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History

Biography

Eugene Field, Sr. (1850-1895) was a popular humorist and journalist. He was known for his wit and satirical humor, and often called, “the poet of childhood” (a term he despised). Field was the son of the attorney who successfully defended Dred Scott, a fugitive slave, in Scott's first trial. Though his father was an attorney, Field had little affinity for academics and never graduated from college.

Key Contributions

Field worked as a journalist on several newspapers: the St. Louis Evening Journal, St. Joseph Gazette, St. Louis Times-Journal, Kansas City Times, the Denver Tribune, and the Chicago Morning News. Field used his whimsical writing and sardonic humor to address aspects of life or society he found hypocritical, which at times caused his popularity to wane. He also used his pen to write sentimental stories and poems, such as Little Boy Blue, With Trumpet and Drum (1892) and Love-Songs of Childhood (1894).
Field exhibited joy, a core value at Tulsa Public Schools. Mark Twain looked up to him as a writer and formally dedicated Field’s birthplace in 1902. Other authors and literary aficionados likewise admired Field.

Relevant Historical Context

The school was named in 1922. The 1920s were an age of dramatic social and political change. For the first time, more Americans lived in cities than on farms. The nation's total wealth more than doubled between 1920 and 1929, and this economic growth swept many Americans into an affluent but unfamiliar “consumer society.” In Tulsa, the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre had just occurred. Perhaps part of the reason for naming the school after Field is that he was dubbed the “Poet of Childhood.”


References

Encyclopedia Brittanica. (2016, October 27). Eugene Field. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/biography/Eugene-Field

Poetry Foundation. (n.d.). Eugene Field. Retrieved from http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poets/eugene-field 39

Eugene Field