December 3, 2019
Better Lucky than Good: Tall Tales and Straight Talk from the Backside of the Track
As the home of the Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs is the epicenter of Kentucky’s equine heritage and the most storied racetrack in the world. More than a thousand people come to work on the backside of the track on any given day during a racing meet. Most of the hot walkers, grooms, exercise riders, jockeys, and other equine workers who dedicate their lives and careers to horse racing will never stand in the winner’s circle, but each of them is a member of a rich community with a long and storied tradition, one that most of us have never known. Better Lucky Than Good: Tall Tales and Straight Talk from the Backside of the Track will change that.
Joe Manning helped establish Louisville Story Program in 2013 and worked as an instructor and editor before he came on board full time as the role of Deputy Director in 2016. Joe was a Jackson Fellow of Creative Writing at Hollins University’s prestigious MFA program where he focused on nonfiction. He’s published award-winning essays, columns, and features for The Louisville Eccentric Observer and The Louisville Paper, has written for Fjords, theRS500.com, and Oxford American. Joe’s first collection of single-topic essays, Certain Relevant Passages, was published in 2017 by Dock Street Press. In 2018 Joe was awarded the Kentucky Arts Council’s Al Smith Individual Artist Fellowship.
November 20, 2019
The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series
FIRST: Sandra Day O’Connor
Drawing on exclusive interviews and first-time access to Justice O’Connor’s archives, New York Times bestselling biographer Evan Thomas paints an inspiring and authoritative picture of America’s first female Supreme Court justice in FIRST: Sandra Day O’Connor
EVAN THOMAS is the author of ten books, including the New York Times bestselling John Paul Jones, Sea of Thunder, and Being Nixon. Thomas was a writer, correspondent, and editor for thirty-three years at Time and Newsweek, including ten years as Washington bureau chief at Newsweek, where, at the time of his retirement in 2010, he was editor at large. He wrote more than one hundred cover stories and in 1999 won a National Magazine Award. He wrote Newsweek’s election specials in 1996, 2000, 2004 (winner of the National Magazine Award), and 2008. He appears on many TV and radio talk shows, including Meet the Press and Morning Joe. Thomas has taught writing and journalism at Harvard and Princeton, where, from 2007-14, he was Ferris Professor of Journalism.
November 15, 2019
Separate: The Story of Plessy v. Ferguson, and American’s Journey from Slavery to Segregation
A myth-shattering narrative of how a nation embraced “separation” and its pernicious consequences.
Plessy v. Ferguson, the Supreme Court case synonymous with “separate but equal,” created remarkably little stir when the justices announced their near-unanimous decision on May 18, 1896. Yet it is one of the most compelling and dramatic stories of the nineteenth century, whose outcome embraced and protected segregation, and whose reverberations are still felt into the twenty-first.
STEVE LUXENBERG is an associate editor at The Washington Post and an award-winning author. During his forty years as a newspaper editor and reporter, Steve has overseen reporting that has earned many national honors, including two Pulitzer Prizes. Steve’s journalistic career began at The Baltimore Sun, where he worked for 11 years. He joined The Post in 1985 as deputy editor of the investigative/special projects staff, headed by assistant managing editor Bob Woodward. In 1991, Steve succeeded Woodward as head of the investigative staff. From 1996 to 2006, Steve was the editor of The Post’s Sunday Outlook section, which publishes original reporting and provocative commentary on a broad spectrum of political, historical and cultural issues. Steve is a graduate of Harvard College.
November 12, 2019
Complicating the Confederate Monument: Enid Yandell’s 1894 Proposal for Louisville, Kentucky
In 1894, Yandell took part in a competition to design a monument to honor Louisville’s Confederate soldiers who died in the Civil War. Yandell was awarded the commission – an important achievement for the young artist who had just finished working for the Chicago World’s Fair – but her design was never completed. In this lecture, Dr. Kelsey Malone examines how the heated debate that surrounded Yandell’s proposed Confederate Monument was influenced by both the conventions of traditional, Victorian womanhood and the politics of “statue mania” in the United States at the turn of the twentieth century.
Dr. Kelsey Frady Malone teaches undergraduate- and graduate-level courses in the History of Art and Women’s and Gender Studies. Dr. Malone earned her Ph.D. from the University of Missouri in 2018 and her MA in Art History from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 2012. Her research focuses on American women artists and their collaborative approaches to art production in the nineteenth- and early twentieth-centuries, with a particular interest in photography, sculpture, and popular illustration.
November 6, 2019
Louisville Modern: An Era in Art
Louisville Modern: An Era in Art tells the story of the art scene in the Louisville, Kentucky-Southern Indiana area from the 1940s through the 1960s. It is both a personal account and an art-historical overview of a period that many categorize now as Mid-century Modern.
Warren and Julie Payne are private art dealers and consultants in Louisville, Kentucky, specializing in paintings and prints produced in Kentucky, their immediate region and in the Deep South. Their online-gallery inventory includes works on paper from the United States, Britain and France produced in the 19th and early 20th centuries. The Paynes have taken part in many exhibitions over the last two decades and curated several; have produced eight catalogs and two books, Louisville Modern: an era in art and Clear as Mud: Early 20th Century Kentucky Art Pottery; and worked on E.C. Pennington’s seminal Kentucky: The Master Painters from the Frontier Era to the Great Depression.
October 29, 2019
The Bourbon King: The Life and Crimes of George Remus, Prohibition’s Evil Genius
October 2019 marks the 100th anniversary of the Volstead Act, which put the enforcement teeth into Prohibition. But the law didn’t stop George Remus from cornering the boozy, illegal liquor marketplace and amassing a fortune that eclipsed $200 million (the equivalent of $4.75 billion today.) As eminent documentarian Ken Burns proclaimed, “Remus was to bootlegging what Rockefeller was to oil.”
