Oliver Wolcott Library - Programs

Oliver Wolcott Library
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Events are updated regularly. Please check back!


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
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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.


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, 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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