Reminiscences of Don Rowney, by his colleague Doug Forsyth



As a remembrance of our colleague Professor Emeritus Don Rowney, who recently passed away, we share below Dr. Doug Forsyth’s eulogy with minor edits for brevity. We thank Dr. Forsyth for sharing the text.

Text Box: Don Rowney, sitting in the far right of the picture
Don Rowney on the lower right-hand side.

As early as my on-campus job interview at Bowling Green, in spring 1996, it became clear to me that Don Rowney was the faculty member at the university who was most interested in having me as a colleague.  My wife, Mercedes, and I drove out to northwest Ohio in early summer of 1996, as I looked for a place to live.  Don and Susan invited us over for dinner, and I paid my first visit to the Old West End Historical District in Toledo, where Don and Susan were living, where Susan is still living, and where I would go on to live for twenty-four years and counting.  I still remember vividly that dinner, on the porch behind Don and Susan’s house, and in particular one detail.  Don asked Mercedes, who was and is a professor at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, why she had accompanied me on the long drive out to the Midwest as I looked for a place to live.  ‘Do you think I’m going to leave my husband back here, without making sure it’s a decent place?’ she quipped.  Don looked at her with this peculiar expression of delight he sometimes had, when someone said something unexpected, and in his view particularly amusing—it was the first, but not the last time I saw that expression on his face.  And that sealed it—he and Mercedes became friends for life. Mercedes and I made life-long friends in the Old West End, and in many cases they were already friends of Don and Susan.  I think I owe not just the continuation of my career to Don, but also a good deal of the happiness I’ve derived from living in this part of the world, over the past quarter century.

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Native Americans and Europeans in the Land of the Black Swamp

This is a paper that was written by Kasandra Fager, a graduate student in the 2021-22 cohort and recipient of The Donna M. Nieman Award for Undergraduate Research Excellence in History. Fager recently published an article featuring some of the research in this paper in the NW Ohio History Journal.

When you look around a city, what do you see? I am sure that you see buildings, factories, streets, and homes like any other city or town in America. You would also probably see parents rushing to and from work, grandparents running to the grocery store, and children playing ball in the streets. These things are normal and have been considered as such for centuries, but have you ever stopped to consider how we got here and who or what came before us? In history class, we learned how the wilderness and the Native Americans lived on this land before the Europeans came and the rest is, as we say, history. Today, I want to stop for a moment and consider how the land in Bowling Green, Ohio was affected by the battle between Native Americans and Europeans to live on and commercialize the land to better understand our nation’s environmental and economic history.

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Dr. Nwauwa gives lecture entitled “Igbo Scholars and the Making of the New African Intellectual Tradition: Prof K. O. Dike in Perspective”

Dr. Nwauwa

Dr. Apollos Nwauwa, Professor of History & Africana Studies at Bowling Green State University, gave a lecture with the Igbo Studies Association on Saturday, January 2. Read more about and view the lecture below:

The post-World War II period in Africa was accompanied by a new intellectual revolution in which a distinguished scholar of Igbo extraction, Professor Kenneth Onwuka Dike, was in the vanguard. The emergent transformation was most evident in African studies, especially in the realm of African historical consciousness, African historical thought, and African historical methodologies. This study explores not only the pioneering role of Professor Dike in inaugurating this new intellectual revolution but also in expanding the corollary frontiers that crystallized and augmented several African political and intellectual concepts of his time. Dike’s efforts stimulated a new intellectual consciousness that rescued African studies and African history from the colonialist, racist and patronizing tradition of his time.

Research Trip to the Stephen Foster Memorial Museum, Pittsburgh, PA Joshua Dubbert, M.A. History Candidate (’22)

This is part of an ongoing series of posts about the work of students in BGSU in public history. Joshua Dubbert is a graduate student in the M.A. in history. He studies 19th-century America, Victorian Culture, and the composer Stephen Foster. To learn more about our history programs, visit

Portrait of Stephen Foster, Center for American Music Library, Stephen Foster Memorial, University of Pittsburgh.

I recently visited the Stephen Foster Memorial Museum in Pittsburgh, PA to do research for my Public History Capstone project, entitled Stephen Foster, at Home in the 19th Century. The project deals with 19th-century composer Stephen Collins Foster, author of some of the most famous songs in American history including “Oh! Susanna,” and “Camptown Races.” It will be available through an Omeka site that will be linked permanently on the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for American Music website. The central contribution of the project will be a synthesis of the conceptual and physical aspects of home relating to Foster, anchored in the early to mid-Victorian era. It will be the first study to examine Foster solely in relation to the Victorian idea of “home.”

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BGSU History MA Explores Digital Storytelling and Spatial History

Rob Carlock earned an MA in History and a Graduate Certificate in Public History from BGSU in May 2019.  This fall, he will enter his second year in the PhD Program in History at George Mason University.

