Tag Archives: Four Girls at Chautauqua

Postcards from Chautauqua: Saturday in the Park with Pansy

8 Aug

A Sunset service at Palestine Park

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“Nevertheless, she suffered herself to be persuaded to go for a walk, provided Eurie would go to Palestine….Flossy explained to her that she had a consuming desire to wander along the banks of the Jordan and view those ancient cities, historic now.” (Four Girls at Chautauqua)

Sometimes, I really, really wish I could take the Way Back Machine and latch onto Pansy’s group as they enjoyed the apparently mesmerizing lectures by a flamboyant Middle Eastern-born tour guide named Augustus Oscar Van Lennep. Not content to introduce the lakeside miniature Holy Lands that are a relic of Chautauqua’s Sunday School Assembly days, this enterprising, creative fellow dolled up in “Oriental” costume to give his lectures. That’s our man below, lounging in Rajah-like style, while his indulgent friends retain their upright Victorian postures.

Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives.

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Gus must have had an equally fun set of folks who joined him—witness his jolly crew of costumed believers at Palestine Park in 1875/6-ish. Can you imagine??? Oh, how much fun must that have been!

Courtesy of the Chautauqua Institution Archives.

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Alas, today the Park is largely neglected and used more as a family playground than an instructional living map.

I’ve been studying a 1920’s Bible Atlas by Jesse Lyman Hurlbut (Chautauqua lecturer, founding father, and big-time booster) to gain a working knowledge of the Holy Lands. As Dr. Vincent believed, I think understanding the topography and layout, relative distances and terrain of Palestine environs is extremely helpful when reading Scripture. I mean, when you see how far Gideon and his 300 brave soldiers had to track the Philistines, you really do understand why he was so angered when the locals wouldn’t give them any foods to keep their strength up!

According the Pansy’s many charming references to the Palestine Park, students were treated to not only the basic layout, but tiny townscapes and identifying plaques dotted the carefully crafted map. Bible verses connecting each significant stop provided context—and reasserted the importance of the location for the Christ-following traveler.

Today, in an effort to keep the residual charm of the place, small cast iron plaques are embedded along the landscape—they’re kept painted and somewhat landscaped. I understand there’s a “tour” each Sunday night and I hope to attend it someday.

I paced off various Bible place names made familiar by my Old Testament studies and was genuinely surprised to see how concentrated a radius these events encompassed. Here’s Jerusalem in relation to the Mount of Olives, only a stone’s throw from Bethany.

Mount Hermon in the distance provides the perfect “king of the hill” locale for the resort’s kiddie population. The impressive crevasse made me wonder if erosion hadn’t made the Jordan Valley a bit too deep?

“Here we are, on ‘Jordan’s stormy banks…I suppose there was never a more perfect geographical representation than this.” (Four Girls at Chautauqua)

Compared to the vintage postcards you’ll find in this blog’s archived Chautauqua posts (see the links at the conclusion of this post), I’d say the accuracy factor might be off a bit these days.

I found it charming that Jericho was in “ruins”—the flat-topped ancient buildings crumbled and scattered, like those of Hebron (though I’m not certain these ruins were intentional.)

Is someone is tending Jacob’s Well? Even on the dry day I visited, it was filled with water.

My favorite? The truly little town of Bethlehem.

I read the plaque as I exited the park, wistful at the thought of those tent-dwelling Sunday School teachers, nestling eagerly beside the “Mediterranean Sea” and along the shores of the Jordan, to understand more about the lands their spiritual ancestors walked.

What would they make of this rarely visited, gently poignant reminder of the Park’s original purpose? Today, no Bible markers or tablets grace the small stony stand-ins, no tiny replica buildings remain to represent scenes from the life of Jesus as they did in Pansy’s time. I turned my gaze to Chautauqua Lake, imagining the steamer pulling up to the nearby dock and unloading four lively 19th century girls, eager for fun, not knowing they would never be the same, thanks to their time in this beautiful place.

“Now, the actual fact is, that those three people wandered around that far-away land until the morning vanished … They went from Bethany to Bethel, and from Bethel to Shechem, and they even climbed Mount Hermon’s snowy peak and looked about on the lovely plain below. In every place there was Bible reading …” (Four Girls at Chautauqua)

Thanks for allowing me to share these mementos with you of my all-too-brief Chautauqua visit. My hope and prayer is to return soon to follow further in Isabella’s footsteps.

My fascination has led me to launch a tribute Chautauqua Literary & Science Circle reading plan—I’m pairing 19th century texts with contemporary works and next August, I hope to carry the Pansy Year banner in the Recognition Day parade. Interested readers can follow along with my literary journey at my blog, The Hall in the Grove.

Dusting off my sandals,
Karen

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If you missed previous posts about Chautauqua Institution, you can read them by clicking on the links below:

Postcards from Chautauqua – Pansy-trod Pathways

Postcards from Chautauqua – On a Pilgrimage

Postcards from Chautauqua – Summer of 2017

A Tour of Chautauqua: Getting There

A Tour of Chautauqua: Strolling the Grounds

A Tour of Chautauqua: Where to Stay

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

A Tour of Chautauqua: Having Fun

A Tour of Chautauqua: The Teachers’ Retreat

A Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

100 Years Ago at Chautauqua

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Postcards from Chautauqua: Pansy-trod Pathways

2 Aug

“I was coming down the hill, away off, you know, by the post office…”
(Four Girls at Chautauqua)

A walk through Bestor Plaza, toward the fountain and the library beyond.

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“All the younger portion of the congregation seemed to be rushing back up the hill again…”
(Four Girls at Chautauqua)

On day two of my Chautauqua wanderings, I stopped for a breather in lovely Bestor Plaza (the perpetual hill-climbing here is murder!). This carefully tended, beautifully landscaped watering hole and gathering spot commemorates the life and contributions of Arthur Bestor, Chautauqua’s president from 1915 to until his death in 1944.

The keynotes of his presidency are struck in the centrally placed fountain, where monumental icons to Knowledge, Religion, Music, and Art dominate the waterworks.

While I cooled my heels and absorbed the view, I noticed a Post Office in one corner of the Plaza and followed my curiosity there.

The Chautauqua post office, as it appeared in the 1920s

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Hoping to find postcards, I instead found a delightful hybrid of contemporary governmental efficiency and mid-Victorian charm. No one was around to quiz about the dates and history, so I let my imagination wander as I snapped these personal postcards.

