Special Collections Events

Virtual Programming

Emily Dickinson in Song

Julie Stepanek sets Emily Dickinson's poems to music in this beautiful performance filmed during the Summer of 2020.

Upcoming Events

No upcoming events are currently scheduled.

Past Events

Secrets from the Archives: Some of the Things You Simply Don't Know about Mabel Loomis Todd

Sunday, December 15, 2019, 2:00 PM

Author Julie Dobrow returns to Amherst on the occasion of the paperback release of her mother/daughter biography, After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet. Dobrow spent several years plowing through almost 1000 boxes of materials that Mabel and her daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham, left behind. While she was able to reveal much about Mabel and Millicent's amazing lives in her book, Dobrow, a professor at Tufts University, says that there are many stories she wasn't able to include in her book. She'll tell some of those stories at an event co-sponsored by the Amherst Historical Society, Amherst Books, and the Jones Library. 

Location: Woodbury Room

Battle Dress: A Reading and Conversation with Northampton Poet Laureate Karen Skolfield

Tuesday, October 29, 2019, 6:00 PM

Karen Skolfield will read from her newly released book, Battle Dress: Poems, and lead a conversation about her work.

Location: Goodwin Room

A Day of Tears

Saturday, October 12, 2019, 2:30 PM

Laurie Maria Cabral has adapted Julius Lester's book, Day of Tears, for the stage and a full cast will perform a dramatic table reading. Lester's daughter, Lian Amaris, will provide an introduction and a reception will follow the performance. Items from the Julius Lester Papers will also be on display.

Location: Woodbury Room

Start and Keep Going: A Writing Workshop with Jena Schwartz

Tuesday, September 24, 2019, 6:30 PM

Do you love to write but have trouble getting started, or start and then struggle to keep going? Each of us carries so many stories and memories within, but we often resist writing because of fear that we're not good enough. This free workshop, led by local writing coach Jena Schwartz, will prompt you to put your pen to paper and bypass the inner critic! Guided by Jena, participants will have the opportunity to spend time writing, as well as to share and hear each other's words. Come discover the power of showing up without having to be "good." All are welcome!

Location: Goodwin Room

A Reading of Shanti Arts Authors

Thursday, September 12, 2019, 7:00 PM

Join us for a poetry reading by four Shanti Arts Authors: Justen Ahren, James B. Nicola, Karla Van Vliet, and Wally Swist. Shanti Arts founder Christine Cote will provide the introduction. The reading will take place in the Woodbury Room of The Jones Library. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

Location: Woodbury Room

Black Cats of Amherst: The Story of a World War I Ambulance Unit

Thursday, November 1, 2018, 7:00 PM

Jim Hamilton tells the story of the Black Cats of Amherst, a World War I ambulance unit in which his grandfather, Hugh Hamilton, served. Mr. Hamilton recently published a book about the unit that includes stories and photographs about these brave men. Copies of his book, The Black Cats of Amherst, will be available for purchase and signing.

Location: Woodbury Room

The Black Cats of Amherst by Jim Hamilton
Wool book cover

Wool: a book talk with Peggy Hart

Thursday, June 7, 2018, 6:30 PM
Join Peggy Hart as she talks about her new book, Wool: Unraveling an American Story of Artisans and Innovation. Keeping Americans warm for four centuries, wool has been an essential commodity from colonial times to the present. Local author Peggy Hart tells wool’s colorful and epic tale including how it has impacted millions of lives from inventors, immigrants, mill owners, millworkers, slaves, and Native Americans, to farmers and advertisers. Moving from handcraft to industrialization and back, Wool is a story of technological and social change, marketing forces, and our choices as consumers.
Location: Woodbury Room

80 Years Under Water: Quabbin Then and Now

Saturday, April 28, 2018, 10:30 AM
Join Shelley Small as she talks about the Swift River Valley Historical Society's efforts to preserve the artifacts, stories, and records of the lost towns of the Quabbin Valley. Then, nature photographer Dale Monette will bring to life the history and culture of people and their places in and around the Quabbin watershed through the juxtaposition of 1930s photographs with his own recent ones.
Location: Woodbury Room
Book cover for Sister to the Sioux by Elaine Goodale Eastman

Amherst Authors Book Club reads Sister to the Sioux by Elaine Goodale Eastman

Saturday, March 31, 2018, 10 AM
Join us for the inaugural meeting of the Amherst Authors Book Club. The book discussion will be facilitated by Theodore Sargent, author of The Life of Elaine Goodale Eastman. Copies of the book are available for the first 12 registrants. To register, call 413-259-3097, email specialcollections@joneslibrary.org, or stop by Special Collections. This program has been generously funded by the Friends of the Jones Library System.
Location: Special Collections Reading Room

An Evening with Wally Swist: Celebrating 30 Years of Creativity and Collaboration

Thursday, November 2, 2017, 7:00 PM - 8:30 PM
Join us for a reception honoring poet Wally Swist. Remarks will begin promptly at 7:15pm with an introduction by Henry Lyman. Wally Swist will read from 8 of his collections, including the recent books Candling the Eggs and The View of the River as well as the forthcoming The Map of Eternity.

