Saturday, August 18
and Sunday, August 19, 2018
Crowne Plaza Hotel Syracuse
701 E. Genesee Street
Syracuse, New York

2018 is the twenty-fifth anniversary season of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, New York; it opened to the public in 1993. It is North America’s only freethought museum. In later years it gave rise to the Freethought Trail, which celebrates west-central New York State’s unique contribution to nineteenth-century radical reform causes. Join us in Syracuse, New York, for the celebration!

On Saturday, August 18, is devoted to lecture presentations. Bestselling author and scholar Susan Jacoby will deliver the keynote address.

On Sunday, August 19, attendees will board luxury motor coaches to visit Freethought Trail sites that embody the reform traditions of freethought, abolitionism, and woman suffrage.

Attendance is strictly limited to 150 persons, so enter your registration today!

This conference is underwritten in part by a generous grant from the James Hervey Johnson Charitable Educational Trust of San Diego, California.

Speakers


Timothy Binga

Timothy Binga is the Director of the CFI Libraries, and is active in the library community of Western New York. He has written articles for Free Inquiry and magazines in addition to articles for The Encyclopedia of Time (Sage, 2009), Dictionary of Early American Philosophers (Continuum, 2012), and The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief (Prometheus, 2006). He is also an adjunct instructor at the University at Buffalo and has lectured on quack medicine, the Titanic, and library-related topics.

Robyn Blumner

Robyn Blumner is president and CEO of the Center for Inquiry (CFI). She was president and CEO of the Richard Dawkins Foundation for Reason & Science prior to its merger with CFI. Previously, she had a sixteen-year career as a nationally syndicated columnist and editorial writer at the Tampa Bay Times newspaper (formerly the St. Petersburg Times). Blumner was executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Florida and executive director of the ACLU of Utah.

Sue Boland

Sue Boland has been researching and writing about the life and work of Matilda Joslyn Gage for over a decade. She currently serves as a senior docent and the local historian for the Matilda Joslyn Gage Center in Fayetteville, New York. She is fortunate to have been mentored by the founding director and world’s authority on Gage, Dr. Sally Roesch Wagner. Boland has spoken before many organizations in central New York State and has welcomed hundreds of visitors to the Gage home. She wrote a biography and the most extensive Gage bibliography to date for the Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Radical and Reform Writers, 2nd Series (Gale/Cengage Learning).

Roderick Bradford

Roderick Bradford is the author of the biography D. M. Bennett: The Truth Seeker (Prometheus Books, 2006). His film based on that biography received the Portland Humanist Film Festival Grand Prize Award for Best Feature Length Film in 2011. He is a member of the board of the Thomas Paine National Historical Association and a contributor to The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. In association with the Council for Secular Humanism, he wrote, produced, and directed the four-part film series American Freethought. Bradford began his long association with The Truth Seeker, the world’s oldest freethought publication, in 1994. In 2014, he became only its eighth editor/publisher. To commemorate the 200th anniversary of D. M. Bennett’s birth, Bradford is mounting a posthumous pardon campaign for Bennett, the founder of The Truth Seeker, who during his life was falsely convicted and imprisoned for obscenity.

Norman K. Dann

Norman K. Dann is professor emeritus at Morrisville State College, where he taught from 1966–1999. Living in a cottage formerly on the Gerrit Smith Estate, Dann is a Gerrit Smith scholar. His books include When We Get to Heaven: Runaway Slaves on the Road to Peterboro (2007), Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith and the Crusade for Social Reform (2009), Whatever It Takes: The Antislavery Movement and the Tactics of Gerrit Smith (2011), Cousins of Reform: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gerrit Smith (2013), Greene Smith and the Wildlife, a biography of Gerrit and Ann Smith’s son (2015), and Ballots, Bloomers, and Marmalade: The Story of Elizabeth Smith Miller (2017). Dann is a Steward of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, a founder and member of the Cabinet of Freedom of the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, a twenty-five–year member of the Annual Peterboro Civil War Weekend Committee, and Treasurer of the Peterboro Area Museum.

Margaret Downey

Margaret Downey founded the Freethought Society, the Anti-Discrimination Support Network, and the Thomas Paine Memorial Committee. She has been published in three books, Parenting Beyond Belief, A Better Life, and 50 Voices of Disbelief. She has represented the nontheist community at several United Nations conferences. She is a past board member of the American Humanist Association, The Humanist Institute, and the Thomas Paine National Historical Association. She is a current board member of the Freedom From Religion Foundation and Scouting For All and is a member of the Advisory Board of the Robert Green Ingersoll Museum. Downey enjoys acting and costuming. She is the organizer of the yearly Skeptic Parade Entry held in Atlanta, Georgia, on Labor Day weekend as part of DragonCon. She has portrayed Madame Bonneville, many Suffragists, and created a character known as “The Friggatriskaidekaphobia Treatment Nurse” in order to teach critical thinking skills every Friday-the-Thirteenth. The 2018 Robert Green Ingersoll event will mark her second portrayal of the “Woman without Superstition,” Eve Parker Ingersoll.

