PAST SCHOLARS LECTURES
Celebrating 200 Years of Frederick Law Olmsted
Wednesday, March 30, 7 pm
This event is hosted in partnership with the Garden Club of Darien
SEE LECTURE: LINK
Frederick Law Olmsted, the famed “Father of American Landscape Architecture,” and his family firm, were arguably the most influential landscape architects in the United States with over 500 commissions that included 100 public parks and recreational areas. These include New York’s Central Park (1857), the Buffalo Park System (1868), Boston Park System (1870) and the United State Capitol (1874), which are all standouts in American landscape design.
It is our privilege to welcome Jonathan Olmsted, one of Frederick’s descendants, to highlight the life and works of his vaulted ancestor, illustrated with stunning visuals including photos and plans.
This lecture is available on YouTube thanks to DAF Media. LINK
Thomas Wickman, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of History and American Studies, Trinity College
"Winter’s Past and Winter’s Future"
Wednesday January 26, 7 pm
$25/$15 for members (use code MEMBER10) includes cocoa to keep you warm! (or wine if you prefer)
As winter weather in the twenty-first century Northeast becomes milder, this lecture asks what we can learn from the more frigid winters of the Little Ice Age (c. 1300-1850). What good came from a stable snowpack or frozen rivers—and for whom? Indigenous communities made preparations to live well in winter, crafting footwear, storing food, telling stories about winters past, and making winter a season of abundance. New England settlers were slow adapt to the new climate, and colonists imposed new kinds of winter suffering on Native people. This lecture suggests that a “vernal bias” in the historiography of early North America has obscured rich and contested winter histories. Studying winter ecology and reckoning with winter events should help people redefine settler colonialism, recognize Indigenous continuance, and imagine possible responses to anthropogenic climate change.
Tom Wickman is the author of Snowshoe Country: An Environmental and Cultural History of Winter in the Early American Northeast. He received his PhD from Harvard University and is associate professor of History and American Studies at Trinity College in Hartford, Connecticut.
Akhil Reed Amar, Yale Law Professor
Wednesday, November 10, 7 pm
In this talk, based in part on his recently released book, The Words That Made Us: America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840 , Yale Law Professor Akhil Reed Amar discussed the constitutional significance of a wide range of modern cases and controversies—from gun control to gay rights, from the electoral college to campaign finance to filibuster reform to presidential impeachments. This will be an informative and fascinating evening; come prepared to ask any question you like about America’s constitutional system—past, present, and future.
Amar is Sterling Professor of Law and Political Science at Yale, where he teaches constitutional law in the College and the Law School and where he won the DeVane Medal, Yale’s highest award for teaching excellence. After clerking for then Judge (now Justice) Stephen Breyer, Amar joined the Yale faculty at the age of 26. His work has won awards from both the American Bar Association and the Federalist Society, and he has been favorably cited by Supreme Court justices across the spectrum in more than 30 cases. In 2017, he received the American Bar Foundation’s Outstanding Scholar Award.
* Vaccination Required to attend
Steven Beissinger, Thursday, October 7, 7 pm
At the Elizabeth W. Chilton Education Center AND via Zoom
Steven Beissinger, Professor of Ecology and Conservation Biology in the Department of Environmental Science at Berkeley and the co-Director of the Berkeley Institute for Parks, is an expert on Berkeley alumnus Stephen Mather's work and legacy. He spoke about Stephen Mather's efforts which led to the creation of the National Park Service and also about the current challenges facing the National Parks and its future.
Kevin Callahan, Wednesday, May 26, 7 pm
The Mather Homestead celebrates Memorial Day and honors the military personnel who have died in the performance of their military duties while serving in the United States Armed Forces with a special speaker event featuring Kevin Callahan, author of Brothers in Arms.
Featuring over 700 historic photographs and other original artifacts, Brothers in Arms tells the stories of brothers buried side by side in American World War II cemeteries overseas. Fourteen of these noble American cemeteries are spread around the world, holding the remains of over 90,000 fallen Americans and listing another 80,000 missing. All made the ultimate sacrifice so that others might live in peace and freedom. These sacred burial grounds are kept in meticulous care by the American Battle Monuments Commission. Any visitor is struck by the endless rows of white burial markers, fallen heroes resting far from their homes but among their comrades and often near the battlefields where they fell. Walking among the gravestones, it is especially heart-rending to come across two burial markers with the same last name, two brothers—in one case three—buried side by side. With memories and materials collected from the families who lost these brave brothers, Brothers in Arms puts a face and a story to those names carved in white marble. From North Africa to Europe to the Philippines, Brothers in Arms takes the reader on a journey—of the war, of America in the first half of the 20th century, and of these inspiring resting places—all through the stories of these heroic brothers.
Kevin M. Callahan grew up in Elgin, Illinois. He received a B.A. in History from Yale University, where he also played football. After graduation, Kevin visited the American cemetery at Normandy and was struck by both the beauty of the grounds and the sacrifice of so many. Ten years ago, Kevin visited the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Italy with his wife and three young sons. Walking among the gravestones, they came across a pair of brothers buried side by side. He found the sight of the two brothers resting together to be especially poignant. It inspired him to find and tell the stories of all brothers buried side by side in American World War II cemeteries. Kevin also has an MBA from the MIT Sloan School and a Master's in International Affairs from the Columbia School of International and Public Affairs. He lives in Rowayton, Connecticut with his wife, three sons, and two dogs.
Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky, Thursday May 6, 7 pm
We look forward to welcoming Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky who will share her work on the history of the presidency and the cabinet and discuss her award-winning book, The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution.
Dr. Lindsay M. Chervinsky is an expert on the presidency, the cabinet, and government institutions. She is currently Scholar in Residence at the Institute for Thomas Paine Studies at Iona College and Senior Fellow at the International Center for Jefferson Studies. Previously, she was a historian at the White House Historical Association and a Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Presidential History at Southern Methodist University. She received her B.A. in history and political science from the George Washington University, and completed her masters and Ph.D. from the University of California, Davis. She is the author of the award-winning The Cabinet: George Washington and the Creation of an American Institution, which was published by Harvard University Press on April 7, 2020. Her work has been published in the Washington Post, USA Today, The Hill, CNN, Governing Magazine, TIME, and more. When she’s not writing, researching, or speaking about history, she loves to hike with her husband and her dog, John Quincy Dog Adams.
Gordon Wood, Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson
Wednesday, April 24, 2019, 6:30 pm
Gordon Wood, Professor Emeritus for the History Department of Brown University and Pulitzer Prize winner, discussed his most recent book Friends Divided: John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to a sold out audience. Little trivia fact ... Professor Gordon Wood was mentioned by Matt Damon in the film "Good Will Hunting"!