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Designed and taught by Christina Lea Smith, this four-week history reading program highlights different events in the 19th century American history.

This reading program is unique in that you are not required to read an entire book.  Instead, the group will focus on articles and/or book chapters written by academic and research historians to delve deeper into that moment in history.   By promoting reading and collaboration, this program hopes to introduce its participants to new aspects and perspectives on history.

How it works:

  • Sign up at the Danvers Public Library
  • The articles will be provided for you at the library
  • Attend the program to discuss the article with the group
  • Enjoy cookies and coffee


About Christina:

Christina Lea Smith received her masters degree in history from Illinois State University in 2015.  Her thesis on Confederate nationalism was the recipient of the James C. Bonner Award for best masters thesis in Georgia History 2015.  She is currently pursuing her masters degree in library and information science at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.  Christina has been teaching American History classes at several colleges across Illinois for years.  She also serves on the Danvers Township Library Board.

Fridays 10:30 am – 11:30 am

Friday 2/9

Topic: John Brown

Reading Material: James West Davidson and Mark Lytle, eds. After the Fact: The Art of Historical Detection, 6th Edition, “The Madness of John Brown” (2010), 148-170.

Friday 2/16

Topic: The murder of Francis Scott Key’s son, Philip Barton Key, by Daniel Sickles, the soon to be political general of the civil war.

Reading Material: Allen D Speigel and Peter B Suskind, “Uncontrollable Frenzy and a Unique Temporary Insanity Plea,” Journal of Community Health, Vol. 25, No. 2 (April 2000): 157-179.

Friday 2/23

Topic: The logistics of moving armies in the Civil War.

Reading Material: Edward Hagerman, “Field Transportation and Strategic Mobility in the Union Armies, ” Civil War History, Vol. 34, No. 2 (June 1988): 143-171

Friday 3/9

Topic: Robert E Lee’s Arlington House and the creation of Arlington National Cemetery

Reading Material:  Anthony J. Gaughan, “The Arlington Cemetery Case: A Court and a Nation Divided, ” Journal of the Supreme Court House, Vol. 37, No. 1 (2012): 1-21.

Friday 3/16

Topic: The American West and Civil War soldiers

Reading Material: James M. Barter, “Nothing but the Sky Overhead and the Prairie Underfoot: Civil War Soldiers on the Frontier, ” Military History of the West, Vol. 43: 1-27.