Bob Batchelor, is a critically-acclaimed, bestselling noted cultural historian and biographer. He has published widely on American culture history and literature, including books on Stan Lee, Bob Dylan, The Great Gatsby, Mad Men, and John Updike. Bob earned his doctorate in English Literature from the University of South Florida. He teaches in the Media, Journalism & Film department at Miami University in Oxford, Ohio.
October 21, 2019
An American Story: The Redd Family Portraits
The Redd family portraits tell the story of the marriages, mentorship and geography that entwined the lives of two of Kentucky’s most important artists, Matthew Harris Jouett (1788-1827) and Oliver Frazer (1808-1864), and their descendants. This talk will tell that story and the travels and adventures of these paintings as they moved from the first owners to the present with the backdrop of war, financial crises and cultural revolutions in American history.
Mack Cox is a petroleum geologist and recently retired from a 35 year career in that industry. He and his wife Sharon are Kentucky natives who collect and research early Kentucky arts. Their collection was covered in the July 2011 issue of The Magazine Antiques, “The Kentucky Collection of Sharon and Mack Cox”, and fills a chapter in Collecting Kentucky 1790-1860, “Digging Deep”, pp. 52-77 by Lacer and Howard, which was published in 2013. Their collecting habits were the subject of the May 4, 2016 issue of the Invaluable Blog, The Elite Race for Kentucky Art & Antiques
October 18, 2019
Lewis and Clark
In 1813, Nicholas Biddle published the first authorized version of the Lewis and Clark expedition based on original sources. It was the standard reference for the expedition for more than three-quarters of a century. Comparing Biddle’s paraphrase of daily events to his own rendering in a day-by-day narrative of the endeavor, significant differences were noted, including additional information not found in existing sources and omissions of events that are today considered important aspects of the story. In this presentation, Gary Moulton has gathered the additions and omissions under five categories and will discuss these differences and discover patterns in Biddle’s work.
Gary E. Moulton is Thomas C. Sorensen Professor Emeritus of American History at the University of Nebraska, Lincoln, and editor of the Journals of the Lewis and Clark Expedition. Among his publications are a biography of Chief John Ross of the Cherokees, a two-volume edition of his papers, the thirteen-volume edition of the journals of the Lewis and Clark expedition, a one-volume abridgment of the edition, and a day-by-day narrative of the expedition. Significant research awards include the J. Franklin Jameson Prize for Outstanding Editorial Achievement from the American Historical Association, and the University of Nebraska’s Outstanding Research and Creative Activity Award, the institution’s highest research award.
October 15, 2019
From Slavery to Equality: The 400 Year Struggle of African-Americans
George C. Wright
The year 2019 represents the 400th anniversary of the first enslaved Africans arriving in Virginia in 1619. This was a global, transatlantic moment, not just a Southern or American one. But what does that history mean for contemporary Kentuckians? The Filson welcomes eminent Kentucky historian Dr. George C. Wright to reflect on a lifetime of study and teaching about slavery and the struggle for emancipation and freedom in the U.S., Canada, Europe, Brazil, and South Africa.
Dr. George C. Wright is a Lexington native with degrees from the University of Kentucky (B.A., M.A.) and Duke University (Ph.D.). He is the author of Life Behind a Veil: Blacks in Louisville, Kentucky, 1865-1930 (LSU, 1985); Racial Violence in Kentucky, 1865-1940: Lynchings, Mob Rule, and “Legal Lynchings” (LSU, 1990); and A History of Blacks in Kentucky, Vol. 2: In Pursuit of Equality, 1890-1980 (KHS, 1992) among other publications. A lengthy career in the classroom and higher education administration included fourteen years as President of Prairie View A&M University in Texas. During the 2019-20 academic year, Dr. Wright is a visiting professor of history in honor of the 70th anniversary of integration at the University of Kentucky.
October 10, 2019
The Long Run Massacre and the Beargrass Stations: Early Louisville History
Louisville was founded during the American Revolution, a time when hostilities with the Indian nations north of the Ohio were at their height. Flatboats coming down the river were often attacked, and once settlers arrived in 1779 raids on the Beargrass stations and other outposts around Louisville followed. The worst disaster happened in September of 1781, when Squire Boone abandoned his Painted Stone station near present Shelbyville and the people who had lived there, retreating to the Bear Grass stations, were attacked.
William Heath is a professor emeritus in the English department at Mount Saint Mary’s University. He attended Hiram College, where he majored in history, and received his M.A. and Ph.D. in American Studies from Case Western Reserve University; his dissertation was a critical study of American novelist John Hawkes. He taught American literature and creative writing at Kenyon, Transylvania, Vassar, and the University of Seville, where he was a Fulbright professor for two years.
October 3, 2019
Enid Yandell: Kentucky’s Pioneer Sculptor
Dr. Juilee Decker
In characterizing Enid as Kentucky’s pioneer sculptor, Decker describes and analyzes Enid’s ambition and accomplishment as one of the first women named to the National Sculpture Society among other accolades and her lifelong identification with Daniel Boone, an association that she honored and protected for nearly 40 years.
Dr. Juilee Decker’s research and scholarship are at the intersection of museum studies, public history, and public art. She earned her Ph.D. in 2003 from Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Museum of Art. She taught from 2004-2014 at Georgetown College prior to joining the museum studies faculty at Rochester Institute of Technology in 2014.
