Experience a Special Collections that turns an ordinary field trip into something extraordinary.
Background and Details
Pequot Library opened to the public in March 1894 and is a destination library, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, that serves as both a circulating library and a historically-focused museum of rare books, manuscripts, and archives from our Special Collections. At Pequot Library we help children develop lifelong interests in reading and learning through engaging programs and activities that integrate architecture, art, rare books, manuscripts, and archives into interactive tours and hands-on classes and workshops.
School Group Exhibition Tours
Our docent-led tours of Pequot’s historic building and rotating Special Collections exhibitions engage students with theme-based curated selections from our collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives. Students examine the primary source materials on display, make connections between history and our 21st century world, and participate in hands-on activities that allow them to respond creatively to what they’ve learned. Read on for details about current and upcoming exhibitions.
- Programs are offered Monday-Friday.
- Lunch space is available upon request.
- Handicapped accessible.
- Please schedule 2-3 weeks in advance.
- 1 adult per 10 students required.
- There is no charge for Fairfield County public schools, and bus subsidies are available for Title 1 schools.
Bringing History to Life: Special Collections Exhibition School Tours
Alphabets, Bedtime Stories, and Cautionary Tales: Children’s Books and the Shaping of American Identity
On view through May 6, 2023
The 18th and 19th centuries witnessed the emergence in England and America of new attitudes toward children and education at the same time that America was casting off its royal authority. The result was a booming market of print materials that, for the first time, contained text and illustrations geared toward a young audience. This exhibition draws upon such works found in the extraordinary Children’s Historical Collection in Pequot Library’s Special Collections to explore the ways that 18th- and early 19th-century children’s books reflect the changing political, economic, and social climate of America in the years following independence.
In this school program for 3rd or 5th graders, students will be divided into three groups that rotate through the following activities:
- Exhibition tour: Students will participate in a docent-led tour of our exhibition of 18th-century alphabet books, bedtime stories, and cautionary tales to examine what these primary sources reveal about the lives of people who lived in Connecticut in this period and how children’s books, as they existed in revolutionary America, influenced the formation of an American national identity. HIST 3.4, HIST 3.5, HIST 3.6, HIST 3.7, HIST 3.8, HIST 3.9, HIST 3.10; HIST 5.3, HIST 5.6, 5.7, 5.8
- Bedtime Stories: In a darkened room, students will try to read 18th century cautionary tales by flickering LED “candle” lights to compare how even a task that we take for granted, like reading at night, was different in Connecticut at the time these books were written. HIST 3.2; HIST 5.2
- Art project: students will learn about printmaking and how images were made in the small books on view in the exhibition. HIST 3.2, HIST 5.2
Shakespeareana: Four Hundred Years of Shakespeare’s First Folio
October 5, 2023 – February 10, 2024
2023 marks the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s First Folio, which was the first published collection of Shakespeare’s plays, produced seven years after his death. Without the First Folio, 18 plays, including As You Like It, Julius Caesar, Macbeth, and The Tempest, might have been lost forever. This exhibition will showcase the remarkable Shakespeareana collection in Pequot Library’s Special Collections, including its Folios, examining what Shakespeare has meant to readers and scholars over time.
Charting Your Course: Cutting Edge Navigation and Seafaring
February 24 – May 12, 2024
This exhibition will bring together exceptional examples of navigational discovery and learning through maps, books, gazetteers, school workbooks, and atlases. Centering the exhibit will be The Principles of Mr. Harrison’s Time-Keeper; with Plates of the Same (London: W. Richardson & S. Clark, 1767), which documents the invention of the marine chronometer, a revolutionary advancement in the science of navigation.
Colonial America and the American Revolution
Available upon request
Do words have the power to spark a revolution? Explore this question and more through a docent-led school tour of Pequot Library’s Special Collections items of early Americana. Students will examine first-hand extraordinary primary source material from our collection, including pamphlets that memorialized and politicized key events in the early years of Revolution, from the Stamp Act to the Boston Massacre to the Battle of Bunker Hill. By looking at the same works that circulated in the streets, coffeehouses, and homes of Revolutionary-era Americans, students will experience the media environment that shifted public opinion from loyalty to rebellion against the British crown.
Tour themes can include:
- The significance of the slogan “no taxation without representation” in the American colonies.
- The major events that increased tensions between Britain and its colonies, eventually leading to the Revolution.
- The role of Connecticut in the Revolutionary War and the significance of Connecticut’s contribution to America’s story.
