March 2021 Wit and Wisdom

Presented by Jo Radner

Wit and Wisdom: Humor in 19th Century New England

A New Hampshire Humanities event hosted by
New Ipswich Historical Society



Whatever did New Englanders do on long winter evenings before cable, satellite and the internet? In the decades before and after the Civil War, our rural ancestors used to create neighborhood events to improve their minds. Community members male and female would compose and read aloud homegrown, handwritten literary “newspapers” full of keen verbal wit. Sometimes serious, sometimes sentimental but mostly very funny, these “newspapers” were common in villages across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont and revealed the hopes, fears, humor and surprisingly daring behavior of our forebears. Educator, author, and storyteller, Jo Radner shares excerpts from her forthcoming book about hundreds of these “newspapers” and provides examples from villages in your region.

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