North Central News

Naperville historian to speak to North Central students on the little-known history of diversity in the College’s hometown

Jacob Imm

Nov 11, 2020

Writer and historian Robert W. Fieseler will give a virtual lecture on Thursday, November 12 at 7 p.m. as part of Naper Settlement’s “History Speaks” lecture series. Fieseler’s presentation is co-sponsored by North Central College Cultural Events and one of the featured lectures for first-year students in the College’s Cardinal Directions general education curriculum. 

“Suburban Curtain: How Three Surprising Locals Expanded the ‘Naperville Dream’ to All Peoples” is Fieseler’s look at the evolution of Naperville, Illinois, from a small town with a history of discrimination against non-white citizens to a large, suburban “melting pot” with a diverse population and broad sense of social acceptance. Through research and analysis of local records, documents and anecdotes, Fieseler tracks the changes back to three particular people, showing how efforts to improve diversity, equity and inclusion often start small and expand to city-sized proportions with dedication.

Cardinal Directions requires each student to attend a co-curricular event that complements what they are learning in the classroom and their other academic experiences. Each student works with a member of the faculty to find an appropriate event, and there are a number of featured options. Those options are increasingly tied to the College’s efforts to expand diversity, equity and inclusion, including Fieseler’s lecture and the ongoing salon series hosted by the North Central Honors Program.

Robert “Bobby” Fieseler won the 2020 Columbia Journalism School First Decade Award and was named the 2019 National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association Journalist of the Year, according to his website. His nonfiction writing has been very well-received when appearing in The Atlantic, and he has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize for the best short stories, poetry and essays in the United States.

The event will take place online through Naper Settlement’s website and registration is free and open to the public. Go to their site to register or contact North Central College Professor Judith Brodhead at for more information.