Category Archives: Culture & History (Free Event)

Colligan History Project Partners with Mad Anthony Theatre Company

The Michael J. Colligan History Project will be partnering with the Mad Anthony Theatre Company at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts to sponsor a series of three plays, each touching on different aspects of American history. In advance of these performances, the Colligan series Staging the Past comprises three original public events exploring the historical context for each play.

  • Oct. 7, Everybody Wants to Be Sondheim, 7:30 p.m. Praised by the New York Daily News as “one of the most ingenious practitioners in his profession,” since 1979 Middletown native Larry Moore has worked in New York on musical theatre restoration, editing, orchestration, choral arranging and recording. The presentation considers Stephen Sondheim’s role in Larry Moore’s life, and reviews 40 years of American musical theatre. It will be presented ahead of Sondheim on Sondheim, “a funny, affectionate and revealing tribute to musical theater’s greatest living composer and lyricist in his own words and music,” to be staged at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts October 15-18.
  • Feb. 9, Henry Ford: Fit to a “T”, 7:30 p.m. In 1932, union vs. management confrontations are on the rise, unemployment rampant, and communism and fascism appear viable. Henry Ford, who put the world on wheels, thinks he has a solution. During this interactive play Ford will talk to car dealers about his past, about the new Ford V-8, and about the future of soybeans. This dramatic presentation will be performed by Hank Fincken, A National Theatre Company of One, Indianapolis, Indiana. It occurs ahead of Camping with Henry and Tom, a “witty, elegant, and enormously entertaining” exploration of the friendship, politics and leadership of Henry Ford, Thomas Edison and Warren G. Harding, to be staged at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts February 18-21, 2016.
  • May 5, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, & the Lost (?) Generation, 7:30 p.m. Donald A. Daiker, Miami University Professor Emeritus of English, will examine Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald’s love-hate relationship that began the moment they met in 1925 at the Dingo Bar in Paris. Fitzgerald proved to be the more generous friend but Hemingway the more successful writer, in part thanks to Fitzgerald’s help. Both rejected the lost generation tag, but both helped to create, perpetuate, glamorize, and even live it. This presentation precedesScott and Hem, a drama about the cost of love, friendship and the price of being a writer, a rambling 1937 conversation between F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway in Hollywood, to be staged at the Fitton Center for Creative Arts May 12-15, 2016.
  • The Michael J. Colligan History Project is a partnership of the Colligan Fund Committee of the Hamilton Community Foundation and Miami University Hamilton. Its goals are bringing the past to life, creating historical thinking, and building community identity. For more information call (513) 785-3277 or visit

The Fitton Center for Creative Arts is located at 101 S Monument Ave in Hamilton. Colligan Project programs are free and open to the public. The Fitton Center Box Office can be reached at (513) 863-8873.


HEY! Hamilton! Shop

Conversations on Hamilton with Jim Blount at the Hamilton Lane Library  

Join local historian, Jim Blount, on Tuesday, September 8, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Hamilton Lane Library for a conversation about Covered Bridges in Butler County and Beyond.

No registration required. For details, call 894-7158. The Hamilton Lane Library is located at 300 N. Third St.

For more information about this and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call

894-6557 or visit the Lane website at

Colligan series explores ‘American Wars & American Life’

The Michael J. Colligan History Project will continue its public history series focusing on “American Wars & American Life.”