September 5, 2019
The British Are Coming: The War for America, Lexington to Princeton, 1775-1777
Rick Atkinson, author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning An Army at Dawn and two other superb books about World War II, has long been admired for his deeply researched, stunningly vivid narrative histories. Now he turns his attention to a new war, and in the initial volume of the Revolution Trilogy he recounts the first twenty-one months of America’s violent war for independence. From the battles at Lexington and Concord in spring 1775 to those at Trenton and Princeton in winter 1776-1777, American militiamen and then the ragged Continental Army take on the world’s most formidable fighting force. It is a gripping saga alive with astonishing characters: Henry Knox, the former bookseller with an uncanny understanding of artillery; Nathanael Greene, the blue-eyed bumpkin who becomes a brilliant battle captain; Benjamin Franklin, the self-made man who proves to be the wiliest of diplomats; George Washington, the commander in chief who learns the difficult art of leadership when the war seems all but lost. The story is also told from the British perspective, making the mortal conflict between the redcoats and the rebels all the more compelling.
Full of riveting details and untold stories, The British Are Coming is a tale of heroes and knaves, of sacrifice and blunder, of redemption and profound suffering. Rick Atkinson has given stirring new life to the first act of our country’s creation drama.
Rick Atkinson is a Pulitzer Prize winner and the New York Times bestselling author of The Guns at Last Light.
August 27, 2019
The Pioneering Parkways in American Cities of Fredrick Law Olmsted and Calvert Vaux
While much attention has been given to the parks of Frederick Law Olmsted, this presentation examines the evolution and significance of the Olmsted parkway. After looking at the design principles for the original Olmsted/Vaux parkway, the presentation tracks how the parkway evolved into a metropolitan transportation planning framework as reflected in his successive plans for Brooklyn and Buffalo, which culminated in his most sophisticated metropolitan park system in Louisville in 1891. It argues that Olmsted’s parkways have had a greater impact on the American landscape than his parks.
David Ames is Professor Emeritus of Urban Affairs and Public Policy, Geography, and Material Culture Studies at the University of Delaware. He received his A.B. in Geography and A.M. in Geography and Regional Science from George Washington University and his Ph.D from Clark University.
August 22, 2019
Walter H. Kiser’s Neighborhood Sketches Revisited
John David Myles
Join award-winning author John David Myles as he retraces the steps of artist Walter H. Kiser on his journey across Kentucky and the river communities of Southern Indiana in the 1930s and early 1940s. Celebrate the survival of many of the 404 landmarks Kiser drew, mourn the passing of others, and learn of their histories over the past three quarters of a century. Above all, revel in the drawings of this largely forgotten artist whose works are in the collections of the Speed Art Museum, the Filson Historical Society, and the Indiana Historical Society.
John David Myles is an attorney, former circuit judge, and preservationist. He has written and lectured on architecture for The Filson Historical Society in his native Kentucky and prepared a number of historical and architectural reports on southern hunting plantations for Plantation Services, Inc., in Charleston, South Carolina. Myles has also consulted on numerous restoration and renovation projects. He is the author of Historic Architecture of Shelby County, Kentucky, 1792-1915 and Beaumont Inn: Two Centuries of Service.
August 13, 2019
Boonesborough Unearthed: Frontier Archaeology at a Revolutionary Fort
Throughout the Revolutionary War, Fort Boonesborough was one of the most important and defensively crucial sites on the western frontier. It served not only as a stronghold against the British but also as a sanctuary, land office, and a potential seat of government. Originally meant to be the capital of a new American colony, Fort Boonesborough was thrust into a defensive role by the onset of the Revolutionary War. Post-Revolutionary attempts to develop a town failed and the site was abandoned. Yet Fort Boonesborough lived on in local memory.
Boonesborough Unearthed: Frontier Archaeology at a Revolutionary Fort is the result of more than thirty years of research by archaeologist Nancy O’Malley. This groundbreaking book presents new information and fresh insights about Fort Boonesborough and life in frontier Kentucky. O’Malley examines the story of this historical landmark from its founding during a time of war into the nineteenth century. O’Malley also delves into the lives of the settlers who lived there and explores the Transylvania Company’s dashed hopes of forming a fourteenth colony at the fort. This insightful and informative work is a fascinating exploration into Kentucky’s frontier past.
Nancy O’Malley is a professional archaeologist specializing in early settlement and Revolutionary War Kentucky. She is well known for her extensive research on the frontier experience and pioneer residential sites. She is the author of Stockading Up: A Study of Pioneer Stations in the Inner Bluegrass Region of Kentucky and other publications, including a chapter in The Buzzel about Kentuck (edited by Craig Friend).
August 9, 2019
George D. Prentice and Bloody Monday: Scoundrel? Or Scapegoat?
The recent removal of the George D. Prentice statue from public display capped over 163 years of controversy. The influential editor of the Louisville Daily Journal has long been condemned for his anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant editorials that many believe sparked the tragic “Bloody Monday” riot of 1855.
While several historians have absolved Prentice of total blame for the tragedy, he remains one of Louisville’s foremost villains in the public mind. This talk brings a fresh perspective to “Bloody Monday”, as well as a closer look regarding Prentice’s role in the tragedy. At the conclusion the audience will have the opportunity to judge – was Prentice a scoundrel? Or a scapegoat?
James Prichard is a Manuscript Cataloger at The Filson Historical Society. He received his B.A. and M.A. from Wright State University. He is the author of Embattled Capital: Frankfort, Kentucky in the Civil War.
August 2, 2019
History Stitched in Quilts
This program will feature the quilts in the Filson’s collection, representing nearly 200 years of history. Each quilt has a story to tell. By looking at the patterns, materials, methods and technologies used to make the quilts, we can uncover personal narratives of the women and men who made them, as well as discover broader social, economic and cultural histories of the Ohio River Valley. Several quilts will be brought out from storage for visitors to examine in person. Maureen and Brooks Vessels, the Museum Collections Assistant, are currently inventorying, cataloging and rehousing the Filson’s textile and clothing collection, which contains several thousand quilts, coverlets, domestic linens, clothing, undergarments and accessories, including shoes. The Filson’s textile collection is a significant research collection available for study. The collection be accessible online in the next several years.
