River Historian Delivering Guest Lecture at Southeast’s Kent Library


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CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., Sept. 8, 2015 – The donor of a collection of rare books about the history of rivers and steamboats in the United States will deliver a guest lecture at the opening celebration of the donation from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 16, in Sadie’s Place in Kent Library at Southeast Missouri State University.

Dan Back of Patriot, Indiana, recently donated the collection of more than 700 volumes of books and 135 periodicals to Kent Library. The materials will enhance the library’s collection of books about the beginning of transportation by steamboats on inland rivers, construction details of steamboats and the lives of many steamboat captains and passengers, said Roxanne Dunn, Special Collections and Archives librarian at Kent Library.

Refreshments will be served at the lecture.

Back is a retired section manager with Procter & Gamble. He lived in Cincinnati, Ohio, for 25 years before moving to Cape Girardeau in 1989, where he lived for seven years. He now resides in Patriot, Indiana, at mile marker 519.4 along the Ohio River.

He has been giving presentations on the history of the inland rivers and steamboats for 15 years, having served as a guest enrichment lecturer aboard the Delta Queen and the American Queen and having given presentations aboard the Mississippi Queen, River Explorer and the Barbara-H. Back also has delivered presentations on Samuel Clemens’ steamboat career for the National Endowment for the Arts’ Big Read project.

Back is well traveled along riverways, exploring more than 12,000 miles on the inland rivers aboard the River Explorer and all six of the authentic steamboats. He also has traveled from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers.

Over the years, he has been a member of the Sons and Daughters of Pioneer Rivermen, is a former board member of the Middle Ohio River Chapter S&D and is a charter member of the Mississippi River Chapter S&D. He also has been active in the Midwest River Buffs in Keokuk, Iowa, and the Paddlewheel Steamboatin’ Society. He was a crew member of the 1923 National Historic Landmark paddle towboat Barbara-H and the Steamboat Natchez during Tall Stacks 2006.

Back is the past president of the Cape River Heritage Museum and has been involved with the Switzerland County Indiana Historical Society responsible for developing the “Life on the Ohio” river history museum. He created the Historic Patriot Museum in Patriot, Indiana, and is a board member of the Historic Sternwheeler Preservation Society, which operates the paddle towboat Barbara-H. Back also assisted the Indiana Historical Society in developing a traveling exhibit to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the first steamboat on the inland rivers.