Author Archives: rkcunningham

Today marks the birthday of Daniel Chester French, in his day one of America’s most popular sculptors. The famed often seem to have known the famed, and French was no different. May Alcott, Louisa’s sister, was the person who encouraged … Continue reading

On April 19, 1928, Illinois held its last public hanging as bootlegger Charlie Birger went up the rope in Benton on a spring morning. (We’ve published a book that tells his story.) For years, he had fought it out with his violent rivals … Continue reading

As main man LeVar Burton can attest, you can go twice as high if you take a look, it’s in a book. Reading, though an essential skill to anyone outside politics, is also a topic of intense literary interest. Scholars across … Continue reading

Feel the breeze as you wander among the cottonwoods. To your left, the burble of the great river. To your right, forests busy with rabbit and beaver, where bald eagles build nests in the peaks, the better to keep an … Continue reading

I once tried to explain baseball to a British friend while we watched a Cubs game. By the sixth inning, after going aground on the dropped third strike and tagging up on a fly ball, I said that baseball, like … Continue reading

Longing for that down home music? Looking for a shot of brilliance? Tryin’ to forget that you asked for water and your woman/man gave you gasoline? Then you must be celebrating the 100th birthday (or it might be the 102nd birthday) of McKinley Morganfield, … Continue reading

The hit film Hidden Figures re-acquainted the zeitgeist with the idea that women in general, and African American women in particular, have long participated in scientific endeavor. Science on the Home Front tells women’s story during the critical years of World War II, when Leona … Continue reading

March 28 marks the date of a historic moment in the history of comedy. On that date in 1948, Jack Benny’s popular radio show aired one of the great exchanges in the long history of that beloved program: Mugger: Your … Continue reading

Emerging in the 1850s, elocutionists recited poetry or drama with music to create a new type of performance. The genre—dominated by women—achieved remarkable popularity. Yet the elocutionists and their art fell into total obscurity during the twentieth century. Today we … Continue reading

You can’t have Women’s History Month without musician-genius Clara Rockmore (left in the photo). The appropriately named Rockmore was a master of the theremin, that haunting/creepy sound-maker that entered our consciousness through 1950s science fiction films, “Good Vibrations,” twentieth-century electronica, and by inspiring the Moog synthesizer. The … Continue reading