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A Conversation about Ohio University and the Presidency, 1975–1994

When Charles Ping first arrived at Ohio University in 1975, the university was experiencing a decline in student enrollment and confronting serious financial challenges. But rather than focusing on its problems, President Ping instead concentrated on Ohio University’s potential.

“What attracted me was, essentially, the richness of the campus in people and programs,” said Ping. During the nineteen years that Ping served as president, he guided Ohio University in scholarship, research, and service, and substantially increased the size of the campus through the acquisition of The Ridges. After Ping announced his resignation in Spring 1993, the April 26 headline in the Columbus Dispatch read “Ping Leaving Ohio University with Big Shoes to Fill.”

In Ping’s 1994 undergraduate commencement ceremony speech, he said, “A university is a link from the past, through the present, to the future.” Ping continues to link the university’s past to the present in this new book published for the Ohio University Libraries by Ohio University Press. A Conversation about Ohio University and the Presidency, 1975–1994, is an edited version of the transcript of videotaped interviews recorded in May and June 2011.

“It is a conversation between two old friends,” said Ping of the series of interviews conducted by Sam Crowl, Shakespearean scholar and now trustee professor emeritus.

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Copts in Michigan

The Copts, or Egyptian Christians, are a relatively small and tight-knit ethno-religious group, numbering perhaps three thousand people and living mostly in the Detroit metropolitan area. Since they began immigrating to Michigan in the mid-1960s, their community has grown exponentially.
     Granted exceptional access to the Coptic community, Eliot Dickinson provides the first in- depth profile of this unique and remarkably successful immigrant group. Drawing on personal interviews to infuse the book with warmth and depth. Copts in Michigan offers readers a compelling view into this vibrant community.

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Corn Palaces and Butter Queens

A History of Crop Art and Dairy Sculpture

Pamela H. Simpson

Teddy Roosevelt’s head sculpted from butter. The Liberty Bell replicated in oranges. The Sioux City Corn Palace of 1891 encased with corn, grains, and grasses and stretching for two city blocks—with a trolley line running down its center. Between 1870 and 1930, from county and state fairs to the world’s fairs, large exhibition buildings were covered with grains, fruits, and vegetables to declare in no uncertain terms the rich agricultural abundance of the United States. At the same fairs—but on a more intimate level—ice-cooled cases enticed fairgoers to marvel at an array of butter sculpture models including cows, buildings, flowers, and politicians, all proclaiming the rich bounty and unending promise held by the region.

Often viewed as mere humorous novelties—fun and folksy, but not worthy of serious consideration—these lively forms of American art are described by Pamela H. Simpson in a fascinating and comprehensive history. From the pioneering cereal architecture of Henry Worrall at the Philadelphia Centennial Exposition to the vast corn palaces displayed in Sioux City, Iowa, and elsewhere between 1877 and 1891, Simpson brings to life these dazzling large-scale displays in turn-of-the-century American fairs and festivals. She guides readers through the fascinating forms of crop art and butter sculpture, as they grew from state and regional fairs to a significant place at the major international exhibitions. The Minnesota State Fair’s Princess Kay of the Milky Way contest, Lillian Colton’s famed pictorial seed art, and the work of Iowa’s “butter cow lady,” Norma “Duffy” Lyon, are modern versions of this tradition.

Beautifully illustrated with a bounty of never-before-seen archival images, Corn Palaces and Butter Queens is an accessible history of one of America’s most unique and beguiling Midwestern art forms—an amusing and peculiar phenomenon that profoundly affected the way Americans saw themselves and their country’s potential during times of drought and great depression.

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Creating a Hoosier Self-Portrait

The Federal Writers' Project in Indiana, 1935-1942

George T. Blakey

From 1935 to 1942, the Indiana office of the Federal Writers’ Program hired unemployed writers as "field workers" to create a portrait in words of the land, the people, and the culture of the Hoosier state. This book tells the story of the project and its valuable legacy. Beginning work under the guidance of Ross Lockridge, whose son would later burst onto the American literary scene with his novel Raintree County, the group would eventually produce Indiana: A Guide to the Hoosier State, Hoosier Tall Stories, and other publications. Though many projects were never brought to completion, the Program’s work remains a useful and rarely tapped storehouse of information on the history and culture of the state.

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Creating Old World Wisconsin

The Struggle to Build an Outdoor History Museum of Ethnic Architecture

John D. Krugler

With its charming heirloom gardens, historic livestock breeds, and faithfully recreated farmsteads and villages that span nearly 600 acres, Old World Wisconsin is the largest outdoor museum of rural life in the United States. But this seemingly time-frozen landscape of rustic outbuildings and rolling wooded hills did not effortlessly spring into existence, as John D. Krugler maintains in Creating Old World Wisconsin. As dozens of historic buildings were transported in the 1970s from various locations throughout the state to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, researchers, curators, and volunteers launched a massive preservation initiative to salvage fast-disappearing immigrant and migrant architecture. Researchers, curators, and volunteers created a backdrop against which twenty-first century interpreters demonstrate nineteenth- and early twentieth-century agricultural techniques and artisanal craftsmanship. The site, created and maintained by the Wisconsin Historical Society, offers visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the state's rich and ethnically diverse past through depictions of the everyday lives of its Norwegian, Danish, Finnish, German, Polish, African American, and Yankee inhabitants. Creating Old World Wisconsin chronicles the fascinating and complex origins of this outdoor museum, highlighting the struggles that faced its creators as they worked to achieve their vision. Even as Milwaukee architect and preservationist Richard W. E. Perrin, the Society's staff, and enthusiastic volunteers opened the museum in time for the national bicentennial in 1976, the site was plagued by limited funds, bureaucratic tangles, and problems associated with gaining public support. By documenting the engaging story of the challenges, roadblocks, false starts, and achievements of the site's founders, Krugler brings to life the history of the dedicated corps who collected and preserved Wisconsin's diverse social history and heritage.