Maureen Lane is the Filson’s Museum Registrar and Exhibits Coordinator. She has an M.A. in American Studies with a focus in Art and Material Culture from Penn State University, as well as an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
July 26, 2019
Facing History: The Stories Behind Thomas McKenney’s Indian Portraits
This past winter, the Filson Historical Society made an exciting new acquisition: a complete three volume set of McKenney and Hall’s History of the Indian Tribes of North America. Created by former United States Superintendent of Indian Affairs Thomas L. McKenney (1785-1859), the work is richly Illustrated with 120 hand-colored folio size portrait prints of Native American politicians and historical figures. It also took nearly two decades to produce: from 1830 to 1847—a brutal period of removal and dispossession for many Native Americans. Filson curator Abby Glogower takes us between the pages to explore the historical and political contexts that shaped McKenney’s History and to meet some of fascinating individuals profiled within.
Dr. Abigail Glogower curates the Jewish Community Archives at the Filson Historical Society and holds a PhD in American art and visual culture.
July 19, 2019
“Down the Ohio and into the Wilderness: The Lewis and Clark Expedition”
Join Jim Holmberg for this illustrated lecture on the Lewis and Clark Expedition. This epic journey of 1803 to 1806 across the American West to the Pacific had a very important Eastern Legacy as well as its more famous Western Legacy. The expedition didn’t spring from nothing at the mouth of the Missouri; and an important part of that story is the crucial role that the Falls of Ohio and local recruits played in the success of the expedition. It is a story that stretches from sea to shining sea.
Jim Holmberg is the Filson’s curator of collections and a Lewis and Clark historian. He is a native of Louisville and holds BA and MA degrees in history from the University of Louisville.
July 12, 2019
A New Deal for Medicine: Expanding and Desegregating Louisville Hospitals after World War II
At the end of World War II, Louisville was home to a varied mix of hospitals, many of which were racially segregated, privately funded, and struggling to stay afloat. In the following decades, a bipartisan act of Congress – the 1946 Hill-Burton Act – would dramatically expand and modernize hospitals throughout the United States. Drawing on the Filson’s architectural and manuscript collections, Dr. Lynn Pohl explores how Hill-Burton funds and requirements spurred investment in specialized technologies and set into motion an uneven process of desegregation, transforming hospital care in Louisville during the 1950s and 1960s.
Lynn Pohl, Ph.D., catalogs Jewish and general manuscript collections at the Filson and has published articles about the history of medicine and race.
June 27, 2019
Lost Wax Metal Casting
Sculptor and Falls Art Foundry co-owner, Matt Weir’s talk will help demystify the ancient “Lost Wax Metal Casting Process”, which Enid Yandell used to create works such as her Hogan’s Fountain and Daniel Boone bronze sculptures, both in Cherokee Park. Though images and detailed discussion, you will learn how a foundry takes an artist’s model from its initial sculpted material through the stages of the casting process to a finished bronze sculpture. In addition to discussing metal casting, Matt will also talk about how his own work in addition to that of Louisville’s unique sculptural legacy is related to Enid and her foundational life.
Matt graduated Cum Laude with a BFA from the University of Louisville Hite Art Institute with minors in Humanities and Art History in 2004. Throughout that time, he was also busy apprenticing with a diverse set of professional artists, studios and at the Bright Foundry an art foundry in Louisville. His time associated with the foundry, established by sculptor Barney Bright, lasted for approximately 15 years. In 2016 the Bright Foundry closed permanently and Matt co-organized a team to succeed it as Falls Art Foundry, which is now located in the historic Portland neighborhood. Matt’s work may be found throughout the region in such landscapes and places as Bernheim Forest, Oldham County Courthouse, St. Xavier high school, as well as the downtown streets of Louisville.
June 18, 2019
The Cornbread Mafia: A Homegrown Syndicate’s Code of Silence and the Biggest Marijuana Bust in American History
In the summer of 1987, Johnny Boone set out to grow and harvest one of the greatest outdoor marijuana crops in modern times. In doing so, he set into motion a series of events that defined him and his associates as the largest homegrown marijuana syndicate in American history, also known as the Cornbread Mafia.
Author James Higdon—whose relationship with Johnny Boone, currently a federal fugitive, made him the first journalist subpoenaed under the Obama administration—takes readers back to the 1970s and ’80s and the clash between federal and local law enforcement and a band of Kentucky farmers with moonshine and pride in their bloodlines. By 1989 the task force assigned to take down men like Johnny Boone had arrested sixty-nine men and one woman from busts on twenty-nine farms in ten states, and seized two hundred tons of pot. Of the seventy individuals arrested, zero talked. How it all went down is a tale of Mafia-style storylines emanating from the Bluegrass State, and populated by Vietnam veterans and weed-loving characters caught up in Tarantino-level violence and heart-breaking altruism.
Accompanied by a soundtrack of rock-and-roll and rhythm-and-blues, this work of dogged investigative journalism and history is told by Higdon in action-packed, colorful and riveting detail.
June 11, 2019
Naming Louisville’s Largest Parks: Tribes, Politics, and the Filson President
Richard Hume Werking
Who named Cherokee, Iroquois, and Shawnee Parks? When and how? And why these names?
Louisville’s public parks are among the city’s most important assets. Yet relatively few Louisville residents are acquainted with the early history of our park system, including how our three largest parks got the names they still have today — 128 years later.
