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Historian Alan Taylor to speak in Ogdensburg


OGDENSBURG — Pulitzer Prize-winning author Alan Taylor next month will give a free public lecture discussing the War of 1812, focusing on the battles that took place along the Canadian border.

The event at 7 p.m. June 3 will be hosted by PBS station WCNY and the Fort La Presentation Association and will take place in the Dobisky Visitors Center, 100 Riverside Ave.

“I’m very excited,” said Barbara J. O’Keefe, president of the Fort La Presentation Association. “This was just a wonderful opportunity. He’s an excellent speaker.”

Mr. Taylor, a professor of history at the University of California at Davis and author of “The Civil War of 1812,” is able to hold a crowd’s attention, said Melissane Parm Schrems, a history professor at St. Lawrence University, Canton.

Mrs. Schrems studied under Mr. Taylor in the 1990s as a graduate student at Boston University.

“You don’t have to be a history geek — although there’s nothing wrong with that — to want to attend the lecture,” Mrs. Schrems said. “He has a way of making history real for his audience.”

Mrs. Schrems said this will be a great opportunity for people to get to know the history of the region.

“The north country has a very interesting, very vibrant history,” she said. “I am surprised that people aren’t more familiar with it.”

Mrs. O’Keefe said she hopes the lecture helps people understand the historical wealth of the region.

“We have been given a gift in that we have the battlefields,” she said.

Regardless of someone’s level of interest or knowledge about the War of 1812, Mrs. O’Keefe said, they should attend the event.

“Some historians are boring,” she said. “Alan isn’t.”

The lecture was made possible by a grant from the National Park Service’s American Battlefield Protection Program.

After the lecture, members of the audience will be encouraged to share their opinions about whether battlefields from the War of 1812 should be preserved.

The feedback may be included as part of a WCNY-produced documentary about battlefields of the War of 1812 in Ogdensburg, Oswego, Plattsburgh and Sackets Harbor.

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