Did Isabella post a few notes to her friends from this window?

Did Pansy receive some of her fan mail via one of these charmingly designed post office boxes?

Did someone from the Alden household purchase stamps here?

Did Pansy send her niece Grace to claim a package here?

Did this busy hive of cubbies shelter a stirring new work by a favorite author for Pansy to read sitting on a lakeside rustic bench?

How many newspapers passed through here to enlighten and entertain the 19th century crowd?

Discovering artistically elaborate fittings like these for something as pedestrian as mailboxes confirms my belief that Chautauqua’s ongoing commitment to enriching every aspect of life is more than lip service. Their original ideals of glorifying each element of one’s life—dedicating it to the Lord and ennobling the humblest of tasks—is inspiring and convicting.

Take a close look at the door frame of the Postmaster’s office. See the totally unnecessary but utterly beautiful detail there? Maybe it’s time for us to imitate those who recognized that every moment of our days, no matter how mundane, can be an opportunity to worship the Creator Who made all things beautiful?

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Finding my roots (and leaves and blossoms)

“The museum was not; it had not yet been evolved. Neither had the lovely hall. Where it stands was a grove…I dreamed out many a flower-strewn path leading to it…”
(Eighty-Seven)

As I left the Post Office, I admired the plaza’s beautiful flower beds, brimming with summer’s prettiest blooms.

The flowers reminded me of yesterday’s pilgrimage to The Hall in the Grove and some touchingly innocent 19th century floral-themed mosaics that wreathed the speaker’s platform, celebrating the C.L.S.C.’s earliest classes. Can you even imagine a contemporary co-ed reading circle allowing themselves to be dubbed “The Pansy Class”? Hardly.

I loved all these timeless tributes, but one class year stopped me in my tracks. There they were, my spiritual, cultural, and literary “ancestors”—the C.L.S.C. Class of 1884: “Irrepressibles.” While I obviously feel a deep kinship with all things Pansy, I must admit everything in me said “Yes!” as I stood, motionless, before this joyful declaration of literary enthusiasm.

So, this day, while I enjoyed the blaze of seasonal glory, I nodded a special ‘hello” to my new favorite flower, the confident, courageous lily. The buoyant Class of 1884 couldn’t have a better floral representation than the trumpet-shaped blossom that symbolically celebrates Christ’s promise of eternal life.

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Irrepressibly His, Karen.

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In her final Postcards guest post, Karen guides us on a walk through Chautauqua’s miniature Holy Land.

If you missed previous posts about Chautauqua Institution, you can read them by clicking on the links below:

Postcards from Chautauqua – On a Pilgrimage

Postcards from Chautauqua – Summer of 2017

A Tour of Chautauqua: Getting There

A Tour of Chautauqua: Strolling the Grounds

A Tour of Chautauqua: Where to Stay

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

A Tour of Chautauqua: Having Fun

A Tour of Chautauqua: The Teachers’ Retreat

A Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

100 Years Ago at Chautauqua

Postcards from Chautauqua—Summer of 2017

19 Jul

For Isabella Alden there were few places on earth more dear to her than Chautauqua Institution. She spent many summers there, and was greatly involved in the Chautauqua Literary and Scientific Circle (C.L.S.C.).

You can judge just how great an impact Chautauqua had on her by the loving manner in which she described the place in her Chautauqua books, which she wrote in the late 1890s and early 1900s.

Chautauqua Institution is still a thriving summer destination for thousands of people. Earlier this month, Karen Noske, a regular reader of this blog, took a trip to Chautauqua. Today she is sharing the highlights of her quest to see for herself  the beloved Chautauqua locations Isabella so dearly loved and faithfully described in her books.

Take it away, Karen!


Like many of Pansy’s fans, I’ve longed to walk the “tree-shaded” avenues of her hallowed Chautauqua, and decided to take the plunge this summer, as I live only about 3 hours east.

For your enjoyment and education, I offer these guest posts as a sort of “now and then” view of many of the places mentioned in her books Eighty-Seven, The Hall in the Grove, and Four Girls at Chautauqua.

I’ve limited my review to those seminal books as they hold some of the richest treasures for modern-day Chautauquans and fans.

(For much more detailed information about this cultural retreat, you can find a list of previous posts about Chautauqua at the end of this post.)

Climbing ever higher

I should have paid more attention to the carefully worded descriptions of Isabella Alden’s favorite summer retreat, Chautauqua. In her marvelously descriptive and touching books about its lakeside, forested environs, she often mentioned that her characters “went down” to the lake or “went up” to the dining tent or the grove.

As I breathlessly labored to keep from running pell-mell down the steep inclines that make up 90% of the avenues here, I realized she’d been remarkably coy about this physical aspect of the grounds. Mountain goats would love this place.

After stowing my meager luggage in one of the many charming cottages that cling defiantly to the nearly vertical hillside, I hiked up to my first stop—the Archives, where I hoped to meet Pansy by way of her works.

This small brick building houses the full complement of the C.L.S.C. volumes, from the year of this reading circle’s inception (1878) to the present day.

Her eyes lighted with pleasure as she recognized it. This, at least, was an old friend: Philosophy of the Plan of Salvation. She did not need to read the letters on the title page to make sure that the book—so like her own—bore that name. “C.L.S.C?” she said, hardly realizing that she said it.

(The Hall in the Grove, pg 202)

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I was delighted to find Pansy’s The Hall in the Grove (required reading for the C.L.S.C. class of 1881-82) snuggled between weightier academic tomes shown here.

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I hunted for, and found the impossibly dense (reportedly dry, according to more than one The Hall in the Grove character!) Merivale’s History of Rome … one brief dip into it made me admire “Paul Adams,” “James Ward,” and “‘Pick ‘Em Up’ Caroline Raynor” all the more for virtually memorizing its contents.

How utterly hopeless it looked to him! He read over the first sentences six times without having an idea as to their meaning…

(The Hall in the Grove, pg 90)

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I learned from the very helpful, very gentlemanly guardian of these treasures that one can indeed become a member of C.L.S.C. without having to limit oneself to the current crop of books! He assured me that I could “graduate” with a future Chautauqua class by reading a specified number of ANY C.L.S.C. materials, from any year!

