A Message to the Community

Dear Friends,

You likely will have heard the news, but I wanted to confirm that Miami University this week announced some emergency measures that will affect our programming. Miami University has no confirmed cases of COVID-19 coronavirus, but in response to Governor DeWine’s statewide declaration of emergency, together with advice from Ohio’s Department of Health, Miami has chosen to move all face-to-face classes online and cancel large gatherings of people through April 12.



This necessary public health move affects numerous events this semester, including the spring Colligan series. Sadly therefore, I regret that the March 26 screening of the film First Man and the April 2 lecture by James R. Hansen are cancelled. As the situation gets better we will keep you posted on any developments and any rescheduling. I predict that our fall schedule will remain unaffected. Although the recent global news has been discouraging, I look forward to welcoming you all back to our campus once the corner has been turned and life gets back to normal!

Keep well, keep calm, and keep in touch.

Matthew Smith,

Director, Michael J. Colligan History Project

100 Years of the 19th Amendment

Lynn Sherr

Monday, March 2 @ 7 pm

Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, Miami University Hamilton

Sherr poster copy.jpg

The Colligan History Project proudly welcomes award-winning author & journalist Lynn Sherr (ABC News 20/20) to explore the 100th Anniversary of the 19th Amendment. Sherr has become well known to television audiences as an investigative correspondent on ABC News 20/20, and was a program consultant for Ken Burns’s PBS documentary Not For Ourselves Alone. She has written widely on the history of women’s issues, feminism, and and social change, and edited the bestselling Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in Her Own Words.

This Women’s History Month presentation weaves the historical significance of this milestone with an appreciation of women such as Susan B. Anthony in the movement for change.

  • Free public event
  • Reception to follow


An Audience With Sarah Vowell

Monday, October 21, 2019 @ 7 pm

Parrish Auditorium, Miami University Hamilton


Bestselling author Sarah Vowell (The Wordy Shipmates, Assassination Vacation, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States) is widely known as a nonfiction writer, radio broadcaster, voice actor, and cultural observer. The author of seven New York Times bestselling books, she writes with humor, insight and a sense of place about American history from Puritan Massachusetts through all our major wars from the Revolution to the present, as well as the country’s music, movies, literature, current events and folk heroes. She was a contributing editor for NPR’s This American Life for twelve years, the founding president of literacy nonprofit 826NYC, a regular on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and is a contributing writer for the New York Times.

This evening’s on-stage conversation explores the connections between the American past and present through Vowell’s personal, often humorous, and deeply original perspective, casting new light on everything from the Massachussetts Puritans, to Presidents and their assassins, and the legacy of the American Revolution.

  • Free public event
  • Reception & book signing to follow

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania

Erik Larson

Saturday, November 10 @ 7 pm

Parrish Auditorium, Miami University Hamilton

Erik Larson

Bestselling author Erik Larson (Thunderstruck, Devil in the White City) describes the tragedy that brought war home to many Americans for the first time. On May 1, 1915 the S.S. Lusitania, among the fastest, most luxurious liners of its day, sailed from New York bound for Liverpool on an ill-fated voyage that changed history …

This Colligan History Project presentation, based on Larson’s bestselling book of the same name will take place on the eve of the centenary of the end of World War One. It is included as part of Miami University Regionals Heroes Week, a program of public events honoring all military veterans.

  • Free public event
  • Reception & book signing to follow

Curt Ellison and Ladonna Hoskins: An Appreciation

Dear folks,

On behalf of the Michael J. Colligan History Project, I write to acknowledge the distinguished service of my friends and colleagues, Dr. Curt Ellison and Ladonna Hoskins. Please join me in wishing them a long, happy, and active retirement!

L-r: Ladonna Hoskins, Dr. Curt Ellison, Dr. Matthew Smith

Curt retires after forty-eight years at Miami University and some 100 events at Miami Regionals. Since coming to Miami in 1970, Curt was dean or interim dean of three Miami schools, teaching History, Appalachian Studies, American Studies, Interdisciplinary Studies, and English. He published numerous books and articles including Country Music Culture: From Hard Times to Heaven, and has a project under way on “Ralph Stanley & the Appalachian Diaspora.” Curt served as Director of the Colligan Project at Hamilton and Miami University Regionals Appalachian Studies since 2010. Highlights include the centennial commemoration of the 1913 Great Miami River Flood, the community turnout for David McCullough’s 2016 Dolibois Prize Lecture, and the pioneering Bluegrass Music Heritage of Southwestern Ohio project with Appalachian Studies.

