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Capturing history

Local authors record history
of Clark County, Ind., in new book

The coffee table style book
contains more than 600 pages

By Amy Casebier
Contributing Writer

(July 2008) – Carl Kramer and Mary Kagin Kramer teamed up as husband and wife to create “This Place We Call Home: A History of Clark County, Indiana,” a coffee table book full of photos and historical information about the county the Kramers call home.
The writing process began in 1999 with a proposal that Carl submitted to community leaders who had also been clients of the Kramers’ business. Kramer Associates Inc. serves the community with historical research and writing.

Carl and Mary Kagin Kramer

Carl and Mary Kagin Kramer

Carl’s original plan had been to release the book in conjunction with the bicentennials of Clark County in 2001 and Jeffersonville in 2002. However, with delays related to the publisher and a complex researching and writing process that took more than three years, the book was finally released in 2007.
Carl wrote all of the prose in the book, while Mary selected and edited the 241 photographs and nearly 15 maps they included with the text.
Mary, who is also a photographer, took 35 of the photos in the book. The couple split researching duties and helped each other with the captions for the pictures. Mary was also able to help Carl put anecdotes, history and locations into context for a broader readership than just natives from Clark County, since she did not grow up there.
“I’m a Clark County native, so I had that personal interest,” Carl said.
One of the most challenging parts of undertaking this project was “trying to condense the whole history of the county in” the photos that they did choose, Mary said.
The Kramers work off of the understanding that a coffee table book cannot weigh more than the coffee table on which it resides. Even with their limitation, the book weighs in at just shy of six pounds, they said.
Part of Carl’s interest in the project stemmed from him being a professional urban historian.

This Place We Call Home

“I was living and working for two years in Chicago, becoming fascinated with cities,” he said. Carl did his doctoral dissertation on the history of Louisville, Ky.
Another reason for creating this book was a lack of many others like it, Carl said. While there are many historical books written about large and mid-sized cities such as New York City, Los Angeles, Cincinnati and Milwaukee, small towns have been neglected. Smaller cities are still important in their own rights and fit into the grander scheme of our lives and communities, Carl said.
In addition to focusing on the urban, Carl is also a social and political historian.
“The most interesting thing to me was what I learned about the New Deal in Clark County,” Carl said. Through his research, Carl discovered that Jeffersonville created a National Recovery Administration Army, organized by men and women to get local businesses and the community to support the NRA. The organizers were a part of a bipartisan grassroots movement to help improve the economy, Carl said.
Carl’s biggest challenge to overcome was “to write a manuscript that appealed to the average, informed citizen interested in understanding how the community developed over time without getting into theory or historiography,” he said. “It was a challenge knowing where to strike the balance.”
So far, the couple says they have received positive feedback from the community they covered. The book has also garnered favorable responses from local reviewers.
The Kramers’ book is available at several locations in Clark County, including the Howard Steamboat Museum gift shop, the Clark County Historical Society, the Southern Indiana Visitor’s Center in Jeffersonville, Walden Booksellers in Green Tree Mall and Destinations Booksellers in New Albany, Ind. The book is also available online through the Indiana University Press website and other internet booksellers such as Amazon.com

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