Programs & Events

Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 pm at the Inn at Middletown, 70 Main Street

Professor David Blight to Headline Society Fundraiser

David BlightThe Society is pleased to announce that award-winning author, Professor David Blight, will give a lecture about his book Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom at a benefit reception raising funds for the maintenance of the Society’s headquarters, the General Joseph Mansfield House and for ongoing activities fulfilling the Society’s mission to educate the public about the area’s history. The event will be held on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00 pm at the Inn at Middletown, 70 Main Street.

Frederick Douglass_BlightDavid W. Blight is the Class of 1954 Professor of American History and Director of the Gilder Lehrman Center for the Study of  slavery, Resistance, and Abolition at Yale University. He is the author or editor of a dozen books, including American Oracle: The Civil War in the Civil Rights Era; Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American Memory; and annotated editions of Douglass’s first two autobiographies. He has worked on Douglass much of his professional life, and been awarded the Bancroft Prize, the Abraham Lincoln Prize, and the Frederick Douglass Prize, among others. His latest book about Douglass, which draws on new information in a private collection, is due to be published in October.

The price for the event, including a dessert reception following the talk, is $35.00 per person. Opportunities for sponsorship are also available. All sponsors will receive a listing in the program and will be able to meet Professor Blight and tour the Society exhibit, A Vanished Port: Middletown & the Caribbean, 1750-1824, prior to the talk at 6:15 p.m.

Named for African Americans who fought for freedom, sponsorship categories are as follows:

Frederick Douglass – $1000.00 – Sponsor receives 8 tickets
Harriet Tubman – $750.00 – Sponsor receives 6 tickets
Jehiel Beman – $500.00 – Sponsor receives 4 tickets
Venture Smith – $250.00 – Sponsor receives 2 tickets

Professor Blight’s book will be available for purchase and inscription. To purchase tickets or become a sponsor, call the Society at 860-346-0746. Join us as we honor a courageous voice in the abolitionist movement.


Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 pm in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library

Over Here & Over There
Songs From and About the Great War

Tom CallinanRemembering the sacrifices made by Middletown’s citizens, both military and civilian during World War I, the Middlesex County Historical Society is pleased to present Middletown native Tom Callinan on Thursday, October 18 at 7:00 pm in the Hubbard Room at Russell Library as he sings songs from and about the Great War. Interspersed with the music, and through the prism of history, Tom weaves a narrative regarding some of the contributing factors which made “The War to End All Wars” the first modern war.

grave of Jeremiah Coleman-St. John's CemeteryThe songs in Tom’s program represent a mixture of moods: patriotic songs that accompanied the troops marching off to war, full of exuberance and bravado; popular songs from the music halls and Tin Pan Alley; songs of farewell; others that dealt with the loss of innocence, resulting from the soldiers’ time spent overseas; the most popular anti-war song of the period; and contemporary, retrospective songs. Among the latter group is his original composition, “Searching For Great-Uncle Jerry,” written in memory of his late great-uncle Jeremiah J. Coleman, who was killed in action at Chateau Thierry, France in 1918. Tom uses an assortment of musical instruments from the string, wind, and percussion families to complement his informative and entertaining narrative style.

Tom Callinan is more than a multi-faceted performing artist. He holds a B.S. in Secondary Education from Central Connecticut State University, and an M.A.L.S. from Wesleyan University. In 1977, after five years of successful teaching in a Connecticut junior high school, he launched a full-time career in the creative and performing arts. In 1991, he was designated Connecticut’s first “Official State Troubadour.”

The program is free and open to the public. Russell Library, located at 123 Broad Street in Middletown, is wheelchair accessible. For further information, contact the Historical Society at 860-346-0746.