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Inventive. Industrious. Inspired. A History of Akron

INVENTIVE. INDUSTRIOUS. INSPIRED. A HISTORY OF AKRON celebrates the City of Akron’s 175th anniversary. Produced for the Summit County Historical Society by Akron attorney and community activist Dave Lieberth, the program takes a new and different look at Akron's past, beginning with its founding on Dec. 6, 1825.

“In the past several years,” explained Lieberth, “we have found movies of events from the last century in Akron that have not seen the light of day.” This documentary integrates vintage motion picture footage in telling the story of Akron’s remarkable past.

“Akron has many accomplishments disproportionate to its size as a city,” says George Knepper, Ph.D., distinguished professor of history emeritus from The University of Akron, who has served as a consultant to the project. “We are a community that has been inspired by inventors and industrialists, and well-served by local government leaders over the years.”

“It has been 25 years since a film or video has been produced about the entire history of Akron,” said Lieberth. “If Harry Truman was right — that the only new thing is the history you don’t know — then we have lots of new things to reveal in this production.” Akron’s role in developing the toy industry, in producing boats for the war of 1812, and in rock and roll history are among the stories not well-known by many Akron residents.

Original research conducted by a group of Akron historians is presented through interviews in the program. Included are the following Akron scholars:

  • George Knepper, Ph.D., author of City at the Summit (1981)
  • Frances McGovern, author of Written on the Hills (1996)
  • Jack Gieck, a filmmaker who produced the last motion picture of Akron history in 1977 and authored A Photo Album of Ohio’s Canal Era (1988)
  • Daniel Nelson, Ph.D., author of American Rubber Workers & Organized Labor, 1900- 1941 (1988)
  • Lynn Metzger, Ph.D., visiting assistant professor of anthropology at The University of Akron, who collaborated with another interviewee, Joseph Jesensky, in Joe’s Place, Conversations on the Cuyahoga Valley (1999)
  • Michael Cohill, author of a manuscript “Akron’s Toy Marble History” (1990)
  • Kathleen Endres, Ph.D., author of Rosie the Rubberworker (1999)
  • Beacon Journal columnist David Giffels, co-author of Wheels of Fortune (1999)
  • Frank Kelley, Ph.D., dean of Polymer Science & Polymer Engineering at The University of Akron
  • Roberta Chapman of Akron’s African American Cultural Center.

The documentary is narrated by Akron native Michael Carroll of New York whose voice is frequently heard as an announcer for the CBS television network and on commercials for General Electric and American Airlines. The program is being assembled at the studios of Akron’s MP Productions and features the work of videographer Michael Pritt. Music will include numerous local artists, Lieberth said. “We have an incredible pool of talent who makes this effort a community project.”

Among his other television credits, Lieberth wrote and produced WHEELS OF FORTUNE, a three-hour video about the history of Akron’s rubber industry in 1998 for PBS Western Reserve and Time Warner Cable. For eight years he wrote and produced the induction ceremonies for the National Inventors Hall of Fame, including television productions which aired on PBS Western Reserve, C-SPAN and the History Channel. A graduate of Syracuse University’s television program in 1970, Lieberth has been a producer, historian, and community activist and has produced over 200 hours of television programming in 30 years, while maintaining careers in broadcasting, the law and mediation.

INVENTIVE. INDUSTRIOUS. INSPIRED. A HISTORY OF AKRON is underwritten by the Akron Community Foundation with support from the City of Akron through the Centeseptequinary Coalition, which Lieberth has also chaired.

Premiered on PBS Western Reserve in 2000.