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History > U.S. History > Local and Regional > Midwest
The Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festivals
Bean Blossom, Indiana--near Brown County State Park and the artist-colony town of Nashville, Indiana--is home to the annual Bean Blossom Bluegrass Festival, founded in 1967 by Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. Widely recognized as the oldest continuously running bluegrass music festival in the world, this June festival's roots run back to late 1951, when Monroe purchased the Brown County Jamboree, a live weekly country music show presented between April and November each year. Over the years, Monroe's festival featured the top performers in bluegrass music, including Jimmy Martin, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, the Goins Brothers, the Stanley Brothers, and many more. Thomas A. Adler's history of Bean Blossom traces the long and colorful life of the Brown County Jamboree and Bill Monroe's Bluegrass Festival. Adler discusses the development of bluegrass music, the many personalities involved in the bluegrass music scene, the interplay of local, regional, and national interests, and the meaning of this venue to the music's many performers--both professional and amateur--and its legions of fans.
The Cubs' Golden Age in Pre-Wrigley Chicago
All Cub fans know from heartbreak and curse-toting goats. Fewer know that, prior to moving to the north side in 1916, the team fielded powerhouse nines that regularly claimed the pennant. Before the Ivy offers a grandstand seat to a golden age: - BEHOLD the 1871 team as it plays for the title in nine different borrowed uniforms after losing everything in the Great Chicago Fire - ATTEND West Side Grounds at Polk and Wolcott with its barbershop quartet - MARVEL as superstar Cap Anson hits .399, makes extra cash running a ballpark ice rink, and strikes out as an elected official - WONDER at experiments with square bats and corked balls, the scandal of Sunday games and pre-game booze-ups, the brazen spitters and park dimensions changed to foil Ty Cobb - RAZZ Charles Comiskey as he adopts a Cubs hand-me-down moniker for his team's name - THRILL to the poetic double-play combo of Tinker, Evers, and Chance even as they throw tantrums at umpires and punches at each other - CHEER as Merkle's Boner and the Cubs' ensuing theatrics send the team to the 1908 World Series Rich with Hall of Fame personalities and oddball stories, Before the Ivy opens a door to Chicago's own field of dreams and serves as every Cub fan's guide to a time when thoughts of "next year" filled rival teams with dread.
The Ambitious Dr. Abraham Van Norstrand and the Wisconsin Insane Hospital
Across the United States, historic preservation has become a catalyst for urban regeneration. Entrepreneurs, urban pioneers, and veteran city dwellers have refurbished thousands of dilapidated properties and put them to productive use as shops, restaurants, nightclubs, museums, and private residences. As a result, inner-cities, once disparaged as zones of poverty, crime, and decay have been re-branded as historic districts. Although these preservation initiatives, often supported by government tax incentives and rigid architectural controls, deserve credit for bringing people back to the city, raising property values, and generating tourist revenue, they have been less successful in creating stable and harmonious communities.
Beyond Preservation proposes a framework for stabilizing and strengthening inner-city neighborhoods through the public interpretation of historic landscapes. Its central argument is that inner-city communities can best turn preserved landscapes into assets by subjecting them to public interpretation at the grass-roots. Based on an examination of successful projects in St. Louis, Missouri and other U.S. cities, Andrew Hurley demonstrates how rigorous historical analysis can help communities articulate a local identity and plan intelligently on the basis of existing cultural and social assets.
75 Years of the University of Nebraska Press
In 2016 the University of Nebraska Press celebrates its 75th anniversary. Proudly rooted in the Great Plains, the Press has established itself as the largest and most diversified publisher located between Chicago and California. The achievements of a vast network of devoted authors, editors, board members, series editors, and staff, the Press has published more than 4,000 books and more than 30 journals of influential and enduring value.
What started as a one-person operation at a land grant institution on the sparsely populated plains of Nebraska has tenaciously grown into a press that has earned an international reputation for publishing notable works in Native studies, history, anthropology, American studies, sports, cultural criticism, fiction, fiction in translation, creative nonfiction, and poetry. Winning numerous awards through the years, most notably several Nobel Prizes, the Press has contributed richly to the state, the region, and far beyond. The Press’s partnership with the Jewish Publication Society has placed an emphasis on books in Jewish studies and Bible studies, while the acquisition of Potomac Books has expanded the Press’s subject matter to include national and world affairs and more widespread coverage of military history.
