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Ohio Valley History Conference

Contested Histories in the Public

Registration is OPEN! (Click the link in the menu on the left, or click “Register Here” at the bottom of the menu.)


  • Thursday Oct 3- 3:00pm-8:00pm
  • Friday Oct 4- 8:00am-7:00pm
  • Saturday Oct 5- 9:00am-3:00pm

Hosted by: The Kentucky Historical Society

Now in its 35th year, the Ohio Valley History Conference (OVHC) is open to historians and advanced graduate students of all time periods and specializations, including public and digital history. This year, we will examine the ways in which historians, public history professionals and historical affinity organizations affectively research, interpret and teach difficult histories.

Call for Papers

The OVHC welcomes proposals for individual papers, full panels, roundtables and volunteers to chair panels or provide comment. Graduate students are particularly encouraged to attend and present.

Possible topics can include but are not limited to:
• Gender and Labor
• Environmental Issues
• Military History
• Activism
• Healthcare
• Digital History
• Race
• American History (open time period)
• Museum Interpretation
• Memory
• European History (open time period)
• Public History

Submission Process: For a panel or roundtable, please submit the panel title, a 100‐word abstract of each paper, and a 1‐2 page CV for each participant. For individual papers, please submit a 250‐word abstract and a 1‐2 page CV. Volunteers to chair sessions or provide comment should submit a 1‐2 page CV indicating areas of interest and expertise. All proposals should be in a Word document and include the affiliation and contact information of each participant.

Submission Deadline: June 15, 2019. Send proposals to: KHSpublications@ky.gov.

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries

Dr. Hasan Kwame Jeffries, from The Ohio State University, is our Friday evening keynote speaker.

Jeffries’ research focuses on African American history. He published his first book, Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt, in 2009. In it, he tells the remarkable story of the ordinary people and college age organizers from the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) who ushered in the Black Power era by transforming rural Lowndes County, Alabama, from a citadel of violent white supremacy into the center of southern black militancy. They did this by creating the Lowndes County Freedom Organization (LCFO), an all-black, independent, political party that was the original Black Panther Party.

Jeffries’ current book project is In the Shadow of Civil Rights, which examines the black experience in New York City from 1977 to 1993.

In addition to writing books, Jeffries also has worked on several public history projects. He was the lead historian and primary scriptwriter for the $27 million renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also hosts the podcast “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project.

Schedule of Events

Thursday, October 3

Location: Kentucky Historical Society – Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History, Frankfort, Kentucky

  • 3:00 pm – Beyond the Exhibit tour of KHS collections (optional). Go behind the scenes for a private tour of KHS’s incredible archival and museum collections.
  • 5:30 pm – Visit Frankfort trollies begin running from Capital Plaza Hotel to Buffalo Trace Distillery. Anyone who wishes to take the trolley can park at the Capital Plaza Hotel.
  • 6:00 pm – OVHC Welcome Reception. Location: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfort, Kentucky
  • 7:30 pm – 8:00 pm – Visit Frankfort trollies run from Buffalo Trace Distillery to the Capital Plaza Hotel

Friday, October 4

Location: Kentucky Historical Society – Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History (all panels)

  • 8:00am – Registration and breakfast
  • 9:00am – 10:15am – Panels begin
  1. Civil War Military/Confederacy

    • Gary Edwards (Arkansas State University): “One Soldier in Two Armies: A Case Study in the Ambivalent Confederate Nationalism of a Western Tennessee Yeoman”
    • Cassy Jane Werking (University of Kentucky): “The Execution of John Yates Beall: The Demise of a Confederate Hero in the Northern Borderlands of the Civil War”
    • Wallace Cross (Austin Peay State University): “From Fort Heiman to Johnsonville: The Tennessee River Campaign of Nathan Bedford Forrest”
    • Moderator: Chuck Welsko (Kentucky Historical Society)
  1. Religion/Early U.S. History

