Archive for category: Filson Events

Cover of Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America. The image depicts a McDonalds in the background with an adult Black female on the left and an adult black male on the right.

Franchise: The Golden Arches in Black America

Thursday, October 22, 6:00 p.m. – Register HERE

Sponsored by Kentucky Select Properties and Republic BankFrom civil rights to Ferguson, Franchise reveals the untold history of how fast food became one of the greatest generators of black wealth in America.  

An estimated one-third of all American adults eat something from a fast-food restaurant every day. Millions start their mornings with paper-wrapped English muffin breakfast sandwiches, order burritos hastily secured in foil for lunch, and end their evenings with extra value dinners consumed in cars. But while people of all ages and backgrounds enjoy and depend on fast food, it does not mean the same thing to each of us. For African Americans, as acclaimed historian Marcia Chatelain reveals in Franchise, fast food is a source of both despair and power—and a battlefield on which the fight for racial justice has been waged since the 1960s. 

On the one hand, we rightly blame fast food for the rising rates of obesity and diabetes among black Americans, and fast food restaurants are viewed as symbols of capitalism’s disastrous effects on our nation’s most vulnerable citizens. Yet at the same time, Chatelain shows, fast food companies, and McDonald’s in particular, have represented a source of economic opportunity and political power. After Martin Luther King, Jr.’s assassination in 1968, many activists turned to entrepreneurship as the means to achieving equality. Civil rights leaders, fast food companies, black capitalists, celebrities, and federal bureaucrats began an unlikely collaboration, in the belief that the franchising of fast food restaurants, by black citizens in their own neighborhoods, could improve the quality of black life. 

Equipped with federal loans and utterly committed to the urban centers in which they would open their little sites of hope, black franchise pioneers achieved remarkable success, and by the late 2000s, black-franchised McDonald’s restaurants reported total sales exceeding $2 billion. Fast food represented an opportunity for strivers who had been shut out of many industries, denied promotions in those that would tolerate them, and discouraged, in numerous ways, from starting their own businesses, all because of the color of their skin. But a parallel story emerged, too—of wealth being extracted from black communities, of the ravages of fast food diets, of minimum wage jobs with little prospect for advancement. 

Taking us from the first McDonald’s drive-in in San Bernardino in the 1940s to civil rights protests at franchises in the American South in the 1960s and the McDonald’s on Florissant Avenue in Ferguson in the summer 2014, Chatelain charts how the fight for racial justice is intertwined with the fate of black businesses. Deeply researched and brilliantly told, Franchise is an essential story of race and capitalism in America. 

Marcia Chatelain is a professor of history and African American studies at Georgetown University, and is a leading public voice on the history of race, education, and food culture. The author of South Side GirlsChatelain lives in Washington, DC. 

Dr. Abigail Glogower wears a black shirt and gray pants. She is standing by a black table with old documents on it. There is a landscape painting in the background.

Archiving Your Personal and Family History

Tuesday, October 6 and Tuesday, October 13

Register for Part 2 on October 13 HERE

Our homes and offices are full of pictures, documents, and mementos that tell the stories of our lives. This precious cargo can be a source of pride and joy but also frustration and even pain. Sometimes this material can feel overwhelming and sifting through it an insurmountable challenge; in some cases, inter-generational trauma and dispossession have altered collecting habits and our relationships with the past. How do we know what to keep, and how can we ensure the endurance of that history? Join Dr. Abby Glogower of the Filson Historical Society for a two-part workshop that will empower you to explore, organize, and preserve your personal and family history like an archivist. Attendance both days is not a requirement. 

Dr. Abigail Glogower is Curator of Jewish Collections and the Jewish Community Archives at the Filson Historical Society. Abby earned a doctorate in American Art and Visual Culture from the University of Rochester with a focus on group identity formation and representation in the nineteenth century and has conducted education, programming, and curatorial work in libraries and museums including the Brooklyn Museum, the Spertus Museum, the George Eastman Museum, and the National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Book Cover with "Lincoln on the Verge" superimposed on a background picture of President Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln on the Verge: Thirteen Days to Washington

Tuesday, September 29, 6:00 p.m. – REGISTER HERE

Sponsored by Blue Grass MotorsportOn the eve of his 52nd birthday, February 11, 1861, the President-Elect of the United States, Abraham Lincoln, walked onto a train, the first step of his journey to the White House, and his rendezvous with destiny.

But as the train began to carry Lincoln toward Washington, it was far from certain what he would find there. Bankrupt and rudderless, the government was on the verge of collapse. To make matters worse, reliable intelligence confirmed a conspiracy to assassinate him as he passed through Baltimore. It is no exaggeration to say that the fate of the Republic hung in the balance.