Over the course of his career, Wally Swist has published over 30 books and chapbooks, including collaborating with David Breeden and Steven Schroeder on The Daodejing: A New Interpretation. The Jones Library began collecting Swist’s books in 1987 as part of its Amherst Authors Collection and his books and papers are now permanently housed in the Special Collections department.
Location: Goodwin Room

Henry Lyman introduces poet Wally Swist
Wally Swist reads his poems to the audience

Fashion in Fiction: Regency Fashion in Jane Austen's Day

Saturday, September 23, 2017, 2:00 PM - 3:30 PM
A delightful show-and-tell on the clothing of Regency England as reflected in Jane Austen's fiction. Includes dressing "Elizabeth Bennet' & 'Mr. Darcy,' and readings from Miss Austen's letters and novels. While dressed in authentic Regency attire, Ms. Carle gives a detailed overview of the clothing of the Regency Era, (early 1800s) for both gentlemen and ladies. Then Ms Carle shares excerpts from Austen's personal letters as well as passages from some of the novels, highlighting Miss Austen's use of clothing and fashion to define character & class, enhance story line, and develop plot points. Teens through adults will enjoy discovering just how important fashion was 200 years ago! Generously funded by the Friends of the Jones Library System.
Location: Woodbury Room

Sister City Pen-Pals!

Thursday, March 30, 2017, 4:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Kanegasaki, our sister city in Japan, commemorates its founding on April 1st. To celebrate, we'll be collecting letters and messages to send to the Iwate Prefecture Public Library. Everyone is invited to see gifts from Kanegasaki and other Japanese items from Special Collections and then create a message to send to our sister city.
Co-sponsored with the Kids Department.
Location: Woodbury Room
Letters to our Sister City
Gifts from Kanegasaki

Charles A. Eastman: Resistance through Story Telling exhibit opening

Thursday, November 3, 2016, 4:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Join us in Special Collections for the opening of a new exhibit, Charles A. Eastman: Resistance through Story Telling. Charles Eastman was a Santee Dakota physician, writer, and reformer. He lived on Belchertown Road in Amherst from 1903 until 1919 with his wife Elaine Goodale Eastman and their children. The exhibit was curated by Hampshire College student Onea Engel-Bradley and will be on display through the end of December.
Location: Special Collections Exhibit Room

How to Share Your Life Story and Dickinson Meadows exhibit

Saturday, October 1, 2016 at 2:00 PM
The program will begin at 2 pm with a workshop on writing and publishing your memoirs. The leaders are Kitty Axelson-Berry and Ali de Groot of Modern Memoirs and White Poppy Press. Exhibits and information on ways to discover and write about your house-story as part of your personal history will be presented by Ed Wilfert, Ruth Owen Jones, Dolores McCullough, and Sheila Rainford of Amherst Area Publications in collaboration with the Special Collections of the Jones Library System. Everyone listed above will be available to answer questions as you enjoy light refreshments and view the exhibits.
Location: Woodbury Room

PoetryMusic: "Where Words Meet Music"

Tuesday, September 27, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Join us for a unique evening of PoetryMusic:  "Where Words and Music Meet", with Colleen O'Brien, voice / cello and Chris Lee, vibes / percussion.
PoetryMusic is a chamber jazz duo dedicated to performing poems that have been set to music, music that has been set to poems, and music by some well known writers who were also accomplished composers.  This multi-media performance includes an accompanying slide presentation with each poem projected on the screen, along with photographic images, so that the audience can follow the written word with the poem being sung. Following the program, we open the floor up to questions, comments and discussion.
Location: Woodbury Room

Sherlock Holmes and the Adventure of the Speckled Band

Saturday, September 24, 2016 at 2:00 PM
The East Haddam (CT) Stage Company performs their production of a live-action ‘radio’ drama based on William Gillette’s original 1930 radio script. The program features sound effects, audience participation, and 4 actors portraying 7 characters. Producing Artistic Director Kandie Carle will introduce the show with a retrospective on Victorian superstar actor William Gillette and his creation of the quintessential Sherlock Holmes. Q & A to follow the show.
Location: Woodbury Room
Sherlock Holmes radio show cast

Re-Frame Your Gilty Pleasures: A Hands-on Gilding Workshop with Conservator Bill Myers

