First Wednesdays Lecture Series

Free talks on the first Wednesday of the month, October through May.

St. Johnsbury First Wednesdays

Venue: St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

1171 Main Street, St. Johnsbury
Library phone: (802) 748-8291
Library website
Directions to the library


Statewide Underwriters: The Institute of Museum & Library Services through the Vermont Department of Libraries; The Alma Gibbs Donchian Foundation.

Program Underwriters: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Pulitzer Prizes, Passumpsic Savings Bank-Member FDIC, Peter Gilbert Endowment Fund, Bill Mares & Chris Hadsel, Middlebury College and The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, University of Vermont Humanities Center

Library Sponsors: Adler and McCabe, plc; Friends of the St. Johnsbury Athenaeum

Wed 03

*DIGITAL* When the Bicycle Came to Vermont

November 3
7:00 pm
UVM Professor Luis Vivanco explores the fascinating early history of the bicycle in Vermont, an invention that generated widespread curiosity when it arrived in the 1880’s - helping spark important changes in industrial production, consumerism, road policies, gender relations, and cultural ideas. (Registration required.) Read More »
Wed 01

*DIGITAL* The Legacy of Nicholas Black Elk

December 1
7:00 pm
Historian Damian Costello explores the life of the man behind the famous book Black Elk Speaks. Nicholas Black Elk’s Lakota philosophy can help us see the natural world as a unified whole, and his continued hope amidst great tragedy can inform how we approach contemporary crises. (Registration required.) Read More »
Wed 05

One Hundred Years of Solitude: The Bible of Latin America

January 5, 2022
7:00 pm
Gabriel García Márquez established the aesthetics of Magical Realism through his novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which reintroduced Latin America to the rest of the world. Author Ilan Stavans, professor of Latin American and Latino Culture at Amherst College, describes how Márquez became a spokesperson for a continent besieged by inequality, corruption, and dictatorship. Read More »
Wed 02

*DIGITAL* Lucy Terry Prince: Witness, Voice, and Poetics within the American Tradition

February 2, 2022
7:00 pm
Beginning with Vermonter Lucy Terry Prince, the first known African American poet in the U.S., poet Shanta Lee Gander explores creative lineage within poetics. Surveying the work of Phillis Wheatley, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Rita Dove, and slam poet Dominique Christina, Gander considers the poetic arc from the past to the modern moment. (Registration required.) Read More »
Wed 02

“Vast Library of the Female Mind:” the Life and Poetry of Ruth Stone

March 2, 2022
7:00 pm
Acclaimed Vermont poet Ruth Stone transformed her intense grief into poetry, using simple yet startling language. Nora Jacobson’s film “Vast Library of the Female Mind” provides an intimate look into Stone’s life and family. This screening will include panel discussion with Jacobson, former Vermont Poet Laureate Chard DeNiord, and a member of Ruth’s family. Read More »
Wed 06

Walt Whitman: American Poet

April 6, 2022
7:00 pm
Walt Whitman was a great poetic innovator, the poet who best sums up what it is to be an American, and his Song of Myself is the most majestic poem written in our nation. And yet, for all this, UVM professor emeritus Huck Gutman finds Whitman to be wonderfully approachable. Read More »
Wed 04

The Legacy of “The Notorious RGB”

May 4, 2022
7:00 pm
Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg was a feminist superhero who could still do a plank at 87 and who survived pancreatic cancer long beyond expectations. Dartmouth history professor Annelise Orleck examines the life of the brilliant jurist who remained fiercely progressive, unapologetically liberal, and committed to equality to the end, and who loved her status as a pop culture idol. Read More »