The Mining & Rollo Jamison Museums in Platteville will host the 2016 Winter Lyceum Lectures Sundays March 6–20 at 7 p.m.
All presentations are offered free to the public. The schedule:
March 6: Pleasant Ridge: A Historic African American Settlement in Grant County: James Hibbard, the archivist at the Southwest Wisconsin Room at UW–Platteville, will present about his research of the unique community of African American farmers at Pleasant Ridge near Beetown that included one of the first integrated schools in the nation in 1873.
March 13: Wheel Fever: Jesse J. Gant, who co-authored Wheel Fever: How Wisconsin Became a Great Bicycling State with Nicolas J. Hoffman, is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of History at UW–Madison and a Public Humanities Fellow at the Wisconsin Humanities Council.
Meticulously researched through periodicals and newspapers, Wheel Fever traces the story of Wisconsin’s first “bicycling boom,” from the velocipede craze of 1869 through the “wheel fever” of the 1890s. From the start it has been defined by a rich and often impassioned debate over who should be allowed to ride, where they could ride, and even what they could wear. Many early riders embraced the bicycle as a solution to the age-old problem of how to get from here to there quickly and easily. Yet for every supporter of the “poor man’s horse, there were others who wanted to keep the rights and privileges of riding to an elite set. Women, the working class, and people of color were often left behind as middle- and upper-class white men benefited from the “masculine” sport and all-male clubs and racing events began to shape the scene. Even as bikes became more affordable and accessible, a culture defined by inequality helped create bicycling in its own image.
March 20: My Home at Present: Lives in the Mine Boarding Houses in the San Juan Mountains, Colo.: Retired geologists Karen and Mark Vendl will discuss the miner’s daily life at mining boarding houses. Their book of the same title, written with Duane Smith, won the 2015 Mining History Association’s Mary Lee Spence Documentary Book Award.
Much has been written about the miner’s life as he toiled underground, but that is only part of a very interesting story. My Home at Present relates the other half of the story – a time when the miner’s daily life in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado was often in a boardinghouse where he was fed with enormous amounts of food to keep his energy up. Sometimes he lived there with his fellow miners for months at a time, unable to get to town because of deep snows. It was almost as dangerous above ground as below, as he faced temperatures well below zero, hurricane force winds, the possibility of running out of food, and the ever-present deadly avalanches. Yet it also could be a good life in which food was very edible as well as plentiful, libraries and poolrooms provided recreation, and the miners spent hours telling stories and playing cards.