History Projects


History is a living thing that changes as our questions about the past change. We can choose from what or whose perspective to study a historical topic. For example, in “A Place In Between” (see below) I tell the story of the Old Northwest from the viewpoint of people and groups displaced by, or who opposed the conquest of Midwestern lands, by Americans.


Another way that history remains a living thing is that every student and scholar brings their own interests, life experiences and approaches when studying the past. For example, history has often ignored women. But as a person’s interest grows about the contributions and lives of women, we begin to notice and search for accounts of women. Over time a scholar may make women a larger part of their historical works and stories.


History by its nature is fragmentary. Scholars find and use textual sources, often found at research libraries, which existed close to the time of events or the people being studied. These period sources provide fragments of a whole picture that we never completely understand. Primary sources are enriched and expanded by the interpretations of previous and current historians on similar topics.


Following are a few of my historical projects.





You Are There 1863. Letter from Gettysburg.
This exhibit uses first-person interpreters, or re-enactors, to tell the story of a soldier from Spencer, Indiana, and his family during the Civil War. A letter Captain David E. Beem wrote to his wife on July 5, 1863, described the Battle of Gettysburg in rich detail. Beem was college educated and just starting to practice law when the War broke out. His keen eye for detail and skill at writing, make this letter unique. Of course his subject, the three-day battle of Gettysburg and its aftermath, are part of why his letter interests us today.


New Picture


You Are There 1839. Religion and the Divided Frontier.
This exhibit explores a period of explosive growth of religion on Midwest frontiers. This growth was fueled in part by the Second Great Awakening, as well as the rise of populism. This populism, including more egalitarian religion, led to religious schisms and greater engagement of common people through new forms of worship and public discussion. The denominations that reflected more democratic (or egalitarian) values grew quickly. These sects included the Methodists, Baptists, Disciples (or the Christian Church). The exhibit personalizes this tumultuous era through the life and work of a colorful Methodist circuit rider, Eli Farmer.


I contributed by writing an interpretive research paper that helped guide development of the exhibit. The exhibit is located on the Second floor of the Indiana Historical Society.






Naturalist Charlie Deam. Forestry and Conservation Pioneer.

Profile of an Indiana naturalist and conservationist. Deam toured the state in his Weed Wagon collecting leaf and botanical samples, creating a record of the state’s plant life. As state forester he helped replenish the decimated woodlands of Indiana.


A Place in Between. A French and Miami Family on the Wabash.

The story of the Old Northwest as told through the experience of several generations of a French and Miami family.














                                     rev. 2018/09/12