Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

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Events are updated regularly. Please check back! 

Wednesday, July 8th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Cookbook Club
Fresh Fruits & Vegetables
with OWL Staff
Click Here to Register

Do you love fresh fruits and vegetables, but feel like you’re drowning in zucchini halfway through every summer? Join Audra MacLaren and Patricia Moore at our July 8th meeting of the OWL Cookbook Club. In keeping with the more relaxed and lazy days of summer, we are encouraging participants to bring favorite recipes from any cookbook they please. In lieu of our usual display of several highlighted titles, the library will showcase an array of cookbooks focusing on fresh, seasonal produce.

Audra and Patricia will be bringing their favorite vegetable and fruit-themed dishes and encourage you to do the same. Do not be      intimidated-we are all just amateur cooks who love books! Be sure to bring the recipe that accompanies your dish, as well as any others you think may be of interest to the group. Space is limited. Registration is required.

Review recipes and stay in touch all month long on our OWL Cookbook blog: www.owlcookbookclub.wordpress.com.

Thursday, July 9th
6:30 - 8:00 p.m.

The Yellow Wallpaper
A Live Theatrical Performance with Michèle La Rue
Click Here to Register

Join actress Michèle La Rue as she returns for another vibrant performance of vintage American literature - The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman.

In 1885, marriage, a well-meaning husband, and a questionable “cure” brought Gilman to her knees. Relying on blind faith, instinct, and courage, this once-vibrant young woman willed herself back to health. Vital to her recovery was writing her brilliant “The Yellow Wall-Paper,” a short story published in 1891. Transforming autobiography into fiction, she penned a story “to freeze our young blood.” Gilman’s tale continues to chill readers today, dazzling feminists and historians, mystery and horror story enthusiasts alike, with its wit, suspense, and superlative style. La Rue’s dramatization, directed by Warren Kliewer, is performed in period costume.

Michèle La Rue, a graduate in Acting from the University of Kansas, is a member of the Actor’s Equity Association and SAG-AFTRA, and is a theatre editor and writer for Drama Desk, an organization of New York drama critics. She tours nationally with a repertoire of historical one-woman productions. A Chicago native now based in New York City, she has presented her offerings at more than 300 venues, including Washington’s Smithsonian Institution, Chicago’s Newberry Library, and NYC’s Lincoln Center. Her website is michelelarue.com
Space is limited. Registration is required.

Tuesday, July 14th
2:00 - 3:30 p.m.

The New Steel Navy, the Great White Fleet, and Battleship Connecticut
with Historian Mark Albertson
Click Here to Register

In this lecture presentation, historian Mark Albertson will discuss the rise of the New Steel Navy, the Great White Fleet and the historical significance of the Battleship Connecticut.

In 1873, when an ex-Confederate Navy ship was caught by a Spanish warship running guns to Cuban insurgents, Americans realized that the Navy needed rebuilding after the Civil War. This led to the Naval War College in the early 1880s and the creation of the New Steel Navy. In 1890, Captain Alfred Thayer Mahan published The Influence of Sea Power Upon History that took the Great Powers by storm, and helped launch the Great Battleship Race, the world’s first modern strategic arms race.

Prior to WWI, President Theodore Roosevelt dispatched 16 American battleships on an epic circumnavigation of the globe. The flagship for this superlative effort in American seamanship was Battleship Connecticut. With this first major strategic initiative by the U.S. in the 20th century, Roosevelt let it been known that America had arrived as a global power. 

Mark Albertson is an historical research editor at Army Aviation Magazine and the historian for the Army Aviation Association of America. A long-time member of the U.S. Naval Institute, Mark has authored numerous articles and several books on historical topics including USS Connecticut: Constitution State Battleship and They’ll Have to Follow You! The Triumph of the Great White Fleet. His website is www.markwriter.com. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Sundays, July 19th & August 16th
1:00 - 2:00 p.m.

