March 15, 2009

Genealogy Prompt #9 - Lincoln-Douglas Debates Lecture

Lincoln And Douglas Debate, IL, 1858.

This past week I attended a lecture at our local library on the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. No, this wasn't a genealogical event in the strictest of sense, but it WAS held in the genealogy section of the library!

The speaker was the Hon. Steele Hays whom I know from church. I've heard him speak on more than one occasion and he's always quick to point out that he's not a Lincoln scholar, but rather a Lincoln student. Judge Hays speaks with such passion and true interest in his subject that it's hard not to sit and listen for hours. And even though his voice may not have the strength it once did, the wit, wisdom, and rhythm of his speech makes you easily think you are indeed listening to a live version of the 16th president.

Besides the subject matter, I found it very interesting to look at the crowd. The lecture took place at 7:00 pm on a Thursday evening; the room was filled with about 30 - 40 people who ranged in age from a 5 week-old baby to folks in their 90s. Even more impressive was the fact that all these people braved the cold, dreary weather that had descended upon Conway. It's apparent our library is doing a great job by "booking" such volunteer lecturers as Judge Hays. And obviously there is a demand for it based upon the turnout!

As Judge Hays was speaking, I did notice a sign over his right shoulder. It mentioned that a volunteer was available to answer genealogy questions in the "Arkansas Room" during a 3 hour period on Wednesdays. I found myself thinking, "You know...when I'm retired in the distant future, I'll definitely have to do that!" I've relied on volunteers many times over the years and have always been amazed at how helpful and friendly fellow genealogists were. The sign reminded me just how great a hobby this is!

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