Call for Presentations: Gateway History Conference 2017

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Gateway Arcana: Myths, Mysteries, and Hidden History in the Iowa-Illinois Gateway


The Sawmill Museum and the Clinton Public Library invite panel and presentation submissions for the Third Annual Gateway History Conference on Saturday April 29, 2017. The conference will explore unsung heroes, unverified legends, and other arcane history in the Gateway Area of Iowa and Illinois.


Arcana is typically defined as knowledge that is secret, hidden, or otherwise unavailable to the uninitiated. It has an almost mystical connotation, holding a historic link to medieval alchemists who sought to unlock the mysteries of nature through magic and scientific experimentation. The study of arcane history seeks to do something similar - unveil those personalities, events, stories, and bits of information that escaped or were excluded from the official versions in order to bring a richer understanding to neglected or uncomfortable areas of history. The conference organizers seek individual and panel session proposals addressing various aspects of arcane history in the Gateway, particularly work that challenges accepted historical narratives within communities, or adds a new perspective to the conventional wisdom.


For the purpose of this conference, the Gateway Area is roughly defined as the areas in and around the communities along the Mississippi River between Dubuque and the Quad Cities, but submissions from the wider Eastern Iowa-Northwest Illinois region will also be considered. All presentations should be based on original research or creative work and participants from all academic, professional, and disciplinary backgrounds are encouraged to submit proposals. Topics may include, but are not limited to:


  • Groups and individuals under the historical radar

  • Events of little fanfare but great historical impact

  • Historically underrepresented communities and their stories

  • Schemes, scoundrels, and notorious history we tried to forget

  • Faith, superstition, and frontier folk wisdom

  • De-bunking official versions of our history

  • Revealing history through archives and artifacts


The conference will take place on Saturday April 29, 2017 at Clinton’s Eagle Point Park Lodge from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., followed by a film screening from 3:30-5:00 p.m. Submissions will be accepted until December 31, 2016, with those selected for participation receiving notification by January 15, 2017. The final program and conference format will be announced by January 31, 2016. There is no registration fee for conference presenters, however all participants are responsible for their own travel and accommodations costs. Proposals will be accepted via email only and should be sent to For questions about the conference or sponsorship inquiries please contact Brad Wiles at the Clinton Public Library at 563-242-9115.

Categories: CFP