Some have speculated that it was Frederick Law Olmsted himself — the prominent landscape architect who contributed so much to the park system’s design and subsequent reputation — who named Cherokee, Iroquois, and Shawnee parks. But the archives tell a different story. As usual, the history surrounding this subject is much richer and more complex than it might initially seem.
Dr. Richard Hume Werking, Library Director and Professor of History Emeritus at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, grew up in Evansville, Indiana. A graduate of the Universities of Evansville, Wisconsin, and Chicago, he is the author of The Master Architects: Building the United States Foreign Service, 1890-1913. Among his other publications are biographical essays on Admiral Raymond A. Spruance and General Walter Bedell Smith in Indiana’s 200: The People Who Shaped the Hoosier State.
June 4, 2019
Native Southerners: Indigenous History from Origins to Removal
Gregory D. Smithers
Long before the indigenous people of southeastern North America first encountered Europeans and Africans, they established communities with clear social and political hierarchies and rich cultural traditions. Award-winning historian Gregory D. Smithers brings this world to life in Native Southerners, a sweeping narrative of American Indian history in the Southeast from the time before European colonialism to the Trail of Tears and beyond.
In the Native South, as in much of North America, storytelling is key to an understanding of origins and tradition—and the stories of the indigenous people of the Southeast are central to Native Southerners. Spanning territory reaching from modern-day Louisiana and Arkansas to the Atlantic coast, and from present-day Tennessee and Kentucky through Florida, this book gives voice to the lived history of such well-known polities as the Cherokees, Creeks, Seminoles, Chickasaws, and Choctaws, as well as smaller Native communities like the Nottoway, Occaneechi, Haliwa-Saponi, Catawba, Biloxi-Chitimacha, Natchez, Caddo, and many others. From the oral and cultural traditions of these Native peoples, as well as the written archives of European colonists and their Native counterparts, Smithers constructs a vibrant history of the societies, cultures, and people that made and remade the Native South in the centuries before the American Civil War. What emerges is a complex picture of how Native Southerners understood themselves and their world—a portrayal linking community and politics, warfare and kinship, migration, adaptation, and ecological stewardship—and how this worldview shaped and was shaped by their experience both before and after the arrival of Europeans.
As nuanced in detail as it is sweeping in scope, the narrative Smithers constructs is a testament to the storytelling and the living history that have informed the identities of Native Southerners to our day.
Gregory D. Smithers is Professor of History at Virginia Commonwealth University and author of The Cherokee Diaspora: An Indigenous History of Migration, Resettlement, and Identity. His research and writing focuses on the histories of Indigenous people and African Americans from the eighteenth century to the present.
May 22, 2019
The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series
Spying on the South: An Odyssey across the American Divide
In the 1850s, the young Frederick Law Olmsted was adrift, a restless farmer and dreamer in search of a mission. He found it during an extraordinary journey, as an undercover correspondent in the South for the up-and-coming New York Times.
Tony Horwitz rediscovers Yeoman Olmsted amidst the angry discord and polarization of our own time. Is America still one country? In search of answers, and his own adventures, Horwitz follows Olmsted’s tracks and often his mode of transport: through Appalachia, down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, into bayou Louisiana, and across Texas to the contested Mexican borderland.
Tony Horwitz is a native of Washington, D.C., and a graduate of Brown University and Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism. As a foreign correspondent, he covered wars in the Middle East, Africa, and Europe, mainly for the Wall Street Journal. Returning to the U.S., he won a Pulitzer Prize for national reporting and wrote for the New Yorker. He has also been a fellow at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study and president of the Society of American Historians.
May 20, 2019
The History of the American Jewish Hospital and Why it Matters Today
Dr. Edward C. Halperin
Over one hundred Jewish hospitals were opened in the United States in the 19th and 20th centuries. Now they are almost all gone. Why were they created, what purposes did they serve, and why did they disappear? Insofar as many of these hospitals were created in response to pervasive medical anti-Semitism which reached its zenith at the end of World War II, why did this medical anti-Semitism dissipate within a generation? The speaker will explore these questions and their relevance to current debates over alleged discrimination against Asian-Americans in higher education.
Edward C. Halpern received his BS in Economics from The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, MA from Duke University, and MD from Yale University. He was an intern at Stanford University and a resident at Harvard Medical School/Massachusetts General Hospital. Dr. Halperin has served as chairman of the department of radiation oncology at Duke University; vice dean of Duke’s School of Medicine; Dean of Medicine, Ford Foundation Professor of Medical Education, and Vice Provost at the University of Louisville; and is now Chancellor/CEO of New York Medical College and Professor of Radiation Oncology, Pediatrics, and History and Provost for Biomedical Affairs of the Touro College and University System. He is the author of more than 220 articles in the peer reviewed literature and multiple editions of the principal textbooks in pediatric and adult radiation oncology.
For more discussion on this topic, see the podcast of our May 31, 2018 event – “Breaking Down Barriers: the importance of Jewish Hospital in Louisville’s History”.
May 14, 2019
Opportunities and the Future of the Russell Neighborhood
“Notable Louisville Neighborhoods and the People Who Put Them on the Map” is a new series that focuses on the various neighborhoods within the city of Louisville. For the final installment this year, Kevin Fields will lead a panel discussion on the opportunities and future of West Louisville. Joining him on the panel will be:
- Jackie Floyd, a native Louisvillian and current resident of the Russell neighborhood. She has broad experience in community engagement, case management and civic involvement. Most recently, Jackie served with New Directions Housing Corporation as a Vision Russell Outreach Worker leading community outreach and input efforts with the Vision Russell Choice Neighborhoods Planning grant.
- Laura Kinsell-Baer, a Project Manager at McCormack Baron Salazar. She supports the implementation of comprehensive mixed-income and mixed-use projects. She is currently managing redevelopment of the Beecher Terrace Public Housing, site part of the Vision Russell Choice Neighborhood Initiative.
