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History > U.S. History > Local and Regional > Midwest

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Calling This Place Home Cover

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Calling This Place Home

Women on the Wisconsin Frontier, 1850-1925

Joan M. Jensen

Swedish domestic worker Emina Johnson witnessed the great Peshtigo fire in 1871; Cherokee nurse Isabella Wolfe served the Lac du Flambeau reservation for decades; the author’s own grandmother, Matilda Schopp, was one of numerous immigrants who eked out a living on the Wisconsin cutover. Calling This Place Home tells the stories of these and many other Native and settler women during Wisconsin’s frontier era. Noted historian Joan M. Jensen spent more than a decade delving into the lives of a remarkable range of women who lived during the mid-nineteenth through the early twentieth centuries. These individuals shared many struggles as economies evolved from logging to dairying to tourism. Facing many challenges, they cared for their sick, educated their children, maintained their cultural identity, and preserved their own means of worship. Entwining the experiences of Native and settler communities, Jensen uses photographs and documents to examine and illustrate the recovered stories of representative but often overlooked women. These stories of individuals together form a substantial history of Wisconsin’s well-known industries, its caregiver networks and schooling practices, and matters of faith and politics. This comprehensive volume brings a deeper understanding of the state’s history through the stories of individual women and the broader developments that shaped their lives.

Canal Fever Cover

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Canal Fever

The Ohio & Erie Canal, from Waterway to Canalway

Edited by Lynn Metzger and Peg Bobel, Illustrations by Chuck Ayers

Original essays on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal

Combining original essays based on the past, present, and future of the Ohio & Erie Canal, Canal Fever showcases the research and writing of the best and most knowledgeable canal historians, archaeologists, and enthusiasts. Each contributor brings his or her expertise to tell the canal’s story in three parts: the canal era—the creation of the canal and its importance to Ohio’s early growth; the canal’s decline—the decades when the canal was merely a ditch and path in backyards all over northeast Ohio; and finally the rediscovery of this old transportation system and its transformation into a popular recreational resource, the Ohio & Erie Canalway.

Included are many voices from the past, such as canalers, travelers, and immigrants, stories of canal use through various periods, and current interviews with many individuals involved in the recent revitalization of the canal. Accompanying the essays are a varied and interesting selection of photographs of sites, events, and people, as well as original maps and drawings by artist Chuck Ayers.

Canal Fever takes a broad approach to the canal and what it has meant to Ohio from its original function in the state’s growth its present-day function in revitalizing our region. Canal buffs, historians, educators, engineers, and those interested in urban revitalization will appreciate its extensive use of primary source materials and will welcome this comprehensive collection.

Carnival in the Countryside Cover

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Carnival in the Countryside

The History of the Iowa State Fair

Chris Rasmussen

More than a century and a half after its founding, the Iowa State Fair is the state’s central institution, event, and symbol. New Jersey has the Shore; Kentucky has the Derby; Iowa has the Fair. The humble Iowa State Fairground ranks alongside the Great Pyramids at Giza and the Taj Mahal in the best-selling travel guide 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. During its annual run each August, the fair attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors who make the pilgrimage to the fairground to see the iconic butter cow, to ride the Old Mill, to walk through the livestock barns, and to people-watch. At the same time that they enjoy fried candy bars and roller coasters, Iowans also compete to raise the best corn and zucchinis, to make the best jams and jellies, to rear the finest sheep and goats, the largest cattle and hogs, and the handsomest horses.

This tension between entertainment and agriculture goes back all the way to the fair’s founding in the mid-1800s, as historian Chris Rasmussen shows in this thought-provoking history. The fair’s founders had lofty aims: they sought to improve agriculture and foster a distinctively democratic American civilization. But from the start these noble intentions jostled up against people’s desire to have fun and make money, honestly or otherwise—not least because the fair had to pay for itself. In their effort to uplift rural life without going broke, the organizers of the Iowa State Fair debated the respectability of horse racing and gambling and struggled to find qualified livestock judges. Worried about the economic forces undermining rural families, they ran competitions to select the best babies and the “ideal” rural girl and boy while luring spectators with massive panoramas of earthquakes and fires, not to mention staged trainwrecks. In short, the Iowa State Fair has as much to tell us about human nature and American history as it does about growing corn.

