The Filson Institute organizes one academic conference each year, as well as a larger conference and call for papers every two years. Our most recent call for papers was in Fall 2015, and future calls will be publicized on this page. Below are audio podcasts of a few of our past conferences. The audio tracks for all our most recent conferences and events are available to Filson members, and can be found HERE. These conferences are made possible in part by the Thomas Walker Bullitt Perpetual Trust.

October 18-19, 2019


The Filson Historical Society’s Institute for Advanced Study proposes a two day academic conference to commemorate the long struggle for women’s rights in the United States.  The woman suffrage movement, beginning in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848 and culminating more than seventy years later in the passage of the Nineteenth Amendment, was one of the longest reform movements in the history of our country.  In this conference we will be interested in how this movement—and the struggles for women’s rights before and after the suffrage struggle—played out in the Ohio River Valley (encompassing Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia and thereabouts).  We also seek to explore the role that major events, such as settlement and colonization, the Civil War and emancipation, urban industrial development, the rise of consumer culture, and Progressive Era reform played in women’s long struggle to achieve equal rights.  We encourage studies of individual women or groups of women that place them a wider historical context.  We are interested in both the opportunities won and the opportunities missed in the long struggle among diverse groups of women for the expansion of women’s rights.

Please send a proposal of no more than 350 words  clearly outlining the subject, arguments and relevance to the conference topic, along with a CV of no more than two pages to LeeAnn Whites, Director of Research, The Filson Historical Society, (

Proposal deadline is February 1, 2018, email submission preferred.  Single papers or conference panels are welcome.  For panel proposals please provide a one page summary of the panel in addition to paper proposals and vitas from each participant.  A keynote address will take place on Friday evening; the conference will meet in consecutive plenary sessions, with a total of six sessions.  Papers will be placed online on the The Filson Historical Society’s website prior to the conference.  Funds will be available to help defray some of the travel costs for presenters.

For questions concerning the conference, please contact Dr. LeeAnn Whites at the email address above or consult the Filson website at:

October 27-28, 2017

Podcasts and accompanying PowerPoint presentations coming soon!

From Colonial Encounters to the Iraq War: Prisoners of War and Their Place in History - The Filson Historical Society’s Institute For Advanced Study offered a two-day academic conference that explores the experience of prisoners of war (POWs) in all American conflicts since the colonial period. Too often POWs have been considered by historians to be a special, separate topic. If discussed at all, POWs make only a brief appearance in legal histories or in the history of POW policies or histories of POW camps. They show up as sums in casualty lists or are discussed as a burden on military resources, creating more mouths to feed, house and guard. This conference considers prisoners of war as more than simply casualties, losers or victims by examining the range of ways in which POWs played an active role in the conduct and outcome of America’s military encounters.
Conference expenses underwritten by the C. E. & S. Foundation.

October 23-25, 2014

Podcast 9-19-21-2013 6x

Spring 2014 Filson Institute Conference - “The Filson Institute’s ’s Fall 2014 Public Conference: The Hard Hand of War” Sponsored by The Filson Institute Lee Ann Whites (University of Missouri), Aaron Sheehan-Dean (Louisiana State University) and The Filson Institute for the Advanced Study of the Ohio Valley and the Upper South convene a three-day academic conference to explore the experience of civilians and irregulars during the Civil War.

The conference, which took place in Louisville, Kentucky, at The Filson Historical Society, continues The Filson’s effort to mark the one hundred fiftieth anniversary of the Civil War. The conference seeks to explore the multi-faceted nature of the Civil War, particularly the irregular conflict that occurred beyond the traditional battlefields. Though popular memory of the struggle usually focuses on the war’s most famous battles—Shiloh, Antietam, Gettysburg—historians have in recent years produced a rich literature that expands our understanding of the nature of the war and its impact on American lives.

May 15-16, 2014

Podcast 9-19-21-2013 6x

Spring 2014 Filson Institute Conference - “A Nation of Immigrants: How the Introduction of New Cultures Changed American Society, 1820 to Present” Sponsored by The Filson Institute The history of the United States has been largely the history of immigration. Since even before national independence millions of women and men from around the world left their homes, opting for America, a place where they believed they could improve the conditions of their lives. Certainly we must remember that Africans who made up the slave population did not migrate voluntarily, while nearly all other immigrants had some degree of choice in terms of the timing of their migrations, their destinations, and the ways they created communities in America.

This program, involving four historians, will explore four time periods in American history. For each era we will examine who immigrated, where they came from, and how they engaged with American society. Each lecture will look at the legal situation with which immigrants had to contend, always specific to particular time periods, documenting the vast changes which took place, from the 1820s through today. Each lecture will also consider the work experiences of the immigrants, and each will explore how the different immigrant groups both integrated into American society and constructed ethnic group life in their new homes. The four periods of time and the four lectures focus on the years from the 1820s through the 1880s, 1880 until 1924, 1924 to 1965, and the contemporary period, brought about by the 1965 immigration reform legislation, the Hart-Cellar Act.

Fall 2013 Filson Institute Conference

Public Conference – Viewing the South From a 21st Century Perspective: The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Sponsored by The Filson Institute
September 19-21, 2013, Louisville, Kentucky

Podcast 9-19-21-2013 6x

 Public Conference – Viewing the South From a 21st Century Perspective: The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture Sponsored by The Filson Institute The South remains home to one of the most fascinating and challenging of American cultures. That it is also a very diverse culture, with many overlaying facets, is made clear in the 24 volumes of The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture, a project sponsored by the Center for the Study of Southern Culture at the University of Mississippi. Each of these volumes seeks to highlight current scholarship on various aspects of Southern culture, including art, food, literature, gender, religion, and history. This publication is the basis for The Filson Historical Society’s fall conference, “Viewing the South From a 21st Century Perspective: The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.” Held at The Filson in Louisville, this conference discusses the significant changes that the region has undergone over the years, while reminding us that the South is still a distinct cultural region. Progressing from the era of moonlight and magnolias, “Viewing the South” invites the audience to engage with the substance of Southern culture anew, provoking new thoughts on the past within the context of the 21st century present.

Spring 2013 Filson Institute Conference

Public Conference – "The Roots of Feuding: How Economics, Culture, Political Power and Media Created an Atmosphere of Feuding in Appalachia"

May 16-17, 2013, Louisville, KY


 The Filson Institute Public Conference for Spring, 2013 "The Roots of Feuding: How Economics, Culture, Political Power and Media Created an Atmosphere of Feuding in Appalachia"  This conference explored the roots of feud violence, the origins of questionable stereotypes associated with the region, and considers how outside sources contributed to the atmosphere of violence in Appalachia.