Announcing our Spring 2015 Schedule of Events

d8e0ea85-2589-4e4e-b12f-1c17285d280bThis fall, the Michael J. Colligan History Project enters new territory with Public Enemies: Hamilton’s “Little Chicago” Era & Its Consequences, exploring the underworld of John Dillinger and his contemporaries from a time when Hamilton was legendary for its vice and criminality.

We begin with hometown Hamilton between the World Wars. Miami University Hamilton’s own Susan Spellman explores “Business & Ordinary Life in the 1920s and 1930s,” drawing on research from her forthcoming book on business history. Renowned local reporter and crime historian Richard O Jones introduces three classic film noirs in our series “Hollywood Hoods.” Loyola University’s Elliott Gorn puts legendary outlaw John Dillinger on the map of depression-era America, while Jeremy Meier returns to the Colligan, bringing Dillinger to life on stage. Finally, Hamilton’s official historian Jim Blount considers the Little Chicago mystique and the history behind it. (Click below for schedule).


We look forward to seeing you all soon. In the meantime, enjoy a very happy holidays!

Matthew Smith,

Assistant Director, Michael J. Colligan History Project

Seasons Greetings!

“Christmas is not a time nor a season, but a state of mind. To cherish peace and goodwill, to be plenteous in mercy, is to have the real spirit of Christmas.” Calvin Coolidge (1927).

Dear Folks:

As we look forward to another year, all of us at the Michael J. Colligan History Project thank you, our audiences, friends, and supporters and wish you a very happy holiday season. We look forward to welcoming you all again in the New Year!

Following this fall’s exploration of “Ohio and the Civil War,” we look forward to bringing you our spring 2015 program of events, entitled “Public Enemies: Hamilton’s ‘Little Chicago Era & its Consequences.” This promises to be a popular topic, with local historical interest mixed in with an overview of the dark exploits of John Dillinger and other notorious outlaws and gangsters. Stay posted for our forthcoming schedule later this week!

Meanwhile, please enjoy the following pictures from our recent event, courtesy of our man with the camera, videographer Craig Rouse.

Kelli Johnson speaks at our opening fall event 9.16.14

Kelli Johnson speaks at our opening fall event 9.16.14

Morgan's Raid Panel (l-r):  David L. Mowery, Jim Blount, G. Michael Pratt, Lester Horwitz. 10.7.14.

Morgan’s Raid Panel (l-r): David L. Mowery, Jim Blount, G. Michael Pratt, Lester Horwitz. 10.7.14.

James M. McPherson receives John E. Dolibois History Prize. 10.29.14.

James M. McPherson receives John E. Dolibois History Prize. 10.29.14.

John E. Dolibois History Prize platform (l-r): G. Michael Pratt, James M. Mcpherson, Mike Dingledein, Curtis Ellison. 10.29.14.

John E. Dolibois History Prize platform (l-r): G. Michael Pratt, James M. Mcpherson, Mike Dingledein, Curtis Ellison. 10.29.14.

Jay Ungar & Molly Mason perform (Rick Good on banjo). 11.13.14.

Jay Ungar & Molly Mason perform (Rick Good on banjo). 11.13.14.

Ungar & Mason on stage. 11.13.14.

Ungar & Mason on stage. 11.13.14.

The 2014 John E. Dolibois History Prize: James McPherson

McPhersonjpegOhioans on Slavery and Emancipation in the Civil War

James M. McPherson

George Henry Davis 1886 Professor of American History, Emeritus, Princeton University

Wednesday 29 October, 7.30 pm, Parrish Auditorium

Ohioans played a more important role in the Civil War than residents of perhaps any other Union state. Three of four principal generals who led the North grew up in Ohio and went to West Point, Ulysses S. Grant, William T. Sherman, and Philip H. Sheridan. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase and Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton were Ohioans, while Senators Benjamin Wade and John Sherman and Representatives James Ashley and John A. Bingham were important Congressional leaders in the drive for abolition of slavery.

