Dillinger on Trial: A Living History Event

Jeremy Meier interprets the notorious and charismatic bank robber who famously claimed, "These few dollars you lose here today are going to buy you stories to tell your children and great-grandchildren. This could be one of the big moments in your life; don't make it your last!"

Jeremy Meier interprets the notorious and charismatic bank robber who famously claimed, “These few dollars you lose here today are going to buy you stories to tell your children and great-grandchildren. This could be one of the big moments in your life; don’t make it your last!”

Associate Professor of Theater, Owens Community College

Tues. April 21 @ 7.30 pm, Wilks Conference Center

John Dillinger faced the media several times during his February 1934 incarceration. His later jailbreak from Crown Point, Indiana thrust Americans into a frenzy of speculation about his whereabouts, plans and thoughts. What if John Dillinger had an opportunity to face the public, this time as a free man? What would people have asked him? And what might Dillinger have said?

  • Free public event
  • Reception to follow

Dillinger’s Wild Ride

Elliott J. Gorn

Joseph A. Gagliano Chair in American Urban History, Loyola University Chicago

Thursday April 9, 7.30 pm, Wilks Conference Center, Miami University Hamilton

Minolta DSCBetween the summers of 1933 and 1934 John Dillinger became one of the most famous men in America. He did it by robbing banks and breaking out of prisons, until finally federal agents gunned him down on the streets of Chicago. We’ll explore why Dillinger captured America’s imagination back then, and why he still haunts us today.

  • Free public event
  • Reception to follow

Hollywood Hoods

Richard O Jones, True Crime Historian.

All Showtimes 7pm
Miami Hamilton Downtown
221 High Street
Robinson-Schwenn Buildingunnamed

Join true crime author Richard O Jones and the Colligan History Project once more as we continue “Hollywood Hoods,” our exploration of Film Noir from the era of Cagney and Dillinger!

  • Coming soon …

Roaring Twenties (1939) March 10
104 minutes
This is the last of three films James Cagney and Humphrey Bogart made together. The rise and fall of their bootlegging characters coincides with the passage and repeal of the 18th Amendment and the Volstead Act.

Dillinger (1945)
March 17
70 minutes, Lawrence Tierney
The first movie about the infamous bank robber was banned in Chicago and other cities where John Dillinger actually operated. Although it was a low-budget B-picture using newsreel footage and out-takes from other films, it proved so popular that it earned over $4 million ($52 million today) from a $65,000 budget.

Hollywood Hoods: “The Public Enemy” (1931)

Hosted by Richard O Jones, True Crime Historian

Tuesday March 3, 7 pm

Miami Hamilton Downtown, 221 High Street

In addition to the rise of organized crime in America, the Prohibition Era is also responsible for spawning the gangster film genre. Our “Hollywood Hoods” series explores three early gangster genre hits and discusses their foundation in reality. Each event includes an introduction by True Crime Historian Richard O Jones and a post-screening discussion of themes, motifs and impacts.

Our first featured film is 1931 classic The Public Enemy (83 mins), starring James Cagney.The Public Enemy poster copy (1)

Although he rose to prominence as a song and dance man and starred in many romantic comedies, James Cagney came to typify Hollywood’s American gangster. The Public Enemy is the film that started it. Made from an unpublished novel by two of Al Capone’s thugs, the characters are based on real people.

  • free, public event
  • refreshments provided!

Business & Ordinary Life in the 1920s & 1930s

Susan Spellman

Associate Professor of History, Miami University Hamilton

Tuesday, February 24, 7pm. Miami University Hamilton Downtown Center, 221 High Street.

svsIn the 1920s and 1930s big changes came to local and national businesses. As chain stores and giant enterprises sought to control the American business landscape, Mom and Pop fought to keep their place in American neighborhoods. Economic dominance was at stake in this struggle, and so was the very definition of the “American Dream.

  • Free public event
  • Reception to follow

Public Enemies: Hamilton’s Little Chicago Era and its Consequences

Dear folks:

Another exciting season of events has arrived at the Colligan History Project, exploring Hamilton in the era of John Dillinger and the interwar golden years of outlawry and gangsterism! Many local residents still remember legendary accounts of Hamilton’s “Little Chicago” years, and our aim this season is to delve into such lore to distinguish fact from myth. We’ll discover the topic from a number of angles, including Film Noir and a unique live historical performance of Dillinger himself. First up, Miami Hamilton historian Susan Spellman examines the “Mom & Pop” struggles of small businesses in the 1920s and 1930s, an era of great economic upheaval.

  • Click below for season schedule poster:

Spring 2015 Poster

Spring Schedule: Text Only

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