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Spring 2023 Lecture Series

The Gilded Age Years: Transforming America

Change can be exciting. It can also be unsettling. During the Gilded Age, change was happening at a pace unmatched in American history.

What you need to know

The Gilded Age Years: Transforming America at The Breakers has closed.

Americans went from horse-drawn to motor-driven, oil lamplight to electric light, farmwork to factory labor, handmade to assembly line-produced, all in a few tumultuous decades. Mass communications, easy long-distance travel, leisure time and recorded entertainment reached millions for the first time.

Besides familiar names like Vanderbilt, Carnegie, Edison and Hunt, how much do you know about this period that transformed America? Or rather, how much don’t you know? Find out by taking a deep dive with the Preservation Society’s series “The Gilded Age Years: Transforming America.”

In this six-part series at The Breakers – a place that epitomizes the Gilded Age – we will journey through an era that gave shape to the country we know today. Our distinguished guest speakers will illuminate the period between the Civil War and the dawn of the 20th century, examining the people, events and inventions that forever shaped our nation’s cultural fabric.


Past Lecture

The Gilded Age: Past and Present

April 13, 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Are we living in a second Gilded Age? The transformative years of the late 19th and early 20th centuries left a lasting legacy for our world today. Speaker: Dr. Michael Patrick Cullinane

This event has ended.
Past Lecture

The Gilded Years: The First Information Age

April 20, 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Technologies like the telegraph, phonograph, photography and even the sewing machine revolutionized communication, connecting and shrinking the world. Speaker: Matthew Bird

This event has ended.
Past Lecture

The Many Playgrounds of an Industrial Age

May 4, 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Visit the heyday of Northeastern vacation spots from the Adirondacks to Coney Island, from Martha’s Vineyard to the Catskills, and from Saratoga to Newport. Speaker: Will B. Mackintosh

This event has ended.
Past Lecture

Age of the Machine: The Fight to Reinvent Democracy in the Gilded Age

May 18, 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm

The Gilded Age is notorious as a time of rampant political corruption. It was also a time when reformers ignited a reinvention of American democracy. Speaker: T.J. Stiles

This event has ended.
Past Lecture

Creating a New American Image: Architecture, 1870-1910

June 1, 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm

The first tall commercial buildings and the grandest of mansions are icons of the Gilded Age, but they were not the only architectural changes taking place. Speaker: Richard Guy Wilson

This event has ended.
Past Lecture

Under the Gold-Plating: Everyday Americans in the Gilded Age

June 15, 2023 6:00pm – 7:00pm

Who were the everyday people in this period of industrialization and urbanization? What were their struggles and triumphs? Speaker: Nancy C. Unger

This event has ended.

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