  • Sept. 9, Witnessing the War on Terror in American Culture, 7:30 p.m., Harry T. Wilks Conference Center. John E. Bodnar, Distinguished Professor of History at Indiana University and Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, explores encounters with mass violence that horribly rupture people’s lives and extraordinary efforts to heal them, highlighting the trauma and pain caused by the 9/11 attacks and experiencing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
  • Sept. 30Reconciling and Reuniting the Nation: How Americans Have Remembered the Civil War, 7:30 p.m., Harry T. Wilks Conference Center. Caroline E. Janney, Professor of History at Purdue University, Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, and President of the Society of Civil War Historians, discusses reuniting and reconciling the nation after the American Civil War, how civilians, veterans, women and U.S. Colored Troops understood that war, and how its meanings changed in later centuries.
  • Nov. 10World War I and the Modern American Woman, 7:30 p.m., Harry T. Wilks Conference Center. Lynn Dumenil, Robert Glass Cleland Professor of American History Emerita at Occidental College and Organization of American Historians Distinguished Lecturer, shares popular visual imagery of American women during World War I that reveals a key issue of women’s history: the rise of the modern “new woman.” Learn how media attention to women who were engaged in war service at home and abroad helped consolidate the perception of a “new woman” who challenged boundaries that had previously restricted women’s lives.
  • April 5Ernie Pyle & Americans at War, Jim Blount History Educator Award Lecture, 7:30 p.m., Harry T. Wilks Conference Center. James Tobin, Professor of Media, Journalism and Film at Miami University, considers the famous journalist Ernie Pyle as the nation’s eyewitness to World War II, who as its most popular war correspondent left a lasting imprint on the way Americans perceive that war, all U.S. wars since, and the image of the American soldier.

The Michael J. Colligan History Project is a partnership of the Colligan Fund Committee of the Hamilton Community Foundation and Miami University Hamilton. Its goals are bringing the past to life, creating historical thinking, and building community identity. For more information call (513) 785-3277 or visit  Miami University Hamilton is located at 1601 University Blvd.

Image: Ernie Pyle (second from right), famed war correspondent, prepares for takeoff with the crew. Via

2014 1025 banner

Fall Book Clubs at the Hamilton Lane Library

Adults 18 and up are invited to join us for a discussion of novel reads during the Tuesday’s Titles Book Club on Tuesdays, September 1, October 6 & November 3, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Lane Library. No registration is required.

  • September 1 – The Memory Painter by Gwendolyn Womack
  • October 6 – The Last Bookaneer by Matthew Pearl
  • November 3 – We Never Asked for Wings by Vanessa Diffenbaugh

Adults 18 and up, meet up with other graphic novel enthusiasts to discuss a new graphic novel every month on Thursdays, September 3, October 1 & November 5, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. at the Hamilton Lane Library. Pick up your copy of each novel ahead of time, then join us for lively discussion and refreshments. Registration is required for this book club:

  • September 3 – Beautiful Darkness by Fabien Vehlmann and Kerascoët
  • October 1 – Here by Richard McGuire
  • November 5 – Kill My Mother by Jules Feiffer

Copies of the books are available at the Reference Desk. For details, call 894-7158. The Hamilton Lane Library is located at 300 N. Third St.

For more information about this and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call 894-6557 or visit the Lane website at


Teddy Roosevelt to Visit Hamilton in 2016 for Ohio Chautauqua

Local history buffs and mavens of culture should take note that Teddy Roosevelt, Madame Marie Curie and a caravan of scholars will be coming to Hamilton next summer for the Ohio Chautauqua.

Hamilton is one of four cities around the state selected for the 18th annual Ohio Chautauqua, a week-long program of cultural enrichment and education, according to Fran Tiburzio, coordinator of the event for the Ohio Humanities Council.

“The Ohio Chautauqua is a traveling living history program,” Tiburzio said. “Each evening we have a different living history performance under a big red-and-white striped tent, and during the daytime our scholars present fun hands-on workshops for kids and adult programs like lectures in different venues throughout the community.”

The tent will be set up on the Hamilton Campus of Miami University, said Sarah Templeton Wilson, the Regional Campus’s assistant director of development, who led the local effort to bring the Chautauqua to town.

“It will be a full week of events,” she said. “The evening programs will always be at the Miami Hamilton Campus and during the day the re-enactors will go out to different community spots. So we will probably do things with Partners in Prime, the Lane Library, Pyramid Hill and Miami Hamilton Downtown to try and get a lot of different audiences from senior citizens to little kids.”

The dates of the 2016 Ohio Chautauqua have yet to be arranged, Tiburzio said, coordinated with the other host cities–Rossford, Gallipolis and Brimfield–but will be around late June or in July. More living history speakers will also be announced with the theme of “The Natural World.”

