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Another donor steps forward to keep history program at Hoag

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 19 December 2013 at 12:00 am

File photo by Tom Rivers – Hoag Library in Albion in April honored three local historians for leading programs at the library for many years. The group includes, from left, Gaines historian Dee Robinson, Albion historian Neil Johnson and Bill Lattin, the Orleans County historian.

ALBION – Just when it looked like Hoag Library would have to shelve its local history lecture series due to budget constraints, donors have stepped forward in the past day to keep two local historians as regularly scheduled speakers at the library.

An anonymous donor has committed to paying Dee Robinson, the Gaines town historian, to prepare 10 lectures as part of a “Tea with Dee” series the first Tuesdays each month at noon.

Robinson, a reference librarian at Hoag, is a past president of a state association of historians. She often speaks about trail-blazing women in the community from more than a century ago. That includes Jennie Curtis of Albion, the first woman spy for the Union during the Civil War.

Robinson has researched women who worked as lawyers, doctors and nurses in the community in the 1800s. She has compiled many of those stories in a book, “Historical Amnesia,” about women’s role in local history.

The donor will cover the $650 expense for 10 presentations. Robinson and Neil Johnson, who also gives 10 lectures about local history each year, take the summers off when the library is busy with a summer reading program.

Johnson, the Albion village historian since 1982, will stay on the library schedule thanks to Debbie and Scott Dragon who are sponsors of Johnson’s “Take a Bite Out Of History” talks for 2014.

Johnson gives his talks on the third Wednesday of each month from 12:15 to 12:45 p.m., except in July and August.

Both Johnson and Robinson have developed a loyal following in recent years with the history discussions. The two historians, along with County Historian Bill Lattin, were honored by the library in April for leading many programs over the years.