3 Ways for History to Come Alive

History often seems like something, well, in the past.

Yet, here are three ways to make history come alive right now. For starters, there is a free upcoming discussion and book signing set for 1:30 p.m., Feb. 2, 2013 at the Historic Society of Missouri’s Columbia Research Center in Ellis Library at the University of Missouri.

This event will highlight a new annotated edition of a 1915 biography of J.W. “Blind,” Boone, a book written by Melissa Fuell-Cuther.

The new publication, Merit, Not Sympathy Wins: The Life and Times of Blind Boone,” is edited by Mary Barile and Christine Montgomery.

The original book broke ground; Fuell-Cuther was “the first American black author to write about the life of a black musician,” according to announcements about the book and event.

The book also highlights the life of Boone. “In post-Reconstruction America, Missourian John William “Blind” Boone, an illiterate, itinerant musician, overcame obstacles created by disability, exploitative managers, and racial prejudice to become one of the country’s most beloved concert performers,” notes information on the new publication.

Another way to access history, if you can’t attend this event, is to purchase the book and read more about it online at Truman State University Press.

Finally, the third way history can come alive is to visit Boone’s home at 10 Fourth St., Columbia, Missouri, where he lived from 1864-1927. The home itself isn’t very special; it is simply a two-story wood frame home, but the history it embodies is priceless. Despite being born during the Civil War and then becoming blind through efforts to reduce a fever by removing his eyes, Boone’s slogan as a touring pianist and composer was “Merit, Not Sympathy Wins.”

Here is a link to a website dedicated to keeping Boone‘s memory alive and continuing the renovation of his home.

Here is another link highlight recent developments in funding for the home. This is a report, “Thousands Donated to “Blind” Boone’s Former Home, from KOMU.

For more information about the Boone home and its history, see these two articles:

Housing a Legacy: Renewed Interest in John William “Blind” Boone and ragtime – Columbia Home & Lifestyles — February/March 2010.

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