Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War

Three Local Libraries Collaborate to Host Reading & Discussion Series this October

 Providence Public Library (PPL), East Providence Public Library (Weaver) and William Hall Public Library, Cranston, are collaborating to offer a free, five-part reading and discussion series this October called “Let’s Talk About It: Making Sense of the American Civil War.” The series has been developed by the American Library Association and the National Endowment for the Humanities with local support provided by the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities.

“We are delighted to be able to co-present this encompassing series that will allow patrons a chance to discuss the legacy of the Civil War with fellow community members and well-qualified scholars,” said Dale Thompson, PPL Director.  “In addition, we are exceptionally pleased that this program offers an opportunity for participants to visit and view items from PPL’s outstanding Caleb Fiske Harris Collection on the Civil War and Slavery in conjunction with the planned programs.  (Visit the Library for a general Special Collection Tour on Fridays at 3 pm, or contact the PPL Special Collections librarian to arrange an appointment.)

An Opening Reception, lecture, and discussion will be held at the Lippitt House, 199 Hope Street, Providence, a Civil War era building and National Historic Landmark on Wednesday, October 10 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. with keynote speaker and Civil War scholar Dr. Michael Vorenberg of Brown University. 

Three discussions on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays through October will be led by scholars from local academic institutions at each of the partner libraries:

  • William Hall Library, 1325 Broad Street, Cranston, RI 02905:  Thursdays, October 11, 18 and 25 at 7 pm;
  • Providence Public Library, 150 Empire Street, Providence, RI 02903:  Sundays, October 14, 21, and 28 at 2 pm; 
  • Weaver Library, 41 Grove Avenue, East Providence, RI 02914:   Tuesdays, October 16, 23 and 30 at 7 pm;

The following works will be discussed during the sessions:

  • “March” by Geraldine Brooks (Penguin, 2006)
  • “Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam” by James McPherson (Oxford University Press, 2002)
  • “America’s War: Talking About the Civil War and Emancipation on Their 150th Anniversaries,” an anthology of historical fiction, speeches, diaries, memoirs, biography, and short stories, edited by national project scholar Edward L. Ayers and co-published by NEH and ALA, 2012.

A closing panel discussion with the program scholars will be held at 2 pm on Sunday, November 4, 2012 at the William Hall Library in Cranston.

This program is free and open to all; however, those who register for the entire five-program series will receive free copies of the books to be used for discussions. Registration is limited and requested by September 15 to ensure materials. If necessary, participants may attend programs at each of the sponsoring libraries.

For more details, to register and to obtain copies of program materials, please contact the program coordinators at the individual library: