1913 Flood: Centennial Sculpture Dedication

UntitledDear Folks:

To commemorate the recent anniversary of the 1913 Great Miami River Flood, the city of Hamilton, Ohio invites you to attend the unveiling of a centennial sculpture, marking the record flood levels of one hundred years ago. This free public event will be held Friday, April 25, 2014 at 2 pm next to Park Ave. Ramp Westbound at High St. Bridge. Parking is available at Northeast corner of North B St. and Park Ave.


American Dreamer: Robert McCloskey & the Art of the Picture Book

LUntitledeonard S. Marcus 

Wednesday, April 16 @ 7.30pm

Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, Miami University Hamilton

Robert McCloskey crafted iconic images of childhood, family and community life as he elevated the children’s book to an authentic art form. In this illustrated talk, the nation’s leading historian of children’s literature explores the career of an artist-storyteller born in Hamilton who won two Caldecott Medals. This event is co-sponsored by the Lane Libraries as part of the Robert McCloskey Centennial.

  • Free public event. Reception to follow.

What’s Your Story? Jack Kirsch

Miami University Hamilton Downtown Center, 221 High Street

Heritage Stories of the Miami Valley

What’s Your Story? Moderated by Shaun Higgins

Wednesday, April 2 @ 7pm

Jack KirschJack Kirsch, Hamilton City Manager 1975- 1983, had a distinguished and visionary public service career. During his tenure, the High Street Underpass, Columbia Bridge, Route 4 Bypass, Southwestern Ohio Industrial District, Butler Regional Highway, Twin Run Golf Course and other projects important to both the city and region were completed.

  • Free public event. Reception to follow.


Sad News

HTWThe Colligan History Project is saddened to hear of the passing of local business leader and philanthropist Harry T. Wilks, who died yesterday morning on his 89th birthday. A raconteur, art collector, and veteran of the World War Two Pacific campaign, Harry was a true pillar of the Hamilton community and a generous donor to many local causes, charities, and institutions, including his alma mater Miami University (class of 1948).

Click here for Hamilton Journal-News article

In September 2012, Harry kindly invited the Colligan History Project and TvHAMILTON into his unique residence, Pyramid Hill, where he was interviewed as part of the What’s Your Story? Heritage Stories of the Miami Valley series. Harry’s reminiscences can be viewed below.

The Colligan Project extends its sincere sympathies to Harry’s family and friends.

Through the Perilous Fight: The Story of the Star Spangled Banner at the Battle for Baltimore

Thursday, March 13 @ 7.30 pm

Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, Miami University Hamilton

Steve Vogel, The Washington Post

VogelPicSteve Vogel covered the fall of the Berlin Wall, the first Gulf War, operations in Somalia, Rwanda and the Balkans, the September 11, 2001 attack on the Pentagon, and was an embedded journalist in Iraq. Join him for the fascinating story of how Francis Scott Key wrote the Star Spangled Banner during the War of 1812. With performances by Bess Arlene Camacho, Soprano, and Hamilton High School’s award-winning Rhapsody in Blue Show Choir.

  • Free public event. Reception to follow.

1913 Great Miami Flood on Film

The Colligan History Project thanks friend and past presenter Trudy E. Bell for drawing to our attention the following unique footage of the Great Miami River Flood of 1913. These rare images are now housed in the Glenn R. Walters collection in the University Archives and Collections, University of Dayton. As Trudy notes: “Silent motion picture news films shot of the 1913 flood raging in Ohio and Indiana may represent the first time a natural disaster was caught on film while it was still in progress.” To find out more, see Trudy’s installment “Screening Disaster” in her blog chronicling the 1913 flood:


Call for Nominations: 2014 Jim Blount History Educator Awards

blount-award-logoThe Michael J. Colligan History Project seeks nominations of outstanding educators in the schools of southwestern Ohio whose inspired teaching stimulates historical inquiry and understanding.

Awards of $1000 each will be made to selected teachers at both the senior and junior levels during a public event on Tuesday, May 6.

Please nominate a deserving educator by submitting a letter commenting substantially on his or her achievements, with the nominee’s vita and contact information.  Send U.S. Mail to Curtis W. Ellison, Director, Michael J. Colligan History Project, 532 Mosler Hall, Miami University Hamilton, Hamilton, Ohio 45011, or send by email to ellisocw@miamioh.edu.

  • The nomination deadline is March 17, 2014.


Miami’s Martin Johnson Awarded 2014 Lincoln Prize

gettysburgThose who enjoyed last night’s “Lincoln and the Gettysburg Moment” will have already heard that our guest speaker won the 2014 Lincoln Prize, jointly sponsored by the Gilder Lehrman Institute and Gettysburg College. 

Martin Johnson, recently-promoted Associate Professor of History at Miami University’s Hamilton campus was recognized for his new book, Writing the Gettysburg Address. A link to the February 12 prize committee press release is below:

2014 Gilder Lehrman Lincoln Prize

In its citation, the prize committee described the book as:

  • a strikingly original, subtly nuanced, and beautifully written examination of when and how the Gettysburg Address was written. It has been suggested that this important speech was written on the back of an envelope on the train to Gettysburg. Instead, Johnson proves that the speech was written as part of Lincoln’s emotional and spiritual journey to the Gettysburg battlefield and cemetery, and the book’s greatest strength may be its ability to bring the reader along on this journey. His argument that the Gettysburg Address did not spring fully formed from Lincoln’s head but was the product, in part, of the actual process of writing in Washington and Gettysburg is quite original. Johnson says and does much to clarify how we got the greatest American political speech.

Martin shares this year’s $50,000 prize with fellow historian Alan Guelzo, author of “Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” (many will recognize Guelzo as the winner of the 2009 Dolibois History Prize, awarded by the Colligan History Project!). It speaks to the scholarship of both scholars that they were selected from a pool of 114 nominees, representing the cream of Lincoln and Civil War studies. Both winners also receive a lifesize replica bronze bust of Abraham Lincoln, modeled on an original sculpture by Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The prize ceremony this April in New York City also recognizes Steven Spielberg with a unique Special Achievement Award for his Academy Award-winning biopic Lincoln.

Please join us at the Colligan Project in congratulating Martin on this outstanding distinction!

Lincoln and the Gettysburg Moment

MJohnsonpicWednesday, February 12, @ 7.30 pm

Harry T. Wilks Conference Center

Martin P. Johnson, Miami University, History

To mark Abraham Lincoln’s birthday we stand with him at Gettysburg where he announced “a new birth of freedom” for the nation. Solemn funeral rites for Union dead included ceremonies of prayer and commemoration that provoked Lincoln to openly shed tears of mourning before freshly mounded graves. He had with him a carefully prepared speech, but when speaking was moved to a new urgency and inspiration. Reconstructing Lincoln’s journey to the Gettysburg moment allows a radical vision of the Civil War’s meaning and a new understanding of the American experiment.

  • Free public event. Reception to follow.