Historical Society to Present “The Chautauqua Movement and Frank Beard”


On Monday, March 11, the North Manchester Historical Society hosts Manchester University Professor Thelma Rohrer, who will present a Powerpoint program on the Chautauqua movement in the United States, and the contributions to that movement by artist and minister Frank Beard.  The program will take place in the Assembly Room at Timbercrest Senior Living Community at 6:40 p.m.


Are you curious about that strange name, Chautauqua?  Chautauqua began as an educational summer camp for families on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in western New York State.  Originally set up as a vacation learning experience for Sunday School teachers, the gatherings grew rapidly in popularity and soon included lectures, music, physical education, politics and current events as well as preaching and worship.  “Tent” or “circuit” Chautauquas traveled throughout the United States and several hundred “daughter Chautauquas” were set up in communities throughout the U.S.  The most distinguished speakers and lecturers of the time toured with the movement.  One popular speaker was Frank Beard, famous for his educational Chalk Talks.  


The Chautauqua Institution continues today, where about 7,500 people attend daily, and over 140,000 visitors benefit from their 9-week summer program.  The origins of popular programs such as Elderhostel and Road Scholars can be traced to the Chautauqua movement.


Professor Rohrer is Chair of the Department of Art at Manchester University, Director of the Honors Program, and Director of International Studies and Academic Enrichment.  She has an extensive list of research and teaching experiences.  Rohrer is in charge of study abroad opportunities and encourages students to “Study art.  Explore the world!”  She became interested in Chautauqua while writing about the artist Frank Beard for the American National Biography and the Ohio Artists Project, which led her to research sites including Chautauqua, NY. 


The public is also invited to come to the Assembly Room at 6 p.m. for a meal prior to the meeting.  For those who wish to attend the dinner, reservations must be made no later than noon on Friday, February 8.  The cost of the meal is $8.50.  Reservations may be made by calling Mary at 260-982-1813 or Evelyn at 260-982-6777.  There is no cost for the program, which is free to the public.  All are welcome.