“We are bound in honor to undertake all manner of work which will develop the spirit of Christian love and fellowship; it is the central feature of our organization … always with a view to reaching hearts as well as intellects. Why don’t you join us?”

(Eighty-Seven, pg 188)

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Karen’s next Postcard from Chautauqua will feature The Hall of Christ and the Hall in the Grove.


If you missed previous posts about Chautauqua Institution, you can read them by clicking on the links below:

A Tour of Chautauqua: Getting There

A Tour of Chautauqua: Strolling the Grounds

A Tour of Chautauqua: Where to Stay

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

A Tour of Chautauqua: Having Fun

A Tour of Chautauqua: The Teachers’ Retreat

A Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

100 Years Ago at Chautauqua

 

 

 

Getting from Here to There

8 Mar

Isabella Alden lived during the golden age of train travel, and her books reflected the time. At the turn of the last century, an intricate systems of railroad tracks and heavy, powerful locomotives connected nearby towns and far-away locations.

Train travel ad from Harper’s Monthly magazine, 1909.

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Railroads made it possible for people to easily travel to summer resorts, as Eurie, Marion, Ruth, and Flossy did in Four Girls at Chautauqua. Advertisements made distant American destinations sound exotic and adventurous.

Preparing to board, 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

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But railroad travel also made it possible for people to quickly and economically travel short distances between towns.

In Christie’s Christmas, Christie Tucker set off on a simple, twenty-mile train ride to visit her relatives for the day in a neighboring town.

The rural station at Galion, Ohio.

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Christie’s parents arranged the trip based on the arrival and departure times that were posted at the train station closest to their farm. Christie’s mother told her:

“You are to go up on the train that passes at seven in the morning, and come back on the six o’clock, and that will give you nine whole hours at your Uncle Daniel’s. I’m sure that will give you time to see a good many things.”

The arrival board at London’s North Western Railways station, 1905. The large numbers displayed on the right indicate the platform number of the arriving train.

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The trip was a thrilling adventure for a girl who lived on a farm miles from the nearest neighbor or school.

And though train travel was fairly economical, Christie’s parents had to scrimp and save to afford the fare:

“Eight-five cents there, and eighty-five cents back; that’s a dollar and seventy cents! It seems a good deal to spend; but it is your birthday, and it is Christmas day, and you’ve worked hard, and father and Karl and I think you ought to go.”

To accomplish her day trip, Christie probably traveled in a standard Pullman car, with its narrow seats that faced both front and back.

Interior of a standard Pullman car, 1910 (from the Library of Congress).

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By contrast, Miss Mary Brown (in The Browns at Mount Hermon) could afford to travel in luxury. When Mary left the mid-western village of Centerville, it took her two full days to travel by train to California. Her accommodations probably included a seat in a very nice club car during the day.

A posh car on the Chicago and Alton Railroad, 1910.

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For the overnight portion of her journey, Mary could have secured a berth in a sleeping car.

No matter how long the journey, travel by train usually took preparation. Travelers had to consult departure timetables and plan for connections between railroad lines.

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In those days, travelers had to visit their local train station to obtain printed routes and schedules. But if an in-person visit wasn’t possible, they wrote a letter to the railroad’s passenger agent to ask for help in planning their journey.

The station master wrote back with instructions, usually accompanied by printed schedules.

A printed timetable for the New York Central & Hudson River Railroad.

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An 1881 timetable for Nantasket Beach Railroad (from WikiMedia Commons)

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Once on board, train passengers were ruled by the train’s conductor. It was his job to ensure the train arrived on time at each stop, and that his passengers’ needs were taken care of.

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For the most part, train travel was incredibly efficient. The Georgia Railroad claimed their trains were so timely, residents in the city of Atlanta could set their clocks by the sound of trains going by.

It was also a relatively safe mode of travel. An in an age when few women walked a city street without a chaperone, many women felt comfortable traveling alone by train.

Women traveling alone, 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

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No matter how long the journey, train travel could be tedious; and it was up to the passengers to find ways to entertain themselves.

Passing time with a magazine and a deck of cards, 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

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With the exception of Caroline Bryant, who slept through her train ride in Twenty Minutes Late, Isabella’s characters usually accomplished their journeys by making new friends of their fellow passengers.

A game of chess on board, 1905 (from the Library of Congress)

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That’s what Christie Tucker did. When her twenty-mile train ride came to an unexpected halt because of trouble on the tracks ahead, she set out to make herself useful to her fellow passengers, and reaped unexpected rewards in the process.

Many more of Isabella’s books featured travel by train than those mentioned in this post. Do you have a favorite Pansy character who road the rails? Please use the comment section below to share your favorite.

All aboard! Passengers prepare to depart on the California Limited, part of the Santa Fe Railroad, in 1905 (from the Library of Congress).

If you’d like to learn more about train travel in Isabella’s time, visit Rails West.
Be sure to view their page on overnight accommodations, where they have some interesting illustrations of sleeping cars on trains.

 

Clothes Pansy’s Characters Might have Worn

4 Aug

There’s a new Isabella Alden Pinterest board for you to view: “Clothes Pansy’s characters might have worn” is a budding collection of clothing, jewelry, hats and shoes from the time period in which Isabella wrote her books.

This brown suit (from about 1880) might have been similar to the suit Marian Wilbur wore in Four Girls at Chautauqua.

Brown gown

And this delicate gown may remind you of the gown Flossy Shipley ruined in the rain on her first visit to Chautauqua.

Wool Twill Embroidered Dress c 1885

You’ll also see several black gowns that Ruth Burnham might have worn (she never wore any other color) in the book Ruth Erskine’s Crosses.

Ruth Erksine black dress

You’ll find examples of traveling costumes, day dresses, tea gowns, and walking suits, as well as some jewelry, purses, and shoes to help you visualize Isabella’s beloved characters as you read her books. Click here to view Isabella’s Pinterest board now.

Quotable

15 Jul

Are you going to do suPansies by Paul de Longpre 1900ch work for Christ that—hundreds of years after—your influence will be silently living and working out its fruit in human hearts?

—from Four Girls at Chautauqua

 

Frank Beard’s Chalk Talk

11 Jan

Chalk Talk

Frank Beard was one of the most popular lecturers at Chautauqua Institution. His Chalk Talk lectures drew standing-room-only crowds because of their pitch-perfect blend of humor, art and Biblical truths.

