In This Issue: Fall 2003

In The Current Issue:

From how Italian immigrants came to Ohio to how oatmeal came to your table, this edition of the Northeast Ohio Journal of History answers some questions you may never have considered.  In addition, a new “discussion” feature we are adding will allow you to ask your own questions and answer those of others.

In this issue, we feature a group of pieces that challenge us to rethink conventional wisdom.  For example, Margaret Pallante’s feature article on Italian workers in theNiles, Ohio brick works demonstrates that oft-repeated historical generalizations about Italian immigrants to America do not fit the experiences these brick makers. Pallante, Chair of the Department of History at Youngstown State University, argues that Italian workers at Niles Fire Brick were more likely to assimilate, rapidly acquire property, and pursue educational opportunities than their counterparts in large Eastern cities.

Similarly, Robert Reszler’s piece on Erhard Steinbacher overturns a century-old myth regarding the origins of the oatmeal industry in America.  Local legend (supported by Quaker Oats’ own history and publicity) has long held that America’s embrace of oatmeal began with a one hundred barrel order the Union Army placed with Ferdinand Schumacher during the Civil War.  Reszler’s research not only reveals that this legendary order almost certainly never happened, but offers an alternative, more interesting, and more likely explanation of how oatmeal got to Union troops (and thus to America’s breakfast tables).

Gregory Wilson’s item in “Notes and Comments” also challenges us to rethink what is meant by the term “region.” The Northeast Ohio Journal of History is by definition a regional history publication, but how should that region be defined?  Politically? Geographically? Culturally? Environmentally?  Wilson, NOJH‘s Publication Director and Assistant Professor of History at the University of Akron, means to provoke discussion and debate with this piece.

To add your part to this debate, please feel free to visit our new “discussion board” feature.  Taking advantage of the technology available to us as an electronic journal, we are endeavoring to make the NOJH an interactive publication in which our readers can comment on and discuss issues pertaining to our content and Ohio history.

In lieu of our usual virtual museum exhibit, we are featuring a link to the Ohio Memory Project.  This outstanding website–a cooperative venture of the Ohio Historical Society, the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board, the State Library of Ohio, the Ohio Public Library Information Network, and the Ohio Library council–recently won the prestigious “Award of Merit” from the American Association for State and Local History.  It is a tremendous achievement in public history and a “must-see” for anyone interested in Ohio History.

In addition to the usual book reviews, we also encourage the reader to explore the other features of our site. For those who missed earlier issues, please visit our “Archives” link, which contains the entire contents of our first volume. We have expanded our “Research Links”  feature, adding not only more primary sources but also more links to local historical agencies. We strongly encourage the reader to suggest or send new links for this page. The same is true for items in “Current History,” which is a clearinghouse for information on events of a historical nature inNortheast Ohio. Because we update this section constantly, please feel free to send announcements for it at any time.

We would also like to remind our readers that printer-friendly versions accompany each item. These PDF files are not only easier on the eyes when printed, but also contain basic issue data and page numbers for convenience in citation.

As always, 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 Kern

Feature Articles:

To Work and Live: Brick Laborers, Immigration and Assimilation in an Ohio Town, 1890-1925
By: Martha I. Pallante, Youngstown State University

The Sutler Secret of Erhard Steinbacher
By: Robert C. Reszler, University of Akron

Book Reviews:

Phyllis Gernhardt
Jonathan Alder, edited by Larry Nelson: A History of Jonathan Alder: His Captivity and Life with the Indians

Lisa M. Smith
Thomas E. Pope: The Weary Boys: Colonel J. Warren Keifer and the 110th Ohio Volunteer Infantry

Kevin Kern
Jeffrey Hammond: Ohio States: A Twentieth-Century Midwestern

Shirley Teresa Wajda
Sue Studebaker: Ohio Is My Dwelling Place: Schoolgirl Embroideries, 1800-1850

Notes & Comments:

Thinking About Regions
By: Gregory Wilson, University of Akron


Phyllis Gernhardt serves as the Chairperson of the Department of History at the University of Saint Francis in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Dr. Gernhardt has taught upper-division American history course as well as various survey-level history courses.  Her research interests include: Women’s history, Native American history, and Indiana history with a focus on the frontier era.

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.

Martha I. Pallante is a Professor of History and Department Chair at Youngstown State University.  Her current research is “Children and their Books: Children’s Religious and Moral Literature in Early New England, 1700-1850.  She has contributed to the History of Education QuarterlyAmerican Studies: A Transnational Reader, and two volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography.  Dr. Pallante is also the Editor of the Ohio Academy of History Newsletter and was awarded the Ohio Academy of History Public History Award for 1999.  She has taught courses in Turning Points in American History, the Atlantic World, Colonial America, and Material Culture.

Robert C. Reszler is currently a graduate student at the University of Akron College of Business in Akron, Ohio.  After acquiring a Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Administration from Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, Mr. Reszler spent twenty years in the business world.  He now aspires to be a social studies teacher, historian, and author.

Lisa Smith is a Ph.D. candidate at the University of Akron.  She is currently working on her dissertation dealing with the ways that Ohio women constructed wartime identities for them selves during the American Civil War.

Shirley Teresa Wajda is a tenured assistant professor of history at Kent State University.  Her research interests include American material culture studies, American women’s history, and consumerism.  She has recently published “`A Kind of Missionary Work’:  The Labor and Legacy of Cincinnati’s Society Women, 1877-1922,” in Cynthia Amnéus, A Separate Sphere:  Dressmakers in Cincinnati’s Golden Age, 1877-1922, with a foreword by Timothy Rub (Lubbock:  Texas Tech University Press for the Cincinnati Art Museum, 2003). She also has recently been named new editor for Ohio History.

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 appeared 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 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.  Dr. Wilson is also Publication Director of the Northeast Ohio Journal of History.


We would like to take this opportunity to welcome Jordan Broderick as our new assistant editor, and to extend our thanks for his hard work in getting this issue online.