Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Programs in Rockville, Indiana

I will be in Rockville, Indiana, on Thursday, May 17, for two programs on the life and times of journalist and writer Juliet V. Strauss. Known as the "Country Contributor," Strauss wrote a regular column for her hometown Rockville Tribune newspaper, as well as a weekly column in the Indianapolis News and a monthly column in the Ladies' Home Journal. In addition to her writing career, Strauss played a key role in saving the Turkey Run area from destruction by timber interests and seeing it developed into Indiana's second state park.

At 2 p.m. I will lead a discussion about my biography of Strauss, The Country Contributor: The Life and Times of Juliet V. Strauss, at the Old Jail Coffee House, 123 South Jefferson Street. At 6 p.m. I will be at the Rockville Public Library, 106 North Market Street, for a program on Strauss's life and influence. Both programs are free and open to the public.

Edward Bok, longtime Journal editor, said that Strauss's contributions were “more widely read and . . . are more popular than the writings of any single contributor to the magazine.” Strauss’s writing found—in addition to its frequent hardships and struggles—joy, beauty, and art in a homemaker’s daily life. Her efforts at glorifying homemaking struck a chord with her female readers across the country who grew, through long association, to consider the Rockville housewife “as friend and counselor,” the Indianapolis News commented upon Strauss’s death on May 22, 1918. She offered through her essays,the newspaper noted, a sound philosophy: “a love of simplicity and genuineness,an earnest and honest faith, a hatred of sham and pretense, and a belief in the home and family as the great educators.”

During her career Strauss came to be considered as one of the most widely read female writers in America. Indiana historian Jacob Piatt Dunn, Jr., who noted that Strauss’s writing possessed the Hoosier characteristic of “optimism and wholesomeness,” claimed that the Rockville writer was “more widely read than any American essayist has ever been.” In the history of the world, Dunn went onto say of Strauss, “nobody ever wrote so much about the common things of everyday life, and held their readers.”