Challenge accepted  Cover

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Challenge accepted

a Finnish immigrant response to industrial America in Michigan’s copper country

Gary Kaunonen

The copper mines of Michigan's Copper Country, in the Upper Peninsula, were active for 150 years, from 1845 until 1995. Many of the mine workers attempted to unionize, in order to obtain better working conditions, wages, and hours.
     The Michigan miners were unsuccessful in their struggles with mine owners, which came to a climax in the 1913-14 Copper Country Strike. This nine-month battle between workers represented by the Western Federation of Miners (WFM) and the three major mining companies in the region took a particularly nasty turn on Christmas Eve, 1913, at a party for strikers and their families organized by the WFM. As many as 500 people were in the Italian Benevolent Society hall in Calumet, Michigan, when someone reportedly shouted "fire." There was no fire, but it is estimated that 73-79 people, more than 60 of them children, died in the stampede for the exit.
     Against this dramatic backdrop, Gary Kaunonen tells the story of Finnish immigrants to Copper Country. By examining the written record and material culture of Finnish immigrant proletarians-analyzing buildings, cultural institutions, and publications of the socialist-unionist media-Kaunonen adds a new depth to our understanding of the time and place, the events and a people.
 

Chasing the Light Cover

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Chasing the Light

The Cloud Cult Story

Mark Allister

“Cloud Cult’s grand, unkempt indie rock is at once jam band, emo, and avant-garde. Their songs, born out of personal tragedy, are otherworldly lessons in being human.” —Pitchfork During the past decade, Minnesota-grown band Cloud Cult has become one of the most inspirational indie bands, with a deeply devoted fan base and an approach to music and the environment that is hard not to admire. Beyond a musical biography, Chasing the Light tells the story of the heartbreaking yet affirming journey of lead singer and songwriter Craig Minowa and delves into the career of the band known by music lovers as the least cynical and most idealistic band in the country.

Tracing Cloud Cult’s rise to critical acclaim, author Mark Allister details the band’s defining moments, beginning with the death of Craig and Connie Minowa’s two-year-old son and the hundreds of songs that grew out of the tragic loss. Allister describes the band’s unique philosophy and principles, including how Minowa created a zero carbon footprint for the band’s recording and touring, adopting DIY and green-sustainable practices well before the ideas became mainstream. Allister also presents a first-person account of a day in the life of a quintessential indie band and conveys the immense emotional impact of Cloud Cult’s albums and live shows. Described by a fan in the book as “the anthem for the soul searcher in us all,” Cloud Cult’s music and message are both stirring and sincere.

Featuring rarely seen photos from Cloud Cult’s history and passionate testimonials by fans, Chasing the Light is a testament to the profound influence one band’s personal evolution can have on its followers and on indie rock aficionados in search of beauty, meaning, and redemption.

Chicago in the Age of Capital Cover

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Chicago in the Age of Capital

Class, Politics, and Democracy during the Civil War and Reconstruction

John B. Jentz

In this sweeping interpretive history of mid-nineteenth-century Chicago, historians John B. Jentz and Richard Schneirov boldly trace the evolution of a modern social order. Combining a mastery of historical and political detail with a sophisticated theoretical frame, Jentz and Schneirov examine the dramatic capitalist transition in Chicago during the critical decades from the 1850s through the 1870s, a period that saw the rise of a permanent wage worker class and the formation of an industrial upper class._x000B__x000B_Jentz and Schneirov demonstrate how a new political economy, based on wage labor and capital accumulation in manufacturing, superseded an older mercantile economy that relied on speculative trading and artisan production. The new social movements that arose in this era--labor, socialism, urban populism, businessmen's municipal reform, Protestant revivalism, and women's activism--constituted the substance of a new post-bellum democratic politics that took shape in the 1860s and '70s. When the Depression of 1873 brought increased crime and financial panic, Chicago's new upper class developed municipal reform in an attempt to reassert its leadership. Setting local detail against a national canvas of partisan ideology and the seismic structural shifts of Reconstruction, Chicago in the Age of Capital vividly depicts the upheavals integral to building capitalism.

