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Chapman Lecture Series

Chapman Lectures are sponsored by the Old Saybrook Historical Society in cooperation with the Acton Public Library.  All presentations are FREE and are open to the public.  For further information contact the Historical Society at 860-395-1635 or email us at contact@saybrookhistory.org

Upcoming Lectures

March 26, 2015. Donald E. Williams, Jr. at the Acton Library

Donald E. Williams, Jr., author of “Prudence Crandall’s Legacy: The Fight for Equality in the 1830, Dred Scott, and Brown v. Board of Education,” will present a talk at the Acton Public Library, 60 Old Boston post Road, Old Saybrook on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.   Sponsored by the Old Saybrook Historical Society, in cooperation with the Acton Library, the public is invited and there is no charge.

Prudence Crandall was a schoolteacher who fought to educate young black women in her school in Canterbury, Connecticut.   Her efforts unleashed a storm of controversy that catapulted her to national notoriety, and drew the attention and involvement of the pro- and anti-slavery activists of the day.

Her legal legacy had a lasting impact—Crandall v. State was the first significant civil rights case in U.S. history and influenced later Supreme Court decisions, the Dred Scott case and the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education.

Critics have praised this book as “a compelling and lively look at the long struggle for black equality in America” and have stated that it “will become the authoritative history of Prudence Crandall and her controversial academy.”  

Donald E. Williams, Jr. is currently Connecticut Education Association's deputy director of professional policy, practice, research, and reform.   He served in the Connecticut State Senate for 22 years, ten years as president pro tempore.   He holds a J.D. from Washington and Lee University School of Law and a B.S. in journalism from Syracuse University.  For further information, contact the Old Saybrook Historical Society, 860-395-1635.

April 16, 2015, J. Ronald Spencer at the Acton Library
J. Ronald Spencer Connecticut Yankee in Lincoln's Cabinet: Navy Secretary Gideon Welles Chronicles the Civil War.
Dr. Spencer is associate academic dean and lecturer emeritus in history at Trinity College in Hartford, CT.


Past  Lectures

Anne Farrow (seated) signs and sells a copy of her book Logbook:  Connecticut Slave Ships and Human Memory to an attendee of the February 26, 2015 Chapman Lecture Series. Anne Farrow, a scholar of Connecticut's connection with the slave trade and a former Hartford Courant reporter and editor, spoke about her latest book to a packed house at the Acton Library.  Logbook traces the life of the logbook's author, Dudley Saltonstall, a controversial figure in Connecticut history and the brother-in-law of Wethersfield's Silas Deane.  Ms. Farrow outlined connections between history and memory, including insights acquired through the experience of coping with her mother's Alzheimer's Disease.








Former Saybrook resident Elizabeth Petry, recently spoke at a Chapman Lecture and shared stories about her mother, the noted author Ann Petry and her aunt, pharmacist Miss James.   Elizabeth Petry is also an author and contributed essays about her family members to the new publication, "African-American CT Explored."








Authors Elizabeth Petry and Elizabeth Normen signed books and talked with Old Saybrook Historical Society members (l. to r. rear) Linda Kinsella, Carol Manning, and Donna DiBella.









At the recent Chapman Lecture, sponsored by the Old Saybrook Historical Society in cooperation with the Acton Library, Elizabeth Petry signs a copy of "African-American CT Explored" for Michele Van Epps, Acton Librarian.