First American West Lectures

As part of its 2022 Resurrecting the First American West project, the Filson presented six public programs on the diverse Ohio Valley frontier through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and its Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan initiative.

Crowdsourcing Early America

The Filson’s NEH-funded First American West project uses the power of its members and supporters to provide greater access to its early Kentucky collections than ever before. Large-scale volunteer transcription, “crowdsourcing,” is an exciting way for students, researchers, and learners of all ages to participate in archival and historical work. Join the Filson’s Patrick Lewis and our partners at FromThePage, Sara Brumfield and Ben Brumfield, to discuss the Filson’s crowdsourcing effort and the successes and challenges of other FromThePage projects. 

Women in the First American West

What do the Filson’s collections reveal about the women who lived in the First American West? Maureen Lane, Curator of Museum Collections will share some of the manuscripts and artifacts that document the lives of women who colonized Kentucky. Maureen Lane has an M.A. in American Studies with a focus on American Art and Material Cultural from Penn State University. She also has an M.A. in Museum Studies from Johns Hopkins University. Her interests include women’s history, American textiles, and American art. She is inventorying, researching, and cataloging the Filson’s museum collection and working toward making the museum collection accessible online.

A Celebrity in Kentucky during the War of 1812

James Ogilvie is the most important early American celebrity you've never heard of. As a performer and public speaker, he wowed American audiences with his grace and eloquence, allowing him to travel to virtually every corner of the United States before 1820. And yet after his death, he was forgotten. This talk examines the period he spent in Kentucky, giving lectures and serving with the Kentucky militia during the War of 1812. Based on her new book, The Strange Genius of Mr. O: The World of the United States' First Forgotten Celebrity (2021), the author speaks about how collections at the Filson and other Kentucky archives allowed her to flesh out this remarkable story. Carolyn Eastman is a professor of history at Virginia Commonwealth University. Her research focuses on the cultural and intellectual history of early America and the Atlantic world, political culture, gender, and the history of print, oral, and visual media. She is the author of the prizewinning A Nation of Speechifiers: Making an American Public after the Revolution (Chicago, 2009), and is currently a National Endowment for the Humanities fellow at the New-York Historical Society.

Law in American Meetinghouses: Church Discipline and Civil Authority in Kentucky, 1780-1845

Most Americans today would not think of their local church as a site for arbitration and would probably be hesitant to bring their property disputes, moral failings, or personal squabbles to their kin and neighbors for judgment. But from the Revolutionary Era through the mid-nineteenth century, many Protestants imbued local churches with immense authority. Through their ritual practice of discipline, churches insisted that brethren refrain from suing each other before "infidels" at local courts and claimed jurisdiction over a range of disputes: not only moral issues such as swearing, drunkenness, and adultery but also matters more typically considered to be under the purview of common law and courts of equity, including disputes over trespass, land, probate, slave warranty, and theft. In Law in American Meetinghouses, Jeffrey Thomas Perry explores the ways that ordinary Americans—Black and white, enslaved and free—understood and created law in their local communities, uncovering a vibrant marketplace of authority in which church meetinghouses played a central role in maintaining their neighborhoods' social peace. Jeffrey Thomas Perry is an assistant professor of history at Tusculum University

Violence, Greed, and Great Hope: A History in Verse of Frontier Kentucky

Violence, greed, great hope. There were the lives and the dreams of Kentucky's earliest white settlers. Lynnell Edwards will read from and discuss her research for her newest collection of poetry, This Great Green Valley. Drawing on archival documents from the Filson collections related to both her early ancestors in Kentucky, the McAfees, as well as better-known pioneers such as Daniel Boone, Benjamin Logan, Simon Kenton, and Richard Henderson, Edwards re-imagines these founding stories through dramatic poetry that weaves together the pastoral and the historical to bring light and life from across the centuries. Lynnell Edwards’ most recent collection of poetry is This Great Green Valley (Broadstone Books, 2020), a book of documentary poetry based on revisionist narratives of Kentucky’s pioneer founding in the 18th century. She is the author of three additional full-length poetry collections and a chapbook, Kings of the Rock and Roll Hot Shop, which chronicles the work and art of a glass-blowing studio. Her work often investigates the deep connections between a people and their place, including the natural, political, and family narratives in its history. She is the Associate Programs Director for the Spalding University MFA in creative writing where she teaches and lectures in poetry.

Surveying in Early America

Co-Authors Dan Patterson and Clinton Terry host an eye-opening presentation on their publication Surveying In Early America. Dan Patterson is a photographer, graphic designer, and filmmaker. He has published over 40 books, mostly about aviation history. Clinton Terry teaches American History and Liberal Studies at Mercer University in Georgia.