Lecture Series

The Wright Museum would like to thank Ron Goodgame
and Donna Canney for sponsoring the 2018 Educational Programming.

Admission is $8.00 per person for non-members and $3.00 for Wright Museum members, unless otherwise noted.

Because of limited seating, we strongly encourage you to make reservations by calling 603-569-1212.

Most programs begin at 7:00 p.m. and take place at the Museum, unless noted otherwise.

The Museum’s doors open one hour before the program begins.

Tuesday, May 8, from 7:00 – 8:00 pm
The Grand Army of the Republic Hall
Lecture by Dexter A. Bishop
The General Frederick W. Lander Post No. 5, Grand Army of the Republic is a historic building located at 58 Andrew Street in Lynn, Massachusetts. Built in 1885 by members of the Grand Army of the Republic, the hall serves as a memorial to the Union Army veterans of the Civil War. It was one of many such halls built in the country. On May 7, 1979, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places. See many Civil War artifacts and pictures and hear histories of the New Hampshire veterans who belonged to the Post.

Dexter Bishop is a retired Criminal Tax Fraud Investigator for the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, and is actively involved in The Grand Army of the Republic Hall.

Tuesday, May 15, from 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Songs and Stories of WWII
Presented by Curt Bessette and Jenn Kurtz

Curt Bessette and Jenn Kurtz honor World War II veterans and their generation through stories and Curt’s original songs, and present the historical background of each story or song. The duo also pays tribute to veterans from all wars and provides a memorabilia table.

Curt Bessett is an award-winning songwriter and guitarist who has performed across the country. Jenn Kurtz is a respected harmony singer.

Tuesday, May 22, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
FDR Speaks about The Home Front
Impersonation by actor Gary Stamm
The American home front in World War II was just as important as the battles fought on the war front in Europe, Russia, and the Pacific. The men, women, and children on the home front supported the war effort in many ways: by volunteering, participating in government-mandated rationing and price controls, and by purchasing war bonds. The film industry in Hollywood churned out movies and cartoons to support the war effort. The war also affected the role of women and minorities as women took over “men’s” jobs and African-Americans, Native Americans, and other minority groups served in the armed forces.

Join us as Franklin Delano Roosevelt, our thirty-second President, recounts these and other incredible changes our nation went through between 1941 and 1945 and helps us understand how those five years shaped the country we live in today.

Gary Stamm’s career spans more than forty years in theater, radio, television, and other media. He wrote, directed, and did voice-over work for Hanna-Barbara Productions in Hollywood. Gary also is a voice impersonator and currently tours as Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Tuesday, May 29, from 6:30-8:00 pm
Only a Number, a documentary film by Steve Besserman; introduced by the filmmaker
NOTE: This program will be held in the Wolfeboro Town Hall’s Great Hall and begins at 6:30. Doors open at 6:00pm

Only a Number: A Love Story Amidst the Holocaust.  Separated by barbed wire and without the aid of a common language, Aranka and Josef fell in love at Auschwitz. Ravaged by torture, starvation and brutality they gave each other the strength to survive their final weeks in captivity and slavery, as their Nazi captors worked to “destroy the evidence,” including them. Only a Number tells their story through their son Steven’s journey of discovery.

Steven Besserman holds a BA in Communication Arts and Sciences from Queens College of the City University of New York, with a concentration in television and film. Steven serves on the Advisory Commission of the Mercer County Holocaust & Genocide Resource Center. Winner of Jury Awards for Best Documentary Feature, Only A Number has been an official selection at several US and international film festivals. Broadcast on PBS stations across the US, it is being used by educators with the recommendation of the New Jersey Commission on Holocaust Education.