“The evening starts with some musical entertainment, then our scholar comes out on-stage, in costume, tells some stories from his life, then takes questions in character,” Tiburzio said. “So people in the audience will get to ask Teddy Roosevelt what made him go West, and what did he really think of the Rough Riders. Then the scholar steps out of character, that way he can answer question that the character would not have answered himself.”

Communities must apply for the Ohio Chautauqua in a competitive process that includes a site visit. Tiburzio said that Wilson and the local team “knocked it out of the ballpark” when she came to town. It was the second time Hamilton applied.

“The first year they were turned down just because the competition is so fierce,” she said. “But because the community is undergoing an arts renaissance and has such a strong interest in history, I think they are really going to glom onto this program. After 17 years of site visits, you get a feel for where it’s going to work and where it isn’t, and Hamilton was completely positive all the way.”

Wilson said that hosting a Chautauqua coincides with a movement on the regional campuses to generate more alumni involvement, especially with programming that will appeal to families, but that the event should have a broad impact across the community and Southwestern Ohio in general.”

Hamilton City Council member Kathleen Klink, who served on the site visit committee, said that the event will showcase both Miami Hamilton and the city at large.

“Attendees will be able to enjoy the events while also engaging with Hamilton amenities, a wonderful experience for families,” Klink said. “This event brings together those interested in history and Ohio and Hamilton remains a key contributor to the history of our region and state.”

History of the Chautauqua Movement

Tiburzio said the Chautauqua movement began in 1874 on the banks of Lake Chautauqua in New York as a school for Methodist Sunday School teachers.

“The popularity of the program spread to the surrounding regions and eventually throughout the country people started demanding this kind of cultural enrichment, so the traveling Chautauquas began around the turn of the century,” she said. “They were so popular that there were dozens of Chautauqua circuits around the country. Ohio had six Chautauqua circuits, and at the turn of the century, one in four Americans attended a Chautauqua programs. That’s how popular they were.

“It was a really great way to bring culture to the masses,” she said, noting that Teddy Roosevelt called Chautauqua “the most American thing in America.”

The traveling Chautauqua events gave people a place to discuss important issues of the day. As time went on, however, the quality and nature of the Chautauqua programs began to decline, becoming less about enrichment and more about entertainment. Consequently, their popularity declined as well and the movement died out by the end of the 1930s.

“For the nation’s Bicentennial in 1976, the North Dakota Humanities Council was looking for a way to revive interest in history and came up with what we call ‘the modern revival of Chautauqua,’ Tiburzio said. “The popularity of the program again began to spread across the country. We were a little late to jump on the bandwagon. We didn’t start the Ohio Chautauqua until 1999, but we now have the biggest Chautauqua program in the country.”

2014 1025 banner

“Beckett” Exhibition Explores Hamilton’s Papermaking Past

“Beckett”, a new Butler County Historical Society exhibition opening June 9, showcases the 164-year  history of Hamilton’s Beckett Paper Company.

The company began operations in 1848 when William Beckett, Adam Laurie, Francis D. Rigdon, John Martin, and Frank Martin started the Miami Paper Mill.The company went through several name changes until it was incorporated as the Beckett Paper Company in 1887.  A member of the Beckett family managed the company for 126 years, from 1848 to 1974.  More than 550 employees worked at the Beckett mill to manufacture the company’s line of high-quality colored cover paper and other products that were exported to as many as 35 countries.  The mill was the third oldest paper mill in America when it was closed in 2012.

The exhibition has been designed and organized by Dave Belew, president of Beckett Paper from 1974 to 1992, assisted by Mike Dobias of Miami University Hamilton.  It will run through November 30 and is free to the public.

It is the largest exhibit ever presented by the Butler County Historical Society and fills three rooms with hundreds of photographs of Beckett employees going back to the 1860s, “Life at Beckett” employee newsletters, samples of company advertising, marketing materials prepared for customers, historic company documents and items saved from the company’s community activities.

