The New England Primer: A Digital Conversation with Dr. Kyle Roberts and Laura Wasowicz

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Pequot Library holds one of the finest collections of The New-England Primer—a book that features prominently in our current exhibition, Alphabets, Bedtime Stories, and Cautionary Tales: Children’s Books and the Shaping of American Identity. The Primer was first printed between 1683 and 1690 and was the first book published for children in the American colonies. It was considered a staple of Puritan New England homes, teaching letters, reading, and religion. Editions printed later varied widely from town to town and over time, reflecting the evolving religious and political views that adults considered important to impart to American children.

Join scholars Kyle Roberts and Laura Wasowicz for a lively online discussion on the influence and impact of The New-England Primer. The speakers will unpack the fascinating and complex cultural history of this text and will discuss some of Pequot Library’s own holdings with Special Collections Librarian, Cecily Dyer.

Dr. Kyle Roberts is the Executive Director of the Congregational Library and Archives in Boston. Before joining CLA in 2022, Roberts was Associate Director of Library and Museum Programming of the American Philosophical Society Library & Museum in Philadelphia. He received his BA in American Studies from Williams College and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Pennsylvania.

Laura Wasowicz is the curator of children’s literature at the American Antiquarian Society, a national research library and learned society founded in 1812 by Revolutionary War patriot and printer Isaiah Thomas. She assists researchers in accessing relevant titles from the AAS Children’s Literature collection and acquires and catalogs additional titles for the collection. Wasowicz received her BA in history from Rockford College, an MLS from the University of Chicago, and an MA in History from Clark University.

This talk is produced as part of our Alphabets, Bedtime Stories, and Cautionary Tales: The Shaping of American Identity exhibition, on view through May 6, 2023.

This exhibition and its related programming are supported by:

This program will be streamed via Zoom, please RSVP for the link. Attendees are invited to join Programs Manager Charlie McMahon for a screening in Pequot Library’s auditorium 


March 30
5:30 pm - 6:30 pm
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