Ladonna worked at the Colligan Project since the beginning in 2000. Her skill, dedication, and attention to detail have ensured the steady growth and success of our programs, and her sunny personality brought a burst of Florida warmth to our Project. She and her partner Steve have been enjoying retirement and traveling the US, fishing, boating, and motor racing!

I look forward to succeeding Curt this fall as Director of Public Programs, with responsibility for the Colligan Project, Appalachian Studies, and the Wilks and Casper Lectures in Hamilton and Middletown respectively. I’m also grateful for the support and know-how of our capable new Program Associate, Sheila Williams, who joined our team this year.

Together we plan to bringing many exciting speakers and events in the years to come!

Matthew Smith.

The Art of Leadership: Andrew Jackson & Lessons from the American Presidency

Jon Meacham

Thursday, April 12, 2018 @ 7 pm

Parrish Auditorium, Miami University HamiltonMeacham
Join us as distinguished presidential historian and winner of the 2009 Pulitzer Prize for American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House Jon Meacham explores what 21st century leaders can learn from our common past. Meacham’s non-partisan presentation discusses how examples of former U.S. Presidents, including Andrew Jackson, can inform today’s leaders in various fields.

  • Free Public event
  • Reception and book-signing to follow

Thurgood Marshall in Black & White

Juan Williams

Tuesday October 10 @ 7 p.m.

Parrish Auditorium, Miami University Hamilton

This year marks the 50th anniversary of Thurgood Marshall’s appointment as the first African American Justice on the U. S. Supreme Court. Political analyst and former NPR host Williams shares stories about Marshall’s life, his heroic role in the Civil Rights Movement, and his stunning legal success. While Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X may be better known, Marshall’s legacy continues to shape race relations to this day. Juan Williams is a two-time Emmy Award winner and author of Eyes on the Prize, a companion volume to the PBS documentary of the Civil Rights Movement.

Williams flier

  • Free public event
  • Reception and book signing to follow

Remembering Jim Blount

blountportrait.jpgSad news this week as we remember Jim Blount. Jim was a longtime friend of the Michael J. Colligan History Project, and namesake of the Jim Blount History Educator Award. His many achievements reflected his unique character and varied career. Jim was proclaimed City of Hamilton Historian in honor of his lifelong interest, research, and writing on the history of his hometown. A former Journal-News editor and Hamilton Schools teacher, Jim volunteered for many years on the Butler County Transportation Improvement District. This summer it was announced that the South Hamilton Crossing, soon to be completed, will be named in his honor.

Our condolences to Jim’s widow Jackie and his family.
Journal-News Obituary

Catching up

A sincere thank you to all who attended the Michael J. Colligan History Project this spring. Our final event of the semester was a welcome return by distinguished writer, historian, and Miami Journalism Professor Jim Tobin (pictured below) on “Polio and the Making of FDR.”

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This was also our 174th program since we began exploring and commemorating a diverse array of historical perspectives in 2000.  During this time we have developed formal partnerships with the City of Hamilton, Fitton Center, Heritage Hall, The Lane Libraries, Smith Library of Regional History, Hamilton Schools, and Miami Hamilton Downtown Center. The Colligan’s distinctive public programing has been made possible through a cooperative funding arrangement between Miami University Regionals and the Michael J. Colligan Fund Committee of the Hamilton Community Foundation. We thank them for this unique support and look forward to announcing further exciting historical programs in the fall and spring of 2017-2018, to be announced soon on this website. In the meantime, we hope you all enjoy a restful and pleasant summer, and encourage you to keep in touch on FaceBook: www.facebook.com/colliganproject/

Polio & the Making of FDR

James Tobin, Professor of Media, Journalism, & Film, Miami University

Tuesday, April 18, 2017 @ 7.30pm

Harry T. Wilks Conference Center, Miami University Hamilton

james-tobin-1910453The conventional wisdom of recent decades–that Franklin Roosevelt engaged in a massive deception about his disability–is flat wrong. In fact FDR might never have become president at all had it not been for his extraordinary comeback from polio. Award-winning author James Tobin spent 20 years as a reporter and freelance writer, published Ernie Pyle’s War: America’s Eyewitness to World War II in 1997, and The Wright Brothers and the Great Race for Flight in 2003. The Man He Bacame: How FDR Defied Polio to Win the Presidency appeared in 2013.


  • Free, public event
  • Reception to follow