Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

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 ~Adult Events ~

One Book, One Litchfield

Stowe Center Discussions

April Monday Scholars



 One Book, One Litchfield



One Book, One Litchfield

Celebrating the 300th
Anniversary of Litchfield
with a Community - Wide Read

April 4 Through May 9




The Oliver Wolcott Library and the Litchield Public Schools have partnered together to create our first One Book, One Litchfield. We will be encouraging everyone in our community from age 9 to 99 to read Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Along with reading, we invite you to join us for a number of special events about Uncle Tom’s Cabin. See the following pages for all of our special events - and see the Litchfield Public Schools for similar special events planned for grade school children/teens.

All of this is possible because of the incredible generosity and support of Union Savings Bank Foundation.

What Is a Community-Wide Read?

Ever since Seattle started the trend in 1998, the phenomenon of One Book, One Community reading programs has been growing steadily across the country. The concept is simple. Encourage everyone in your community to read the same book, at the same time. It’s a new approach to a basic reading and discussion model, and its ability to create a shared experience of reading among a wide spectrum of people.

We hope that you will participate in our One Book, One Litchfield, and that through this shared community experience, we will all come closer together. As Mary McGrory told The Washington Post in March of 2002, “The idea is that the city that opens the same book closes it in greater harmony.”


Selected Book:

When our team of library and school staff began the journey of planning this, we knew we wanted to select a book that both children and adults could enjoy. We also needed it to connect to the history of Litchfield. Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe perfectly fit both criteria. Harriet Elisabeth Beecher was born in Litchfield on June 14, 1811, where she lived until the age of 14. She was the seventh of 13 children born to outspoken Calvinist preacher Lyman Beecher. Her famous novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, continues to have appeal to readers of all ages.

About Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Uncle Tom’s Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. Published in 1852, the novel had a profound effect on attitudes toward African Americans and slavery in the U.S. and is said to have “helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War.” In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies in Great Britain. In 1855, three years later it was called the most popular novel of our day.

Featuring the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters revolve, the sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings.



Stowe Center Discussions



 Registration is Required for each Discussion Session 



Her Words Changed the World

Tuesday, April 23
3:00 - 4:00 PM

Click Here to Register 

In this dynamic presentation, we’ll explore the life and impact of anti-slavery novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe. The talk will cover Stowe’s life - her childhood, family, education, marriage and motherhood - as well as her inspiration to write Uncle Tom’s Cabin and the lasting impact of its message.


The Stowe Salon

Thursday, April 25
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 

 In classic “salon style”, this will be a conversation facilitated by Stowe Center staff. Connect the past to the present by discussing the effects of institutionalized racism on American society today, and identify steps for creating positive change.



Uncle Tom's Cabin
A Book Discussion Facilitated by Mark Scarbrough

Sunday, April 28
1:00 - 2:30 PM

 Click Here to Register 


When President Lincoln met Harriet Beecher Stowe in 1862, he said, “So you’re the little woman who wrote the book that made this great war.” Or so goes the story - which is fully apocryphal, part of Stowe family lore, without a shred of historical evidence, although every biography of Stowe offers up this quote as her tribute. Maybe she didn’t “make this great war,” but in many ways she set the terms of how we think about race even today in our divided America.

In Uncle Tom’s Cabin, we’ll encounter the parameters of how we still think about race. We’ll find one of the best trailblazers of the fate we cannot seem to escape, partly because Stowe’s book helps set us on this journey just over a hundred and fifty years ago.

Mark Scarbrough started his professional life as an academic whose focus was Chaucer and Harriet Beecher Stowe. After several years teaching, he resigned and moved to New York to write. In New York, he met and married Bruce Weinstein. Together they have written more than two dozen cookbooks, and have appeared on The Today Show, CBS This Morning and The View. His website is bruceandmark.com.

Registration is Required
Books will be available 4 weeks prior to the discussion




Road to Dawn: Josiah Henson &
the Story that Sparked the Civil War
Presentation & Film with 
Author & Director Jarod Brock

Thursday, May 9
7:00 - 8:30 PM

 Click Here to Register 


Josiah Henson is the real-life slave whose story was the inspiration for Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe. Author-filmmaker Jared Brock retraces Henson’s 3,000+ mile journey from slavery to freedom and re-introduces the world to a forgotten figure of the Civil War era.

After more than forty years of brutal enslavement, Henson went on to rescue 118 enslaved people, helped start a freeman settlement called “Dawn” that was one of the final stops on the Underground Railroad, won a medal at the first World’s Fair in London, and was entertained by Rutherford B. Hayes in the White House.

