West Virginia Poet Laureate Marc Harshman
© WV Humanities Council

Little Lectures

Intimate Sunday afternoon talks

The Little Lectures are informal programs featuring speakers on a variety of topics.



In-person 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 are presented once each month. 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 Marc Harshman.


From 2020 onward, videos of all West Virginia Humanities Council Little Lectures are available on YouTube and Facebook



March 26 - Ilene Evans
Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins: Black Dreams in Blue Skies

Throughout a life of dignity and perseverance, aviation pioneer Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins (1920-2006) fought for civil rights and equal treatment. Born into segregation in Fairmont, she enrolled at West Virginia State College at age 16. The young firebrand soon became the first Black woman admitted as a solo pilot into State’s new Civilian Pilot Training Program—and eventually tried out for the combat training course that birthed the Tuskegee Airmen.
Scholar and performer Ilene Evans will share a brief look into the life of Agnes Cousins. Evans has portrayed Harriet Tubman for the Council’s History Alive! program for two decades, has taught at Fairmont State University, and is the artistic director of theater arts organization Voices From The Earth.


April 23 - Scott MacKenzie
The Fifth Border State: Slavery, Emancipation, and the Formation of West Virginia

In The Fifth Border State, out now from West Virginia University Press, author Scott MacKenzie offers the first new interpretation of West Virginia statehood in over a century—one that corrects earlier histories’ tendency to minimize support for slavery in the state’s founding. Employing previously unused sources and reexamining existing ones, MacKenzie argues that West Virginia experienced the Civil War in the same ways as the border states of Missouri, Kentucky, Maryland, and Delaware. This exciting text corrects many myths about West Virginia’s origins and makes an important contribution to the literature in Appalachian and Civil War history.
Copies of The Fifth Border State will be available for purchase and signing at the lecture, courtesy of Taylor Books.


May 21 - Mary Beth Brown
Creating a Path towards Equal Education: The Role of Border States in Desegregation

The Civil Rights movement of the 1960s often monopolizes popular memory of the era, crowding out earlier generations of Black activism. Prior efforts, however, laid the foundation for those hard-won successes. This Little Lecture will focus on 1940s desegregation battles at college campuses in the “border states” of Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri—early struggles whose mixed results eventually led to Brown v. Board and accelerated the end of Jim Crow.


Mary Beth Brown is a 20th Century U.S. historian and the rare books librarian at the American Heritage Center, University of Wyoming. She is a graduate of Marshall University and a native of Barboursville.


June 24 - Sarah Mullens
Tiny Museums in Public Places: Redistributing Access to Cultural Capital

Now more than ever, traditional museums are reckoning with urgent social issues in nontraditional spaces and circumstances, which all too often require new methods of outreach and support. Through a fleet of six-foot-tall museums distributed in libraries, hospital waiting rooms, and municipal buildings, New York City-based company MICRO is creating innovative ways for museums to engage with communities.
MICRO’s Executive Director Sarah Mullens, a native of Hurricane, West Virginia, will discuss this nascent museum frontier, her unconventional journey into museum work, and how MICRO brings a humanities-based creative approach to all of its work.
*SPECIAL NOTE: This Little Lecture will be held on Saturday, June 24, at the main branch of the Kanawha County Public Library so guests can experience MICRO’s “Museum of Care” exhibit.



Call 304.346.8500 or email warmack@wvhumanities.org for further information.



All public spaces at the MacFarland-Hubbard House are accessible. When making your reservations, please advise us of any accessibility accommodations that you may need. Contact 304.346.8500 in advance.


Little Lectures on YouTube, 2020-present

See our past Little Lectures recorded on video

Watch the videos »

Little Lectures audio archive (pre-2020)

Listen to recordings of some previous lectures and speakers