- Theresa Zawacki, Executive on Loan to Russell: A Place of Promise, an economic justice-based initiative. Zawacki and the initiative are focused on the people and places that enhance the existing, new, and historic assets in Louisville’s historically black Russell neighborhood
May 9, 2019
During the Great Depression, as many as 50,000 people lived on an estimated 30,000 shanty boats in the Ohio and Mississippi River basins. Louisville’s floating shanty boat neighborhood was part of a changing waterfront for more than a century as the city evolved from a river town into an industrial city. This program explores shanty boat Louisville at the beginning of the 1900s. Who were the shanty boaters and why did they choose this alternative form of housing? Why were city officials determined to rid the waterfront of these “squatty little shanties, half house, half boat”? And what factors combined to bring an end to what one newspaperman called “these picturesque river tramps” at Louisville’s “Point” neighborhood?
Dr. Mark Wetherington is the former Director and Senior Research Fellow at The Filson Historical Society. He received his B.A. and Master’s degrees in history at Georgia Southern and earned a Ph.D. in history in1985 from the University of Tennessee. He is the author of The New South Comes to Wiregrass Georgia, 1860 and Plain Folk’s Fight: The Civil War and Reconstruction in Piney Woods, Georgia.
April 25, 2019
People and Places of the Russell Neighborhood
Moderated by Sam Watkins
“Notable Louisville Neighborhoods and the People Who Put Them on the Map” is a new series that seeks to connect people with their hyper-local history in a meaningful way. Focusing on the various neighborhoods within the city of Louisville, the series kicks off with a panel discussion on the history of the Russell Neighborhood. Originally a fashionable suburb with white and black working-class housing, Russell evolved into Louisville’s foremost African American neighborhood by the 1940s, boasting a well-defined business district and an expansive residential area.
Bonnie Lash Freeman will lead a panel discussion on the people and places that put the Russell neighborhood on the map. Joining her on the panel will be:
Lynn E. Johnson, Director of the Chestnut Street YMCA Black Achievers Program serving teens grades 8th – 12th. She has expanded the program to youth grades K-7th. She commits to helping teens succeed, while nurturing adult volunteers who are the backbone of the Program.
Sam Watkins, former Chief Executive Officer of Louisville Central Community Centers. He is noted for his push for excellence among LCCC’s constituency and highly recognized as a national leader among neighborhood organizations.
April 16, 2019
Kentucky’s “Humble” Gunsmiths
Mel Hankla will focus on the life and times of the Humble brothers. Michael, (1744-1818) was an armorer with Gen. George Rogers Clark and Conrad, (1739-1790) whose shop was in Bourbon County, about 5 miles west of Paris. By 1779, Michael had a gun shop on the corner of 12th and Main street in downtown Louisville. Rifles made by these brothers will be on display during and after the lecture.
Mel Hankla is a past president of the Contemporary Longrifle Association and editor of American Tradition Magazine. A builder of traditional Longrifles, in 1984 he was awarded a National Endowment of the Arts grant to apprentice with master Kentucky riflesmith Hershel House. In 2016 he was proudly inducted into the prestigious American Society of Arms Collectors. A noted author, he has contributed articles to many publications and is currently working on a book entitled Up the Valley & Through the Gap – Following the Migration of Kentucky’s Rifle Smiths.
April 12, 2019
Struck Out: The Illiterate Hand on the Literate Page
Digital-age scholars and commentators view handwriting from varying angles—as an old and still-evolving tradition (Anne Trubek), a modern medium for literary revision (Hannah Sullivan), a historical register of ideas about selfhood (Tamara Thornton), and, perhaps most frequently, a romantically expressive act (Kitty Burns Florey and Philip Hensher, among others). But even as wide a range of views as this has at least one common denominator: handwriting is something that formally educated, highly literate people do.
Christopher Hager is Charles A. Dana Research Associate Professor at Trinity College, Hartford, where he teaches in English and American Studies and for three years directed the Center for Teaching and Learning. He is the author of Word by Word: Emancipation and the Act of Writing (Harvard Univ. Press, 2013), which won the 2014 Frederick Douglass Prize, and I Remain Yours: Common Lives in Civil War Letters (Harvard Univ. Press,2018), which was supported by a grant from the NEH Public Scholar program. With Cody Marrs, he is co-editor of Timelines of American Literature (Johns Hopkins Univ. Press, 2019). His recent work also appears in Literary Cultures of the Civil War (ed. Timothy Sweet), the Cambridge History of American Working-Class Literature (ed. Nicholas Coles and Paul Lauter), and the forthcoming Visions of Glory: The Civil War in Word and Image (ed. Benjamin Fagan and Kathleen Diffley).
April 2, 2019
Bringing Down the Colonel: A Sex Scandal of the Gilded Age, and the “Powerless” Woman Who Took On Washington
In Bringing Down the Colonel, the journalist Patricia Miller tells the story of Madeline Pollard, an unlikely nineteenth-century women’s rights crusader. After an affair with a prominent politician left her “ruined,” Pollard brought the man—and the hypocrisy of America’s control of women’s sexuality—to trial. And, surprisingly, she won.
Patricia Miller is a journalist and an editor who has written extensively about the intersection of politics, sex, and religion. Her work has appeared in The Atlantic, Salon, The Nation, The Huffington Post, RH Reality Check, and Ms. magazine. She is a senior correspondent for Religion Dispatches, where she writes about the politics of sexuality and the Catholic Church. She was formerly the editor of Conscience magazine and the editor in chief of National Journal’s daily health-care briefings, including the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report and American Healthline. She has a master’s in journalism from New York University and is based in Washington, D.C.
