August 18, 2019 – Platform Lecture
Tim Tomlinson: Chautauqua, An American Icon
7:30 PM, Chautauqua Town Hall
The Chautauqua movement had a limited lifespan, generally defined as the half-century between the 1870s and 1920s. The movement was influential in the social, cultural, and economic world of that half-century. It had two very different presences–the permanent assemblies like our Chautauqua and a traveling tent show that moved from town to town across the country. In both forms the movement provided the forum for the debate about serious matters of the day: religious and racial tolerance, women’s suffrage, the development of trade unions, child labor legislation, the conservation of resources, and more. It was the radio, television, and blog of its time. In the Depression, post-Depression, and WWII periods the movement faded significantly. All but a few of the permanent assemblies closed their doors and sold their lands, while the traveling cultural circuses have disappeared from the landscape.
This is the Historical Society’s 17th Annual Platform Lecture. Tim Tomlinson, currently president of the Society, has been active in the national Chautauqua movement for many years. He has visited each of the remaining permanent assemblies, and was the Chautauqua Trail Annual Conference keynote speaker at Monteagle, TN in 2016.