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Creating the Land of Lincoln

The History and Constitutions of Illinois, 1778-1870

In its early days, Illinois seemed destined to extend the American South. Its population of transplants lived an upland southern culture and in some cases owned slaves. Yet the nineteenth century and three constitutions recast Illinois as a crucible of northern strength and American progress. Frank Cicero Jr. provides an appealing new history of Illinois as expressed by the state's constitutions—and the lively conventions that led to each one. In Creating the Land of Lincoln, Cicero sheds light on the vital debates of delegates who, freed from electoral necessity, revealed the opinions, prejudices, sentiments, and dreams of Illinoisans at critical junctures in state history. Cicero simultaneously analyzes decisions large and small that fostered momentous social and political changes. The addition of northern land in the 1818 constitution, for instance, opened up the state to immigrant populations that reoriented Illinois to the north. Legislative abuses and rancor over free blacks influenced the 1848 document and the subsequent rise of a Republican Party that gave the nation Abraham Lincoln as its president. Cicero concludes with the 1870 constitution, revealing how its dialogues and resolutions set the state on the modern course that still endures today.

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The Crops Look Good

News from a Midwestern Family Farm

Author

When Margaret Williamson left her family’s rural Wisconsin farm to work in Minneapolis in 1923, her mother, Olava, wrote regularly with updates about daily activities: laundry, bread baking, plowing, planting, and harvesting the crops. Sometimes she enclosed a note from seven- year- old Helen, who reported on school and shenanigans and how she longed to see Margaret again. So begins decades of stories about a family at once singular— with personal joys and challenges— and broadly representative of the countless small farms that dotted the midwestern landscape in the early twentieth century. As Margaret’s niece Sara DeLuca weaves together family tales gleaned from letters and conversations, we learn of births and deaths, of innovations like the automobile, radio, and telephone that drew rural communities together, and of national and international events that brought home stone- hard truths. Depression- era farmers struggled to keep their land and feed their livestock; many failed. During wartime, this family made do just like everyone else. The tale that emerges is one of fierce devotion to family and work, of a changing landscape as smaller farms became part of conglomerates, and of the comforting daily rhythms of life shared with those who know us best.

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Crossing the Driftless

A Canoe Trip through a Midwestern Landscape

Lynne Diebel

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The Crusade for Forgotten Souls

Reforming Minnesota's Mental Institutions, 1946–1954

Susan Bartlett Foote

The stirring story of the reform movement that laid the groundwork for a modern mental health system in Minnesota

In 1940 Engla Schey, the daughter of Norwegian immigrants, took a job as a low-paid attendant at Anoka State Hospital, one of Minnesota’s seven asylums. She would work among people who were locked away under the shameful label “insane,” called inmates—and numbered more than 12,000 throughout the state. She acquired the knowledge and passion that would lead to “The Crusade for Forgotten Souls,” a campaign to reform the deplorable condition of mental institutions in Minnesota. This book chronicles that remarkable undertaking inspired and carried forward by ordinary people under the political leadership of Luther Youngdahl, a Swedish Republican who was the state’s governor from 1946 to 1951.

Susan Bartlett Foote tells the story of those who made the crusade a success: Engla Schey, the catalyst; Reverend Arthur Foote, a modest visionary who guided Unitarians to constructive advocacy; Genevieve Steefel, an inveterate patient activist; and Geri Hoffner, an intrepid reporter whose twelve-part series for the Minneapolis Tribune galvanized the public. These reformers overcame barriers of class, ethnicity, and gender to stand behind the governor, who, at a turbulent moment in Minnesota politics, challenged his own party’s resistance to reform. The Crusade for Forgotten Souls recounts how these efforts broke the stigma of shame and silence surrounding mental illness, publicized the painful truth about the state’s asylums, built support among citizens, and resulted in the first legislative steps toward a modern mental health system that catapulted Minnesota to national leadership and empowered families of the mentally ill and disabled. Though their vision met resistance, the accomplishments of these early advocates for compassionate care of the mentally ill hold many lessons that resonate to this day, as this book makes compellingly clear.

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Dakota Life In the Upper Midwest

Samuel W. Pond

In 1834 Samuel W. Pond and his brother Gideon built a cabin near Cloud Man's village of the Dakota Indians on the shore of Lake Calhoun--now present-day Minneapolis--intending to preach Christianity to the Indians. The brothers were to spend nearly twenty years learning the Dakota language and observing how the Indians lived. In the 1860s and 1870s, after the Dakota had fought a disastrous war with the whites who had taken their land, Samuel Pond recorded his recollections of the Indians "to show what manner of people the Dakotas were . . . while they still retained the customs of their ancestors." Pond's work, first published in 1908, is now considered a classic. Gary Clayton Anderson's introduction discusses Pond's career and the effects of his background on this work, "unrivaled today for its discussion of Dakota material culture and social, political, religious, and economic institutions."

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