ROCHESTER — Library Director Brian Sylvester is pleased to announce that the Friends of the Rochester Library will be hosting a special historical presentation in partnership with New Hampshire Humanities.
Monday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m.
Rochester Library, 65 South Main St.
Independent scholar, farmer, journalist and longtime public official Steve Taylor will host a presentation, sponsored by the Friends of the Rochester Library, entitled “Poor Houses and Town Farms: The Hard Row for Paupers.” The program was developed by New Hampshire Humanities To Go.
Taylor will explore New Hampshire’s historic struggles, even from its earliest settlements, with issues surrounding the treatment of poor people. He’ll highlight the early northeastern colonies’ approach, which was based on England’s 1601 Poor Law, which imposed compulsory taxes for maintenance of the poor but made no distinction between the “vagrant, vicious poor” and the helpless, and honest poor.
He’ll discuss the confusion that persisted for generations and led directly to establishment of alms houses and poor farms in most of the state’s towns, as well as the county institutions which would collectively come to form a dark chapter in New Hampshire history. Taylor will also examine how people were treated in these facilities and how reformers eventually succeeded in closing them down.
Attendees will also learn about the differences in the way the less fortunate are treated today compared to historically. A county commissioner will also be on hand to discuss Strafford County’s modern-day responsibilities and programs that support those in need.
Taylor operates a dairy, maple syrup, and cheese making enterprise in Meriden Village with his sons. He has been a newspaper reporter and editor, and served for 25 years as New Hampshire’s commissioner of agriculture. Taylor was the founding executive director of the New Hampshire Humanities Council and is a lifelong student of the state’s rural culture.
“This will be an extremely informative and eye-opening program that will shed light on our state’s long lasting challenges supporting our most needy residents,” Sylvester said. “I encourage everyone to attend, and I want to thank the Friends for their consistent ability to seek out new and engaging presenters.”
The program is free to attend, but the Friends of the Library will be accepting donations of canned goods and new or lightly used scarves, hats and mittens for those in need today.
Please call the library at 603-332-1428 to RSVP and help staff assure adequate seating.