August 21, 2019

Explore the Civil War at Essex Library

Essex Civil War veterans Edgar Stevens (left) and Pritchard Post. (Photo courtesy Essex Historical Society)

The 150th Anniversary of the start of the Civil War is the theme for a series of special programs for the whole family at the Essex Library, Tuesday, July 12 through Saturday July 16.

Funded by a generous grant from Citizens Bank, events include crafts classes for kids, scholarly talks on Connecticut’s place in Civil War history, period music performances and more. And stop by the Essex Library to view local artifacts of the period – including swords and other military gear, photographs, and a lady’s fancy bonnet – on loan from the Essex Historical Society.

All events are free and open to the public; please call the Essex Library at 860-767-1560 for more information or to register. 

 Tuesday July 12: Discover Art and Secret Codes of the Underground Railroad, 3:30-4:30 p.m.. Join us for a kids’ class with community favorite Carol Young as we discover art and secret coding used during the Civil War and Underground Railroad. Carol is a retired art teacher and now works with the Essex Historical Society.  “It Was theHardest Trial of my Life”:  The 16th Connecticut Regiment and its Imprisonment at Andersonville and Florence Stockades, 7 p.m.: an illustrated lecture by Connecticut Historical Society scholar John Potter about a harrowing and little-known aspect of Connecticut soldiers’ wartime experience, that draws on the extensive archives of the CHS.

Wednesday July 13: Family Films:  Soldiering Through History: the Civil War, will be shown at 1 p.m.  Packed with educational content, this film explains the uniforms & equipment of the Civil War soldier, and uses living history techniques to illustrate the basic activities of the infantryman during one of the most important periods in American history; great for the entire family. Following it at 3 p.m., we’ll screen Little Women. With their father away fighting in the Civil War, Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy grow up with their mother in somewhat reduced circumstances. Based on the classic novel, this film depicts the closeness that ties the family who inevitably suffer through squabbles and tragedies. Their bond holds even when, later, changes begin to take part in their household as the characters grow into adulthood. Rated PG.  115 min.

Thursday, July 14 at 7 p.m.: Letters Home; the Letters of Private Henry Brown, presented by John Proctor. A dramatic and moving illustrated talk about the wartime experiences of one young soldier, as seen through his letters to his father, performed by this local Civil War buff (and relative of young Brown) John Henry Proctor.

Friday, July 15 at 12 to 4:30 p.m., it’s our Gone With The Wind-a-Thon! Watch this classic film while munching delicious ham biscuits and sipping sweet tea, just like Miss Scarlett. Hoop skirts and/or beaver hats optional.

Saturday, July 16, brings two family-friendly events;  10 – 11:30 a.m.: Civil War Fashion Show with Kandy Carle. Ms. Carle takes her audience on a journey of discovery by using clothes and fashion as a tool.  Throughout the presentation she shares insights into clothing, lifestyle, manners and etiquette of men, women and children. Included are interesting anecdotes and ‘myth busters’ for the Civil War time period. The performance is full of audience interaction and is geared toward participants aged 8 and up. Ms. Carle is Artistic Director of the East Haddam Stage Company.
 12:30 – 2 p.m., it’s The Greatest Hits of the Civil War: America’s Earliest Professional Songwriters with Rick Spencer. At the Main Street Park Gazebo in downtown Essex (rain location: The Essex Library Program Room). This entertaining and educational music program presents songs that were among the most popular of the era.  The years just prior to the War were times of remarkable cultural development in America. Writers like Daniel Decatur Emmett (“Dixie”), Stephen Foster (“Oh Susanna”), George F. Root (“The Battle Cry of Freedom”) and Henry Clay Work (“Kingdom Coming”) composed songs which became the great “pop hits” of the 1860s.