The Peggy Seigel Writing Competition
Rewarding excellence in both history research and writing

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 the history of Indiana women and African-Americans through a writing contest for undergraduate college students thus continues a life- long personal passion. 

Challenging students to write about Indiana women and African Americans 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. 


“Charles Case - A Radical Republican in the Irrepressible Conflict,” Indiana Magazine of History 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.” Indiana Magazine of History [IMH] 106, 9 (December 2010).

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

 “Winning the Vote in Fort Wayne, Indiana:  The Long Cautious Journey in a German American City,” Indiana Magazine of History 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.”  Indiana Magazine of History XCIX, 3 (September 2003), 231-253.

­­­ “The [Fort Wayne] Standard: A Reform Newspaper in the 1850’s Storm.” Indiana Magazine of History  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.”  Indiana Magazine of History  LXXXVI, 1 (March 1990): 1-27.

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

“Freedom Land!”  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]: two performances  October 2, 2005 at the Lincoln Museum, Fort Wayne, as part of 150th Celebration of First Presbyterian Church, Faith on the Frontier 

Peggy Seigel
Peggy Seigel

Competition Requirements

Downloadable Entry Form

For more information, contact:

Katherine Tinsley
Dept. of History & Political Science, Manchester University