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”
The board of directors of the Rogers Park/West Ridge Historical Society (RPWRHS) is currently in the process of transferring ownership of the bulk of the society’s collections to the Sulzer branch of the Chicago Public Library. Collections have generally loomed large in local historical societies and so the decision by the RPWRHS board to voluntarily rid the society of its collections might seem unusual to anyone familiar with local history groups. Many societies formed with the express purpose of saving local historical material from disappearing when long-time residents passed or moved away and have spent the decades since meticulously collecting and cataloguing local documents and artifacts. The RPWRHS is no different, and society volunteers had been growing and caring for the RPWRHS collections since founding the group in 1975.
In this post, I’ll share why RPWRHS leadership made the decision to divest the society of its collections and how they’re managing the transference of their material to the Chicago Public Library. Their decision to find a new home for their collections isn’t a good fit for every collecting institution, and that’s exactly the point. The RPWRHS board took a step back, reevaluated their institutional priorities, and made a decision that reflects the needs and interests of their constituents. Their story exemplifies how creative problem-solving can help local history groups navigate tough conversations about institutional mission and purpose and come out the other side better prepared to serve their communities.Continue reading “No more collections: How one local historical society changed course to better serve its communities”
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!