Keene Chautauqua 2017: World War I and America

Traveling, tented “chautauquas” were a popular form of American adult education in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Today’s chautauquas feature scholars portraying significant historical figures in first-person performances followed by a Q & A period with the character and the scholar. New Hampshire Humanities brought the modern Chautauqua movement to the state in the 1990s, and with grant support from New Hampshire Humanities, Keene Public Library has kept up the tradition, planning and organizing an evening of living history for the public every year since 2006.

In August, supported by a New Hampshire Humanities Quick Grant, our neighbors in the Monadnock Region will have the chance to explore moral and philosophical implications of war during the “Keene Chautauqua 2017: World War I & America” project. Should Americans try to make the world safe for democracy? How should a democratic society deal with dissent at home while it is fighting overseas? What does the nation owe to those who fight on its behalf? Is America’s claim to moral leadership abroad impaired by racial injustice at home?” The public is invited to explore these questions and more through the eyes of sociologist, historian, and civil rights activist W.E.B. Dubois and President Woodrow Wilson, portrayed by living history presenters Charles Everett Pace and Dr. Paul Vickery on Friday, August 25 at 6:30 pm at the Keene Public Library.

Thanks to a separate grant from the Library of America, film screenings and reading discussions on two Wednesday evenings in August precede the August 25 event. To increase the collection of Keene’s WWI memorabilia, the library invites residents to bring in personal diaries and letters, and will offer scanning at the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #799. For more information please visit www.keenepubliclibrary.org or contact Gail Zachariah at 352-0157 or gzachariah@ci.keene.nh.us.

Charles Everett Pace portrays sociologist, writer, and activist W.E.B. DuBois at the Keene Chautauqua. Photo by Laura Beahm/Hastings Tribune