    • Karen Gauthier (Bluegrass Community & Technical College): “Memory and Identity through the Eyes of Puritans”
    • John Ellis (Bemidji State University): “The “Unlearned Woods Boys”: Methodism and Manhood in the Upper South and Ohio Valley, 1790–1820”
    • Tyler Barnhart (Duquesne University): “George Whitefield’s Revolutionary Impact on the Founding of the United States”
    • Moderator: Jeffrey T. Perry (Tusculum University)
  1. The Parker Academy Project: A Collaborative & Transdisciplinary Public History Project Resurrects A Forgotten Border Region Story
    • Chelsea Hauser (Northern Kentucky University): “The Benefits of Collaborative Learning in the Parker Academy Archives”
    • Andrea Shiverdecker (Northern Kentucky University): “Forgotten Woman of History: The Story of Phoebe Ann Taylor Duncanson”
    • William Landon (Northern Kentucky University): “The Parker Academy Project: A Collaborative Approach to Solving “Real World” Problems”
    • Moderator: Rebecca Bailey (Northern Kentucky University): Introduction 
  1. Reconceptualizing the Body: Thinking Through Medicine in the Long Nineteenth Century
    • Laura E. Smith (University of Arkansas): “Reading Anatomy: Newspapers, Racial Conflict, and the Debate Over Cadaver Usage in the 1800s”
    • Timothy Minella (University of Kentucky): “By a Hair’s Breadth: Measuring Hair in the Nineteenth Century”
    • Edward A. Driggers (Tennessee Technological University): “Mind and Guts,” Intestinal Illness and Its Many Explanations at the Turn of the Nineteenth Century”
    • Elizabeth Propes (Tennessee Technological University): “Sick of Dying: Military Service, Degeneration, and Death in the Third French Republic”
    • Margaret Lewis (University of Tennessee–Martin): “The Patient’s Voice in Early Modern Obstetrics and Gynecology”

10:30am – 11:45am Panels

  1. “‘A Leatherneck and Two Dogfaces,’” Marine Aviation, Army Education Reform at West Point, and the Making of an Army General: The Interwar Era 1919–1940”
    • Rhonda L. Smith (Alice Lloyd College): “First to Fly:” Lieutenant Colonel Alfred A. Cunningham, USMC and the Struggle for Marine Corps Aviation, 1919–1924”
    • Arthur T. Coumbe (U.S. Military Academy): “First to Reform” Brigadier General Douglas MacArthur and Curriculum Reform at the U.S. Military Academy during the Interwar Years, 1919–1924”
    • Leo J. Daugherty, III (U.S. Army Cadet Command, Fort Knox, Kentucky): “A Marauder in the Making,” The Early Career of Major General Frank D. Merrill, U.S. Army, 1922–1940”
    • Moderator: Douglas Herman (Big Sandy Community & Technical College)
  1. Twentieth Century U.S. Politics
    • Thomas Weyant (Black Hills State University): “Dickensian Nightmare? Poverty, Appalachia, and Cold War Christmas”
    • Renee LaFleur (University of Tennessee–Martin): “‘To Think is to Live’: Women’s Study Clubs in Northwest Tennessee”
    • Joanna Federico (Rutgers University): “‘A Question of Great Delicacy’: Weapons Policy and Politics in Kentucky, 1789–2019”
    • Moderator: Stephanie Lang (Kentucky Historical Society)
  1. Black Frankfort Histories Matter
    • Erin Gilliam (Kentucky State University): “Kentucky State University’s Remarkable History”
    • Mary Barr (Kentucky State University): “Research Challenges in Frankfort’s Archives”
    • Erik Brooks (Kentucky State University): “Creating an African American History Museum at Kentucky State University”
  1. Developing and Utilizing Digital History Projects as a Graduate Student – Roundtable
    • Participants: Hannah O’Daniel McCallon (Wayne State University)
    • Lucas R. Somers (University of Southern Mississippi)
    • Melissa Anne DeVelvis (University of South Carolina)
    • Peter R. Thomas, Jr. (Auburn University)
    • Chair(s): Emily D. Moses (Kentucky Historical Society)
    • Sarah E. Haywood (Kentucky Historical Society)

Noon – 1:15pm – Lunch (On Your Own) Frankfort has a variety of restaurants in the downtown area a short walking distance from KHS.

Noon – 1:00pm – First Friday Talk (Optional – Brown-Forman Room, KHS)

Join Dr. T.R.C. Hutton from the University of Tennessee as he discusses his book Bloody Breathitt: Politics and Violence in the Appalachian South (University Press of Kentucky).

Conference participants are welcome to attend but registrations are required. Attendees can bring lunch or purchase a boxed lunch. Please contact Anita Smith (anitaa.smith@ky.gov) or call 502-782-8118 to register and/or purchase a boxed lunch.