Chicago Whispers Cover

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Chicago Whispers

A History of LGBT Chicago before Stonewall

St. Sukie de la Croix; Foreword by John D’Emilio

Chicago Whispers illuminates a colorful and vibrant record of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered people who lived and loved in Chicago from the city’s beginnings in the 1670s as a fur-trading post to the end of the 1960s. Journalist St. Sukie de la Croix, drawing on years of archival research and personal interviews, reclaims Chicago’s LGBT past that had been forgotten, suppressed, or overlooked.
    Included here are Jane Addams, the pioneer of American social work; blues legend Ma Rainey, who recorded “Sissy Blues” in Chicago in 1926; commercial artist J. C. Leyendecker, who used his lover as the model for “The Arrow Collar Man” advertisements; and celebrated playwright Lorraine Hansberry, author of A Raisin in the Sun. Here, too, are accounts of vice dens during the Civil War and classy gentlemen’s clubs; the wild and gaudy First Ward Ball that was held annually from 1896 to 1908; gender-crossing performers in cabarets and at carnival sideshows; rights activists like Henry Gerber in the 1920s; authors of lesbian pulp novels and publishers of “physique magazines”; and evidence of thousands of nameless queer Chicagoans who worked as artists and musicians, in the factories, offices, and shops, at theaters and in hotels. Chicago Whispers offers a diverse collection of alternately hip and heart-wrenching accounts that crackle with vitality.

Chicago's Greatest Year, 1893 Cover

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Chicago's Greatest Year, 1893

Joseph Gustaitis

A hybrid work that straddles popular history and serious scholarship, “1893 Chicago” focuses in some depth on important people, places, events, and developments that made 1893 one of Chicago’s greatest years. In addition to the famous Columbian Exposition that took place that year, there were also a surprising number of impressive developments in art, architecture, literature, sports, education, business, political reform, sanitation engineering, medicine, and more. In a sense, 1893 was the year in which Chicago transitioned from being simply a busy Midwestern city to a world metropo

Chicanas of 18th Street Cover

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Chicanas of 18th Street

Narratives of a Movement from Latino Chicago

Leonard G, Ramirez

Overflowing with powerful testimonies of six female community activists who have lived and worked in the Pilsen neighborhood of Chicago, Chicanas of 18th Street reveals the convictions and approaches of those organizing for social reform. In chronicling a pivotal moment in the history of community activism in Chicago, the women discuss how education, immigration, religion, identity, and acculturation affected the Chicano movement. Chicanas of 18th Street underscores the hierarchies of race, gender, and class while stressing the interplay of individual and collective values in the development of community reform._x000B__x000B_Highlighting the women's motivations, initiatives, and experiences in politics during the 1960s and 1970s, these rich personal accounts reveal the complexity of the Chicano movement, conflicts within the movement, and the importance of teatro and cultural expressions to the movement. Also detailed are vital interactions between members of the Chicano movement with leftist and nationalist community members and the influence of other activist groups such as African Americans and Marxists.

Chippewa Lake Cover

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Chippewa Lake

A Community in Search of an Identity

Cindy L. Hull

Chippewa Lake is an idyllic waterfront community in north-central Michigan, popular with retirees and weekenders. The lake is surrounded by a rural farming community, but the area is facing a difficult transition as local demographics shift, and as it transforms from an agriculture-based economy to one that relies on wage labor. As farms have disappeared, local residents have employed a variety of strategies to adapt to a new economic structure. The community, meanwhile, has been indelibly affected by the advent of newcomers and retirees challenging the rural cultural values. An anthropologist with a background in sociology, Cindy L. Hull deftly weaves together oral accounts, historic documents, and participant surveys compiled from her nearly thirty years of living in the area to create a textured portrait of a community in flux.

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