Tuesday, June 5, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
A lecture and book signing by the author Titia Bozuwa

Tuesday, June 12, from 7:00 – 8:00pm     
My Father’s War: Memories from Our Honored WWII Soldiers 
Lecture and book signing by author Charley Valera

In this stirring collection of first-person narratives by WWII veterans, readers learn how young, ordinary people from modest backgrounds became soldiers. Far from home and fighting nasty battles that ranged from dropping bombs to hand-to-hand combat–even fistfights, they did what it took to win a war.
Charley writes articles and blogs for various media on topics from real estate to aviation. He is a licensed commercial pilot, realtor, author, public speaker, father of two boys and husband to Cheryl.
We all know someone who was there, in World War II–probably a close relative, such as a father, brother, uncle, or grandparent. Most of us have hardly heard their stories about their young war years. But this was such an important life-changer, with certain death and torture on the line every day–waking up every morning for days and years without their families close by, constant battles going on, and amazing destruction. It was for us they fought, so we should know their stories.

Tuesday, June 19, from 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Women War Correspondents of WWII, a lecture by Linda Shenton Matchett

Fighting stereotype and rules designed to prevent them from covering combat, more than 125 women earned the coveted designation as certified correspondent. The grit and gumption of these women enabled them to provide eyewitness accounts to the harrowing events of WWII. Listen to their stories.

Linda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, blogger, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life from Edison, New Jersey to Washington, DC and Wolfeboro, NH. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a Trustee for the Wolfeboro Public Library. 

Tuesday, July 3, from 7:00 – 8:00pm            
The Black Suitcase Mystery – A WWII Remembrance
Lecture and book signing by author Gail Elliot (Thomas) Downs

Acquiring a battered black suitcase in 1991, Gail Elliott Downs and her fifth-grade students solved the mysteries it held. Containing more than 200 letters written over fifteen years, it includes the first-hand account of the missions flown by NH resident George Elliott Rich and his B-24 Liberator crew.
Gail Elliott (Thomas) Downs is a retired elementary school educator with thirty-seven years’ experience as a classroom teacher, reading specialist and school librarian. Growing up in an Army family, she became an Army wife. Gail currently resides on the Oregon Coast.
Tuesday, July 17, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Code Burgundy, The Long Escape by John Katsaros
A lecture and book signing by the author

John Katsaros tells the true story of his perilous months-long escape from the Gestapo after his B-17 bomber was shot down over France while returning to England from a bombing run in Germany. Despite multiple wounds in his right arm, Katsaros helped his crewmates bail out before jumping out at 27,000 feet. He cracked six ribs and shattered both ankles on landing. The Gestapo captured him twice, and he escaped both times. He spent three months in hiding and being nursed back to health by a Jewish doctor. Named “Code Burgundy,” he worked with the French Underground while he was recuperating. When he recovered, Katsaros made the difficult journey across the Pyrenees into Spain carrying vital information from the Resistance. Because the information was classified, Katsaros had to sign a secrecy statement. When the information was declassified recently, he could finally tell his wife about what he had done.

John Katsaros received numerous awards and recognition for his service, including France’s Legion of Honor. Katsaros still lives in his home town of Haverhill, Massachusetts, and shares his experiences whenever he has the opportunity.

Tuesday, July 24, from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m.
Screening of the 2016 Film Underfire: The Untold Story of PFC. Tony Vaccaro
Note: Because the documentary is 77 minutes long, this program starts at 6:30 p.m.  Doors open at 5:30 p.m.

Using a $47 camera and developing the negatives in his helmet at night, WWII infantryman Tony Vaccaro created one of the most comprehensive, haunting, and intimate photographic records of combat from the front lines where he shot 8,000 photos. Returning to the U.S. in 1950, Tony started his career as a commercial photographer, eventually working for virtually every major publication including: Look, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, and Newsweek. Tony, who is now 95, went on to become one of the most sought-after photographers of his day. In this film Tony shares his unique World War II story and his photographs.

Underfire was directed by Max Lewkowica. The Executive Producer is Tim Van Patten (director of Game of Thrones, Sopranos, and Boardwalk Empire).

Tuesday, July 31, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The Seoul Exception: The United States’ Decision to Fight in Korea
Lecture by Professor Kurk Dorsey

When North Korea invaded South Korea in June 1950, its leaders did not expect the United States to come to South Korea’s defense. Most Americans didn’t expect that either. But in a surprising move, President Truman reversed two years of policy and responded to the invasion with force to preserve South Korea’s independence. In this illustrated lecture, Kurk Dorsey discusses how Truman made the unlikely decision that the defense of South Korea was vital to the United States.