1:15pm – 2:30pm Panels

  1. International History
    • Mandi Rollinson (Duquesne University): “Agency, Identity, and Authority in Rwanda: 1950s Rhetoric as a Bridge to Post-Colonial Political Action”
    • Angela M. Gallagher (Duquesne University): “Eugenics and Rights: The Eugenic Legacy of Victorian Britain”
    • Gregory R. Zieren (Austin Peay State University): “Thirty Years as the Fall of the Berlin Wall: A Commemoration of Gisela Blumhagen of East Berlin”
    • Moderator: David Snyder (Austin Peay State University)
  1. Case Studies in American History
    • Mike Davis (Hampton University): “New South, New Age: The Southern Roots of Edgar Cayce”
    • Francis Curran (West Virginia University): “Promoting a Progressive Image, Forgetting an Unsavory Past: William Gregg, Slavery, and Memory in Twentieth Century South Carolina”
    • William G. Lewis (University of Missouri): “Settling with Steam: Oliver Evans and the Use of High-Powered Steam Engines in the Settlement of the Trans-Appalachian West”
    • Moderator: Stuart Sanders (Kentucky Historical Society)
  1. Contested Public Histories
    • Courtney Kisat (Southeast Missouri State University): “Teaching Difficult Histories: Classroom Discussion Techniques”
    • Matt C. O’Neal (University of Georgia): “Black Diamonds, White Supremacy: Railroads, Coal, and Community in Corbin, Kentucky”
    • Deborah Thompson (Kentucky Historical Society): “Contested Histories of Coal Company Town Life: Wrestling with Esau”
    • Moderator: Amanda Higgins (Kentucky Historical Society)
  1. Clashing Institutions: Conflict, Confusion, and Control in the Ohio River Valley’s Civil War and Memory
    • Carl Creason (Northwestern University): “Controversies Involving Catholic Works of Mercy in Wartime: The Case of Sarah Worthington King Peter and the Union Army Command in Cincinnati, 1862–1865”
    • Daniel Farrell (University of Cincinnati): They “Will Have to Stretch for it”: War Criminality, Martial Law and the Continuance of Summary Execution After Appomattox”
    • Stefanie Greenhill (University of Kentucky): Conflict, Confusion, and Common Humanity: Federal Government Efforts to Aid American Indian Refugees during the U.S. Civil War”
    • Amanda Laury Kleintop (Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts): “Clinging to a Discredited Institution”: White Kentuckians, Civil War Loyalties, and Compensated Emancipation”
    • Moderator: Thomas Mackey (University of Louisville)

2:45pm – 4:00pm Panels

  1. Nineteenth Century Political History
    • Kristen Wilkes (West Virginia University): “Separation without Representation: Logan County in the West Virginia Statehood Process”
    • Kevin Tanner (Austin Peay State University): “The April Fool’s Day Party: The Liberty Party and Its Founding”
    • Michael Fitzgerald (Franciscan University of Steubenville): “The Intersection between War and Peace: Anglo-American Diplomatic Relations in 1815”
    • Moderator: James Bartek (Kentucky Historical Society)
  1. Slavery, Freedom, and Memory
    • Daniele Celano (University of Virginia): “‘Resist to the Last Extremity’: The Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Laws”
    • Amy Laurel Fluker (Youngstown State University): “‘Stamped . . . Upon the Nation’s Memory’: African American Veterans and Civil War Memory in Missouri”
    • Melinda Meador (Murray State University): “The Truth Is Not Always in Black and White: How Newspapers Misled the Public about the Dave Walker Family Murders”
    • Moderator: Michael Crane (Independent Scholar)
  1. Climate Change in the Long Nineteenth Century: Lessons for Sustainability in the Twenty-First Century?
    • John P. Davis (Hopkinsville Community College): “Tsarist Russia: a Little Ice Age Empire?”
    • Stephan Harper (University of Kentucky): “Bronze John and the Missing Winter: Yellow Fever Epidemic of the Mississippi Valley in 1878”
    • Moderator: Eric Christianson (University of Kentucky)
  1. Community Partners/Professional Development Roundtable
    • Preservation Kentucky
    • Ashland, Henry Clay House
    • Jon Coleman (Mary Todd Lincoln/Faulkner Morgan)
    • Facilitator: Patrick Lewis (The Filson Historical Society)

4:00pm – 5:15pm – Professional Networking Session (Keeneland Gallery, KHS)

Network with public history and humanities organizations from across the state—learn about the work of these groups, internship and publishing opportunities, and the variety of career options for historians and public history professionals.

5:30pm – Dinner and keynote by Dr. Hasan Jeffries, The Ohio State University (Brown-Forman Room, KHS)

Dr. Jeffries’ research focuses on African American history—he is the author of Bloody Lowndes: Civil Rights and Black Power in Alabama’s Black Belt. Dr. Jeffries was the lead historian and primary scriptwriter for the $27 million renovation of the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee, the site of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He also hosts the podcast “Teaching Hard History: American Slavery,” a production of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s Teaching Tolerance Project.

