Programs/Events

Rokeby Museum 2020 Winter Programs

In recognition of Black History Month, Rokeby Museum will be open Sundays in February, from noon to 5:00 pm, for exhibits and special programs for children, teens, and adults. Subscribe to the Rokeby e-newsletter for more information and updates on our upcoming 2020 season when we open again in May.

Free & Safe Gallery with Kids
Free & Safe: The Underground Railroad in Vermont
Sunday, February 2, 2020
Noon–5:00 pm

In honor of Black History Month, visitors may take advantage of special winter hours to visit the only permanent exhibition in New England that addresses slavery, abolition, and the Underground Railroad. Museum staff will be available in the galleries for conversation about Free & Safe, the museum’s award-winning multi-media exhibit. Visitors are introduced to Simon and Jesse, two fugitives from slavery who were sheltered at Rokeby in the 1830s. Tracing their stories from slavery to freedom, the exhibit also introduces the abolitionist Robinson family who called Rokeby home for nearly 200 years, and explores the turbulent decades leading up to the Civil War. 

February is also last the month for seeing the special exhibit, Amassed & Up-ended: Decoding the Legacy of StuffThe exhibit is a great opportunity to learn more about the Abolitionist Robinsons. Significant pieces of art, furniture, household goods, letters, and journals illustrate the lives of the four generations of Robinsons who lived at Rokeby from 1793 to 1961. As you experience this remarkable family, it’s also an opportunity to think about how you will be remembered. What of your things are likely to be treasured, and what will they say about the life you have lived?

Jane Williamson
Special Lecture with Director Emerita, Jane Williamson
Finding Jesse: A Fugitive from Slavery in Vermont
Sunday, February 9, 2020
3:00 pm

Generation after generation the Robinson family saved their copious correspondence, and today that record informs all that Rokeby Museum does. But what happens when the record is incomplete? 

Jane Williamson, director emerita and curator of the museum’s award-winning exhibit Free & Safe: the Underground Railroad in Vermont, will share the extensive research required to learn more about Jesse, a fugitive from slavery who lived and worked at Rokeby in the 1830s. Jane’s talk traces Jesse’s life from enslavement in North Carolina to freedom in Vermont. Citing letters in the collection at Rokeby Museum and documents at the North Carolina State Archives, the illustrated talk brings the narrative of one slave out of anonymity and explores his life and pursuit of freedom.

Jane Williamson holds a masters degree in historic preservation from the University of Vermont and was the director of the Rokeby Museum for over 20 years. This program partners with the Ferrisburgh Historical Society.

Daisy and the Doll
Story and Craft Workshop for Kids
Daisy and the Doll
Sunday, February 16, 2020
2:00 pm

Daisy and the Doll is a true story as told by Vermont’s African American storyteller Daisy Turner. The story takes place in Grafton, Vermont in the 1890s, when Daisy was 8 years old. Her teacher gave Daisy a doll and a poem to present at an end-of- school program, but instead of memorizing the poem, Daisy surprised everyone by reciting a poem of her own. Children will find out what happened next, and make a doll using wooden clothespins and other materials that Daisy would have had for making playthings. 

The program is appropriate for children ages 4 to 8. Parents or caregivers are welcome to participate or visit exhibits. 

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Book Discussion Program for Teens & Adults
The Hate U Give
Sunday, February 23, 2020
2:00 pm

Have you read The Hate U Give? It’s a masterful presentation of issues facing many African Americans in America today. Former teen-rapper and now award-winning author Angie Thomas tells the complex story of Starr Carter — a black teenager “moving between two worlds: the poor black neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.” Teens and adults are invited to borrow copies of the book from Rokeby, read, and attend a moderated discussion about the book and the issues it presents.

The program includes a short guided tour of Free & Safe, Rokeby’s award winning exhibit that provides context for race problems in America today.

Reading Rowland Evans Robinson
Sunday, March 15, 2020
3:00 pm
Co-sponsored by the Ferrisburgh Historical Society

At one point, Ferrisburgh resident Rowland Evans Robinson (1833–1900) was one of Vermont’s most beloved writers. Dean Leary, a long-time reader of Robinson’s work, will share knowledge about the writer and lead a discussion of Robinson’s nature, history and fiction writing.

Son of the abolitionists Rowland and Rachel Robinson, Rowland Evans Robinson turned to writing after a successful career as an illustrator when his eyesight began to fail. He went on to publish nine books during his lifetime; his family published four more, and from 1933 to 1937, Tuttle Press reprinted much of his work in a seven-set “Rowland E. Robinson Centennial Edition.” Robinson was a keen observer of nature, character, and history, and wrote of all three. His fictions Danvis Tales — a collection of books describing life in the late 19th century Vermont — have earned him respect from folklorists and contemporary writers and poets. When Vermont author Bill Schubart asked Annie Proulx for advice about writing about Vermont, she responded: “Read Rowland Evans Robinson.”

Meant for those both new and familiar with the author, the program encourages those planning to attend to read selections of Robinson’s writing — available by emailing or calling the museum. All are encouraged to share their understanding of Robinson’s writing and their knowledge of him. Call (802) 877-3406 or email director@rokeby.org for the reading list.

Dean Leary learned of Rowland Evans Robinson’s writing as a child, and has read and studied his work on and off throughout the years since. Leary has long worked on behalf of Rokeby Museum as a volunteer and board member, and most recently, a museum tour guide. He lives in Charlotte.


Program Admission: Unless otherwise noted, lecture program admission is $5/person or free with Museum admission.