Black and white sketch of the artist Frank Beard.In an 1895 interview, Frank recalled how his Chalk Talks came to be:

“I was a young artist in New York, and had just been married. My wife was an enthusiastic churchgoer; and a great deal of our courtship was carried on in going to and from the Methodist church. The result was that I struck a revival and became converted. This occurred shortly after I was married, and like other enthusiastic young Christians, I wanted to do all I could for the church.”

Soon after he joined the church, the congregation put together an evening of entertainment. The ladies, knowing of his talent, suggested that Frank draw some pictures as part of the program. Frank agreed, but he felt that just standing in front of an audience and sketching without saying anything about the pictures “would be a very silly thing.”

He decided instead to make a short talk and draw sketches to illustrate his points. The talk was to be given as part of a Thanksgiving celebration, and Frank later joked that he rehearsed in front of his wife, his mother-in-law, and the turkey. “Well, my wife survived, my mother-in-law did not die while I was talking, and the turkey was not spoiled.”

Black and white sketch of Frank Beard drawing at an easel. Seated in chairs watching are a young woman, an older woman and a plucked, headless turkey strapped in the third chair.

When he gave his talk in front of the congregation, it was a great success. Soon, other churches asked him to repeat his talk, and in very short order he had more invitations to speak than he could ever hope to accept. His wife suggested charging a fee for each lecture, hoping that the cost would deter organizations from inviting him to talk at their functions. So Frank dutifully began charging $30 per talk. The requests continued to pour in. He increased his fee to $40, then $50, but his talks continued to be in great demand.

Newspaper announcement of a Freank Beard lecture from the 10 Mar 1890 edition of the Rock Island Argus

Announcement in the March 10, 1890 edition of the Illinois newspaper, The Rock Island Argus

That was the birth of the Chalk Talk, and Frank soon hit the lecture circuit. He was one of the first speakers at Chautauqua Institution in New York; and he lectured at many of the daughter Chautauquas. This 1899 clipping from the Los Angeles Herald recounts Frank’s Chalk Talk at the Long Beach Chautauqua (which named July 19, 1899 Frank Beard Day):

Announcement of Frank Beard Day at the Long Beach Chautauqua; from The Los Angeles Herald, 20 Jul 1899

Announcement of Frank Beard Day at the Long Beach Chautauqua; from The Los Angeles Herald, 20 Jul 1899

The topics of his Chalk Talks ranged from morality tales to stories from the Bible, each told in a casual, funny, but reverent, way. He knew that people who wouldn’t listen to a “sermon” would listen to his Chalk-Talk if the truths were presented in an entertaining fashion.

In Four Girls at Chautauqua, Eurie Mitchell proved that very point. Eurie was so opposed to listening to “sermons” at Chautauqua, she refused to go to any of the lectures; but when she heard about Frank Beard’s caricatures, she decided to go see him for herself.

If you have never seen Frank Beard make pictures, you know nothing about what a good time she had. They were such funny pictures! Just a few strokes of the magic crayon and the character described would seem to start into life before you, and you would feel that you could almost know what thoughts were passing in the heart of the creature made of chalk. Eurie looked and listened and laughed.

In Isabella’s book, Frank’s Chalk Talk was able to do what no other lecture at Chautauqua could: reach Eurie’s heart and lead her, ultimately, to salvation through Christ.

“Pictures can often tell stories quicker and better than words,” Frank once said, “and I believe that cartoons can be used in the service of religion, righteousness, truth, and justice.”

Black and white drawing of a man standing at a blackboard drawing a circle by moving his arm in a wide round motion

To prove his point, he once asked, “If you were commissioned to teach a child the nature of a circle, would you begin by stating that a circle is an area, having for its center a point, and bounded by a circumference in the nature of an endless imaginary line, which at all points is at an equal distance from the center? No! You would do nothing of the sort, but you would [show] its nature and properties [by drawing a circle] in black and white.”

Sometimes the subjects of his Chalk Talks were very simple. He told a story, for example, of how a blackboard and chalk could be used to teach a Sunday-school class of young children who had never before seen the Christian symbol of a cross inside the shape of a heart. He started by drawing the simple outline of a heart on the blackboard.

A simple sketch of a heart-shape in white chalk against a black background“What is this?”

“A heart!”

“Yes, a heart. Now, I mean this to represent a particular heart—I mean it for my heart. What is it now?”

“Your heart!”

“Don’t forget that. Now, see what else I will draw.” And he drew a child’s face within the heart.

“Now what have I made?”

Drawing in white chalk of a child's face inside the shape of a heart“A little boy!” “A little girl!” “A little child!” Variously cried the children.

“Yes, a little child; but where is the child?”

“In the heart.”

“In the heart?”

“In your heart.”

“That’s right. Now, what does it represent? When I tell you that I have a little child in my heart, what does it mean?”

A chalk sketch of a cross inside the shape of a heart against a black background“You mean you love the child.”

“Exactly. Now I will rub out the child and put a cross in the heart. What does that mean?”

“You love the cross.”

Then he went on to explain in a simple way what loving the cross meant.

He also shared an example of one of his lessons for older children and adolescents. He used this lesson to illustrate the concept of the narrow Christian path described in Matthew 7:13-14:

A young man is attracted by the appearance of beauty and the pleasure along the broad way. Timidly at first, for he is not bad and rather fears evil—but he loves play and pleasure—so he steps into it. He knows it is not the right way to take but he thinks to himself:

Chalk drawing of the head of a nicely-dressed young man wearing a hat.

“After a while, after I have had a good time, I will go over to the right path and come out all right after all.”

Chalk Drawing of the head of a frowning young man wearing a hat and smoking a cigarette

Frank went on to explain how the young man fell in with evil companions and was drawn further away from the good path.

Chalk drawing of the head of an old man with disheveled clothes and hat, smoking rumbled cigarette.

The young man learned to smoke and chew tobacco and read books “which mislead and give us wrong notions in life, that make heroes of scamps, thieves and liars.”

Chalk Ddawing of the head of an old man, hunched over, wearing disheveled clothes and hat.

As Frank continued the lesson, he amended and enhanced his original drawing to show the progressive results of the choices the young man made in his life.

