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Probing the Past

Festschrift in Honor of Leo Schelbert

Wendy Everham and Virginia Schelbert

This Festschrift acknowledges the scholarly work of Leo Schelbert and his mentorship of graduate students in the Department of History at the University of Illinois at Chicago where for 33 years he taught American history. Professor Schelbert has specialized in the story of European migrations and especially of immigration to the United States. His courses offered not only pertinent data, but they also raised theoretical issues to which historical work is tied inescapably.
The varied essays included in this book reflect the range of themes former students, who now are scholars in their own right, have been pursuing. The topics of three essays center on North American Indians facing white intruders, another on émigré Hungarians living in Scotland, and one (contributed to this volume by a most esteemed colleague with whom Leo Schelbert shared many a student) on striking women straw workers in Tuscany. Another essay concerns matters relating to those grappling with mental health issues, while others deal with African newcomers in Chicago, Jewish immigrants to America who first worked as peddlers, contemporary Polish American politics in Chicago, and also with a nineteenth-century Swiss American theologian. Two of the last three essays honor Leo Schelbert’s work as a colleague and historian apart from the university setting, whereas the final one honors Leo Schelbert as a teacher as well as the Department of History at UIC in which its Swiss-born member worked from 1971 to 2003.
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Justice in Mental Health: A Better Foundation for the Expansion of Peer Support



Four men came for her on the morning of June 18, 1860—the sheriff of Kankakee County, two local physicians and her husband. Illinois State Hospital and Asylum for the Insane was the intended destination but she, intent on maintaining her Victorian poise and hoping to portray the men as unreasoned aggressors, forced them to carry her like an Egyptian pharaoh. At her request, they linked arms to form a chair and carried her to the waiting rail car in front of a crowd of local onlookers.1 She spent nearly three years in the asylum before the board of trustees approved her for release. Only after they made their decision did she announce her desire to stay another nine months. Her name was Elizabeth Packard (1816–1897), and she planned to use the time to complete a book about her experience in the asylum. She made this book, which documented the horrors of the place, her script to freedom. In this era, women were vulnerable to incarceration in the asylum based solely on the testimony of their husbands and hospital superintendents. Packard aimed to secure additional rights for women through her book sales and promotions. ← 73 | 74 → The subsequent reforms that her advocacy achieved became known as the “jury laws.” Packard’s reforms dramatically limited the power and authority of hospital superintendents and earned her their contempt.2

In the spirit of Elizabeth Packard, this paper argues for an expansion of...

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