Humanities in the Park Debuts Featuring Southeast Ohio Women Then and Now

Educators, authors and artists are just a few of the people from Southeast Ohio’s past and present who will appear on new Humanities in the Park billboards at the city’s Richland Avenue Park. ‘Athens.

The first exhibit – Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio – opens in early May and tells the stories of diverse and remarkable women who have promoted the educational mission of Ohio University, the Athens community and the state, from the 1840s to the 1980s.

“The interactive exhibits will change every few months, exploring different perspectives on how the humanities have shaped Athens and Southeast Ohio and how they continue to be an important part of our daily lives and our heritage. “, said Fred Drogula, professor Charles J. Ping. of Humanities in the College of Arts and Sciences and Director of the Charles J. Ping Institute for Humanities Education.

An art panel in Richland Avenue Park
Athens Public Library director Nick Tepe (left) and graphic designer Heather Johnson set up an art exhibit in Richland Avenue Park. Ben Siegel University/Ohio

“Additional exhibits will explore the growth of the humanities from the perspective of Black Americans who studied and worked here, as well as Native American contributions to Ohio, from mound building to modern voices. We will also trace the central plaza and the importance of the humanities from the founding, mission and early history of the University to the Carnegie Library to our modern community,” added Drogula, who teaches classics at OHIO. .

Humanities in the Park is a collaborative project made possible, in part, by a grant from Ohio Humanities, a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Several local organizations come together to create the exhibits, with the Athens Department of Arts, Parks and Recreation and Athens County Public Libraries playing a key role in the design and maintenance of the exhibits, which are written and studied by the faculty of human sciences of the Ping Institute. The Ohio University Libraries, particularly the Mahn Center for Archives and Special Collections and the Digital Initiatives Department, also contribute substantially to this humanities enhancement effort. The Ohio University Central Region Center for Humanities is also supporting the project.

In addition to exhibits in the public park, Humanities in the Park materials will also be available on its website.

“We want this work to be an ongoing resource for teachers and families as they explore Ohio’s history through the lens of different times and diverse people,” said Nick Tepe, Director of Public Libraries. of the county of Athens. “The library looks forward to continuing to showcase local scholars, writers and artists from our region with these exhibits for a long time to come.”

Former teacher Francine Childs in the classroom.
Francine Childs, a professor in the Department of African American Studies at Ohio University, speaks to a group in 1988. Courtesy of Ohio University Archives

Women Promoting Education in Southeast Ohio: Their Time

The women in these exhibits, so important to the history of southeast Ohio, lived and worked in different eras. They have lived through times of war – the Civil War, the World Wars, the Vietnam War and even the Cold War. And they were part of the first social movements that still ring true today – women’s rights, civil rights and peace.

“Among the legendary women on these billboards you can find a singer and actress, the first woman to join the faculty of Ohio University and one of the first to champion women’s education,” said Katherine Jellison, professor of history at the College of Arts and Sciences. and director of the Central Region Center for Human Sciences. The center, established in 2001 with the support of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, aims to establish strong links with university programs, provide students with experiential learning opportunities, support graduate students and undergraduate studies and collaborate with community organizations.

Becca Lachman, director of communications for Athens County Public Libraries, noted that the exhibits are interactive, informative and fun for all ages.

“Hats off to our graphic designer, Heather Johnson, who helped design the displays as a kind of treasure hunt, with clues on what to find on various signs and QR codes that link to additional resources online. I encourage you to take advantage of materials like Margaret Boyd’s journal and the very first report on the status of women at Ohio University, which paved the way for the implementation of Title IX at the university” , Lachman said.

Former Dean of Women Irma Voigt
Irma Voigt, Dean of Women at Ohio University, reads a book during a fireside chat with students at her home at 35 Park Place, circa 1948. Photo courtesy of the Archives of Ohio University

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