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The Historical Wizard of Oz

Just hearing the name “Oz” conjures up fantastic images, adventures, and heartfelt memories. So many of us can recite the plot of the famous story, but how many of us really know what went into creating it? What influences did L. Frank Baum have in his life as he created what is widely acknowledged as America’s First Fairytale? Librarian Laura Keyes will separate fact from fiction as she shares the fantastic story of this amazing man, who created ­The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.

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Fashioning the Wilder Family

If you’re a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder, you already have an idea of what she and her sisters were wearing while they played on the Prairie. However, did you ever wonder what her future husband Almanzo Wilder was wearing, as he grew up in a different state, a different climate, and in a different socio-economic status than little Laura Ingalls? In this presentation, you will see one of the dresses worn by the fictional Mother Wilder, as well as attire worn by Father Wilder, modeled by a historic re-enactor.

  • Learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder here


When you think of lighthouses do you think of their Keepers – the hardworking folks who kept those lights on even in the fiercest storms and worst conditions imaginable? Women have kept the lighthouses of America for centuries, but not always with the acknowledgement they deserve.

  • Learn more about Lighthouses here!

  • Enjoy a storytime about Lighthouses here!

Female Lighthouse Keepers
of America


Mary Todd Lincoln lived a life filled with triumphs and tragedies, but few people know her story. One piece in the complex puzzle of her life is her personal
photograph album, which was compiled over many years. This precious artifact tells not only Mary
Lincoln’s story, but the Lincoln family story as well. Hear scholar Laura Keyes share the history of Mary Lincoln’s photograph album, and see for yourself what photographs Mrs. Lincoln kept (and the ones she didn’t).

  • Read more about the Lincolns here

  • See a clip of this lecture here

Mary Lincoln’s

Photograph Album


When you think of lighthouses do you think of the East or West coasts? Did you know that Michigan, which has more freshwater coastline than any other state, also has the most lighthouses (over 120)? This Illustrated Lecture focuses on the Lighthouses of Michigan (Lake Michigan). These lights have guided ships to safe harbors for more than a century and a half.

  • Learn more about Lighthouses here!

  • Enjoy a storytime about Lighthouses here!

Lighthouses of Michigan
(and the Great Lakes)

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Do you know the history of the colors in your world? All the tints, hues, dyes, and shades of the colors around you can be traced back to a specific point in history - and the stories they tell are amazing! This Illustrated Lecture will share with you the powerful - and colorful! - history of color.

  • A Suggested Reading List is available here

Every Color Has a Story:

History on the Palette


Have you ever found yourself wondering what Laura Ingalls Wilder actually wore during her time on the prairie? If you imagine a parade of calico dresses capped with a pink sunbonnet over braided pigtails cascading down her back, you might want to rethink that. Don’t fret, though – this program is here to help! This Illustrated Lecture dives into the historic terms
of clothing, how Mrs. Wilder used them (correctly or incorrectly) when writing books in the 1930s
and 1940s, and some detailed photos of original items. You will also learn all the steps it takes to get
into costumes like the ones the Ingalls and Wilder ladies wore.

  • See a clip of this lecture here

  • Learn more about Laura Ingalls Wilder here

Little Fashionista on the Prairie


On the eve of Halloween 1938, a young actor/director broadcast a radio drama based on a 40-year-old novel: The War of the Worlds. While the original broadcast had a relatively low audience, the impact it had, and continues to have,on American culture is staggering. But how much of that impact was reality, and how much has been exaggerated over the years? Were there riots in the streets from panicked listeners, or did most of the audience simply enjoy a well-done piece of theatre? Did Orson Welles know he would frighten listeners, or was this an unintended accident?

A Look Behind Orson Welles’

“War of the Worlds” Broadcast

  • View a trailer for this lecture here!


Today the name Hershey is synonymous with quality milk chocolate. But that wasn't always the case. Milton S. Hershey worked hard and failed often before his chocolate company was finally successful. And when he did become a household name and had earned a vast fortune, Milton and his wife Catherine decided to give it all away. Because of their generosity, tens of thousands of orphans have been saved, protected, and educated.

  • Learn more about Hershey here!

  • View a trailer for this lecture here!

The History of the Hershey

Chocolate Company


Many folks know that our modern-day Santa Claus had his start as St. Nicholas, but what happened on the journey to make us think of a "jolly old elf" rather than a pious Christian bishop? Where, exactly, did Santa Claus come from, and why does his popularity remain so high in modern American popular culture? This Illustrated Lecture is well-researched, with details on the journey Bishop Nicholas made to become our current-day Santa Claus. It also includes many recognizable images and poems.

  • View a trailer for this lecture here!

The History and Folklore

of Santa Claus

The Outer Banks of North Carolina have been
called "The Graveyard of the Atlantic" because of their centuries of shipwrecks and disasters. This Illustrated Lecture will share not just the history, but also the beauty of the lighthouses that guard
the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

  • Learn more about Lighthouses here!

  • Enjoy a storytime about Lighthouses here!

  • View a trailer for this lecture here!

Lighthouses of the Outer

Banks of North Carolina


In this Illustrated Lecture, librarian and actress Laura Keyes shares how she researches and prepares her
portrayal of Mrs. Lincoln in an entertaining and educational program. She will describe how she
started this hobby, where she conducts her research and purchases her supplies, and just how she
deals with the elaborate period clothing. Throughout the Midwest, Laura’s meticulously researched
performances have received wonderful reviews.

Becoming Mrs. Lincoln :

The Difficulties and Rewards of Portraying an Historical Figure

  • View a clip of this lecture here!

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