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COUNTY LIBRARY LAUNCHES “County Historian’s 2 nd Wednesday Lecture Series”

With the completion of the new community room at the Burlington County Library, a popular lecture program under the byline of Joe Laufer, Burlington County Historian, returns. On each second Wednesday of the month Joe will present one of the many lectures from his extensive portfolio of local history topics, as well as a few that delve into fields that feed Joe’s passion for history, wherever that takes him.

Beginning on the second Wednesday of October, (October 10), and continuing through December, the newly completed meeting and conference room of the County Library on Pioneer Avenue in Westampton will be the scene of monthly lectures aimed at welcoming the public back to the two-year “under-construction” section of the County Library. The other two presentations this year will be on November 14 th and December 12 th.


Two days after Columbus Day (October 8), on Wednesday, October 10 th at 7:00 p.m. Joe will present a talk he calls “Commemorating Columbus” – a flash back to his pre-occupation twenty years ago with the 500 th Anniversary of Columbus’ epic journey from Spain to the “New World.” During 1992, Joe became an official spokesman for the Columbus Quincentenary. He published an International Newsletter called “Discovery 500” and lectured extensively on Christopher Columbus. Many of his lectures were delivered in costume, as Christopher Columbus. He was the official greeter at Penn's Landing when the replicas of Columbus’ ships, the Nina, the Pinta and the Santa Maria, were on display in Philadelphia . He’s put the costume away now, but using images from his extensive Columbus photo gallery, will not only recall the way we commemorated the Quincentenary in 1992, but also how the previous four commemorations were celebrated. Joe conducted extensive on-site research in the 90s by visiting Columbus haunts in Italy, Spain, Portugal, the Bahamas and Puerto Rico. His own “discoveries” will be chronicled and shared with the audience. He will not ignore some of the controversy associated with the Quincentenary and with Columbus himself, and he will provide insights into the genius of Columbus and the significance of his four journeys and multiple discoveries. Admission is free! Registration is recommended at www.bcls.lib.nj.us. on the "Events" tab.


On November 14 th, the second lecture of the series will be a preview of the scheduled tour of Historic One-Room School Houses of Burlington County planned for the following Saturday, November 17 under the sponsorship of the Burlington County Freeholders and the National Society of the Colonial Dames NJ. This illustrated lecture will provide a magical virtual tour of these preserved treasures of early Burlington County public and private education, beginning with the Quaker schools associated with various Friends Meeting Houses, and growing into havens of free education at the Clara Barton School in Bordentown, the Billy K. Haines Schoolhouse in Vincentown and the Olde Schoolhouse on Brainerd St. in Mount Holly. Joe will discuss the common features of these community schools, like Chesterford School in Maple Shade, Cross Keys School in Medford and Friendship School in Tabernacle. He will also show how local organizations, primarily Historical Societies, went to unusual lengths to save these schools from destruction, move them to places of honor and restore them to the period when they flourished in order to demonstrate to future generations Burlington County’s deep respect and support for education.


The third lecture of the season will be conducted on Wednesday, December 12, the ominous 12/12/12. In the spirit of the hype and apprehension associated with this date – and its proximity to the last day of the Mayan Calendar (12/21/12), Joe thought he’d tackle another topic from his portfolio, going back to the 1984/85 return of Halley’s Comet, 27 years ago, when he was known as “The Comet Man” for his educational efforts dealing with the perennial 75-year orbit and periodic returns of the most famous of comets, Halley’s Comet. He calls this lecture: “Coping with 12/12/12: Halley’s Comet – The Other Portent of Doom.” Leaving the scientific theories about comets to certified astronomers, the focus of Joe’s talk is mainly the whimsy associated with the return of Halley’s Comet and the superstitions it spawned, leading to the creation of unusual antidotes to ward off exaggerated evil effects of comet dust and the possible destruction of the Earth because of the comet’s imagined collision course with our planet. Joe traveled the world in the early 1980s conducting research on previous visits of the comet to Earth’s vicinity and the reaction of the public to its mysterious antics and uncanny regularity. He will show pictures of etchings, paintings, tapestries and commentaries dealing with Halley sightings in 684, 1066, 1145 and 1311 and assess the hype associated with the more recent returns of the comet in 1835, 1910, and 1986. Halley’s Comet is due back again in 2061, just a little under 50 years from now. Should the world end before the 7:00 p.m. start of the lecture, there will be no need for refunds, since the lecture is free.





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