March 28, 2019
The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series
Heirs of the Founders: The Epic Rivalry of Henry Clay, John CalHoun and Daniel Webster, The Second Generation of American Giants
H. W. Brands
From New York Times bestselling historian H. W. Brands comes the riveting story of how, in nineteenth-century America, a new set of political giants battled to complete the unfinished work of the Founding Fathers and decide the future of our democracy.
In the early 1800s, three young men strode onto the national stage, elected to Congress at a moment when the Founding Fathers were beginning to retire to their farms. Daniel Webster of Massachusetts, a champion orator known for his eloquence, spoke for the North and its business class. Henry Clay of Kentucky, as dashing as he was ambitious, embodied the hopes of the rising West. South Carolina’s John Calhoun, with piercing eyes and an even more piercing intellect, defended the South and slavery.
Thrillingly and authoritatively, H. W. Brands narrates an epic American rivalry and the little-known drama of the dangerous early years of our democracy. H.W. BRANDS holds the Jack S. Blanton Sr. Chair in History at the University of Texas at Austin. A New York Times bestselling author, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in biography for The First American and Traitor to His Class.
March 12, 2019
Notable Louisville Neighborhoods
Notable Louisville Neighborhoods and the People Who Put Them on the Map is a new Filson series that seeks to connect people with their hyperlocal history in a meaningful way. Focusing on the various neighborhoods within the city of Louisville, the series kicks off with a panel discussion on the history of the Russell Neighborhood. Originally a fashionable suburb with white and black working-class housing, Russell evolved into Louisville’s foremost African American neighborhood by the 1940s, boasting a well-defined business district and an expansive residential area.
Ken Clay, community leader and co-author of Two Centuries of Black Louisville: A Photographic History, will lead a panel discussion to bring to life Russell’s important history and influence on our community.
Joining Clay on the panel will be:
Michael L. Jones an award-winning freelance journalist and author whose work regularly appears in Insider Louisville, LEO, Louisville Magazine and Food & Dining. His last book, Louisville Jug Music: From Earl McDonald to the National Jubilee, received the 2014 Samuel Thomas Book Award from the Louisville Historical League. Jones’ article about the black roots of Happy Birthday to You, A Peculiar Composition, appeared in the 2017 Oxford American music issue which focused on Kentucky.
Claudia Geurin is a retired employee of AT&T and Jefferson County Public Schools. She grew up in the Parkland neighborhood, attended Central High School, and is a lifelong member of the Hill Street BC that was located in the Russell area from 1942-2005. Geurin wrote first book, Time and Story in 2016. She has been a member of the Louisville Urban League Guild for 38 years.
Jana Meyer is an Associate Curator of Collections at the Filson Historical Society. She received a degree in History from the University of Louisville, as well as a master’s degree in Library and Information Science from the University of Kentucky. Jana specializes in arranging and describing the Filson’s manuscript collections.
February 26, 2019
Utilizing the ‘Worthless’ Animal: The Musseling Industry of the Ohio River
In 1868, fishermen re-discovered fine pearls in Ohio’s Little Miami River, a tributary to the Ohio River. “Pearl mania” swept the nation. By the 1880s, the pearl fever grasped the Ohio River Valley with the “same spirit of the gold seeker of 1849.” Thousands of visitors, many with no familiarity or attachment to the Ohio River environment that housed mussel beds and thus limited understanding of the ecological effect of their harvesting, flocked to creeks and rivers in pursuit of pearls. The fever waned in some areas as mussel beds became exhausted and localities were “cleaned out,” but the mania would simply pick up again in new sections of the river. By the 1900s, interest grew from just the mussels’ pearls to the mussels’ shells as well, substantially expanding the musseling industry. For the Ohio River and its tributaries, the result of this excessive harvesting and ongoing urban pollution was a decrease in riparian health and biodiversity, encouraging the federal government’s attempts to save the industry. In “Utilizing the ‘Worthless’ Animal: The musseling industry of the Ohio River,” Kristen Fleming will discuss this environmental history of the mussel in this region.
Kristen Fleming is a doctoral candidate at the University of Cincinnati writing on the ecological transformation of the Ohio River in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. She has also written and presented on topics such as the Army Corps of Engineers’ projects and the creation of the Ohio River Valley Sanitation Commission.
February 21, 2019
Genealogy Through Photography: Exploring Family Photographs
The Filson Historical Society located in Old Louisville has over 75,000 photographic items within its collection. A large portion is comprised of local Louisville and Southern Indiana family photographs. While you may be familiar with the Filson’s library resources, some may not be as aware of our visual resources. The Filson’s Curator of Photographs and Prints, Heather J. Potter, will give an overview of the Filson’s Photographic Collections, a tutorial on how to search the collection, and some tips on how to preserve your own family photographs.
Heather J. Potter is the Curator of Photographs and Prints at the Filson Historical Society. Potter received her BA in History from Washburn University, Topeka, Kansas, and MLS with an emphasis in Archives from Indiana University – Bloomington. Her research interests include World War I, Mammoth Cave, and Genealogy.
February 12, 2019
Bud Dorsey’s Louisville: African American Life Through the Years
Bud Dorsey has dedicated over 50 years to documenting life Louisville, especially the experiences of African Americans. He spent fifteen years as a freelancer (JET, Ebony, the Courier-Journal, the Louisville Defender, etc.) and 20+ years as the sole full-time staff photographer for the Louisville Defender, and since his retirement in 2002, he has continued to take photographs every day. His photographs show us life in Louisville as many of us have never seen it before. Mr. Dorsey teaches us how to look at our community: with love, curiosity, respect, nuance, concern, playfulness, hope, heartbreak, and pride. Considered collectively, his photographs are a love letter to Louisville, crafted outside of mainstream arts and media worlds over the course of decades by a man who cares and has always there to bear witness. This video is an introduction to Mr. Dorsey and his work.
