Upcoming Meetings 2021


September 13, 2021 – “Daily Life in the “U.S. Life Saving Service” Along the Coast of New England in the 19th Century” – Virtual Meeting

Presentation by Dennis Picard

Faced with the loss of the lives of crew and passengers of grounded or wrecked ships the Federal government, in 1879, established and supported an organization called the United States Life Saving Service. This organization designed, built and manned life-saving stations on all the U.S. coastlines including those of the Great Lakes. The daily duties at these buildings were supervised by the station keeper and carried out by individuals called “surfmen.” Come hear about their daily routines as well as some of their stories of lifesaving on the New England coast. Learn about some of their tools, including the critically important Lyle gun, the Coston signal rocket and the unsinkable surfboats.

Dennis D. Picard has been a museum professional in the living history field for forty years. He began his career in 1978 at Old Sturbridge Village, Sturbridge, Massachusetts, and spent twelve years filling various positions including lead interpreter, where he researched and designed many public programs which are still offered by that institution today. He also served on the staff of Hancock Shaker Village as a historic trade craftsman and site interpreter.

During the 2017-2019 academic years Picard taught Museum Studies & Historic Site Interpretation at Westfield State University in Massachusetts. He is also the President of the Board of Directors of the Pioneer Valley History Network. He serves as a member of the editorial board of the Country School Journal and grants committee of the Country School Association of America.


September 28, 2021 – Irish History II – Virtual Meeting

Presentation by Thomas Toohey

The second Irish history lecture covers the time span to from the Flight of the Earls to the beginning of the great famine. Some of the major events during this time period include The Rebellion of 1841, Cromwell’s invasion, The Battle of the Boyne and the penal laws, the rebellion of 1798 and Catholic Emancipation. This lecture ends with the death of Daniel O’Connell and the beginnings of the great famine.

Tom Toohey is a modern day Irish storyteller who has traveled to Ireland 19 times and collected hundreds of stories. He comes to this tradition naturally as his parents were great storytellers. In the last few years Tom has recorded his family stories in a five volume book called Images of Other Lives. For 40 years Tom was a teacher. He taught all levels from elementary school through graduate school as a public school teacher, adjunct professor and educational consultant. Tom has a B.S. from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell and a M.M. from the University of Hartford.