Kurk Dorsey has taught History at the University of New Hampshire since 1994.

Tuesday, August 7, from 7:00 – 8:00 pm
The Longest Winter, a lecture and book signing by the author Alex Kershaw

On the morning of December 16, 1944, eighteen men of the 99th Infantry Division’s Intelligence and Reconnaissance platoon found themselves directly in the path of Hitler’s massive Ardennes offensive. Despite being vastly outnumbered, they were told to hold their position “at all costs.” Throughout the day, the platoon repulsed three German assaults in a fierce day-long battle, killing hundreds of German soldiers. Only after running out of ammunition did they surrender. But their long winter was just beginning as prisoners in Hitler’s brutal POW camps.

An honorary colonel in the 116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Division, Alex Kershaw is the author of several best-selling books about WWII, including The Bedford Boys, The Longest Winter, The Few, Escape from the Deep, and The Envoy, as well as biographies of Jack London and Robert Capa. His latest book is Avenue of Spies.

Tuesday, August 14, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Top Secret Rosies, The Female “Computers” of WWII
A 2010 documentary film presented by Producer/Director LeAnn Erickson
NOTE: This program will be held in the Wolfeboro Town Hall’s Great Hall. Doors open at 6:30 p.m.

In 1942, a secret US military program was launched to recruit female mathematicians who would become human “computers” for the Army. These women worked round-the-clock shifts creating ballistics tables for every weapon in the US arsenal. Rosie made the weapons, but the female computers made them accurate. When the first computer was developed to aid the calculation efforts, six women became its first programmers. Their work was crucial to allied victory, but it also carried a moral weight – reconciling the issue of ending a world war with the recognition that their computations made every Allied bomb and gun more deadly.

Temple University Professor LeAnn Erickson has been an independent filmmaker for over 25 years. Her award-winning work has appeared on television and in galleries.

Tuesday, August 21, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Once Adrift on the Wind: World War I Poison Gas and Its Legacy
A lecture by Marion Girard Dorsey

Poison gas emerged onto the battlefield in World War I, and the belligerents on the Western Front used it in increasingly sophisticated ways and in growing amounts over the course of the conflict. Poison Gas had a physical and mental impact on the soldiers in the trenches as well as on the politicians and other civilians on the home front. Because of these experiences, poison gas lived on in the minds of the people involved in the war and influenced their actions after the Armistice. Molly Dorsey explains how World War I shaped people’s perceptions of poison gas and the gas’s legacy once it was allowed to drift on the wind during the war.

Molly Dorsey is an associate professor of History and a core faculty member in Justice Studies at the University of New Hampshire. She earned her BA at Stanford in History and Human Biology, a JD at Harvard, and a PhD in History at Yale. Her book A Strange and Formidable Weapon: British Responses to World War I Poison Gas is published under the name Marion Dorsey.

Tuesday, September 4, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
Documentary film Survivors of Malmedy: December 1944
By filmmaker Tim Gray; narrated by Jason Beghe, star of NBC’s Chicago P.D.

Survivors of Malmedy: December 1944 tells the story of the World War II massacre of American soldiers in Malmedy, Belgium on December 17, 1944, during the opening days of the Battle of the Bulge. After a short battle, over 130 American GI’s were taken prisoner just outside Malmedy and herded into a field by a German SS division led by one of the Nazi’s most brutal commanders. The Germans gunned down the unarmed American in the largest single massacre of American troops in WWII.

Tim Gray is a national award-winning documentary film director, producer, and writer based in Rhode Island. Tim has produced and directed 20 documentary films on the personal stories of the World War II generation.

September 11, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
The Portsmouth Naval Prison
Author lecture and book signing by Katy Kramer

The Portsmouth Naval Prison, now vacant, sits at the far end of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on Seavey Island on the Maine and New Hampshire border. For over a century, “the Castle” or “the Rock,” with its deceptively appealing exterior, has kept both visitors and New Hampshire residents in its thrall. Since its opening in 1908 to its decommissioning in 1974 and into the present day, myth and lore have surrounded this iconic building. Routine inside often reflected the latest advancements in the criminal justice field. Yet, designed or deserved, the prison’s legacy remains an intriguing mix of dread and redemption.