Ohio also furnished prominent opponents of these policies, notably Clement L. Vallandigham, George L. Pendleton, and Samuel S. Cox. The story of these and other Ohioans in military and political actions of the war brings special attention to issues of slavery and its abolition.

  • Free public event
  • Reception to follow

Memorializing John Hunt Morgan & the 1863 Ohio-Indiana Raid

With Jim Blount, Hamilton Historian; Lester Horwitz and David L. Mowery, independent scholars; G. Michael Pratt, Professor of Anthropology, Miami University; Matthew Smith, Colligan History Project (moderator).

Tuesday, October 7, 2014, 7.30 pm

Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, Miami University Hamilton


John Hunt Morgan

The Colligan’s new season “Hard Road to Liberty: Ohio and the Civil War got off to a flying start last Tuesday, with Kelli Johnson’s innovative and gripping discussion, The Fight Against Slavery: Lessons From History to a packed-out audience at Miami Hamilton’s Downtown Center! On October 7, the Colligan returns to the Wilks Conference Center for a round-table discussion on the legacy of John Hunt Morgan.

The John Hunt Morgan Heritage Trail memorializing the route of Confederate General Morgan and his “Raiders” in July of 1863 features markers at 56 sites in Ohio alone, connecting with trails in Indiana and Kentucky. A panel of Civil War experts explores the making of this trail, its sponsors, and how the only Civil War action on Ohio soil is remembered today.

  • Free public event. Reception to follow.
  • Conferral of a special Jim Blount History Educator Award upon Richard O Jones


Butler Co. Historical Society: Distinguished Educator Award

20140313mainlogo1Folks: Do you know a person or group who has made a significant contribution to interpreting local history, preserving our historical heritage, or increasing public historical understanding? If so, the Butler County Historical Society invites you to nominate them for the Distinguished Historian Award.

This award will be given at the Annual Meeting and Banquet of the Butler County Historical Society, November 20, 2014 to recognize those who clearly demonstrate either a distinguished pattern of achievement over time or a particular accomplishment of high merit enhancing public understanding of the history of Butler County, Ohio. Previous recipients of “Historian of the Year” are eligible for this award, along with any worthy individuals who have not previously been recognized by an award.

For details on submitting nominations by the deadline at 4 pm on October 14, 2014, see poster below.

BCHS Release

Celebrating Caroline Scott Harrison

Dear folks,

Caroline Scott Harrison

Caroline Scott Harrison

Sunday October 5 marks the Second Caroline Scott Harrison Day, celebrating the life of US First Lady and alumna of Oxford Female Institute, Caroline Scott Harrison (1832-1892). Learn about plans for a bronze statue of Caroline on the grounds of OCAC, while enjoying cake and cider and the chance to win great door prizes at this Open House celebration. Oxford Community Arts Center, 10 S. College Avenue, Oxford, Ohio, 10/5/2014, 3-5 pm.

Click for poster

The Fight Against Slavery: Lessons From History

Kelli Lyon Johnson, Miami University Hamilton, English

Tuesday, September 16 @ 7pm

Miami Hamilton Downtown, 221 Robinson-Schwenn Bldg

kelli-lyon-johnsonHailed as the first human rights movement, the fight for abolition of slavery and the slave trade is an inspiration for freedom struggles today and relevant to the fight to eliminate slavery and human trafficking in the 21st century. Because slavery and trafficking are now illegal in every country, the continuing battle for human freedom can no longer focus solely on abolition.

UntitledThis event is presented in cooperation with the Department of Justice and Community Studies and Criminal Justice Week, which this year focuses on the issues of slavery and human trafficking. Kelli has curated an exhibition on display at Miami Hamilton Downtown through September: “If I got a chance to talk to the World”: Stories of Modern Day Slavery. This exhibition presents stories told by survivors of modern-day slavery, showcasing the stories of those often described as “silent” or “invisible.”

  • Free public event and exhibition. Reception to follow.