In honor of its 75th anniversary, the Press has produced the publication Big House on the Prairie, which features a narrative of press highlights, profiles of key historical employees, and lists of its 75 most significant books, 30 journals, and 75 most noteworthy book covers. Please join us in celebrating 75 years of publishing excellence.
The Story of a Lost Landscape
Under the corn and soybean fields of southern Minnesota lies the memory of vast, age-old wetlands, drained away over the last 130 years in the name of agricultural progress. But not everyone saw wetlands as wasteland. Before 1900, Freeborn County’s Big Marsh provided a wealth of resources for the neighboring communities. Families hunted its immense flocks of migrating waterfowl, fished its waters, trapped muskrats and mink, and harvested wood and medicinal plants. As farmland prices rose, however, the value of the land under the water became more attractive to people with capital. While residents fought bitterly, powerful outside investors overrode local opposition and found a way to drain 18,000 acres of wetland at public expense. Author Cheri Register stumbled upon her great-grandfather’s scathing critique of the draining and was intrigued. Following the clues he left, she uncovers the stories of life on the Big Marsh and of the “connivers” who plotted its end: the Minneapolis land developer, his local fixer, an Illinois banker, and the lovelorn local lawyer who did their footwork. The Big Marsh, an environmental history told from a personal point of view, shows the enduring value of wild places and the importance of the fight to preserve them, both then and now.
Written by an impressive team of more than 150 scholars and writers, the readable narratives include each subject’s name, birth and death dates, place of birth, education, and career and contributions. Many of the names will be instantly recognizable to most Iowans; others are largely forgotten but deserve to be remembered. Beyond the distinctive lives and times captured in the individual biographies, readers of the dictionary will gain an appreciation for how the character of the state has been shaped by the character of the individuals who have inhabited it.
From Dudley Warren Adams, fruit grower and Grange leader, to the Younker brothers, founders of one of Iowa’s most successful department stores, The Biographical Dictionary of Iowa is peopled with the rewarding lives of more than four hundred notable citizens of the Hawkeye State. The histories contained in this essential reference work should be eagerly read by anyone who cares about Iowa and its citizens.
Entries include Cap Anson, Bix Beiderbecke, Black Hawk, Amelia Jenks Bloomer, William Carpenter, Philip Greeley Clapp, Gardner Cowles Sr., Samuel Ryan Curtis, Jay Norwood Darling, Grenville Dodge, Julien Dubuque, August S. Duesenberg, Paul Engle, Phyllis L. Propp Fowle, George Gallup, Hamlin Garland, Susan Glaspell, Josiah Grinnell, Charles Hearst, Josephine Herbst, Herbert Hoover, Inkpaduta, Louis Jolliet, MacKinlay Kantor, Keokuk, Aldo Leopold, John L. Lewis, Marquette, Elmer Maytag, Christian Metz, Bertha Shambaugh, Ruth Suckow, Billy Sunday, Henry Wallace, and Grant Wood.
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Gallup, George Horace (November 19, 1901–July 26, 1984)—founder of the American Institute of Public Opinion, better known as the Gallup Poll, whose name was synonymous with public opinion polling around the world—was born in Jefferson, Iowa. . . . . A New Yorker article would later speculate that it was Gallup’s background in “utterly normal Iowa” that enabled him to find “nothing odd in the idea that one man might represent, statistically, ten thousand or more of his own kind.” . . . In 1935 Gallup partnered with Harry Anderson to found the American Institute of Public Opinion, based in Princeton, New Jersey, an opinion polling firm that included a syndicated newspaper column called “America Speaks.” The reputation of the organization was made when Gallup publicly challenged the polling techniques of The Literary Digest, the best-known political straw poll of the day. Calculating that the Digest would wrongly predict that Kansas Republican Alf Landon would win the presidential election, Gallup offered newspapers a money-back guarantee if his prediction that Franklin Delano Roosevelt would win wasn’t more accurate. Gallup believed that public opinion polls served an important function in a democracy: “If govern¬ment is supposed to be based on the will of the people, somebody ought to go and find what that will is,” Gallup explained.
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