How did Lincoln survive this grueling odyssey, to become the president we know from the history books? Lincoln on the Verge tells the story of a leader discovering his own strength, improvising brilliantly, and seeing his country up close during these pivotal thirteen days.

From the moment the Presidential Special left the station, a new Lincoln was on display, speaking constantly, from a moving train, to save the Republic. The journey would draw on all of Lincoln’s mental and physical reserves. But the President-Elect discovered an inner strength, which deepened with the exhausting ordeal of meeting millions of Americans.

Lincoln on the Verge tells the story of America’s greatest president and the obstacles he overcame, well before he could take the oath of office and deliver his inaugural address. 

Ted Widmer is Distinguished Lecturer at Macaulay Honors College (CUNY). In addition to his teaching, he writes actively about American history in TheNew York Times, The New Yorker, The Washington Post, and other venues. He has also taught or directed research centers at Harvard University, Brown University, and Washington College. He grew up in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, and attended Harvard University. 

Book cover featuring President George Washington on a horse with the words "Washingtons End" at the top.

Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle

Tuesday, September 22, 6:00 p.m.REGISTER HERE

Sponsored by Blue Grass MotorsportPopular historian and former White House speechwriter Jonathan Horn tells the astonishing true story of George Washington’s forgotten last years—the personalities, plotting, and private torment that unraveled America’s first post-presidency. 

Washington’s End begins where most biographies of George Washington leave off, with the first president exiting office after eight years and entering what would become the most bewildering stage of his life. Embittered by partisan criticism and eager to return to his farm, Washington assumed a role for which there was no precedent at a time when the kings across the ocean yielded their crowns only upon losing their heads. In a different sense, Washington would lose his head, too. 

In this riveting read, bestselling author Jonathan Horn reveals that the quest to surrender power proved more difficult than Washington imagined and brought his life to an end he never expected. The statesman who had staked his legacy on withdrawing from public life would feud with his successors and find himself drawn back into military command. The patriarch who had dedicated his life to uniting his country would leave his name to a new capital city destined to become synonymous with political divisions. 

A vivid story, immaculately researched and powerfully told through the eyes not only of Washington but also of his family members, friends, and foes, Washington’s End fills a crucial gap in our nation’s history and will forever change the way we view the name Washington. 

Jonathan Horn is an author and former White House presidential speechwriter whose Robert E. Lee biography, The Man Who Would Not Be Washington, was a Washington Post bestseller. Published in February 2020, Jonathan’s new book, Washington’s Endtells the forgotten story of the final years of America’s Founding Father.

#AskACurator, featuring the “Women at Work” exhibit

Wednesday, September 16, 12:00 pm – REGISTER HERE “What is it like to curate an exhibit?” “How do you choose items for an exhibition?” “What did you learn about women’s history while working on this exhibit?” “How has women’s work changed in the past 150 years?”

Do you have questions like these? If so, you may get them answered! Join us at noon on Wednesday, September 16th via Zoom for a conversation with the curators of the Filson’s exhibition, “Women at Work: Venturing into the Public Sphere.”

This exhibition has not physically opened to the public due to COVID-19, but the exhibition is digitally available to explore! Click the link to view: https://filsonhistorical.omeka.net/exhibits/show/women-at-work

Check out the digital exhibition and come to the session with your questions for a live discussion. You can submit questions using the chat feature during the event, or you can submit them in advance to gro.l1604130867aciro1604130867tsihn1604130867oslif1604130867@nayr1604130867bamme1604130867.

Image of Frederick Douglass

David W. Blight – Frederick Douglass Prophet of Freedom

Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series

Thursday, September 10, 6:00 p.m. | Register online at filson.simpletix.com – As a young man Frederick Douglass (1818–1895) escaped from slavery in Baltimore, Maryland. He was fortunate to have been taught to read by his slave owner mistress, and he would go on to become one of the major literary figures of his time. His very existence gave the lie to slave owners: with dignity and great intelligence he bore witness to the brutality of slavery.

Initially mentored by William Lloyd Garrison, Douglass spoke widely, using his own story to condemn slavery. By the Civil War, Douglass had become the most famed and widely travelled orator in the nation. In his unique and eloquent voice, written and spoken, Douglass was a fierce critic of the United States as well as a radical patriot. After the war he sometimes argued politically with younger African Americans, but he never forsook either the Republican party or the cause of black civil and political rights.