- How the media, as it existed in colonial America, influenced an American national identity.
Meet the Orchestra
Meet the Orchestra is a concert series for students in grades PK-8. The program is made possible through our long-standing partnership with Music For Youth (MFY), a volunteer-led non-profit organization committed to bringing professionally performed classical music into the lives of young people. The purpose of “Meet the Orchestra” is to introduce students to instruments in the orchestra, while exposing them to the repertoire of various ensembles, during an interactive experience in Pequot Library’s architecturally and historically significant Auditorium.
Historic Southport Walking Tours
Grades 9-12. Students trace the history of Southport as it’s reflected through the architecture of the village, which was designated as a National Historic District in 1971. They follow its transition from swampland to the English occupation to the present, 21st-century village of private homes. Students discover how architecture reflects Southport’s growth from port to commercial district to suburban enclave. May be offered with selections from Sloop Logs and Ledgers.
Searching for Shapes at the Library
How many circles, squares, and triangles can you find? Preschoolers get to know the architecture of Pequot Library’s beautiful building, which is listed in The National Register of Historic Places, in a hunt for shapes that will take them through our Auditorium, Reading Room, Stacks, Mezzanine, and Children’s Room! Visit includes time with our resident bunny, Coco.
Pequot Library supports students with research projects, including CT History Day projects, by offering access to our Special Collections in our rare books reading room, The Dillon Room, by appointment. Librarians are available to assist students with examination of materials while discussing methods for analyzing sources, comparing and corroborating information, and using reasoning to draw evidence-based conclusions.
Custom Programs & Outreach
Our historic building and Special Collections offer much to complement PK–12 curriculums, and we are happy to work with you to design customized tours and programs tailored to your specific educational needs. Pequot Library’s Special Collections feature a wide variety of rare books, archival material, manuscripts, photographs, maps, and ephemera to enhance your classroom or school curriculum, including:
- The four Shakespeare Folios – two intact plays from the First (1623), and complete Second (1632), Third (1666), and Fourth (1685).
- A collection of local manuscript materials and printed ephemera from the eighteenth century, including firsthand accounts of the Revolutionary War in Fairfield, and early printed currency.
- A collection of propaganda posters and ephemera from World War I and World War II.
- A collection of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian artifacts, including papyrus fragments and cuneiform tablets.
- Four incunabula (books printed before 1501).
- John James Audubon’s Birds of America, the Bien Edition (1858).
To schedule a field trip for your students or request a custom program, please e-mail email@example.com or call 203-259-0346 ext 117.Book Now
Special Collections Highlights
Pequot Library’s Special Collections of rare books, manuscripts, and archives were assembled initially by library founder Virginia Marquand Monroe (1837-1926) and her associate, the Rev. William Holman (1852 – 1936), who focused the first collection efforts on Early Americana. In addition to the extraordinary contributions from the Library’s founders, the Special Collections features a wide collection of holdings, including:
- A collection of ancient Egyptian and Mesopotamian artifacts obtained by the Monroes, including papyrus fragments and cuneiform tablets
- A twelfth-century manuscript of Sancti Gregorii magni epistolae [The Letters of Pope Gregory, ca. 540-604], the oldest book found in a public library in Fairfield County
- Four incunabula (books printed before 1501)
- The four Shakespeare Folios – two intact plays from the First (1623), and complete Second (1632), Third (1666), and Fourth (1685)
- A collection of local manuscript materials and printed ephemera from the eighteenth century, including firsthand accounts of the Revolutionary War in Southport, and early printed currency
- A collection of Kelmscott Press imprints, representing 40 of the 52 total Kelmscott editions produced, including a copy of The Works of Geoffrey Chaucer and a copy of Childe Christopher printed on vellum
- Margaret Mitchell’s manuscript of the final four chapters of Gone with the Wind, along with a substantial collection of international editions of the novel.
- Several early editions of Phyllis Wheatley’s poems, including a copy of the first edition (1773), and a copy of the first American edition (1786)
- A collection of propaganda posters and ephemera from World War I and World War II
- A substantial Historic Children’s Book collection spanning the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, including primers, ephemera, and first editions of works by Louisa May Alcott and other notable authors.
Custom Programs and Outreach
We are happy to design customized tours and programs to enhance your classroom or school curriculum. Let’s learn together!
Want us to come to your classroom? Find out more about how we can bring our specialized programs to you!
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or 203-259-0346 ext 117Contact Us