In This Issue: Fall 2002

Welcome to the inaugural issue of the Northeast Ohio Journal of History. An interdisciplinary and interactive publication, the NOJH combines the high scholarly standards of refereed print journals with the power and capabilities of the World Wide Web. As stated in its bylaws, the journal’s purpose is:

  1. to stimulate and publish high-quality research in Northeast Ohio history and prehistory
  2. to facilitate access to Northeast Ohio archives and historical resources
  3. to serve as a conduit of information for all archaeologists, academic historians, public historians, and members of the general public interested in Northeast Ohio history and prehistory.

With an editorial board comprised of representatives from the major universities and museums throughout the region, we will endeavor to publish the best and most comprehensive research the area has to offer.

One of the more challenging and rewarding aspects of this project is the medium we have chosen to use. Publishing as a web-based journal affords us opportunities that simply are not available to print journals. Each issue, for example, will feature a virtual museum exhibit on some aspect of Northeast Ohio’s past. In addition, our “archives” link will contain not only past articles from the journal, but also (in the near future) a growing list of links to primary source documents. Our “Current History” section will be updated regularly between issues, keeping our readers apprised of new events and announcements. Between these features and world-wide accessibility, we believe that the Northeast Ohio Journal of History has the potential to become a necessary stop for anyone interested in exploring the history of the region.

In This Issue:

We feature a triptych of pieces sharing a Cleveland theme. In our feature article, Dr. Arthur DeMatteo from the University of Wisconsin-Fox Run discusses the life and significance of A.B. duPont. DuPont, a member of the powerful family of American industrialists, was a renowned businessman in his own right and a close friend and confidante of Cleveland’s famous reform mayor, Tom Johnson. DeMatteo argues not only that duPont was an important figure in Cleveland history, but also a personification of the several strands of reform that represent the often-confusing world of Progressive-Era history.

Tom Johnson, of course, was not the only Cleveland mayor who won great recognition outside of Northeast Ohio. Dr. Melvin Holli of the University of Illinois-Chicago has contributed an interpretive essay in our “Notes and Comments” section on the unusual success Cleveland mayors have had on the state and national scene. Holli, the author of fifteen books and the country’s foremost expert on the history of American mayors, argues that despite the fact that the mayoralty is usually a political dead-end, Cleveland has succeeded more than any other American big city in promoting its former mayors to higher office.

The final piece of this issue’s Cleveland trilogy can be found in our virtual museum feature. Dr. Patsy Gerstner and Laura Travis, under the auspices of the Dittrick Museum of the History of Medicine at Case Western Reserve University, have produced a disturbing, yet compelling exhibit on smallpox in Cleveland at the turn of the twentieth century. In ways that words alone cannot express, this display provides the viewer with a more profound understanding of the terror that the specter of this disease evoked in the past, and indeed still elicits a hundred years later.

Beyond these featured items, this issue includes book reviews on Ohio topics ranging from a military unit of the 1830s to football in the 1890s to unsolved murder cases in the 1930s to the environment of today. The “Notes and Comments” section also contains a prospectus for the Consortium of Northeast Ohio History. This promising new project is designed not only to encourage the use of the area’s rich historical and archaeological collections, but also to provide valuable opportunities for students and teachers of history alike to perform and publish research on these materials.

Please address any inquiries about this project (or about any other aspect of the journal) to the editor at kkern @ uakron. edu. We welcome all comments and suggestions.

Kevin F. Kern

Feature Article:

Cleveland’s A.B. duPont: Engineer, Reformer, Visionary
By: Arthur E. DeMatteo, University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley

Book Reviews:

Christopher S. Stowe
George N. Vourlojianis: The Cleveland Grays: An Urban Military Company, 1837-1919

Kevin Kern
Nat Brandt: When Oberlin Was King of the Gridiron: The Heisman Years

Stephen H. Paschen
John Vacha: Showtime in Cleveland: The Rise of a Regional Theater Center

Walter Hixson
James Jessen Badal: In the Wake of the Butcher: Clevland’s Torso Murders

Gregory Wilson
William McGucken: Lake Erie Rehabilitated: Controlling Cultural Eutrophication, 1960s-1990s

Notes and Comments:

Cleveland: Success City in Promoting Public Office
By: Melvin G. Holli, University of Illinois at Chicago

Prospectus: The Northeast Ohio Consortium
By: Kevin Kern, The University of Akron


Smallpox: A City on the Edge of Disaster
Text by: Patsy Gerstner, Ph.D
Design by: Laura Travis

Current History


Arthur DeMatteo, a native Clevelander, is Senior Lecturer of History at the University of Wisconsin-Fox Valley. He has published articles in his areas of expertise, labor and early 20th-century American history.