Personal memorabilia of the Beckett family including founder William Beckett’s desk, the piano from Thomas Beckett’s home, and the door from a company chapel are also featured in the exhibit.

The Beckett Paper Company exhibit is housed in the Butler County Historical Society, 327 North 2nd Street, Hamilton.  It is open to the public Tuesday through Friday from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm and Saturdays from 9:00 am to 2:00 pm.  Free parking is provided at the society.

The Butler County Historical Society is a private non-profit formed in 1934 to preserve and interpret the county’s rich heritage. It owns and operates the Benninghofen House, a high-Italian style home filled with the furnishings of a wealthy family during the Victorian Era.  Group tours of the Beckett exhibit and Benninghofen House Museum can be arranged by calling 896-9930.

film hamilton banner


‘The Kindness Diaries’ First Topic for Summer Book Series

The Hamilton Lane Library launches the 19th season of Reading & All That Jazz with a Brown Bag Book Review on Tuesday, June 2 at noon as reviewer Lori Rehmdiscusses The Kindness Diaries: One Man’s Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives around the World  by Leon Logothetis. And don’t forget to join us the following week for the Summer Time Jazz Program featuring The Chris Comer Trio (piano, drums, and bass) on Tuesday, June 9 at noon.

This popular series of alternating weekly book reviews and jazz performances will entertain you all summer long, June through August. All programs, free and open to the public, are on Tuesdays at noon at the Hamilton Lane Library, 300 N. Third St.

For more information about these and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call 894-6557 or visit the Lane website at

2014 1025 banner

Jim Blount to Answer Questions About Hamilton History

Is there anything about Hamilton’s past that you would like to get an answer to?

Join local historian Jim Blount on Tuesday, June 9, 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. at the Hamilton Lane Library for a conversation about the colorful history of Hamilton and Butler County. At this session, Mr. Blount will take your questions about Hamilton’s history.

No registration required. For details, call 894-7158. The Hamilton Lane Library is located at 300 N. Third St.

For more information about this and other programs at the Lane Libraries, please call 894-6557 or visit the Lane website at

Photo: Colligan History Project

The Lane Library Presents Friday Night Trivia with Professor Knowitall

The Hamilton Lane Library presents Hamilton’s very own Professor Knowitall at Ryan’s Tavern on Friday, June 5, 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. for some Friday night trivia fun.  All ages are welcome.

No registration is required. For details, call 894-7158. This event will be held at Ryans Tavern, 241 High Street in Hamilton.

Richard O Jones, a creative writing graduate of Miami University, Ohio, spent most of his career as an arts journalist and has won numerous awards for his reviews and profiles. In 2004, he was named a Fellow of the National Endowment for the Arts Theatre and Musical Theatre program at the Annenberg School of Journalism. The Ohio Associated Press named him Feature Writer of the Year in 2011. Since leaving the newspaper world, Mr. Jones has become an active member of his local history community as a board member of the Butler County Historical Society, a member of the History Speakers Bureau and a regular presenter at Miami University in a program titled Yesterday’s News. In his role as Professor Knowitall, Jones will lead the crowd in a lively round of trivia!

For more information about this and other programs presented by the Lane Libraries, please call 894-6557 or visit the Lane website at

Take a Noon Stroll Down the Lane, May 15

Want to enjoy the beautiful spring weather? Looking for a great reason to get out of the office? Want to learn more about the rich history of our iconic city of Hamilton?

The Dayton Lane Historic District is ready to help you do all these things on Friday, May 15, at noon. Dr. Tom Nye, resident of Dayton Lane and former mayor of Hamilton, will share the sights and history of some of our city’s finest architecture as he leads an hour-long walking tour through this historic neighborhood. This free tour begins at 712 Dayton Street, at the corner of Seventh and Dayton Streets.

This opportunity will let you have a glimpse into the grandeur of Dayton Lane, and learn about the history of Hamilton’s movers and shakers that lived and worked in the neighborhood at the end of the 19th century.

For further information, or in case of inclement weather, call 887-1100 with any questions. We hope to see you at noon on May 15.