Education & Social Sciences

The Peggy Seigel Writing Competition

About Peggy Seigel

Growing up in Fort Wayne in the 1950s and early 1960s, I was aware of few women and minorities in the city’s history.  Fort Wayne’s past was about military leaders, not about women and African Americans who struggled to support their families and pursue new opportunities.  Following graduation from South Side High School in 1963, I was fortunate to study English literature in college, then to find my first job in Washington, D.C.  At the University of Michigan and in the streets of our nation’s capital, I was awakened to the Civil Rights movement, the tragedies and contradictions of the Vietnam War, and the renewed women’s rights movement.  How could I not become an advocate of social justice?

My interest in writing about Indiana women and African Americans began in Indianapolis in the 1970s when my children started school.  Using my few free hours, I discovered records in the Indiana Historical Society Library and in the State Library that opened rich areas for research.  I began my habit of building research files and trying to make sense of them.  After we moved back to Fort Wayne in 1986, I had the great fortune to have access to the resources of the Allen County Public Library. I had articles published in The Indiana Magazine of History and in the Allen County History Center’s Old Fort News. Promoting Indiana history though a writing competition for undergraduates thus continues a lifelong passion. 

Challenging students to discover new areas of Indiana history is also a way of remembering my mother who for years sent me newspaper clippings about Indiana women and civil rights, thus assuring me that women before me had led interesting lives and that people in the present were engaged in social justice. Finally, this initiative is a way for young people to give voice to people who have traditionally been silenced and to discover themselves as writers. 

With deepest gratitude to good friends, history professionals and Manchester University for making this possible, I look forward to uncovering more of our common history. 


“A Minister’s Son, A Haunted Town, and the Spanish Civil War,” Indiana Magazine of History [IMH] 112 (2) (June 2016) 81- 107.

“Olive Rush’s Long Love Affair with Art,” Indiana Magazine of History [IMH] 110, 3 (September 2014) 207-245.

“Fort Wayne’s Women Medical Pioneers,” Old Fort News, 76, 1 (2013).

“Charles Case - A Radical Republican in the Irrepressible Conflict,” IMH 107, 4 (December 2011) 327-360.

“Fort Wayne’s Road to Freedom: Another Look at the Underground Railroad.” Old Fort News, 73,2 (2010).

“A Passionate Missionary to the West: Charles Beecher in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1844 – 1850.” IMH 106, 9 (December 2010).

“Pushing the Color Line: Race and Employment in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1933-1963,” IMH 104, 3 (September 2008) 241-276.

“Winning the Vote in Fort Wayne, Indiana: The Long Cautious Journey in a German American City,” IMH 102, 3 (September 2006) 220-257.

Two chapters in History of Fort Wayne and Allen County, Indiana Vol. I, Ed. John Beatty (2005) : Ch. 16 “What Shall We Do With Our Daughters: Changing Roles of Fort Wayne Women 1870-1920;” Ch. 70 “Coming to Fort Wayne: Five Refugee Groups in the Summit City.”

“Who’s Hiding in Our Basements? Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in Allen County, Indiana Reconsidered.” Old Fort News, 66, No. 2 (2003) 1 – 13.

“Industrial ‘Girls’ in an Early Twentieth Century Boomtown: Traditions and Change in Fort Wayne, Indiana, 1900-1920.” IMH XCIX, 3 (September 2003), 231-253.

“The [Fort Wayne] Standard: A Reform Newspaper in the 1850’s Storm.” IMH XCVII, 3 (September 2001), 168-189.

“Eliza George, Fort Wayne’s Civil War Heroine: Public Praise and Personal Letters.” Old Fort News, 62, No. 1 (1999) 13-37.

"Moral Champions and Public Pathfinders: Antebellum Quaker Women in Eastcentral Indiana.” Quaker History: The Bulletin of the Friends Historical Association 81 (Fall 1992): 87-106.

“She Went to War: Indiana Women Nurses in the Civil War.” IMH LXXXVI, 1 (March 1990): 1-27.

“Eliza George, Civil War Nurse.” Old Fort News, 50, No. 2 (1987): 3-8.

A PLAY [based on actual incident in Fort Wayne testing the enforcement of Article XIII to the revised Indiana Constitution prohibiting people of color from entering the state]: “Freedom Land!” two performances October 2, 2005 at the Lincoln Museum, Fort Wayne, as part of 150th Celebration of First Presbyterian Church, Faith on the Frontier


“Fort Wayne’s Road to Freedom: Another Look at the Underground Railroad in Allen County, ” February 20, 2010, Fort Wayne- Allen County History Center.

“Fort Wayne’s Women Medical Pioneers,” lecture, Allen County History Center, May 2, 2010

“Sources for Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad for Fort Wayne in the Allen County Public Library,” October 28, 2009. (Part of series for Family History Month at the ACPL)

Panelist, Friends of the Network to Freedom Association, Inc. 2009 Underground Railroad Conference, September 18, 2009, Indianapolis: “Speaking out against Slavery: Two Decades of Moral Leadership in Fort Wayne, Indiana”

“Fort Wayne and Women’s Suffrage” Fort Wayne-Allen County History Center, January 8, 2006.

“Who’s Hiding in Our Basements? Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad in Allen County, Indiana Reconsidered” Fort Wayne-Allen County History Center, October 5, 2003.

“Fort Wayne’s First Factory Women” Fort Wayne-Allen County History Center, October 6, 2002.

Underground Railroad Summit, Lincoln Museum, August 10, 2002. “Abolitionist Newspapers as a Source for the Underground Railroad in Northeast Indiana.”

The Underground Railroad in Indiana Symposium, Lincoln Museum, Fort Wayne, January 29, 2000. Topic: Quaker Women in East Central Indiana active in anti-slavery activities.

Featured speaker November 1989 Indiana Historical Society annual meeting, Indianapolis. Program: multi-media readers’ theatre presentation on Indiana Civil War nurses. (This program was repeated about ten times to area audiences.

Summer Fellowship, Indiana Humanities Council, 1988


Competition Requirements
Downloadable Entry Form

Contact: Leonard Williams
Dean of the College of Education and Social Sciences, History & Political Science