Lincoln Exhibit: Avon Library One of Only a Few Connecticut Stops

The Avon Free Public Library will host national traveling exhibit 'Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War' from Dec. 15 to Feb. 3, along with related programming and displays.

Avon is abuzz with Abraham Lincoln fever in anticipation of national traveling exhibit Lincoln: The Constitution and the Civil War opening at the Avon Free Public Library on Dec. 15.

There has been a lot of renewed national interest lately in our 16th president – in part because of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War last year and the release mid-November of Stephen Spielberg's Lincoln film. With all the excitement, library staff decided to go all out.

“We’re one of the only library stops in Connecticut this year," Tina Panik, the library's circulation and public services manager, said. "This is a unique thing for Avon to be offering."

The National Constitution Center in Philadelphia, PA and American Library Association Public Programs Office in Chicago, IL are behind the exhibit, which is "made possible by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities," according to a press release from the Avon Historical Society.

“We’re very excited that we’re able to do this for our community," said Panik, who is collaborating with Avon Reference Librarian Patrice Celli on project planning. "We’ve found we have a great audience that loves this topic."

It will also draw in a new audience to the library, she said.

"They (library patrons) are interested in him as a man and how he has handled the pressure politically and personally," Panik said.

Once the exhibit is shipped to the library, Avon Public Works Department employees will begin to help assemble the panels for the exhibit on Dec. 12  and set it up in the Community Room. Panik said that the panels feature text and images on three major themes – divided ("are we a single nation?"), bound ("can slavery be uprooted") and dissent ("must civil liberties give way?"), according to a flyer about the exhibit.

Panik and Celli will also put together an art gallery for the hallways leading to the exhibit that includes images and copies of documents from the time period and quotes. The gallery, Words and Images of the Civil War, will be on display starting Jan. 12.

Three major lectures, two dramatic events on Lincoln and several related films will compliment the exhibit. Avon resident Mary Good will be at the lectures to do sign language interpretation.

Prior to the opening, the library is offering a Constitution 101 lecture on the U.S. Constitution at 7 p.m. in the library's community room on Dec. 4. The Consitution has been challenged a lot throughout history, so Panik said that "the "the idea of our rights, what’s protected and what’s not and how our American identity was formed" generates "a lot of interest."

The Avon Historical Society is partnering with the library on creating events to compliment the Lincoln exhibit, including developing a Lincoln and Connecticut display for the Marian Hunter History Room glass case.

Lincoln made many visits to Connecticut "before and after his elections," Avon Historical Society President Terri Wilson wrote in an email to Patch. A majority of Avon residents voted for Lincoln in the two elections he ran for office, according to a press release from the historical society. Lincoln and Connecticut will focus on that and other Connecticut ties like his speaking tours in the state, Connecticut Civil War regiments and his choice of a Connecticut man's Spencer rifle for the Union Army, the press release stated.

History Room volunteers will also set up "displays surrounding the life of Lincoln, his family, their pets and a display of the White House dining room table of 1861" in the room, Wilson said.

Library staff members are enjoying "accomplishment" and "the recognition" in hosting the exhibit and earning the national award, Panik said. She and Celli like "connecting people to ideas" through their work at the library, she said. 

“We’re bringing all of the ideals behind libraries into actual fruition for this exhibit," Panik said.

There is no charge for people to see the Lincoln exhibit or attend any of the associated programs and events.

 Scheduled events:

  • Dec. 15, 1 p.m.: The opening of the Lincoln exhibit includes a lecture by Dr. Matthew Warshauer, of Central Connecticut State University, a guided tour with music and a wine and cheese reception hosted by the Friends of the Avon Library.
  • Dec. 18, 1:30 p.m.: A showing of PBS documentary The Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
  • Dec. 20, 1 p.m.: Bill Mellow presents a program on “Hinks’ Mess” and the Civil War Union Cook
  • Dec. 27, 1:30 p.m.: A showing of the movie, Young Mr. Lincoln
  • Jan. 3, 2013, 1:30 pm: A showing of the movie, Shenandoah
  • Jan. 5, 2013, 1 p.m.: Dr. Paul Alan Cimbala, professor of history at Fordham University leads a lecture on emancipation
  • Jan. 8, 2013, 1:30 pm: A showing of  PBS documentary Underground Railroad: William Still Story
  • Jan. 12, 2013, 1pm: Stephanie Jackson will lead a one-hour dramatic event called, “They Call Me Lizzy: From Slavery to the White House.”
  • Jan. 15, 2013, 1:30 pm: A showing of PBS documentary The Massachusetts 54th Colored Infantry
  •  Jan. 17, 2013, 1:30 pm: A showing of the movie, Horse Soldiers
  • Jan. 26, 2013, 1 p.m.: The Honorable Douglas S. Lavine, a Connecticut appellate judge will lead a lecture on civil liberties during the Civil War.
  • Jan. 29, 2013, 1:30 pm: A showing of PBS documentary Death and the Civil War
  • Jan. 31, 2013, 1:30 pm: A showing of the movie, The Conspirator
  • Feb. 2, 2013, 1 p.m.: Carol Deleppo will perform a one-woman show “Meet Mary Todd Lincoln!“ The Avon Historical Society is co-sponsoring the event.
Paul Bahre November 29, 2012 at 03:07 AM
Andrew, I beg to differ, if it were not for Lincoln at the very least we would need to get our passports checked to vacation in Florida. He kept this country together when many people on both sides of the conflict felt it was not worth it. He freed the slaves through both the imancipation proclamation and through the 13 admendment. President Lincoln and other Republicans were concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which in 1863 declared the freedom of slaves in ten Confederate states then in rebellion, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was solely based on Lincoln's war powers. The Proclamation did not free any slaves in the border states nor itself make slavery illegal. (by Gordon Leidner of Great American History) If I were you I would stop quoting popular revisionist and extremist history and look up the facts. Lincoln was in fact the right man for the job at the right time. It took him another 2 years to find a general willing to do what it took on the battle field. If you felt the civil war and Lincoln's efforts were not worth it maybe you ought to move to some other country that is more to your liking because the CSA is no longer a viable entity. And if you think Lincoln was a racist, what was Jeff Davis? A man that wanted to resurrect the African Slave trade? The resurrection of the African slave trade was the real reason the South tried their treasonous hand at succession.
Andrew Ziemba November 29, 2012 at 12:24 PM
Well you can claim to know history, but if you look at the facts, then you are ignoring severe actions taken by Lincoln. It paints a story that was absolutely never told in history class... At least not anywhere I knew. Nobody taught my peers or I about how he imprisoned northern war dissenters, suspending habeas corpus for the country's security and unity (hmmm where have we heard this before). Or silenced opposition newspapers...Suspending the first amendment... There was outrage when Japanese were put into internment camps during WW2, but even this story was played down quite significantly by most history teachers I have ever come across. After all, we always need to lose liberty to protect security...right? Examples like these are what tyrants, dictators, and totalitarian societies do. These should not be American principles. They are not supposed to be American principles. But why have they become such? For the same reason that we teach our children PG fairy tale history. Because that is the way that those who are in power want it to be. Those who in power do not want an educated, informed society capable of critical thinking skills or understanding how and why they are part of a collective otherwise known as the human farm of the Unites States Of America
Andrew Ziemba November 29, 2012 at 12:34 PM
It has been said that truth is treason in the empire of lies. Well clearly the truth is viewed as treason by modern society. Speaking or writing the truth even about something as simple as how Lincoln behaved as a monster can be met with far greater resistance than you are putting up. This is always the case with people who do not accept all sides of the story. You can say that his actions brought an end to slavery, but was slavery why the war was fought? Like most monstrous dictators through history, they are generally very evil, but not very dumb. Bush did not invade Iraq because he thought there were WMD. Bush accomplished more for his NWO pals than many presidents before him. He had an agenda and he accomplished many of his goals. He was a very sick and evil man, but he was smarter than many even still believe. History shows us that America "won" WW2 and WW1. The end result was a bunch of weakened countries, allowing America to flourish better than others, further propping us up as a global superpower. We did not go to war to boost our economy by crushing everyone else's... It was just the end result. The Civil War had nothing to do with slavery, but ending slavery was an eventual end result of the war. Slavery ended basically in every single other country without a war. It was on it's way out. Most importantly though, succession is an American principle. States are supposed to have those rights. Apparently you do not believe so.
Andrew Ziemba November 29, 2012 at 12:47 PM
Ultimately though, it comes down to this. Will you accept history as it is, or will you try to continue telling a story that is false in order to prop up false heroes and a bogus story? To this day children are still taught that we had thanksgiving with "indians" who loved us and coddled us and shared everything with us because they liked us. The truth as you should know, is that we violently raped and pillaged entire tribes to death. While most death was caused by diseases brought by the "old world", it should be clear that the vast majority of settlers viewed them as sub human savages. History should be taught in schools so that we don't repeat it. We have failed even as recently as Bush 1 with the FDA, Clinton with the gulf war, Bush 2 with 9/11, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and Obama with the continuation of all of Bush's policies. Obamacare, the continuation of wars, and the complete removal of civil liberties. The expansion of wars fought by military contractors, drones, and handing government power to the UN. History should always be taught honestly and openly, and should never be silenced. Thankfully, those who seek the truth, cherish freedom, and respect other people regardless of their color, gender, orientation, or nationality will continue to remember the truth, read and learn from the past, and march on telling the truth regardless of how few want to believe it.
Paul Bahre November 29, 2012 at 01:01 PM
Well Lincoln did extend his war powers a bit too far as other presidents have done prior and since. Those have been noted and we move forward. As for state succeeding only Texas had the right and I say had because they excercised that right during the civil war. Then the re petitioned to rejoin the Union after the civil war and so they no longer have that right. As for the other States they know now the line of states rights is succession. And remember the South was not attacked until they attacked first at Fort Sumter. Lincoln did not come into office fraudulently, he was elected. He did not start the war, he inherited it from a weak and ineffective administration or succession of administrations before him. In a sense the war was brewing since the English civil war. This was the last battles between the Cavalier South and the Puritan North and I guess the Puritans won. The civil war was the real true American revolution finally killing off a society based on class and race once and for all. You can believe what you want and yes there were great civil liberties violated on both side but get real, we are all American's for better or for worse and we all now have a one true identity, American. If you don't like it find another spot on the planet that suits you better.


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