The dearth of information about the prison not far from her home kept author Katy Kramer researching the facility for over a decade. Currently freelancing and teaching college composition, she has written features for magazines, university publications, and local newspapers.

Tuesday, September 18, from 7:00 – 8:00pm
Conflicts in the Middle East, and International Security
Lecture by Mohamed Defaa

Since 1979 wars in the Middle East have cost billions of dollars and caused more than one million casualties. Conflicts were exported to other countries in Africa and Asia, and movements like Al-Qaida and ISS made it their Jihadi duty to bring the fight to the European and North American capitals. Mohamed Defaa will talk about the historical, sociocultural, and religious background of these conflicts and the threat they represent to international.

Mohamed Defaa is certified by the International Center for Educational and Cultural Consulting in Lyon, France. He earned an MA in Communication and Expression at the University Mohamed V in Rabat, Morocco, and a BA in French Language and Literature from the University Ibn Tofail in Kénitra, Morocco.

Tuesday, September 25, from 7:00 – 8:00pm
World War I and “The Great Migration”
Lecture by Professor Sarah Batterson

“The Great Migration” occurred during World War I when men and women migrated to industrial cities to search for military jobs which were in high demand. Many of these migrants were African-Americans who wanted to escape from being share croppers, a farming method that kept them in an endless cycle of debt. The migrants encountered discrimination: denial of services in the districts where they lived, violence, rejection by Northern blacks, and overcrowding in black ghettos. Yet the migrants’ cultural influence impacted cities, music, art, entertainment, civil rights, culture, and the meaning of what it is to be American.

Sarah Batterson holds a Ph.D. in American history from the University of New Hampshire. She has taught many courses on 19th-and 20th-century racial and cultural history.

Tuesday, October 2 from 7:00 – 8:00pm
“Rally ‘Round the Flag” Civil War show, Songs from the Civil War:  A musical look at the politics, personalities, and perspectives that remade a nation in the Civil War era.

Combining documents and visual images from primary sources with camp songs, parlor music, hymns, battlefield rallying cries, and fiddle tunes, the Hardtacks examine the folksong as a means to enact living history, share perspectives, influence public perceptions of events, and simultaneously fuse and conserve cultures in times of change. Audience members are encouraged to participate.

The Hardtacks formed in 2012 to present folk music of the Civil War era for the NH Humanities’ “Humanities To Go” programs. They perform at libraries, historical societies, schools, encampments, and other events. Their wide-ranging programs take inspiration from the participatory culture of the Lyceum movement and 19th century folk traditions, engaging audiences in immersive explorations of history as a sung, spoken, and lived experience.

Audience members participate and sing along in an engaging, exploratory forum as the Hardtacks bring new life to lyrics, documents, and visual images from primary sources. Through camp songs, parlor music, hymns, battlefield rallying cries, and fiddle tunes, they examine the folksong as a means to enact living history, share perspectives, influence public perceptions of events, and simultaneously fuse and conserve cultures in times of change. This dynamic and engaging session features instruments such as banjo, fiddle, dulcimer, accordion, whistle, and guitar, and challenges participants to find new connections between song, art, and politics in American history.

Tuesday, October 9, from 7:00 – 8:00 p.m.
WWII-Era Documentary Films
Lecture by Professor Thomas Jackson

Independent documentary filmmaker Tom Jackson will speak about World War II-era documentary films, focusing on how they influenced subsequent and contemporary American filmmakers. FDR, Stalin, and Hitler recognized early that this new medium of documentary film, along with news reels, were potentially very powerful communication tools. Jackson will show brief segments from classic documentaries and will discuss the stylistic and technical influences that are still used in many productions.

Professor Jackson has traveled to Iraq, Afghanistan, and other war zones, while working in various capacities on
documentaries. In addition to ongoing documentary production, he teaches documentary film-related courses in the Communication Department at the University of New Hampshire.

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May 1 – October 31st
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About the Wright Museum

For two decades, the 501(c)(3) Wright Museum has educated, entertained and inspired nearly 300,000 national and international visitors.