Join us for this important community event where speaker Jared Brock will host a screening of his film Josiah, the accompanying documentary of his critically acclaimed biography The Road to Dawn, narrated by the actor Danny Glover. This will be followed by discussion, Q&A, and a book signing.

Jared Brock is the author of the book, The Road to Dawn: Josiah Henson and the Story that Sparked the Civil War a ground-breaking biography lauded by leaders at the NAACP, the Smithsonian, senators, authors, professors, the President of Mauritius, and the 21st Prime Minister of Canada, and will no doubt restore a hero of the abolitionist movement to his rightful place in history.

Registration is Required
A wine & cheese reception will follow.
The Hickory Stick Bookshop will provide books for sale & signing.





April 8  through July 8
12:30 - 2:00 p.m.

Monday Scholars:
Understanding Russia: 
A Cultural History

 Click Here to Register 


Monday Scholars is a weekly series that combines the best of online learning with classroom discussion. Each week a new lecture topic is watched together and then discussed by the group. All you need to do is come ready to engage your mind and participate. Join Adult Services Librarian Patricia Moore as she facilitates this discussion.

About the course:
The video lecture series of Understanding Russia: A Cultural History will be taught by Professor Lynne Ann Hartnett. The lectures will define - and sometimes redefine - a Russian identity through culture.

These lectures will give you a better understanding of the empire of land and spirit stretching from Europe to Asia and from the Baltics to the Pacific. To do so, we will focus on the country’s intellectuals - the poets, novelists, artists, composers, leaders, clerics, and revolutionaries.

We will also look deeply into the recesses of the Russian mind, from holy medieval icons to the expressive 19th-century paintings of Ilya Repin, from the comedic plays of Anton Chekhov to grueling memoirs from the Soviet gulags, and from the ceremony and majesty of the Romanov autocracy to the Russian baths and daily rituals of the Russian village.


Key figures in the course include the 16th-century Russian ruler Ivan the Terrible, the Russian Orthodox Church, and Peter the Great, among many others. We’ll also look at Lenin and Stalin through the lens of their cults of personality and the imposition of a Soviet rather than historically Russian character on the people. In later lectures, the course enters the shared public spaces of the immediate post-Soviet period and the faceless flats constructed by Nikita Khrushchev.

In sum, the course seeks to answer the same question asked by Russians throughout history: What does it mean to be Russian? The answer is multifaceted, fascinating, and continually changing.

About the Professor:
On video, Lynne Ann Hartnett, PhD is the professor lecturing this series. She is an Associate Professor of History at Villanova University, where she teaches courses on all facets of Russian history as well as on the social, political, and intellectual history of modern Europe. She earned her PhD in Russian History at Boston College. Dr. Hartnett’s research focuses on the Russian revolutionary movement of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and she has conducted archival research in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Amsterdam, and London. She regularly presents her research at international conferences in the United States and Europe. 

Registration is Required


Women in Early Litchfield
1720 - 1830: A Sampler
with Dan Keefe

Wednesday, May 15
7:00 - 8:00 PM

 Click Here to Register 



Telling My Father's Story:
A Personal Monologue, followed by a 
Conversation with Eileen Manela 
Facilitated by author Todd Johnson

Thursday, May 16
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



A Victorian Tea
with Susan Robinson

Sunday, May 19
1:00 - 2:00 PM

 Click Here to Register 



Documentary Film Production
with Award- winning Filmmaker Jake Gorst

Thursday, May 23
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



Optical Delusions
Shakespeare Talk with Emily Mattina

Wednesday, May 29
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



75th Anniversary of D-Day
with Historian John Cilio

Wednesday, June 5
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



The General's Cook
with Author Ramin Ganeshram

Thursday, June 6
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



How to Grow Great Readers
with Dr. Caroline Wilcox Ugurlu

Tuesday, June 11
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



Tales Well Told
A Live Theatrical Performance
with Michele LaRue

Tuesday, June 18
7:00 - 8:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



Accordion Stories from the Heart
A Talk & Demonstration with
Author Angelo Paul Ramunni

Sunday, June 23
1:00 - 2:00 PM

Click Here to Register 



West Side Story
with Music Historian Jeffrey Engel

Tuesday, June 25
7:00 - 8:30 PM

Click Here to Register 













160 South Street, P.O. Box 187 Litchfield, Connecticut 06759 | Ph: 860-567-8030 | Fx: 860-567-4784

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