Talks link area reading project with American history

Saturday, January 12, 2013 
By Ben Beagle bbeagle@batavianews.com

BATAVIA – Four historical talks are scheduled to set the table for this year’s “A Tale for Three Counties” community reading project.

The talks, featuring such subjects as the American Civil War, early photography, the Underground Railroad and immigration, will all play off themes featured in Peter Troy’s novel, “May the Road Rise Up to Meet You,” the 2013 Tale selection.

Presenters include a local history teacher, a historian from George Eastman House, Rochester, and a local museum director.

“I was intrigued by the amount of American history woven into Peter Troy’s novel,” said Leslie DeLooze, community services librarian at Richmond Memorial Library, 19 Ross St., which will host three of the programs. “There is a huge theme of the Civil War and related topics, so I wanted to present some talks that would enhance readers’ understanding of those subjects.

“I thought that it would be a good way to incorporate some special programs” into the library’s offerings, said DeLooze, the leader of the Tale project, which encourages readers to read the same book and participate in special events, book discussions and author visits.

Book discussions will begin in February and continue at area libraries through March 6. Local book stores with discussion groups also frequently feature the Tale title as the author visits approach.

Troy will visit March 7 to 9 for a talk and booksigning in each county.

The American Civil War is a backdrop for a sprawling story, which also includes Ireland’s potato famine and subsequent immigration to the United States.

Three programs will be at Richmond Library and one at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd.

“This year’s book offers so many themes and opportunities for high-interest discussion that we can offer programs in abundance, which is wonderful,” said Nina T. Warren, director of library services at GCC’s Alfred C. O’Connell Library.

The first talk, scheduled for 7 p.m. Jan. 22, will feature Gregory Kinal, a social studies teacher at Pembroke High School. The talk, “Lincoln, Gettysburg & the Civil War,” will highlight Lincoln and the Civil War years, ending with the president’s assassination, which Kinal says remains one of the great murder mysteries of American History. Kinal has lead more than 40 student trips to Gettysburg and Washington, D.C.

On Jan. 26, Mark Osterman, a photographic process historian at George Eastman House, will present an illustrated lecture about photography techniques used during the Civil War era. The talk, which begins at 2 p.m., will include a PowerPoint presentation and a display of vintage images and equipment.

Photography was in its infancy when the war broke out, but its use was widespread. Many soldiers carried photographs of loved ones into battle and for the first time, photographic images of war where available. Photography was also evolving from daguerreotype to ambrotypes and other mediums in which images were produced through a wet emulsion on glass and were more accessible to a wider audience. Osterman is internationally-recognized as the leading expert of the wet collodion process, which was used in the 1860s.

In February, Lynne Belluscio, curator of the Le Roy Historical Soicety, will talk about the active Underground Railroad movement in Genesee County that helped escaping slaves make their way to freedom in Canada. Her presentation begins at 7 p.m. Feb. 4.

Kinal is also scheduled to present a second program focusing on immigration Feb. 26 at Genesee Community College, 1 College Rd. The talk begins at 12:30 p.m. in Room T119B of the Conable Technology Building.

“We have worked with Richmond Library to coordinate complimentary presentations so that we can offer the widest array for interesting events for members of the college and community,” said Warren, director of the GCC library.

The presentation, expected to last 90 minutes, focuses on the reasons for European immigration to the United States between 1906 and 1920, the voyage to America and the settlement of immigrants in their new homeland, with a special focus on the Irish immigration of 1840 to1865 that was prompted by a potato blight that caused extensive famine. The immigrant family will be discussed and the development of ethnic neighborhoods in Buffalo. He will also share historic photographs of tenement life while concluding with a look at the contributions immigrants have made to America.

Admission to all Tale events and programs is free.

More ways to join Tale

Other Tale events include a writing contest — look for an entry form in today’s special “Tale for Three Counties” section, and two February fundraisers. The four independent bookstores in Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties will donate a portion of sales the week of February 11, and O’Lacy’s Irish Pub, 5 School St., will host a fundraiser from noon to 4 p.m. Feb. 24.

The O’Lacy’s event includes an Irish spread of hors d’oeuvres that will provide a “taste” of Ireland, DeLooze said. The menu includes potato and leek soup with scones, bown bread and soda bread topped with real Iish butter, rarebit, marinated mushrooms, bangers (sausage), lamb with mint jelly, black and white sausage and roasted tomato wedges. Barry’s Tea will be served and participants may also purchase traditional Irish coffee or the usual bar options. Rich Conroy and Don Bouchard of No Blarney will perform. There will be three raffles of the Tale book and T-shirts. Tickets are $15 in advance at Richmond Library, the GCC library, Corfu Free Library, 7 Maple Ave., Corfu; Perry Public Library, 70 North Main St., Perry; and Lee-Whedon Memorial Library, 620 West Ave., Medina. Tickets are limited and not expected to be available at the door.

Copies of “May the Road ise Up to Meet You” are available for purchase and loan from area libraries. Library book sales support the Tale program.

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Courtesy of Batavia Newspapers Corporation

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