Wherever he gave his Chalk Talks, he was well received, and his reputation grew. But not everyone was a fan of using a blackboard and chalk as teaching tools in the Sunday-school. Frank shared a story about one church that decided to use a man in their congregation—they assumed he had talent because he was a sign painter by profession—to illustrate Sunday-school lessons. The man decided to illustrate the story of Samuel as a child, entering the apartment of the high priest Eli in answer to his summons. His efforts were not well received.

Chalk drawing of Samuel running towards Eli who is in bed.

“Some objected to the bed-posts,” Frank said. “Some didn’t exactly know why, but the drawing didn’t conform to their idea of Samuel at all, and, more over, Eli’s nose was out of proportion.”

Chalk drawing of the Bible story of David and Goliath

The man’s next attempt didn’t fare any better, when he drew Goliath about thirty-five feet high in proportion to David. In fact, the congregation didn’t like anything at all about the poor sign-painter’s efforts at the blackboard.

Isabella Alden’s book Links in Rebecca’s Life featured a character who also disliked Chalk-Talk style lectures. She was a Sunday-school teacher who hated chalk and blackboards.

“They are such horrid dusty things. You get yourself all covered with chalk, and just ruin your clothes. I can hardly wear anything decent here as it is. If I had a blackboard, I should give up in despair.”

“I should think it would be a great help in teaching children,” Rebecca said.

“Well, I don’t know. What could I do with it? I don’t know how to draw, and as for making lines and marks and dots, I am not going to make an idiot of myself. What’s the use?”

But Frank Beard believed no special talent was required for a teacher to incorporate chalkboard drawings into Sunday-school lessons.

“Many are apt to think some extraordinary genius is necessary to fit a teacher to use the blackboard,” he said. “It is a mistake. You can teach better with a pencil than without. You can learn to draw far better than you ever imagined possible.”

Drawings of two different versions of a church and a cross; one version showing the wrong perspective and one version showing the correct perspective.

Illustrations from Frank’s book showing the right (Figures 43, 45) and wrong (Figures 42, 44) way to draw an image in perspective.

In 1896 Frank published a book for Sunday-school workers; in it he gave simple instructions for using the blackboard to illustrate Bible lessons.

Example of a simple but artistic way to write "The Lord is my shepherd" in chalk on the blackboard

Two examples of chalk talk methods for writing "what a friend we have in Jesus" on the chalkboard.

His book included how-to’s on perspective, lettering, and using easy-to-draw symbols as illustrations. Here are some of the symbols he illustrated:

Drawing of a crown with the word "Honor" written below. Drawing of a key with the word "Knowledge" written below. Drawing of a star with the word "Promise" written below. Drawing of a cross with the word "Salvation" written below. Drawing of an ancient oil lamp with the word "Wisdom" written below.

The purpose of writing the book, he said, “is to show how the blackboard can be used in the Sunday-school, and to furnish such instruction in drawing upon it” so it can be done in the most effective way.

drawing of a Victorian-era woman darwing with chalk on a blackboard in front of children seated on chairs in front of her

Illustration from Frank Beard’s book, Chalk Lessons

He was quick to say that he didn’t want the blackboard to monopolize the Sunday-school or supplant other useful forms of instruction. But, if used correctly, Frank Beard proved that the blackboard—and Chalk Talks—could be the “instrument which proves effective as a means of winning souls to Christ.”

 


 

"Taught by Pictures." "Frank Beard believes in the cartoon in religion." A Chat with the Artist." "How He Came to Invent the Chal Talk." "War-Time Caricatures"In 1895 Frank Beard gave an interview to the Washington D.C. newspaper The Evening Star. Click on this image to read the interview in which Frank tells how he invented the Chalk Talk:

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Cover_Links in Rebecca's LifeClick on the book cover to learn more about Links in Rebecca’s Life.

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Cover Box Set books 1-3 Click on the book cover to learn more about Four Girls at Chautauqua.

 

A Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

16 Oct

At Chautauqua, opportunities for learning weren’t confined to classrooms and lecture halls. Dr. John Vincent, a Methodist minister and co-founder of the Chautauqua Institute, was a great proponent of learning in the out-of-doors. He embraced the forest setting and set out to make Chautauqua the standard for open air summer schools throughout the country and the world.

Chautauqua Model of Palestine One notable example of Dr. Vincent’s vision of a fresh-air classroom was Palestine Park. He came up with the concept of making a miniature model of the Holy Land so students could get a visual sense of the settings they learned about in their Bible classes.

Sign describing Palestine Park

Text of the sign posted at the entrance to Palestine Park. Click on the image to see a larger version.

Palestine Park was constructed near the pier on the shore of Lake Chautauqua. The lake itself represented the Mediterranean Sea. Nearby were representations of the cities of the Philistines, Joppa and Caesarea, Tyre and Sidon.

The Mountain Region showed the famous places of Israelite history from Beersheba to Dan. The sacred mountains Olivet and Zion, Ebal and Gerizem were built. And there were also the River Jordan, the Sea of Galilee, and the Dead Sea.

Guide Book to Palestine ParkSmall plaques identified each place of interest and included Bible verses that mentioned the site. In 1920 Dr. Jesse Lyman Hurlbut published a guide to Chautauqua’s Palestine Park. Click on this cover image to read Dr. Hurlbut’s guide.

 

Old postcard of Chautauquans enjoying Palestine Park.

The model of Palestine was one of the most popular sites at Chautauqua. Theology students regularly walked the area of Palestine Park, notebooks in hands. And Sunday school teachers held classes there, sometimes on the hills around Nazareth to illustrate a lesson on the boyhood of Jesus.

A Lecture on the Model of Palestine 1895

A Lecture on the Model of Palestine, 1895

Isabella Alden was very familiar with Palestine Park, and described it in Four Girls at Chautauqua. In the book, Eurie Mitchell and Flossy Shipley decide to walk to Palestine together one evening:

“Come,” Eurie said, “you have been to meetings enough, and you haven’t taken a single walk with me since we have been here, and think of the promises we made to entertain each other.”

Flossy laughed cheerfully.

“We have been entertained, without any effort on our part,” she said. Nevertheless she suffered herself to be persuaded to go for a walk, provided Eurie would go to Palestine.

