Search form

Holiday Specials

From Slave Spirituals to Hip Hop: The Evolution of American Music

Thursday, February 1, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Black History Month

In a special program celebrating Black History Month, Music Historian Kevin Comtois uses recorded music, video footage, still photographs, along with his energetic commentary and dance, and takes you on a lively musical journey: from early slave spirituals, through the hugely popular minstrels in the late 19th century, to the blues and jazz that developed at the opening of the 20th century, to the Rock n Roll created in the late 40s and 50s.  The journey ends with the various strains of American and topical music of the last thirty years.
Presenter Kevin Comtois, an amateur musician and songwriter, has been teaching history and government at Northern Essex Community College since 1999.  He has also taught at Merrimack College, Quincy College, and various secondary schools.  He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Westfield State College and his Master of Arts in American Civilization from UMass Boston.  He was the recipient of two National Endowment for the Humanities grants; one in 2005 to study the history of jazz at Washington University in St. Louis and the second in 2008 to study the Industrial Revolution in Lowell.  In 2014, he published his first book, Troubadours and Troublemakers: The Evolution of American Protest Music.


A Revolution of Her Own! Deborah Sampson—a living history presentation

Wednesday, March 7, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Women's History Month

Deborah Samson [Sampson], the first woman to enlist, to fight, and to be honorably discharged from the American Military captivates audiences in a program chronicling her life. An indentured servant by the age of five, Deborah grew up in a man's world, where naught but second class citizens. Without the ability to vote or to own property, Deborah knew her options were limited; breaking the rules may be necessary to accomplish a greater goal in life.
As a self-educated woman, Deborah was the only schoolmarm in Middleborough, MA; however, she felt a higher calling, as she heard news of the rebellion, while working I the local tavern. After ten years working as a farm hand, Deborah was strong and possessed the physical capabilities of her male counterparts. And then, on May 23, 1782, wearing an old soldier's uniform, Deborah bound her chest, tied back her hair, and enlisted in the Fourth Massachusetts Regiment of the Continental Army, under the alias 'Robert Shurtlieff.' Experience Deborah Sampson's arduous upbringing, one and a half years of active combat, and success as the first female professional soldier, through interactive stories and authentic colonial attire. Deborah's passion will take you back in time!
Performer Judith Kalaora, is a professional educator, actress, and living historian. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Syracuse University and holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Acting, along with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish Language and Culture. She attended the Globe Education Program of Shakespeare's Globe Theatre in London, England. Judith founded History at Play in 2010 to provide educational entertainment, chronicling the lives of influential and often forgotten women. Judith researches, writes, produces, and performs.


Codebreaking and Information Theory: Cryptography, Then and Now

Tuesday, March 13, 7:00 – 8:30 PM

(Almost) Pi Day

Since the time of antiquity, humans have been sending coded messages to each other in order to protect sensitive information. Join Harvard Professor Chris Rycroft for an overview of the development of cryptography and information theory. The talk will cover historical methods for encoding messages, the seminal work of Claude Shannon in the 1940's that laid the foundations for digital communication, and modern approaches that are used to protect everyday internet transactions.
As with Professor Rycroft's past well-received and popular presentations at the Library, the lecture will be dynamic, informational, and interactive with audience participation in visual demonstrations of math concepts.
Added incentive is the pieces of pie provided by the Friends of the Library in recognition of 'almost pi day' to add some festiveness to the occasion. Join us and 'crack the code'!


The Ides of March Shakespeareance

Thursday, March 15, at 7:00 – 8:30 PM

Ides of March

An interactive workshop in which participants work with pieces of Julius Caesar! Julia Perlowski brings Shakespeare alive!
Educator and Shakespeare Scholar, Perlowski is a member of the National Teacher Corps for the Folger Shakespeare Library Education Department, through which she conducts workshops for teachers at the national level.  Trained at England's Shakespeare GLOBE Theatre, the American Shakespeare Center, The Folger Shakespeare Library, and Lenox Shakespeare and Co., Julia was awarded the Teaching Excellence Award by the U.S. State Department in 2010.