Smithsonian Exhibit

By: Erica Hurtt
By: Erica Hurtt

The work of a local student is headed for the Smithsonian museum in Washington, D.C.

Miriam Carlson just got her driver's license, but the Rockford teen is more excited about an exhibit on communism and the palmer raids.

"You don't hear a lot about it. It's kind of a sore subject people just want to forget about it," says Miriam.

But this ambitious home schooled 16-year-old dug it all back up and found an interesting Rockford connection. In the 1920's, the U.S. government arrested more people per capita for alleged communist involvement in Rockford than anywhere else in the country.

"I learned that the government overreacted to this and they should have just let the democratic government work things out," says Miriam.

Miriam's turned the research into an exhibit that's earned her national recognition from the state and now on a national level.

"It's wonderful, exciting. The technique that she used worked finally in the end. But I was a little skeptical of her vision that she had. But she pulled it off," says Betsy Carolson, Miriam’s mom and teacher.

Miriam's work will be displayed at the Smithsonian in June where she'll compete with 99 other U.S. students in National History Day.

"They’re writing history rather than just reading about history," says Betsy.

Miriam's says she's learned a lot by researching the past and she knows her hard work will bring a brighter future.

Miriam will take her exhibit to D.C. from June 15 through19 for the national competition. She tells us, in the early 1900s, 183 Rockford residents were arrested for alleged communist activity. Most were Swedish immigrants, several who went to hold prominent positions in the community.


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