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Lunch break history lessons come to Potsdam museum


POTSDAM — A new program at the Potsdam Public Museum is trying to get people to learn a little more about local history on their lunch break.

A series of “History at Noon” presentations began in September.

Originally, plans called for one presentation every other month, but popularity and demand have prompted the museum to host the event monthly.

“I think we’re probably going to go to monthly because it’s been so popular and we’ve had really good crowds,” museum Director Miriam S. VanDeusen said.

History at Noon gives local collectors and history buffs a chance to share their passion in an hourlong presentation. The theme changes from month to month, and all of the presentations are free. They are usually on Tuesdays and always at noon.

“If people want to make it on their lunch hour, we try to accommodate them,” Ms. VanDeusen said.

Part-time staff member Fred H. Rollins first came up with the idea. Mr. Rollins is an avid collector of postcards from St. Lawrence County, and for the first History at Noon presentation, he created a historical trip through the county, told through postcards.

There are plenty of people with historical knowledge who want to give a presentation, according to Ms. VanDeusen.

“Being a town with two colleges, there’s definitely a lot of highly educated people who are interested in history,” she said.

The next History at Noon presentation will be a book signing and talk with SUNY Potsdam graduates Jane M. Subramanian and Virginia R. Cayey on March 19. The pair wrote a book detailing the history of the college.

Ms. VanDeusen said she wants a wide variety of topics to be covered in the monthly events. Upcoming events will talk about the rise of Amish communities in the north country, as well as a look at Potsdam during the Victorian era.

For those who like their history lessons to be a little bit racy, there will even be a presentation about Victorian underwear.

The talks are all part of the museum’s mission to give people a better look at the region’s rich history, Ms. VanDeusen said.

“They always seem surprised when they come in and they find out historical facts about the area,” she said.

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