Bowling Green State University was my home for 6 years as I worked my way through my bachelor’s and master’s degrees in history. I then left Ohio to pursue a PhD in history at George Mason University in Fairfax, Virginia, sadly leaving behind a support network and family I had built during my time there. It has certainly been a challenge, especially since my first year has been synchronous online learning due to COVID-19. Although I have yet to meet my peers and faculty in-person, I was able to connect with many of them and begin to forge new relationships. With my peers, my connection is definitely a sense of unity that we are tackling such a daunting task together; with the faculty, my connection is a sense of confidence and support as they encourage me to continue identifying and expanding on my interests. 

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Not Just Another BGSU Alumnus

Author: Brittany Von Kamp, recent graduate from the History M.A. program

Beyond Truman: Robert H. Ferrell and Crafting the Past (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020)

When pursuing a publisher for his book manuscript Beyond Truman: Robert H. Ferrell and Crafting the Past (Rowman & Littlefield, 2020), author Dr. Douglas Dixon responded with a laugh—that several editors rejected the book’s thrust, saying: “Nobody cares about historians.” Dixon explained that this was a major hurdle in getting the book to readers who, in fact, do care about the challenges faced by past masters in doing history.  What challenged Ferrell, as the field evolved into the twenty-first century was postmodernism, the New Left, and social and cultural history.  Though Dixon feels Ferrell is an important person to study, the book is much more than merely a study of this important presidential, diplomatic, and military historian, though his biography is central to it. Instead, the author had to find a way to make Ferrell’s world larger than the historian himself, to fit Ferrell into the larger historical narrative – a task that many historians face as they write about their own research. In the end, Dixon says that “the book is not just about Ferrell; it’s about the larger culture of history and doing history,” particularly in the last half of the twentieth century to the present day.

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Nationalism, Newspapers, and Public Opinion in the Civil War: The Cincinnati Daily Commercial, 1864 to 1865

Author: Kasandra Fager, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST3265, Civil War.

In a great national crisis like ours, unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable, almost indispensable, and yet no approach to such unanimity is attainable, unless some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority, simply because it is the will of the majority.

“President’s Message,” Cincinnati Daily Commercial, page 1, 1864
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The Damage Propaganda Can Cause

Author: Jack Abel, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4804, Seminar in Diplomatic and Military History .

The Korean War was the first major conflict in what became known as the Cold War following the conclusion of WWII. The basis of this conflict was the ideological struggle between the two major world powers, the United States which was a capitalist-based economy and the Soviet Union which was a communist-based economy. The war was not a struggle between the two countries head on but was fought with proxy nations who shared similar ideologies with the major powers.

The use of stereotypes towards an opposing force has been a tactic throughout most of human history. Stereotypes have been used to portray the opposite side in a conflict to the civilian people. A racial stereotype, in its basic definition, is when one group takes a characteristic of another group and over dramatize it to make the other side seem almost sub-human. This process is known as othering. Othering is when a person or a group of people view another group in a certain which aims to alienate them or separate them from the larger group.

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A Mother’s War: An Ohioan Woman and Her Struggle With the Korean War

Author: Cody Johnston, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4804, Seminar in Diplomatic and Military History.

“Air Mail to Glenn Hefner, January 1952”  
MS-858 Hefner Family Papers Box 4, Folder 1

The Korean War was the first time that the Cold War turned hot. This was due to the increasing tensions between the Capitalist and Communist superpowers of the world after WWII. In fact, this war is one of many firsts. The Korean War is the first proxy war that the United States engaged in. It was the first time that the United Nations (UN) had held a role in a military capacity. These were unprecedented times. Marred by the numerous and complex geopolitics of Asia during the 1950’s, coupled with fears of the conflict escalating to a nuclear holocaust, the Korean War is one that was controversial from the outset. Despite the fear of communism spreading across the United States, the American public did not have much support for the Korean War and it’s goal of containing communism.

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Globalization’s Past and Future

Author: Journey Martin, senior in the History major

Editor: Brittany Von Kamp, second year student in the M.A. in History

This is a public presentation written as part of HIST4001, Professional Practices in History and HIST4805, Seminar in Political and Economic History. 
A map showing the routes and dates of significant European explorations during the 15th and 16th centuries. Source: Students of History

“Globalization” is a popular topic in political discussions today. Countries today face the growing pains of an increasingly interconnected world. More than ever politicians and theorists debate what a globalized world and global economy should look like in the 21st century. When facing the challenges and crises of increasing globalization, it may be beneficial to observe the history of organized and long-distance trade. The Silk Road (and its maritime partner) is well known to those who have studied world history, as is the European expansion and colonization of the 17th and 18th centuries. Were these prior examples of “world-economies?” Has globalization taken place prior to these centuries? Historians have competing theories on how the modern world-economic system was developed.

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