“What nonsense!” Eurie said, disdainfully, when Flossy had explained to her that she had a consuming desire to wander along the banks of the Jordan, and view those ancient cities, historic now. “However, I would just as soon walk in that direction as any other.”

There was one other person who, it transpired, would as soon take a walk as do anything else just then. He joined the girls as they turned toward the Palestine road. That was Mr. Evan Roberts.

“Are you going to visit the Holy Land this morning, and may I be of your party?” he asked.

“Yes,” Flossy answered, whether to the first question, or to both in one, she did not say. Then she introduced Eurie, and the three walked on together, discussing the morning and the meetings with zest.

“Here we are, on ‘Jordan’s stormy banks,’” Mr. Roberts said, at last, halting beside the grassy bank. “I suppose there was never a more perfect geographical representation than this.”

“Do you really think it has any practical value?” Eurie asked, skeptically. Mr. Roberts looked at her curiously.

“Hasn’t it to you?” he said. “Now, to me, it is just brimful of interest and value; that is, as much value as geographical knowledge ever is. I take two views of it. If I never have an actual sight of the sacred land, by studying this miniature of it, I have as full a knowledge as it is possible to get without the actual view, and if I at some future day am permitted to travel there, why—well, you know, of course, how pleasant it is to be thoroughly posted in regard to the places of interest that you are about to visit; every European traveler understands that.”

“But do you suppose it is really an accurate outline?” Eurie said, again, quoting opinions that she had read until she fancied they were her own.

Again Mr. Roberts favored her with that peculiar look from under heavy eyebrows—a look half satirical, half amused.

“Some of the most skilled surveyors and traveled scholars have so reported,” he said, carelessly. “And when you add to that the fact that they are Christian men, who have no special reason for getting up a wholesale deception for us, and are supposed to be tolerably reliable on all other subjects, I see no reason to doubt the statement.”

On the whole, Eurie had the satisfaction of realizing that she had appeared like a simpleton.

Flossy, meantime, was wandering delightedly along the banks, stopping here and there to read the words on the little white tablets that marked the places of special interest.

“Do you see,” she said, turning eagerly, “that these are Bible references on each tablet? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know what they selected as the scene to especially mark this place?”

Mr. Roberta swung a camp-chair from his arm, planted it firmly in the ground, and drew a Bible from his pocket.

“Miss Mitchell,” he said, “suppose you sit down here in this road, leading from Jerusalem to Bethany, and tell us what is going on just now in Bethany, while Miss Shipley and I supply you with chapter and verse.”

“I am not very familiar with the text-book,” Eurie said. “If you are really in the village yourselves you might possibly inquire of the inhabitants before I could find the account.” But she took the chair and the Bible.

“Look at Matthew xxi. 17, Eurie,” Flossy said, stooping over the tablet, and Eurie read:

“‘And he left them, and went out of the city into Bethany; and he lodged there.’”

“That was Jesus, wasn’t it? Then he went this way, this very road, Eurie, where you are sitting!” It was certainly very fascinating.

“And stopped at the house on which you have your hand, perhaps,” Mr. Roberts said, smiling at her eager face.

“That might have been Simon’s house, for instance.”

“Did he live in Bethany? I don’t know anything about these things.”

“Eurie, look if you can find anything about him. The next reference is Matthew xxvi.”

And again Eurie read:

“‘Now when Jesus was in Bethany, in the house of Simon the leper.’”

“The very place!” Flossy said, again. “Oh, I want so much to know what happened then!”

Eurie, Flossy, and Mr. Roberts spent the better part of the day at Palestine Park, following the plaques from one location to the next and reading verses out of Mr. Roberts’s Bible.

Model of Palestine with Miller Park and Bell Tower in the background

Palestine Park was among the great attractions at Chautauqua and, as Isabella mentioned in her book, it received accolades from Biblical scholars of the time because of its accuracy and geographical precision.

But Palestine Park did have one major flaw, which was alluded to in the sign that marked the entrance to the model. In order to use Chautauqua Lake to represent the Mediterranean Sea, the geography of the Holy Land had to be flipped; north had to be south, and east was made the west.

Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, D.D.

Jesse Lyman Hurlbut, who regularly used the park as part of his theology lectures and children’s Sunday school classes, explained:

“Chautauqua has always been under a despotic though paternal government and its visitors easily accommodate themselves to its decrees. But the sun persists in its independence, rises over Chautauqua’s Mediterranean Sea where it should set, and continues its sunset over the mountains of Gilean, where it should rise. Dr. Vincent and Lewis Miller [the founders of the Chautauqua Institute] could bring to pass some remarkable, even seemingly impossible achievements, but they were not able to outdo Joshua and not only make the sun stand still, but set it moving in a direction opposite to its natural course.”

Over the years, Palestine Park was repaired, rebuilt and expanded to add a model of Jerusalem and its surrounding hills, as well as Bethlehem, Jericho, and other places of interest until, ultimately, it almost doubled in size.

 

Palestine Park as it looked in 1908

 

Palestine Park in 1914

Click on the map below to see where Palestine Park was located on the Chautauqua Institution grounds. You’ll find it on the shore of Lake Chautauqua near the steamboat landing at The Point.

Map of Chautauqua 1874

Next on our Tour of Chautauqua: A Healthy Body

A Tour of Chautauqua: Lectures and Classes

22 Sep

(Note: You can click on any of the images in this post to view a larger version.)

The Chautauqua Assembly had a modest beginning in 1874. It was originally conceived as a summer training program for Bible teachers; but from the start, the Chautauqua Assembly differed greatly from accepted Bible training of the time. At Chautauqua, Sunday school teachers gathered not in convention halls to hear reports and listen to speeches. Instead, they spent two or more weeks in the out-of-doors studying the Bible, attending classes, and collaborating together to create Sunday school lesson plans for use in churches across the country. From that modest beginning, the Chautauqua Institution grew and its mission expanded, as did its fame.

Report of a summer class on Robert’s Rules of Order, 1901

By 1885, when the twelfth annual Chautauqua Assembly was held, over seventy-five thousand people gathered—some for a day, some for a week and several thousand for the entire eight-week term of the Summer Assembly. While many still came to be trained and inspired as Sunday school teachers, others came to hear lectures and attend classes on the Bible, ancient history, science, and philosophy. They participated in experiments in chemistry, and studied the stars through telescopes. They learned languages of the world, including Hebrew, Latin or Greek; and received instruction in music and vocals.

