History Lecture Series

History Lecture Series

The History Lecture Series is an annual collaboration between the Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society. Each year a theme is developed, and respected scholars are engaged to provide a lively, thought-provoking talk on their specialty subject. The lecture is followed by a question and answer period and reception. Generous sponsors make it all possible; each lecture is individually sponsored.

The 2018 History Lecture Series

Yankee Innovators: Steamships to Silicon Chips.



WLA/WHS Scholarly Series – Building the First Steamship in History – John Laurence Bush
Sunday, January 28, 2018 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm


In the 11th year of the collaboration between Wilton Library and the Wilton Historical Society, the scholarly lecture series will focus on the theme of ‘Yankee Innovators : Steamships to Silicon Chips’. Independent historian and author John Laurence Busch will kick off the series by using his deep knowledge of early steam vessels to explore the interaction between humankind and the first time-and-space-altering ‘high technology.’ He’ll attempt to re-calibrate our minds and take us back to the early 1800s before showing why the proposition of making the first crossing of the Atlantic Ocean on a ‘steamship’ was met with a mixture of skepticism and fear. He then will show how New London native Captain Moses Rogers addressed that skepticism and fear by designing and building the first example of globalized high technology in history. The presentation is based upon his book, Steam Coffin: Captain Moses Rogers and The Steamship Savannah Break the Barrier.

John Laurence Busch is an independent historian who focuses upon the interaction between humanity and technology, with a particular specialization in the first generation of steam-powered vessels.  He has devoted years of research to discovering the true story of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah. The result is his book, Steam Coffin, the most descriptive account of the saga of Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah ever written.  John’s careful weaving together of many disparate sources results in a narrative that recalls both the fabric and style used in storytellings of old.  It also shows just what Captain Moses Rogers and the steamship Savannah accomplished for posterity.  Steam Coffin has received positive reviews from over two dozen periodicals based in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and Australia. John has made over 300 presentations on Captain Rogers and the Savannah to a wide variety of audiences, stretching from Maine to Puerto Rico to California, and across the Atlantic Ocean to Europe. For additional background, please visit www.steamcoffin.com.

Lecture Location: Wilton Library
Lecture sponsor: Mary Gail & Jerome Gristina
Moderator: Steve Hudspeth

Register for this lecture here.

WLA/WHS Scholarly Series – Shooting the Moon: Space Technology, Earthbound Nature, and the New Left During the Vietnam War – Neil Maher
Sunday, February 11, 2018 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Professor Neil Maher’s lecture will examine the shared history of the space race to the moon and the Vietnam War during the 1960s and 1970s. Maher is an associate professor of history in the Federated History Department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology and Rutgers University, Newark, where he teaches environmental and political history on the undergraduate and graduate levels.

Lecture Location: Wilton Library
Lecture sponsor: Janice & Michael Hess
Moderator: Max Gabrielson

Register for this lecture here.


WLA/WHS Scholarly Series – Leading the Helicopter Industry into the 21st Century –
Andrew Driver
Sunday, February 25, 2018 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm

Wilton resident and Sikorsky Aircraft’s Andrew Driver will provide a brief history of how Igor Sikorsky emigrated from Kiev to the Nutmeg State, founded Sikorsky Aircraft, invented the helicopter, and launched an entire industry which today generates over $20 billion in global new helicopter sales each year. He also will discuss significant models and how Sikorsky is leading trends in the industry today. Driver has worked at Sikorsky Aircraft for 29 years having held various engineering, product marketing, strategic planning and market and competitive intelligence positions.

Lecture Location: Wilton Historical Society
Lecture sponsor: Lila & Buck Griswold
Moderator: Max Gabrielson

Register for this lecture here.

WLA/WHS Scholarly Series – Faster, Smaller, Greener: How Semiconductor Lithography Enables Innovations All Around Us – Chip Mason
Sunday, March 18, 2018 – 4:00pm to 5:30pm

ASML Fellow Christopher ‘Chip’ Mason will conclude the series with a presentation on the wide variety of innovations that are made possible by semiconductor lithography. As the manufacturer of the machines that are used to make silicon chips, Wilton’s ASML is one of the world’s most important companies in this field. Mason is an ASML Fellow and an expert in alignment systems, focus systems, and reticle stage technology.

Lecture Location: Wilton Historical Society
Lecture sponsor: Chris & Dan Delmar
Moderator: Steve Hudspeth

Sunday, January 28
Sunday, February 11
Sunday, February 25
Sunday, March 18


Past History Lecture Series:


How the History Lecture Series Began

In 2008 Louise Herot, then President of the Wilton Library, Owen Williams and Dr. Greg Chann, Co-Presidents of the Wilton Historical Society – met up at the Kiwanis Roast Beef Dinner. There they hatched a plan to draw on the synergistic relationship and collaborative spirit that exists between the Society and the Library.
They characterized this project as one which:
Stimulates the minds of our fellow citizens,
Reminds us that history needs to be studied so that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the past,
Educates in a way that makes history come alive,
And one that brings new energy and facets to our organizations.

And thus began the History Lecture Series.