To this day, Bud is seemingly at every event in West Louisville—cultural showcases, church functions, protests, civic meetings, athletic events, crime scenes, etc.—while also making time to photograph nature and man-made structures. He finds almost everything interesting, and as a result his body of work represents an impressively rich portrait of life in Louisville over the years.
Thursday, February 7, 2019
African American Officers in Liberia
Brian G. Shellum
African American Officers in Liberia tells the story of seventeen African American officers who trained, reorganized, and commanded the Liberian Frontier Force from 1910 to 1942. In this West African country founded by freed black American slaves, African American officers performed their duties as instruments of imperialism for a country that was, at best, ambivalent about having them serve under arms at home and abroad.
The United States extended its newfound imperial reach and policy of “Dollar Diplomacy” to Liberia, a country it considered a U.S. protectorate. Brian G. Shellum explores U.S. foreign policy toward Liberia and the African American diaspora, while detailing the African American military experience in the first half of the twentieth century. Shellum brings to life the story of the African American officers who carried out a dangerous mission in Liberia for an American government that did not treat them as equal citizens in their homeland, and he provides recognition for their critical role in preserving the independence of Liberia.
Brian G. Shellum is a retired army officer and former historian and intelligence officer with the Department of Defense. He is the author of Black Cadet in a White Bastion: Charles Young at West Point and Black Officer in a Buffalo Soldier Regiment: The Military Career of Charles Young
Local Connections: There are two links Kentucky and Louisville that I will emphasize to local audiences about this book. The main character who led this military mission to Liberia was born in Mays Lick, Kentucky in Mason County. He was born to slaves in 1864 and escaped north to Ohio with his father and mother in 1965. He then went on to be the third black graduate of West Point in 1889, and rose to the rank of Colonel before his death in 1922. One of Young’s most trusted officers during his Liberian mission was a man named Wilson Ballard, who had a dental practice on Walnut Street in Louisville. Ballard died here in Louisville in 1943 and is buried at Zachary Taylor National Cemetery.
January 24, 2019
Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765-1776
The untold story of the “Black Boys,” a rebellion on the American frontier in 1765 that sparked the American Revolution.
In 1763, the Seven Years’ War ended in a spectacular victory for the British. The French army agreed to leave North America, but many Native Americans, fearing that the British Empire would expand onto their lands and conquer them, refused to lay down their weapons. Under the leadership of a shrewd Ottawa warrior named Pontiac, they kept fighting for their freedom, capturing several British forts and devastating many of the westernmost colonial settlements. The British, battered from the costly war, needed to stop the violent attacks on their borderlands. Peace with Pontiac was their only option—if they could convince him to negotiate.
Patrick Spero is the Librarian and Director of the American Philosophical Society Library in Philadelphia. As a scholar of early American history, Dr. Spero specializes in the era of the American Revolution. He has published over a dozen essays and reviews on the topic. His is the author of Frontier Rebels: The Fight for Independence in the American West, 1765-1776, Frontier Country: The Politics of War in Early Pennsylvania, and The American Revolution Reborn: New Perspectives for the Twenty-First Century, an edited anthology also from Penn Press.
January 17, 2019
Recording a Vanishing World: Harlan Hubbard and Shantyboat Culture
The work of Kentucky-based writer, artist, and naturalist Harlan Hubbard remains a vital resource to those interested in understanding Ohio Valley river culture. Along with his wife, Anna, Harlan made the acquaintance of many river folk over the course of his life and left us delightful written and artistic accounts of his encounters, friendships, and observations throughout his many journals and sketchbooks. The Hubbards held tightly to the ethos of the river denizens, and, though the Ohio River shantyboat culture was by then a shadow of its former, bustling self, Harlan managed to carry on its people’s stories in his own life and work. In Recording a Vanishing World, Jessica Whitehead will discuss Hubbard’s uniquely personal perspective on shantyboat culture in the Kentuckiana area and how his legacy helps us reconstruct a world that has largely passed into memory.
Jessica Whitehead is an independent curator and author, specializing in the work of Harlan Hubbard. She has curated several shows of Harlan’s artwork, including: Kentuckiana Sublime: New Perspectives on Nature from 2013 at the Kentucky Museum of Art and Craft and That Wild Life: The Woodcuts of Harlan Hubbard from 2018 at the Louisville Grows Healthy House Gallery. Whitehead’s first book, on Harlan’s watercolors, is expected to be published in 2020 by The University Press of Kentucky.
January 10, 2019
The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series
The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World in the 1950s
William I. Hitchcock
In a 2017 survey, presidential historians ranked Dwight D. Eisenhower fifth on the list of great presidents, behind the perennial top four: Lincoln, Washington, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Teddy Roosevelt. Historian William Hitchcock shows that this high ranking is justified. Eisenhower’s accomplishments were enormous, and loom ever larger from the vantage point of our own tumultuous times.
From 1953 to 1961, no one dominated the world stage as did President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Age of Eisenhower is the definitive account of this presidency, drawing extensively on declassified material from the Eisenhower Library, the CIA and Defense Department, and troves of unpublished documents. In his masterful account, Hitchcock shows how Ike shaped modern America, and he astutely assesses Eisenhower’s close confidants, from Attorney General Brownell to Secretary of State Dulles. The result is an eye-opening reevaluation that explains why this “do-nothing” president is rightly regarded as one of the best leaders our country has ever had.
William I. Hitchcock is a professor of history at the University of Virginia and the Randolph Compton Professor at the Miller Center for Public Affairs. A graduate of Kenyon College and Yale University, he is the author most recently of The Bitter Road to Freedom: The Human Cost of Allied Victory in World War II Europe, which was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.