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Conference to examine Louisville before the Civil War

April 29th, 2009

Land, River and Peoples: Louisville Before the Civil War
May 29, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. with 6 p.m dinner; May 30, 9 a.m.–12:30 p.m.
See below for specific locations.
Registration, which is $65 for the general public and $35 for students, includes Friday breakfast, lunch and dinner and Saturday breakfast; registration is encouraged by May 7 as seating is limited. Continuing education credit may be available. To register, contact Janna Tajibaeva by e-mail or at 502-852-2247.


A contemporary look at many facets of antebellum Louisville will be the focus of a conference at the University of Louisville.

In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, Louisville was an important site in the settlement of the trans-Appalachian West. Located on the Ohio River, it was the jumping off place for the Lewis and Clark journey of discovery and became an important commercial area that offered employment to African Americans, both enslaved and free, and to Germans and Irish, fleeing political oppression and famine. Each immigrant group brought its own music, dance, dialect, and religion making Louisville the true melting pot of Kentucky and setting it apart from the rest of the state.

Scholars will explore that time in Louisville in “Land, River and Peoples: Louisville Before the Civil War.” The conference will cover such topics as Louisville’s role in Kentucky’s national political status, Portland Canal during the steamboat era, Farmington and the Speed family, Shippingport and New Albany as underground railroad portals, Louisville domestic workers’ class and gender issues, multiculturalism and music, minstrel shows and showboats, women’s lives in early Kentucky and Louisville’s free African American community.

There also will be theatrical presentations from UofL’s African American Theater Program and from a slave re-enactment piece developed for Locust Grove.

Sessions will be in Ekstrom Library’s Chao Auditorium with Friday lunch at the University Club. Both venues are on Belknap Campus. Friday dinner will be at the Muhammad Ali Center, 144 N. Sixth St., in downtown Louisville.

The conference is sponsored by UofL’s Arts and Culture Partnerships Initiative. The initiative is designed to bring together arts, history and cultural institutions to enhance community life; several area partner members will participate in conference presentations.

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