Civil Rights Movement Through Novels:
A Two-Part Book Discussion Series
with Dr. John Tully
Click Here to Register

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, the Civil Rights Movement Through Novels: A Two-Part Book Discussion Series led by Dr. John Tully will use two novels to explore issues of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s and reflect on how civil rights are doing today. By using novels, we will explore the personal while also reflecting on the broader cultural and historical context. Dr. Tully will lead the conversation to incorporate experience as well as factual data to broaden the discussion of race, power and identity. 

Dr. John Tully is a Professor of History at Central Connecticut State University. In 2009, he won both the Connecticut State University Board of Trustees Teaching Award for CCSU and the CSU System-Level Trustees Teaching Award. The American Historical Association has highlighted his syllabus for his Social Studies Methods at the Secondary-Level class as a model for training future teachers. Dr. Tully received his B.A. from Boston University, his M.A. from CCSU, and his Ph.D. from Ohio State. He has published numerous articles and two books, Understanding and Teaching the Vietnam War, and Ireland and Irish Americans, 1932- 1945: The Search for Identity.  

July 19: The Help by Kathryn Stockett
The Help by Kathryn Stockett takes place in Jackson, Mississippi in 1962 when 22-year old Skeeter returns home after graduating college and decides to write a book about the experiences of black maids in her hometown of Mississippi. Aibileen, a black maid raising her seventeenth white child, and Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, who may be the sassiest maid in Mississippi, decide for their own reasons to help Skeeter. Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help sold more than 5 million copies and remained on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 100 weeks. 

August 16: Freshwater Road by Denise Nicholas
Freshwater Road
by Denise Nicholas tells the story of one young woman’s coming of age during the political and social upheavals of the Civil Rights Movement. Nineteen-year-old Celeste Tyree leaves Ann Arbor to go to Pineyville, Mississippi, in the summer of 1964 to help found a voter registration project as part of Freedom Summer. As the summer unfolds, she confronts not only the political realities of race and poverty in this tiny town, but also deep truths about her family and herself. Drawing on Nicholas’ own involvement in the movement, Freshwater Road was hailed by Newsday as, “Perhaps the best work of fiction ever done about the civil rights movement.”

Space is limited. Registration is required. Books are available at the library to borrow four weeks in advance of the discussion.

Generously sponsored by the Connecticut Humanities 


Thursday, July 23rd
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Unraveling: High Hopes and Missed Opportunities in Iraq
with Author Emma Sky
Click Here to Register

When Emma Sky volunteered to help rebuild Iraq after the overthrow of Saddam Hussein in 2003, she had little idea what she was getting in to. She went on to serve there longer than any other senior military or diplomatic figure, giving her an unrivaled perspective of the entire conflict. With sharp detail and tremendous empathy, The Unraveling provides unique insights into the US military as well as the complexities, diversity, and evolution of Iraqi society and the lessons that must be learned about the limitations of power. 

Emma Sky is a British citizen who has worked at senior levels on behalf of the US and UK governments in Iraq, Afghanistan and Jerusalem, across the fields of development, defense, and diplomacy, and with multi civilian and military agencies. Prior to 2003, she had over a decade of experience working in Bangladesh, Brazil, Egypt, Jordan, Morocco, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Palestinian Territories, and United Arab Emirates where she provided technical assistance on poverty elimination, human rights, justice, public administration reform, security sector reform, and conflict resolution. 

Today, Sky is a Senior Fellow at Yale University’s Jackson Institute, where she lectures on the New Iraq and Middle East Politics. Previously, she was a Visiting Professor at King’s College, London, War Studies Department, and a Fellow at Oxford, Changing Character of War Programme. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Thursday, August 6th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Flirting with French: How a Language Charmed Me, Seduced Me & Nearly Broke My Heart
with Author William Alexander
Click Here to Register 

Ever think, “Gee, I wish I could speak French?” William Alexander has harbored that thought ever since falling in love with France in his twenties, but only recently - at the age of 57 - did he decide to do something about it. He has tackled the French language with the same enthusiasm with which he previously approached gardening and bread, and you can read about his adventures (and whether he succeeded!) in Flirting with French

William Alexander is the author of the best-selling memoir, The $64 Tomato, and 52 Loaves: A Half-Baked Adventure, his hilarious and moving account of a year spent striving to bake the perfect loaf of bread. The New York Times Style Magazine says about Alexander, “His timing and his delivery are flawless.” He has appeared on NPR’s Morning Edition, at the National Book Festival in Washington, D.C. Visit his website at www.williamalexander.comA wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.