Saturday, June 4, 2016, 10:00 AM - 2:00 PM
Discover the art and history of the frame while learning the art of gilding. A selection of picture frames will be provided for you to adorn with gold, silver, or variegated leaf. Space is limited. Advance registration is recommended. To register or for more information, call 413-259-3097 or email specialcollections@joneslibrary.org.
This workshop has been generously sponsored by the Friends of the Jones Library System.
Location: Woodbury Room
Bill Myers demonstrates gilding at the frame workshop
Bill Myers demonstrates a decorative technique during the frame gilding workshop
Participants gilding at the frame workshop
Participants of the frame gilding workshop show off their frames

What the House Remembers: A Discussion of Three Poems by Robert Francis

Thursday, May 12, 2016 at 7:00 PM
Join us for an evening honoring the late Amherst poet, Robert Francis. The event will be led by poet and writer Wally Swist, a longstanding resident of Amherst, who paid weekly visits to Francis during the last three years of his life. Swist will read three poems and facilitate a discussion based upon questions provided by the Mass Poetry Common Threads Program.
Location: Special Collections Reading Room

David Grayson Revealed

Saturday, March 12, 2016 at 10:30 AM
David Grayson wrote articles and books about his simple, homesteading life in Western Massachusetts, in the tradition of “wandering, transcendent” males like Emerson and Thoreau. Under the pseudonym, Grayson received fan letters, had clubs dedicated to his writings and philosophy, and was impersonated by con men and eccentrics across the country. The question remains: Who was the real man behind David Grayson? Join us for a chance to solve this mystery!
Location: Special Collections Reading Room
During the game show segment of the program, the audience votes for the real David Grayson.
After the program, audience members view the Grayson exhibit.
Cyndi Harbeson introduces Nick Grabbe during "David Grayson Revealed"

Love Letters? Old-Fashioned Letter Writing

(for ages 11 and up)
Thursday, February 11, 2016, 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM
Using the Special Collections exhibit "Love and Courtship by Mail" as inspiration, we will be learning about the art of letter-writing and creating some of our own mail to send. This program will be led by Special Collections Curator Cynthia Harbeson and Mia Cabana and is designed for kids ages 11 and up. Register in the kids' room or at 413-259-3091 or kids@joneslibrary.org.
Special Collections Exhibit Room

Restoration Retrospective: Giving New Life to the Art at The Jones Library

Sunday, November 22, 2015, 2:00 PM - 4:00 PM

Join us for a reception celebrating the restoration of several paintings from the Library’s collection featuring remarks by conservators Joseph Matteis and William Myers and the unveiling of two recently conserved pieces: Banks of the Marne by Paul Peraire and the frame for J.G. Brown's Red Riding Hood.
Location: Woodbury Room

You can watch the video of this program if you missed it.

The Victorian Lady: Dressing from Corsets to Gloves

Saturday, November 7, 2015 at 1:30 PM
Kandie Carle presents a look at the fashion, life, and etiquette of the Victorian era. While dressing in actual vintage and authentically reproduced undergarments, clothing and accessories, Kandie Carle adds humor, history and intriguing anecdotes about fashion, home life and etiquette of men and women during this era. During this entertaining and educational program, we will enjoy a refreshing view of a magnificent era in history. An original Emily Dickinson poem will also be on display.
Location: Woodbury Room
Kandie Carle, "The Victorian Lady," at The Jones Library

Invocation: A reading celebrating a new book of poetry by Wally Swist

Tuesday, October 20, 2015 at 6:30 PM
Join us for a poetry reading by Wally Swist celebrating the publication of his new book, Invocation, published by Lamar University Literary Press. Books will be available for purchase and signing. A reception in the Burnett Gallery will follow the reading and light refreshments will be served.
Location: Special Collections Reading Room

Extended Hours for Amherst Poetry Festival

Friday, October 3 - Sunday, October 5, 2015
In conjunction with the Amherst Poetry Festival, Special Collections will be open for extended hours, as follows:
Friday, October 3rd: 10:00am to 5:00pm
Saturday, October 4th: 9:00am to 5:00pm
Sunday, October 5th: 1:00pm to 5:00pm
Location: Special Collections

A Conversation with Jenny Hubbard - YA Author and Poet

Friday, October 3, 2015 at 3:30 PM
Jenny Hubbard visits Amherst for a reading & book signing with her two ALA-acclaimed novels, including And We Stay, which is set in Amherst. Both of Hubbard's books blend prose and poetry, weaving lyrical and lingering tales. This is a MUST for Young Adult book lovers! Fans of Emily Dickinson won’t want to miss out, either!
Location: Goodwin Room

Highways & Byways of the South Exhibit Reception

Wednesday, June 24, 2015, 6:00 PM -  8:00 PM
A reception celebrating the exhibit opening of Highways & Byways of the South: Photographs by Clifton Johnson.
Location: Reference

Robert Frost Birthday Celebration

Thursday, March 26, 2015, 5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
In honor of the 141st anniversary of Robert Frost's birth, The Jones Library will host a reception. The exhibit, "Imaginings of Spring," featuring items from the Robert Frost Collection will also be on display.
Location: Special Collections Exhibit Room