In this “cinematic and deeply engaging” (The New York Times Book Review) biography, David Blight has drawn on new information held in a private collection that few other historians have consulted, as well as recently discovered issues of Douglass’s newspapers. “Absorbing and even moving…a brilliant book that speaks to our own time as well as Douglass’s” (The Wall Street Journal), Blight’s biography tells the fascinating story of Douglass’s two marriages and his complex extended family. “David Blight has written the definitive biography of Frederick Douglass…a powerful portrait of one of the most important American voices of the nineteenth century” (The Boston Globe).

David W. Blight is the Sterling Professor of History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of Slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life, and been awarded the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others.

Book cover showing a train in the forefront with a fire in the background. A sepia photo of Laura Ingalls Wilder is superimposed onto the image. The text reads "Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder"

The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series featuring Caroline Fraser, author of “Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder”

Register online at filson.simpletix.com – Millions of readers of Little House on the Prairie believe they know Laura Ingalls—the pioneer girl who survived blizzards and near-starvation on the Great Plains, and the woman who wrote the famous autobiographical books. But the true saga of her life has never been fully told. Now, drawing on unpublished manuscripts, letters, diaries, and land and financial records, Caroline Fraser—the editor of the Library of America edition of the Little House series—masterfully fills in the gaps in Wilder’s biography.

Caroline Fraser is the editor of the Library of America edition of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books, and the author of Rewilding the World and God’s Perfect Child.

Living with a Deadly Disease: A History of Tuberculosis and Waverly Hills Sanatorium

Lecture sponsored by Dinsmore & Shohl LLP

At the beginning of the twentieth century, tuberculosis was widespread, striking adults and children across lines of class and race. Drawing on the Filson’s manuscript, photograph, and architectural collections, Dr. Lynn Pohl examines how Kentuckians lived with the deadly disease, how they learned about germs and contagion, and why they sought treatment at tuberculosis sanatoria built across the state. It is a history that takes us from whiskey remedies to Louisville women’s public health work, and from Mammoth Cave to a vast complex of patient facilities at Waverly Hills Sanatorium.

Lynn Pohl received her Ph.D. in history at Indiana University and is Collections Cataloger at the Filson.

Register online: https://filson.simpletix.com/e/53937

Filson Friday: Researching Your Historic Home with Danielle Spalenka

Learn how to navigate and discover resources to find out about the history of your historic home. The talk will provide basic guidance, highlight key resources, and present two case studies from Old Louisville that provide a glimpse of the twist, turns, and dead ends you may encounter when finding more about your historic home.

Danielle Spalenka is the Associate Curator of Digital Projects at The Filson Historical Society and a resident of Old Louisville. Prior to joining The Filson staff in April 2019, Ms. Spalenka held the role of Preservation Specialist at the Northeast Document Conservation Center; Project Director for the NEH-funded Digital POWRR Project; and Curator of Manuscripts at the Northern Illinois University Regional History Center. She holds a BA in history from Saint Mary’s College (Notre Dame, IN) and a MA-LIS from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

This event will be broadcast live online via Zoom, the cloud-based video conferencing provider, free of charge for the public.

Register online: https://filson.simpletix.com/e/53932

Kentucky’s Juneteenth: A Public Dialogue about Slavery and Emancipation in the Bluegrass.

Live, Virtual Lecture via Zoom – In recognition of Juneteenth, the celebration of emancipation at the end of the Civil War for communities of freedpeople in Texas, the Filson will hold a Q&A session with Scholar in Residence Patrick Lewis at noon EDT. Join us for an audience-directed discussion of the unique story of freedom in Kentucky and how it fits in to national commemoration and memory of the collapse of the slave system across the United States. Lewis is a published author and speaker on the history of enslavement and freedom in Kentucky during the era of the Civil War. He brings fifteen years of experience in public history interpreting issues of race in classrooms, programs, exhibits, and publications at the National Park Service, the University of Kentucky, the Kentucky Historical Society, and the Filson. 

Register online here: https://filson.simpletix.com/e/53931

Venue Rental

Spaces Available for Rent Beginning 2021

The Filson Historical Society is a unique venue that blends the historic with the modern and provides a stunning background for any event. Several areas of the campus are available to be rented for dinners, retreats, meetings, receptions, parties, or weddings. The venues have access to 74 free parking spaces and wifi, as well as small catering areas. All of the Filson’s facilities have accessible parking.

View a virtual tour of our spaces!

Visit the Filson

1310 S. 3rd St., Louisville, KY 40208
(502) 635-5083

The Filson is temporarily closed to the public to protect our staff, volunteers, and patrons during the coronavirus pandemic. All events are currently postponed or virtual; to register for our live virtual events, please visit our Events Page; for information on recorded lectures and other activities, please visit us online at Bringing History Home.

We continue to provide remote research services; please email gro.l1604130867aciro1604130867tsihn1604130867oslif1604130867@hcra1604130867eser1604130867.

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