Report of a Harvard Professor’s Lecture; 1901.

A remarkable element of the Chautauqua Summer Assembly was the level of course instruction. The best lecturers and teachers in the world came to Chautauqua. Renowned clergymen, famous statesmen, and college presidents lectured at the Assembly, as did Nobel Peace Prize winners and military heroes. Students with grade-school educations sat beside college graduates at lectures given by professors from Yale, Harvard, Cornell, Wellesley, Johns Hopkins and other prominent universities from the U.S. and Canada.

Chautauqua’s democratic culture extended beyond the classroom. The Reverend Jessie Lyman Hurlbut told of a woman who once said:

“Chautauqua cured me of being a snob, for I found that my waitress was a senior in a college, the chambermaid had specialized in Greek, the porter taught languages in a high school, and the bell-boy, to whom I had been giving nickel tips, was the son of a wealthy family in my own State who wanted a job to prove his prowess.”

1901 announcement of classes offered by a Princeton professor.

But not everyone was as open minded. Reverend Hurlbut also recalled chatting with a highly respected clergyman from England as they sat together at a hotel table. When he explained to the clergyman that their waiter was a college-student, working to earn money to continue his college coursework, the clergyman was offended. “I don’t like it, and it would not be allowed in my country. I don’t enjoy being waited on by a man who considers himself my social equal!”

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

 

The names of guest lecturers read like a Who’s Who of the time: G. K. Chesterton, H. G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw. Theodore Roosevelt attended four different years and when William Jennings Bryan took the podium, Chautauquans packed the Amphitheater to its utmost corners to hear him speak.

Lectures and classes were designed to educate and stimulate, to encourage Chautauquans to think globally and broaden their views. Students were urged to discuss lecture contents and ask questions so they had a full understanding of the issue or topic at hand.

06Chautauqua College

The Chautauqua College building.

The Chautauqua Summer Assembly was part of a wider Chautauqua system of education that included as many as eight different departments. Each department offered classes and lectures throughout the summer months of July and August.In July 1884 an individual could purchase a one-day admission to the Summer Assembly for 25¢. That admission cost gave them access to all lectures, classes and meetings except those conducted by the School of Languages and the Teachers Retreat. In August the cost of a one-day admission rose to 40¢.

Chautauqua Ticket, 1919

If you planned to stay longer, you could purchase admission for a week in July for $1.00, or $2.00 for a week in August. Or you could stay the entire summer term for $4.00.

Courses offered by the School of Business, 1901

Some special classes required a separate ticket. For example, 15 lessons in penmanship (including stationery) cost $2.50; a course in bookkeeping cost $3.00; 10 lessons in elocution cost $4.00; and 4 weeks of instruction in Hebrew cost $10.00.

Newsboys of the Chautauqua Assembly Herald

With so many available classes and so many activities to attend, Chautauquans had to schedule their days with precision. They mapped out their daily classes, lectures and activities by reading The Chautauqua Assembly Herald. This newspaper, published on-site every day but Sunday, listed the weeks’s offerings. It also gave an account of the speakers, meetings, and activities from the previous day. Eager Chautauquans took advantage of as many offerings as they could, often running from one event to another from 8:00 a.m. until 10:00 p.m.

Click on this link to view the July 29 and July 30, 1901 editions of  The Chautauqua Assembly Herald. On page 4 of each edition you’ll find a list of the week’s programs, meetings, lectures and classes.

11 Chautauqua Chimes 1924The Chautauqua Institution kept things running in a timely manner. Five minutes before the hour a bell rang, giving notice that the next event or class would begin promptly at the top of the hour. The sound of the bell usually resulted in a throng of people streaming out the door of one class in order to get to the next class on time. Bells marked the hour until 10:00 p.m. when the last night bell rang signaling quiet.

In Four Girls at Chautauqua, Flossy Shipley overheard a man say, as he ran past her, “Confound it all! Talk about getting away from these meetings! It’s no use; it can’t be done. A fellow might just as well stay here and run every time the bell rings. I heard more preaching today on this excursion than I did yesterday; and a good deal more astonishing preaching, too.”

An afternoon class in German, circa 1895.

With each passing year, the number of people attending the Summer Assembly increased, as did the number of schools and courses offered. For instance, in 1901 the School of Languages added Arabic and Assyrian to their offerings of French, German, Spanish, Latin, Hebrew and Greek. Students took classes in mathematics, oratory and expression, mineralogy and geology.

Art Lessons

There were classes in clay modeling and china painting, as well as classes in music and singing. Small cottages were erected in a far-away corner of the grounds where music students could practice their scales and exercises without disturbing their neighbors. One instructor wrote, “I am told that forty-eight pianos may be heard there all sending out music at once, and each a different tune.”

Cooking Class.

The School of Domestic Science attracted great attention. One instructor, Mrs. Emma Ewing, erected a model kitchen and taught ladies from all walks of life to make bread, prepare meals, and serve tables with refinement.

A class in Library Science, 1904

The Summer Assembly offered career training, as well. Students learned shorthand and typing, grammar and composition, library sciences and bookkeeping.

15 School for Library Training

Announcement of the School of Library Training, 1901.

 

Standing room only at an open air lecture. About 1896.

In the early years of the summer Assemblies, classes were held in tents but as Chautauqua grew, buildings were erected to accommodate students.

The majority of the lectures were held in the Amphitheater. Erected in 1897, it could hold 5,500 to 5,600 people; but some lectures proved so popular that the Amphitheater overflowed.

Chautauqua crowds listen to a speaker in an open area.

Other lectures were held in the park, or anywhere else that could accommodate large numbers of attendees. The subjects were widely diverse, covering a broad array of topics:

  • The Last Days of the Confederacy
  • Going Fishing with Peter
  • The Women of Turkey
  • The Physiological Effects of Alcohol
  • Ideals of Modern Education
  • Christian Life in the Modern World
  • Shakespeare as a Moral Teacher
  • America’s Leadership in World Politics
  • The Knights of King Arthur
  • Does Death End All?
  • A Study of the Lynch Law
  • The Juvenile Court
  • The Drama and the Present Day Theater
  • Beyond the Grave
  • The Artisan and the Artist
  • The Ideal of Culture
  • French Literary Celebrities
  • The One-Hundred Worst Books
  • A Dozen Masterpieces of Painting
  • Mountain Peaks in Russian History
  • Growth and Influence of Labor Organizations

 Click on this link to read the text of a lecture presented July 26, 1901 by Dr. P. S. Henson of Chicago on the topic of grumbling. (Yes, grumbling!) You’ll find it on page 3 of The Chautauqua Assembly Herald.

