2023 Likes Lecture Series

The annual Marvin J and Thomas Leo Likes Lecture Series will take place each Tuesday evening in June at 7 pm DST beginning June 6. With several years of online success, we gather online again this year, via Zoom.

The Likes Lecture Series began in 2004 as part of the archaeology NSF-REU field school conducted at New Philadelphia and is named to honor Barry area surveyors Marvin Likes and his son Tom who donated so much time and talent to New Philadelphia.

New Philadelphia: From a family and local story to a national story of freedom … is the theme of the 2023 Likes Lecture Series, which features four fascinating topics. These lectures are free and open to the public, but you must sign up for the zoom link. To do so, email newphiladelphiail@gmail.com

This year’s schedule of topics and speakers includes:

June 6:  New Philadelphia and our path to becoming part of the National Park Service
Moderator:  Dr. Paul Shackel
Dr. Shackel, who started the Likes Lecture Series in 2004 will kick off this year’s series. Paul
will present a brief history of New Philadelphia and our path to becoming a unit of the National
Park System.  Other presenters will be the superintendents from the other 2 parks in
Illinois.  Superintendent Tim Good from the Lincoln Home National Historic Site and
Superintendent Teri Gage from the Pullman National Historic Park will speak. Following their
presentations, Dr. Shackel will tie things together.  Video |  Slides

June 13:  Building the West Central Illinois Freedom Corridor – Six Cities in West Central Illinois 

Moderator:  Gerald McWorter
Dr. McWorter will provide an overview of the proposed West Central Illinois Freedom Corridor,
and steps that have been taken so far. Museums in the six cities (Hannibal, Quincy, Barry,

Pittsfield, Jacksonville and Springfield) will provide an overview of their museum, the New
Philadelphia or freedom seeker information that is there currently, and any planned/desired
exhibits.  The remaining time is available for questions, and ideas for moving forward.  Video  |  Slides

June 20: Integrating New Philadelphia into Local Curricular History
Moderator:  Kate Williams-McWorter
What and how are local educators already teaching about New Philadelphia?  What new ways can we imagine? What else in the curriculum connects to the newest National Park?  Dr. Williams-McWorter will lead the discussion, sharing existing resources. Educators from nearby colleges and high schools will share their experiences and ideas.

• Brittney Yancy, Assistant Professor of History and African American Studies, Illinois College
• Joe Brewer, History Teacher, Cuba (IL) High School
• Mark Heffington, Social Studies Teacher, Pittsfield High School
• Bryan Renfro, president of John Wood Community College
• Justin Coffey, Professor of History at Quincy University

Video |  

June 27:  John and Mary Meachum and The Floating Freedom School, including the
development of the children’s book, Steamboat School. Background information about John and Mary Meachum, the Floating Freedom School, and the Mary Meachum Freedom Crossing is provided.  Ron Husband, illustrator of Steamboat School, discussed his research in preparing for the book and his techniques for the illustrations.
Moderator: Kaye Iftner 
John and Mary Meachum were abolitionists and conductors on the Underground Railroad in the
St. Louis area. When the slave state of Missouri banned all education for black people in 1847,
the school Rev. Meachum was operating secretly in the basement of his church was closed and
Meachum and a white teacher were arrested.

In response, Meachum moved his classes to a steamboat in the middle of the Mississippi River,
which was subject to Federal law and outside of Missouri’s jurisdiction.  The boat was equipped
with desks and chairs and he called it the “Floating Freedom School”. It continued until his
death in 1854.

This story was brought to life when Disney Press developed a book, Steamboat School, written
by Deborah Hopkinson.  Disney animator, Ronald Husband, was asked to illustrate the book.
Husband was the first African American animator at Walt Disney Studios.  Video  |  Slides

The lectures are free and open to the public, but you must request the Zoom link by sending an
email to newphiladelphiail@gmail.com