Patsy Gerstner, PhD., was director of the Dittrick Medical History Center from 1979 through 1998, and Curator from 1965 through 1978. She is presently retired and works as a volunteer at the Center.

Walter Hixson is Professor of History at the University of Akron. His research and teaching fields include U.S. foreign relations, the Vietnam War, the Cold War, and crime. He is also the author of numerous books, including Murder, Culture, and Injustice: Four Sensational Cases in American History (University of Akron Press, 2000) and Parting the Curtain: Propaganda, Culture, and the Cold War, 1945-1961 (St. Martin’s press, 1997). Dr. Hixson is currently working on an interpretive history of U.S. foreign policy tentatively entitled Monsters to Destroy: American Identity and the Crisis of U.S. Foreign Policy that will be published by the Yale University Press.

Melvin G. Holli is Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago and the author and co-editor of fifteen books on urban, ethnic, and political history, including The American Mayor: The Best and Worst Big-City Leaders. His newest book, The Wizard of Washington: Emil Hurja, Franklin Roosevelt and the Birth of Public Opinion Polling, was recently released by Global Publishing at St. Martin’s Press.

Kevin F. Kern is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Akron and Managing Editor of the Northeast Ohio Journal of History. He specializes in the fields of Ohio history and late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century United States social and intellectual history. Dr. Kern is currently working on a study of the American physical anthropological community’s connection to the early twentieth-century eugenics movement.

Stephen Paschen is Senior Archives Associate at the University of Akron, Archival Services, and History Bibliographer for University Libraries. His publications include, Order in the Court: The Courts and the Practice of Law in Akron, 1787-1945 (1997), Speaking of Summit: An Oral History Handbook (1989), and Shootin’ the Chutes: Amusement Parks Remembered (1988).

Christopher S. Stowe is a Ph.D. candidate in American History at the University of Toledo. His specialties include the American Civil War and Reconstruction, U.S. military history, Native American studies, and the Atlantic World. Chris is currently writing his doctoral dissertation, a critical biography of George Gordon Meade.

Laura Travis has worked in commercial photography and web design. She has a BA in History, and has had training in photographic preservation.

Greg Wilson is Assistant Professor of History at the University of Akron, specializing in environmental history, public history, and the United States since 1945. He is currently working on two publications: an article that will appear in the International Journal of Social History in 2002 entitled “’Our Chronic and Desperate Situation’: Pennsylvania, Deindustrialization, and the Emergence of Redevelopment Policy in the United States, 1945-1965” and a forthcoming chapter in Beyond the Ruins: Deindustrialization and the Meanings of Modern America titled “Deindustrialization, Poverty, and Federal Area Redevelopment in the United States, 1945-1965,” which will be published by Cornell University Press in 2003. Dr. Wilson is also the Publication Director of the Northeast Ohio Journal of History.


We would like to take this opportunity to extend a great deal of credit and even greater thanks to some very important people. What you are reading now would not have been possible were it not for crucial material and financial support from the members of The University of Akron’s Department of History, especially Chairs Elizabeth Mancke and Stephen Harp. Their generosity to this project has been unstinting from the beginning, and we are deeply appreciative. We would like to give special thanks to Dr. Charles Monroe, Assistant Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and Interim Chair of the History Department, who not only donated sorely-needed equipment, but even helped carry it to our office. We also must express our gratitude to The College of Arts and Sciences and Dean Roger Creel for their support.

Credit for the handsome look and layout of the journal belongs entirely to one person: Patrick Tabatcher, Senior Multimedia Producer for The University of Akron’s Design and Development Services. John Hirschbuhl and Chris Collins from the Department of Learning Technologies and Scholar/Learning Services also provided invaluable help to us in the journal’s early stages. Credit for nearly everything else rightly goes to Assistant Editor Dyan McClain. Her time and efforts have dwarfed those of a mere Managing Editor and Publication Director.

Kevin Kern
Gregory Wilson

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