Isabella Alden was arguably the best chronicler of the Chautauqua Summer Assembly experience. The characters she created in her books represented the diverse people who attended the Assembly and their different social and economic walks of life. She also captured the varied topics and inspirational nature of the many classes and lectures the Summer Assembly offered.

Next Stop of our Tour of Chautauqua: Palestine Park

 

A Tour of Chautauqua – Where to Stay

16 Jun

Chautauqua tent life in 1910

In the early days of Chautauqua, there were no hotels or boarding houses where visitors could stay. Instead, visitors rented tents or small cottages erected on the grounds. Some cottagers with room to spare rented out rooms to paying guests, but Chautauqua rules prohibited anyone from providing meals for pay.

If you were not lucky enough to have a kitchen of your own in which to prepare your meals, you had to eat in the dining-hall, which was a long, open-air building furnished with rough, unpainted tables and benches.

A Chautauqua cottage in 1908

Visitors often complained that the roof leaked and the backless benches were uncomfortable, but the dining hall was the only place visitors could have meals unless they prepared food themselves.

In Four Girls at Chautauqua, Isabella Alden used the no-board-for-profit rule to show the difference in personalities between practical Marion and wealthy Ruth as they ate in the dining hall:

Chautauqua Old Dining Hall

The old dining hall.

It was a merry dinner, after all, eaten with steel forks and without napkins, and with plated spoons—if you were so fortunate as to secure one. The rush of people was very great, and, with their inconvenient accommodations, the process of serving was slow.

Marion, her eyes being opened, went to studying the people about her. She found that courteous good-humor was the rule, and selfishness and ungraciousness the exception. Inconveniences were put up with and merrily laughed over by people who, from their dress and manners, could be accustomed to only the best.

Ruth did not recover her equanimity. She was rasped on every side. Those two-tined steel forks were a positive sting to her. She shuddered as the steel touched her lips. She had no spoon at all, and she looked on in utter disgust while Eurie merrily stirred her tea with her fork. When the waiter came at last, with hearty apologies for keeping them waiting for their spoons, and the old gentleman said cordially, “All in good time. We shall not starve even if we get no spoons,” she curled her lip disdainfully, and murmured that she had always been accustomed to the conveniences of life, and found it somewhat difficult to do without them.

In 1876, the meal restriction was removed and anyone could provide rooms and meals for a fee, as long as a specified percentage of the amount charged was given to the Institution. Within a year, boarding houses had sprung up as if by magic, while a vast number of individual cottages sported signs offering “Rooms and Board.”

Chautauqua cottages along Miller Park in early 1920s. To the right, just out of view, is Chautauqua Lake.

In Four Mothers at Chautauqua, Mrs. Bradford and her daughters rented a cottage for the summer, despite the fact they could ill afford it. Mrs. Bradford was always on the look-out for ways to economize and found one way to make her pennies go further at Chautauqua:

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Before Mrs. Bradford’s table economies reached what Josephine called the “starvation point” a method of relief was discovered. It was learned that among the numerous boarding houses scattered over the grounds, certain of them furnished fairly good meals for twenty-five cents. They were named lunches, to be sure, but on occasion they would serve excellently well for dinners. Pencil and paper together with a vigorous exercise of Josephine’s computation powers proved that seventy-five cents would afford three of them better dinners than that sum would produce in the kitchenette.

The Longfellow in 1907

The Longfellow Cottage was a large boarding house. Centrally located on Roberts Avenue, it was only one block away from The Amphitheatre, the C.L.S.C. Building, the Children’s Temple,the Administration Building, The Colonnade and the Post Office (which will be featured in the next leg of our tour).

The Palace Hotel was the first hotel on the Chautauqua grounds, but it was far from luxurious. It was little more than a three-story, wood-framed tent, with canvas partitions to divide the guest “rooms.”

The Palace Hotel

In 1881 the Palace Hotel was replaced by The Athenaeum, a proper hotel that featured elegant accommodations and beautiful views of the lake.

Chautauqua Athenaeum Hotel edited

An undated postcard from The Hotel Athenaeum

As the Athenaeum attracted more guests, the cottages and boarding houses grew in number, size and comfort in order to compete for their share of paying boarders.

The Hotel Athenaeum as it looked in 1908. The hotel is still in use today.

An 1897 magazine advertisement for The Hotel Athenaeum

When the Four Mothers returned to Chautauqua with their children and grandchildren, they stayed at a hotel that sounded very much like The Athenaeum. Isabella Alden set many scenes on the hotel’s upper and lower verandas and her characters made great use of the lush lawns that led from the hotel down to the lake.

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This image of The Hotel Athenaeum and its verandas is dated 1911, just two years before Four Mothers at Chautauqua was published.

Chautauqua Athenaeum Hotel 1911

Visitors to Chautauqua used a Handbook of Information to locate places to stay. These sample pages from the 1908 Handbook list hotels and boarding houses on the grounds, their addresses, and the owners of the establishments. The Longfellow boarding house (pictured earlier in this post) is listed on the top of the second page.

1908 handbook appendix d highlighted

The St. Elmo was another hotel on the Chautauqua Institution grounds that was listed in the 1908 Handbook. Here’s how The St. Elmo looked in 1920, as it stood at the corner of Ames and Pratt Avenues.

Chautauqua Hotel St Elmo edited

St. Elmo Hotel in the 1920s

With all the boarding and hotel options, tent living still thrived. Chautauqua’s founders, John Heyl Vincent and Lewis Miller, maintained residences that were hybrids of cottage and tent.

Bishop Vincent’s Tent Cottage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lewis Miller’s cottage. He accommodated overnight guests in a tent he erected on the lawn.

As Chautauqua grew and offered more and more styles of accommodations, many visitors still chose a simple summer of tent life in God’s great outdoors.

Chautauqua Institution by William Flanders edited

Next  on our Tour of Chautauqua:  Touring the Grounds

 

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