American Transcendentalism & Louisa May Alcott

Our resident historian Dr. John Foster discussed American Transcendentalism and its legacy as part of our September celebration of Little Women‘s sesquicentennial.

We don’t usually associate Louisa May Alcott with Ralph Waldo Emerson or Henry David Thoreau.

However, all three were involved in Transcendentalism, a uniquely American tradition that helped to define our national culture in the 19th century and beyond.

We’ve filmed and shared his talk for those who couldn’t join us that night.

You can learn about the history and tenets of American Transcendentalism — as much as it had tenets — and interesting facts about its key figures, which included Alcott’s father Bronson Alcott.

You’ll also discover:

  • why Bronson Alcott refused to eat root vegetables
  • where the idea of school’s having recess came from
  • and why Louisa May Alcott’s stories so often had an absentee father figure

In addition to being a reference librarian, Foster has earned a doctorate degree in history. His next talk will be at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, with a focus on Dwight Eisenhower. The program is free to attend and open to all.

Other historical talks by Foster can be watched on our YouTube page, as well, including:

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