About AAS > History and Activities

A Review of the Society's Public Programs
Historical Background

In the mid 1970s, a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation allowed AAS to create a half time position of education officer and begin experimenting with public programs for the Worcester community at large. At this time the Society began to offer public lectures by resident researchers, sponsored performances of historical plays and operas, and conducted reading and discussion groups. Whenever possible these programs were created in collaboration with other relevant organizations.

Two decades later, the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Fund supported the expansion of the Societys public programs as part of a $750,000 grant awarded AAS in 1994. Under this program the Society offered a music series and created an original radio production entitled The History Show. With these programs, the Society expanded its public programming nationally.

The Lila Wallace- Readers Digest Fund also began the Societys association with James David Moran, a playwright and producer who created The History Show radio program. Mr. Moran subsequently became the Societys first director of outreach in 1997, in which capacity he oversees the Societys public programs, K-12 programs, marketing and media relations efforts.

All of the public programs conducted by the Society are either the product of research conducted in the Societys collections or are about the historic time period 1640 to 1876. Care is taken to present a variety of programs that appeal to a wide, diversified, audience. Whenever possible AAS members and staff are utilized in the Societys offerings. The Society has frequently distributed programs through National Public Radio and C-Span 2's Book TV in its efforts to offer public programming about pre-twentieth century American history and culture to all the American people.

Notable past Society public programs have included: a reading and discussion group on black New England intellectuals; a lecture series on Memory and the American Revolution; historical plays about Sojourner Truth, Daniel Webster, and Isaiah Thomas; a six-week workshop for senior adults; and lectures by such notable individuals as David McCullough, Ken Burns, Jill Lepore, Alan Taylor, Robert Gross, and David Hall.

The Society's programs are offered for free or, occasionally, at minimal charge. Most of the Society's public programs have been funded by grants to AAS from such funding agencies as the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Massachusetts Cultural Council, the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities, the Worcester Cultural Commission, the Hoche-Scofield Foundation, Allmerica Financial, and Fleet Bank.

- James David Moran, Director of Outreach


More information on the Society's public programs is available under the heading of "Public Programs" in the "Programs" section of this website.