Generously sponsored by Union Savings Bank 


Tuesday, August 11th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Downton Abbey: Fashion and Social Change
with Susan J. Jerome
Click Here to Register

The PBS Series Downton Abbey is a television phenomenon, watched by fans throughout the UK and the US. Like other British costume dramas, the costumes are presented with meticulous attention to detail.

This program explores the many changes that occurred throughout the time period depicted in Downton Abbey and how these changes influenced fashion. The social, technological, and political advances of the early twentieth century were reflected in the notable evolution of women’s and men’s clothing. This powerpoint presentation will look back at what was fashionable - real or otherwise. We will also look at some of the influential designers and other persons involved in the first five seasons. 

Susan J. Jerome is the Collections Manager at the University of Rhode Island Historic Textile and Costume Collection. She earned her MS degree from the University of Rhode Island, Department of Textiles, Fashion Merchandising and Design. Prior to continuing her education, she worked for a number of years at Mystic Seaport Museum and continues to do so as a part-time employee. Ms. Jerome also works as a textile and quilt conservator, and a consultant to museums and historical societies. An avid textilian, she is happiest when writing, talking and doing all things textile. Space is limited. Registration is required.


Thursday, August 13th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

The Mystery of the Holiday House Hotel and the Joy of Historical Research
with Tom Holzel
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We are used to hearing about the exciting discovery of ancient ruins like those of Pompeii or Mayan temples. Imagine the fun of discovering ruins yourself, right in your own backyard. How do you investigate the site? How can you find out what happened? With everybody long gone, what can you possibly learn?

While hiking in the Steep Rock Preservation, Litchfield resident Tom Holzel stumbled across some foundation ruins along the Shepaug River. “Holiday House” his map said, but what was that? It was enough of a mystery for Tom to start nosing around. Many locals he asked had heard of the site, but few really knew what it was. That was enough to spur him on. The result is a charming historical monograph: The Girls Club Holiday House: a charity vacation hotel in Washington, CT for “working-class girls” from NYC. Tom will describe the work, and how he investigated this fascinating local mystery.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Tom Holzel is a former international marketing sales executive. He co-authored The Mystery of Mallory & Irvine, a NY Times reviewed book that has been translated into three languages, that analyzes the mysterious 1924 disappearance of those two pioneers of Mt. Everest - a quest that is ongoing. His previous work is the WWII spy thriller Ballard’s War. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The author will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.

Thursday, August 20th
7:00 - 8:00 p.m.

Allegiance: A Novel
A Conversation with Author Kermit Roosevelt III
Click Here to Register 

Allegiance combines the momentum of a top-notch legal thriller with a thoughtful examination of one of the worst civil rights violations in U.S. history.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, “Cash” Harrison was willing to drop out of law school to join the army - until he flunked the physical. Instead, he serves as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. He and another clerk stumble onto a potential conspiracy involving cases dealing with the constitutionality of the prison camps created to detain Japanese-Americans. When Cash’s colleague dies under mysterious circumstances, the young, idealistic lawyer is determined to get at the truth. 

Kermit Roosevelt, the great-great grandson of Theodore Roosevelt, is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Born in Washington, DC, he attended Harvard University and Yale Law School. Before joining the Penn faculty, he clerked for DC Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams and Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and practiced law in Chicago. His experiences clerking and practicing law informed his first novel, In the Shadow of the Law. A wine & cheese reception will follow the event. The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing. Space is limited. Registration is required.

This conversation will be moderated by OWL Book Club Liaison Cameron Bove.  


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