Abraham Lincoln will be the subject of a year-long series of presentations and exhibits sponsored by the Defiance College and City of Defiance. The series, which opens Jan. 12, has been designed to more closely examine Lincoln as the year 2009 marks his 200th birthday. Noted regional and national scholars, including Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Dr. Mark Neely Jr., will reflect and perhaps shed some new light on the many facets of the nation’s 16th president.
The idea for the series originated with Defiance city historian and professor emeritus Randy Buchman. He is excited about the opportunities this will provide for the College and the community. “Abraham Lincoln asked us to dedicate ourselves to ‘the unfinished work’ of our nation at Gettysburg,” says Buchman. “We as a people need to reflect on that life and worlds of Lincoln, ‘that this nation … shall have a new birth of freedom.’”
All lectures will be held in Schomburg Auditorium on the Defiance College campus beginning at 7:30 p.m. and are free and open to the public. Exhibits will be housed in the Women’s Commission Art Gallery next to the auditorium.
The series debuts on Jan. 12 with Dr. Gerald Bazer, dean emeritus of Owens Community College, a well-known presidential scholar. His topic: “What Do We Perceive as Greatness in Leadership? How Historians Rank Greatness.” An exhibit will focus on campaign memorabilia and literature of the 1860 presidential campaign on loan from private collections and the Ohio Historical Society.
Buchman will speak on Feb. 12, addressing the topic, “The Role of Location in the Rise of Political Power.” An exhibit will include reprints of articles published in the Defiance Democrat during the Lincoln years, representing local reaction to Lincoln’s position on issues during his presidency.
Dr. Jan Younger, faculty member at Heidelberg College, will address Lincoln’s humor in the third segment of the series on March 12. His topic will be “Humans as a Part of Humanitarians.” To complement his address, an exhibit will focus on a collection of editorial cartoons.
Dr. William Harris, professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina and a recognized Lincoln scholar, will speak April 26 on “The Role of Myth Versus Reality.” Harris is a recipient of the Lincoln Prize and was awarded the Abraham Lincoln Institute Award. The exhibit for this presentation will focus on the multitude of books that have been published about Lincoln.
During the summer months, an exhibit will focus on Lincoln’s early life as a farmer and rail splitter. A rail fence exhibit will be created by students in the museum studies program at Northwest State Community College.
“The Impact of a Spouse” will be the topic of the Sept. 10 presentation to be given by Dr. Michelle Tabit, assistant professor of history at Defiance College. This will be offered along with a collection of Mary Todd Lincoln material.
Dr. Mark Neely Jr., professor of history at Penn State and a Pulitzer Prize winner for his work on Lincoln, The Fate of Liberty, will speak on Oct. 11. He will discuss his book, The Last Best Hope of Earth. An accompanying exhibit will focus on Lincoln in sculpture and feature a Leo Cherne bust of Lincoln presented to Defiance College by President Eisenhower.
Former Defiance College president and Lincoln historian Dr. Gerald Wood will discuss Lincoln and education with his lecture on “The Need for Education” on Oct. 29. An accompanying exhibit will feature a collection of Lincoln photographs.
The final segment in the series will feature Dr. Don Buerk, associate professor of history at Defiance College, to be held Nov. 12. His topic, “Counter Movements,” will examine Lincoln and the peace movement. An exhibit will display a variety of materials on Lincoln and anti-war sentiment of the 1860s.
Additional financial assistance for the lecture and exhibit series is being provided by the Ohio Humanities Council.
Defiance College is an independent, liberal arts institution in Northwest Ohio offering more than 40 undergraduate majors as well as graduate programs in education and business. Defiance College has received national recognition for its educational experience of engagement. U. S. News & World Report ranks Defiance in the top tier of comprehensive colleges in the Midwest. The college website is www.defiance.edu.
January 6, 2009