Virtual Events

October 6, 2020 ~ Vincent J. Cannato, American Passage 7:30 pm EDT

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American Passage

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Vincent J. Cannato is associate professor of history at the University of Massachusetts Boston where he teaches courses on New York City history, Boston history, immigration history, and twentieth-century American history. He is the author of American Passage: The History of Ellis Island (HarperCollins, 2009); The Ungovernable City: John Lindsay and his Struggle to Save New York (Basic Books, 2001); and co-editor of Living in the Eighties (Oxford University Press, 2009). Prof. Cannato has written for numerous publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New York Post, New York Daily News, National Affairs, Politico, Humanities Magazine, and The New Republic. He has also received a Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Apart from his academic career, Prof. Cannato was also managing editor of The Public Interest, co-producer of the PBS documentary “The First Measured Century,” an aide to former Jersey City Mayor Bret Schundler; and a speechwriter at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. He received his PhD in History from Columbia University and his BA with Honors in Political Science from Williams College. He lives with his family in Framingham, MA.

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October 20, 2020 ~ Lynn Austin, Until We Reach Home 7pm EDT

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Until We Reach Home Lynn Austin

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I’m often asked if I’ve always wanted to be a writer. The short answer is, “No.” I was never the type of kid who always had her nose in a book or who wrote stories in her journal every night by lamplight. I was too busy living in my imagination all day like the little boy with the stuffed tiger in the cartoon “Calvin and Hobbes.” I would imagine wild, dramatic stories wherever I went.

After attending Hope College in Holland, Michigan for three years, I married my husband Ken, and completed my degree in psychology at Southern Connecticut State University. Then we set off on a real-life adventure, living in Bogota, Colombia for two years where I taught 4th grade in a Colombian school and Ken performed in the symphony orchestra. With no TV and plenty of time to read, I became an avid reader for the first time in my life. That’s when I began to dream of writing the kind of books I loved—books that made me laugh, made me cry, and made me think.

The demands of our growing family postponed my writing career until Ken’s work took us to Thunder Bay, Ontario, and later to Winnipeg, Manitoba. It was during those long Canadian winters at home with my children that I finally started carving out a few hours of writing time each day while they napped. The moment I started writing, I discovered how much fun it was to use my imagination again and create wonderful characters and stories. I was hooked! As my children grew, I returned to teaching and learned to squeeze in writing time amid the busyness of family life. For eleven years, I studied how to craft good fiction, and endured all the ups and downs of trying to get published. My first novel was finally published in 1995—and it was the same book I had started writing during naptime: Gods and Kings. It evolved into a five-book series, Chronicles of the Kings.

While researching this series, I had a chance to pursue one of my “bucket list” dreams, volunteering on an archaeological dig. My son Joshua and I traveled to Israel during the summer of 1989 to take part in a month-long dig at the ancient city of Timnah. This experience not only provided background information for the Chronicles, it also inspired my novel Wings of Refuge.

In 1992 I decided it was time to resign from teaching to write full-time. Since then I’ve published twenty-three novels and one non-fiction book, Pilgrimage: My Journey to a Deeper Faith in the Land Where Jesus Walked. Eight of my novels have won Christy Awards for excellence in Christian Fiction, and I was honored to be named to the Christy Award Hall of Fame in 2013. Fire by Night was one of only five inspirational novels chosen by Library Journal for their top picks of 2003, and All She Ever Wanted was chosen as one of the five inspirational top picks of 2005. My novel Hidden Places has been made into a movie for the Hallmark Channel, starring actress Shirley Jones. She received a 2006 Emmy Award nomination for her portrayal of Aunt Batty in the film.

Our children are now grown and I’m experiencing the joy of grandchildren. Ken and I live in Western Michigan where the woods and beaches of Lake Michigan inspire me every day.

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November 5, 2020 ~ Peter Conolly-Smith, Translating America 7:30 pm EDT

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Translating America

Peter Conolly-Smith

Peter Conolly-Smith was born a second-generation immigrant to British expatriate parents in West Berlin, Germany. In 1988, he became a first-generation immigrant when he moved to New Haven, CT., to pursue his Ph.D. at Yale University. Given his life trajectory, Peter's choice of immigration and assimilation as a subject of his academic work is not surprising. His book Translating America​, on New York City's German-language press from the late-nineteenth century through the end of World War I, focuses on the way New York's German newspapers negotiated the social, cultural, and political pressures of assimilation. Peter is the author of dozens of academic articles, chapters, and essays on the immigrant experience and other subjects ranging from film and theater to politics and war. An award-winning instructor, he is an associate professor of American history and culture at CUNY-Queens College in New York City. There, he teaches U.S. culture, film, and history -- including, of course, an advanced seminar on immigration.

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November 19, 2020 ~ Tom Bernardin, Ellis Island Cook Book 7:30 pm EDT

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SEI cook book

Tom Bernardin

Tom Bernardin is a licensed New York City tour guide and president of Ellis Island Tours. His association with Ellis Island began in 1978 as a National Park Service ranger, giving tours of the historic site.

A longtime New Yorker, Tom is an active member of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, and is the founder and president of Save America’s Clocks.

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December 17, 2020 ~ Maxinne Rhea Leighton, Ellis Island Christmas 7 pm EDT

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Ellis Island Christmas

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Maxinne Rhea Leighton is the published author of An Ellis Island Christmas (Viking Penguin) a children’s story about a child’s journey from Poland to America through Ellis Island at the peak of immigration in 1922. It is in its fifth printing and is the recipient of the Marion Vannett Ridgeway Award. She is also co-author of Grand Central Gateway To A Million Lives an historical and contemporary book that combines social and cultural history within the architecture of public space. It is the recipient of the Chartered Building Awards of London, England.

She has published several personal essays, "The Man with the Big Hands", appeared in The Other Woman anthology and is a featured piece in the play based on that book. "The He of She", appeared in an anthology published by Seal Press: He Said What? Women Write About The Moments When Everything Changed.

A graduate of SUNY Binghamton and a certificate program in the arts from Oxford University, London/Yale University, Connecticut, Maxinne has a Masters Degree from the Gallatin School of Individualized Studies at New York University. She is currently completing her PhD on climate impactful events in coastal cities.

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