NAME: Jason S. Lantzer
TITLE: Adjunct Professor of History FOR: Butler University and IUPUI
SINCE? Butler, 2007; IUPUI, 2004
ORIGINALLY FROM? Wakarusa, Indiana…the home of several RV factories and Nelson’s Golden Glow Chicken, nestled in southern Elkhart County.
YOUR JOB DUTIES INCLUDE? I teach history classes, mostly U.S., sometimes World, and (not as often as I’d like) Indiana History too.
YOU WORK HOW MANY HOURS WEEKLY? Between teaching, prepping for class, professional research, around 7-8 hours a day during the “work week”; plus nights and weekends!
PROJECT/S YOU ARE MOST PROUD TO HAVE BEEN PART OF? Helping to get a marker put up that commemorates the passage and repeal of Indiana’s 1907 eugenic sterilization law. It is in front of the State Library, right across from the Statehouse. A close second was helping provide some information on the old Meridian Street Methodist Church (at St. Clair and Meridian) that was used to help convince the condo builders to preserve the historic sanctuary portion of the building rather than knocking it down.
OTHER PROJECTS WE MIGHT RECOGNIZE? I am the author of two books, Prohibition is here to stay (which looks at Indiana during the dry years—University of Notre Dame Press, 2009) and Mainline Christianity (which looks at the past and future of America’s majority faith—New York University Press, 2012).
WHAT YOU LOVE ABOUT WHAT YOU DO? Helping people understand the importance of the past. That history is about real people, who made real decisions, which had and have real impacts on the present.
WORST PART OF WHAT YOU DO? Grading.
HOW YOU DEFINE PERSONAL SUCCESS? If, at the end of the day, I’ve been a good husband and father, then I’ve succeeded and not much else matters.
ADVICE TO SOMEONE ELSE WHO WOULD LIKE TO DO WHAT YOU DO? To be an historian takes dedication. It has to be your passion.
IF YOU WERE GRANTED ONE WISH RELATING TO YOUR JOB/CAREER/ORGANIZATION, WHAT WOULD IT BE? Easier access to research funds.
WOULDN’T HAVE MADE IT TO WHERE YOU ARE WITHOUT? My wife.
WHAT MOTIVATES YOU? A love of the past, and desire to pass on that love to my kids.
WHO WERE/ARE YOUR MENTORS AND HOW DID THEY HELP? My first mentors were my parents, who instilled and fostered a love of learning in me at a young age, and made it clear to me as well that I was going to go to college and pursue a profession, not just a job. Richard Smith and Robert Riley were my history teachers in middle and high school respectively. They took my love of history and shaped into a passion. Irving Katz, Bernard Sheehan, and Paul Lucas, who helped convince me as an undergrad to become a professional historian. Robert Barrows, who brought me to IUPUI to work on my Masters (and thus kept me from going to Tennessee). And last, but certainly not least, James Madison at IU, who took me under his wing when I returned to Bloomington to work on my doctorate.
WHAT SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN HISTORY? I can’t remember my life without some sense of History being important to it. Though when I think about it, the Bobb-Merrill Childhood of Famous American series probably had a lot to do with it.
MOST INTERESTING BIT OF INDIANAPOLIS HISTORY YOU’VE ENCOUNTERED? Getting to talk about Prohibition from the pulpit of Roberts Park United Methodist Church to the Marion County Historical society. There is something special about talking about an historic event where it happened.
YOU CAN HAVE DINNER WITH ANYONE FROM INDIANAPOLIS PAST? WHO & WHY? If you’d asked me this question a year ago, I probably would have said Eli Lilly or Warren Fairbanks. But these days, I’d want to convene a family get together for the Noble-Davidson family, who were full of all the clichés we tend to associate with the Civil War, are linked to man who partially inspired Harriet Beecher Stowe’s character Uncle Tom and may very well have been a source of inspiration for Booth Tarkington’s Magnificent Ambersons.
YOUR CAREER IN AN ALTERNATE LIFE? Politics. I’m fascinated by it, love to study it, but could never ask people for the money needed to run a campaign.
ANY INTERESTING FAMILY CONNECTIONS TO INDIANAPOLIS PAST? As I’m from Northern Indiana, none for myself, but I like to think I’m helping make some for my kids.
FAVORITE VIEW IN THE CITY? Walking around the Circle, you get a sense of the city’s past, future, what we think is important, where we have been, and where we are going.
FAVORITE RESTAURANT IN INDIANAPOLIS? Bazbeaux’s Pizza and, of course, the Flying Cupcake!
FAVORITE CITY BESIDES INDIANAPOLIS? I enjoy New York and Chicago, but I love going to Boston and Philadelphia.
FAVORITE HISTORY RELATED BOOK OR MOVIE? “Gettysburg” the movie.
ULTIMATE BEVERAGE? Few things top an ice cold Coca-Cola in a glass bottle.
COLLECT ANYTHING? I’ve moved from comic books as a kid to “real” books, and have the piles on my office floor to prove it.
FAVORITE QUOTE? “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” And “All that is necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing.” Both were quotes that were up on the wall of my high school history teacher’s classroom, and both have stayed with me.
IF YOUR LIFE HAD A THEME SONG, IT’D BE? Some of my students would probably tell you they can hear the Imperial March from Star Wars play when I enter a classroom on the day something is due. But I’d like to think it was Dream On by Aerosmith.
Will follow this fine academic! Also was impressed with the efforts to preserve the sanctuary of the former Meridian Street United Methodist Church…my Mom was a member there…