Saturday, October 5

Location: Kentucky Historical Society – Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History (all panels)

9:00am – 10:15am Panels

  1. Personalities and Politics in Kentucky History, from the Antebellum Era to New Deal
    • Jacob T. Wood (University of Kentucky): “The Triple-faced Neighbor:” Henry Clay and the Case of Antebellum Political Fluidity”
    • Abigail Stephens (University of Kentucky): “‘One Act of the Farce:’ The Influence of Corruption in the Lexington, Kentucky’s 1909 Water Contract Negotiations”
    • Allen Fletcher (University of Kentucky): “Rebranding ‘Bloody Breathitt’: The New Deal in Breathitt County, Kentucky, 1933–1941”
    • Moderator: Austin Zinkle (University of Kentucky)
  1. Negotiating Power in Nineteenth Century American Religion
    • Christine B. Lindner (Murray State University): “Pronounced Unfit for a Missionary Wife: Gender, Power, and the Debate over Personal Relationships within Early-Nineteenth Century American Foreign Missions to the Ottoman Empire”
    • Jeffrey T. Perry (Tusculum University): “Perplexing Difficulties”: Race, Gender, and Protecting the Peace”
    • William R. Black (Western Kentucky University): “One Body and One Spirit: Race, Sectionalism, and Memory in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church”
    • Moderator: Bradford J. Wood (Eastern Kentucky University)
  1. Interpretations in Public History Spaces and Programs
    • Joseph Bailey (U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas): “’If you Build It, They Will Come’: Economic Revitalization and Fort Donelson National Military Park”
    • Nicole Slaven (Duquesne University): “Buying History: Trends in Ohio Historical Markers”
    • Moderator: Courtney Kisat (Southeast Missouri State University)
  1. Environmental/Ohio Valley History
    • Joe Pearson (Union College): “Kentucky’s Frontier Sublime: The Middle-Class Romance of the Wilderness”
    • Geoff Lybeck (Southern Illinois University): “The “Messenger of the Day of Redemption”: Epidemic Cholera, Kingdom-Building, and the Power of Print Narrative in Ohio and the Missouri Borderlands”
    • James Gaston (Franciscan University of Steubenville): “The Upper Ohio Valley: A Study in Geographical and Cultural Unity and History”

10:30 – 11:45pm Panels

  1. Violence and Political History
    • Molly Harris (Columbia University): “Addictive Extraction: Voting Patterns and Opioid Addiction in Kentucky’s Former Coal Counties, 1970–2016”
    • Morgan Baxter (Western Kentucky University): “Eugenics and Birth Control in America”
    • Austin Zinkle (University of Kentucky): “From Wallace to White Power: Willis Carto, William Pierce, and the National Youth Alliance”
    • Moderator: Rob Weise (Eastern Kentucky University)
  1. Reinterpreting the Kentucky Shakers – Roundtable
    • Aaron Genton (Shaker Village Pleasant Hill): SVPH institutional history
    • Carol Medlicott (Northern Kentucky University): Shaker history/historiography, Shaker music
    • Tommy Hines (South Union Shaker Village): SUSV institutional history
    • Maggie McAdams (Shaker Village Pleasant Hill): Shaker interpretation beyond material culture, personal stories of the Kentucky Shakers
    • Rebekah Brummett (South Union Shaker Village): African American Shaker history
  1. “Labor, Slavery’s Memory, and the Rough Waters of Freedom”
    • Zacharie W. Kinslow (James K. Polk Home and Museum): “Stooped So Low: Elias Polk and the Complexity of Nineteenth Century Southern Race Relations”
    • Anne Y. Brinton (Northwest Florida State College): “‘No trouble findin’ work to do’: Free Labor, Family Separation, and the Legacy of the Slave Market(s) in the Western Border States”
    • Timothy L. Wesley (Austin Peay State University): “Music, Minstrelsy, and the Memory of a Nation”
    • Moderator: Minoa Uffelman (Austin Peay State University)
  1. Sports History and Desegregation
    • Abigail Bernhardt (Marquette University): “The End of Belfast Celtic: Soccer and Politics in a Divided Ireland”
    • Chris Beckham (Morehead State University): “President Adron Doran and Racial Desegregation at Morehead State University”
    • Arthur Banton (Tennessee Technological University): “The Role of Sport in the Desegregation of Higher Educational Institutions in the Commonwealth of Kentucky: The Louisville Story”

11:00am – Noon – Beyond the Exhibit Tour of KHS collections (optional)

2:00pm – Historic tour of the Kentucky River, courtesy of Visit Frankfort and Kentucky State University (optional). All boat tour participants are required to sign a waiver and meet at the Riverview boat dock in downtown Frankfort by 1:45pm.


Our conference site is the Kentucky History Center & Museums in Frankfort, Kentucky. Sessions will take place in the Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History at 100 W. Main St.

Frankfort is a 30-50 minute drive from airports in Lexington and Louisville. Blocks of rooms are available for reservation by OVHC attendees at the Hampton Inn (a short drive from the conference site) and the Capital Plaza Hotel (walking distance of the conference site). Please notify these hotels that you are with OVHC to get the group discount. Additionally, several chain hotels are also located just a few minutes away near the two Frankfort exits off I‐64, and the area has a number of Airbnbs.

Engage in dialogue about the upcoming conference sessions on social media using #OVHC19.



October 3, 2019
October 5, 2019
Event Category:


Thomas D. Clark Center for Kentucky History
100 W. Broadway
Frankfort, 40601 United States
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