile, the Board of Regents at the University of Minnesota is unwilling to reckon with the racist histories associated with campus building names. The nostalgic characterization of the Midwest as perpetually white and simplistically rural is not cute or benign—it perpetuates the violence of colonization and racism and should no longer be entertained as the uncritical starting point for the next reflection on America’s heartland.Continue reading “Let’s Change the Way We Talk About the Midwest”