Line drawing of the front of the MacFarland-Hubbard House used as Little Lecture Series logo.

2015 Little Lecture Series

All lectures begin at 2:00 p.m.

Sunday, March 22

West Virginians and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Michael Woods

Sunday, April 26
What Holds Us Together
Marc Harshman

Sunday, May 31
America Through the Lens of Ken Burns
Susan Shumaker

Sunday, June 28
Archeology of West Virginia’s Frontier Forts
Stephen McBride




Reception on MacFarland House pergola following a Little Lecture.

Guests enjoy refreshments under the pergola following a Little Lecture.

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Robinson and McElwee, Little Lecture Sponsor, corporate logo.

The 2015 Little Lecture Series is sponsored by Robinson & McElwee PLLC. Founded in Charleston in 1983, the law firm also serves clients from offices in Clarksburg and Wheeling.


The Little Lecture Series

The Little Lectures are informal programs featuring speakers on a variety of topics. Programs are presented on Sunday afternoons at 2:00 p.m. at our headquarters located at 1310 Kanawha Boulevard, East, Charleston, in the parlor of MacFarland-Hubbard House. The series is one of the many ways the Humanities Council shares our historic property with the community. Seating is limited (thus “Little” Lectures) and reservations are suggested. Admission is $10 per person and includes refreshments after the lecture. When the weather is nice refreshments are enjoyed outdoors under our pergola.

The Little Lectures begin in March and are presented once each month through June. Previous Little Lecturers include historian John Alexander Williams, biographer Jean Edward Smith, Monticello horticulturalist Peter Hatch, novelist Denise Giardina, playwright Billy Edd Wheeler, and West Virginia Poet Laureate Irene McKinney.

West Virginians and the Assassination of Abraham Lincoln
Sunday, March 22 at 2:00 PM
Michael Woods Photograph of Little Lecture speaker Michael Woods.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, the first assassination of a U.S. president.The shooting of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth in April 1865 shocked Northerners and Southerners alike. In the new and internally divided state of West Virginia, the assassination immediately challenged the process of reconciliation needed to rebuild communities disrupted by the Civil War. More than most other Americans, West Virginians had to confront former foes on a daily basis. Lincoln’s assassination, which came at the very start of the Reconstruction period, made this challenge even greater.

Professor Woods will examine the assassination and the little-known roles played by West Virginians in the great tragedy: Ritchie County native General Thomas M. Harris, who served on the military commission that tried the assassination conspirators; Morgantown’s William McPeck of the 6th West Virginia Cavalry who was on guard outside Ford’s Theatre that night and helped carry the wounded president to the Petersen House where he died; and Everton Conger of the 3rd West Virginia Cavalry, who helped lead the soldiers who tracked down Booth to his hiding place in a Virginia barn.

Michael Woods teaches courses on U.S. history, the Civil War era, and the U.S. South at Marshall University. He completed his BA at Whitman College in Washington State, and his MA and PhD at the University of South Carolina. He has published articles in the Journal of Social History and the Journal of American History. His first book, Emotional and Sectional Conflict in the Antebellum United States, is under contract with Cambridge University Press. Woods is a member of the Humanities Council Sesquicentennial Speakers Bureau.

What Holds Us Together
Sunday, April 26 at 2:00 PM
Marc Harshman

Photograph of Little Lecture speaker Mark Harshman.West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman will discuss how poetry and storytelling have shaped his life. In an era of information overload, Harshman believes that by embracing the whimsy and gravity to be found in the arts and letters, we can find the resources to nurture our nation in useful and profound ways.  

Harshman was appointed poet laureate by Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in May, 2012. His full-length collection, Green-Silver and Silent, was published by Bottom Dog Press later that same year.  Four chapbooks of poems include All that Feeds Us: The West Virginia Poems published in 2013 to celebrate Marc’s appointment. He has also published in many periodicals including Shenandoah, Wilderness, The Progressive, Appalachian Heritage, and others. His poems have been anthologized by presses at University of Georgia, Kent State University, the University of Iowa, and the University of Arizona.  His eleven children’s books include The Storm, a Smithsonian Notable Book. His children's titles have been translated to Spanish, Japanese, Korean, Danish, and Swedish. Three new children’s titles are forthcoming.

Marc holds degrees from Bethany College, Yale Divinity School, and the University of Pittsburgh.  He has recently received honorary doctorates from Bethany College and West Liberty University.   Marc was commissioned by the Wheeling National Heritage Area to write a poem celebrating the West Virginia Sesquicentennial and on June 20th his poem “A Song for West Virginia” was presented in both Charleston and Wheeling as a part of the day-long festivities.  It has recently been reprinted by the Quarrier Press.

America Through the Lens of Ken Burns
Sunday, May 31 at 2:00 PM 
Susan ShumakerPhotograph of Little Lecture speaker Susan Shumate.

West Virginian Susan Shumaker is a researcher and producer with theKenBurns film company, Florentine Films. She will talk about her work with Burns on such films as The War, The National Parks, The Dust Bowl and the upcoming Country Music, scheduled for release in 2018. She will also discuss the expanding role of film and media in relating history.

Shumaker joined the Florentine family in 2002 as an intern on The War.  She later worked on the Emmy Award-winning The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The Dust Bowl, for which Susan served as associate producer, premiered on PBS in November 2012, and sparked a national conversation about water conservation on the southern Plains. She also collaborated with Washington public television station WETA on educational outreach materials for The War, The National Parks, and The Dust Bowl.

Before Florentine, Susan produced digital multimedia, developing award-winning educational CD-ROMS and websites for Harvard, Brown, and Columbia Universities. She left the field in 1996 to indulge her passion for food and travel, writing for national publications and publishing a successful line of vegetarian travel guides. She has served on the boards of West Virginia Read Aloud, an organization encouraging parents to read to children in the classroom, and the West Virginia Land Trust.

Susan graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University and received a Masters of Theological Studies degree from Harvard Divinity School. She lives on a farm in Monongalia County with her husband and their two children.

Archeology of West Virginia’s Frontier Forts
Sunday, June 28 at 2:00 PM
Stephen McBride

Photograph of Little Lecture speaker Stephen McBride.Recent archeological excavations of 18-century frontier forts in present West Virginia have allowed a better understanding of the frontier defensive system and the historical context in which it developed. Archeologist Stephen McBride will share his discoveries from digs at Point Pleasant, in Greenbrier County, and at other Mountain State sites.

McBride is an historical archeologist with a special interest in 18th century frontier settlement and the Civil War. He holds a Bachelor degree in anthropology from Beloit College and Masters and Doctorate degrees in anthropology from Michigan State University. McBride serves as Director of Interpretation and Archaeology at Camp Nelson Civil War Heritage Park in Jessamine County, Kentucky, and is manager of McBride Preservation Services, LLC.

He has, along with his wife Dr. Kim McBride, directed excavations on many 18th and 19th century sites in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Virginia. Several of their West Virginia projects have been supported by the Humanities Council. McBride has written numerous articles for journals, edited volumes and reports on archeology. With his wife Kim he has published Frontier Defense: Colonizing Contested Areas in the Greenbrier Valley of West Virginia and Frontier Forts in West Virginia: Historical and Archaeological Explorations.

Call Mark Payne at 304.346.8500 or email for further information or to make reservations.

Contact the Program Officer