Tom Flynn

Tom Flynn is director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and the Freethought Trail, editor of Free Inquiry, and executive producer of the film series American Freethought. He edited The New Encyclopedia of Unbelief. His other books include the classic polemic The Trouble with Christmas. His third antireligious science-fiction novel, Behold, He Said, will be published in 2018 by Double Dragon Publishing.

Melinda Grube

Melinda Grube is a feminist historian and Elizabeth Cady Stanton interpreter. She teaches at Cayuga Community College.

Jeff Ingersoll

Jeff Ingersoll is a retired contractor and former hang-gliding instructor. With his wife Sandra Parker, he has successfully operated a bed and breakfast in Hammondsport, New York. Jeff was a founding member of the CFI Amherst members’ group and is currently chair of the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee. For the past fifteen years, Jeff has been maintaining the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and also spearheaded the 2016 restoration of the Ingersoll statue in Peoria, Illinois. He flies ultralight aircraft and restores Airstream trailers. He also happens to be Robert Green Ingersoll’s seventh cousin four times removed.

Susan Jacoby

Susan Jacoby is the author of twelve books, including the New York Times bestseller The Age of American Unreason (2008), The Great Agnostic: Robert Ingersoll and American Freethought (2013), and Strange Gods: A Secular History of Conversion. A new paperback edition of The Age of American Unreason, retitled The Age of American Unreason in a Culture of Lies, was published by Vintage Books in January 2018. In this new edition, the author examines the election of Donald Trump in light of the forces of cultural, technology-driven ignorance that were already evident in 2008.

Dorothy Willsey

Dorothy Willsey is cochair of the Stewards of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark, president of the Cabinet of Freedom at the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum, and a director of the Smithfield Community Association, all in Peterboro, New York. Since retiring from a distinguished career in education, Willsey has played key roles in the founding and development of Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark and the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum. She is also one of the three founders of the newly incorporated Underground Railroad Consortium of New York State.

Schedule


Saturday - August 18th

8:00 AM - Registration

9:00 AM - Opening Remarks
Robyn Blumner, president and CEO, the Center for Inquiry

9:30 AM - Abolition, Suffrage, Freethought: The Braid of Reform
Tom Flynn, director, Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and the Freethought Trail

10:00 AM - Abolition and Gerrit Smith
Norman K. Dann, author, historian, and Steward of the Gerrit Smith Estate; and Dorothy Willsey, president of the Cabinet of Freedom, National Abolition Hall of Fame

11:00 AM - Break

11:15 AM - Matilda Joslyn Gage and Woman Suffrage
Sue Boland, Matilda Joslyn Gage biographer/bibliographer and senior docent, Matilda Joslyn Gage Center

12:00 PM - Luncheon

1:30 PM - Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gerrit Smith: All in the Family
Melinda Grube, feminist historian and Elizabeth Cady Stanton interpreter

2:30 PM - Continuing the Work D. M. Bennett Left Unfinished
Roderick Bradford, editor of The Truth Seeker, producer/director of American Freethought, and biographer of freethought publisher and Ingersoll contemporary D. M. Bennett

3:00 PM - Break

3:15 PM - Little Journey to the Home of Robert Green Ingersoll: Ingersoll, Elbert Hubbard, and the Roycrofters
CFI Libraries director Tim Binga spotlights Elbert Hubbard, founder of the Roycroft artisan community. Hubbard was influential in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries in not only the Arts and Crafts movement, but also as a thinker and writer. Hubbard admired Ingersoll, and spread his thought through publication, but also in Hubbard’s own interesting ways.

3:45 PM - The Eva Parker and Robert Green Ingersoll Love Story
Longtime freethought organizer and activist Margaret Downey interprets Eva Parker Ingersoll, the “woman without superstition” who stole Robert Ingersoll’s heart and helped to launch his oratorical career.

4:15 PM - Ingersoll’s Legacy, Revered and Preserved
A personal perspective by Jeff Ingersoll, chair of the Robert Green Ingersoll Memorial Committee and incidentally Robert Ingersoll’s seventh cousin four times removed.

4:45 PM - Wrap-up / Sunday Preview

6:00 PM - Banquet and Keynote Presentation
Horizon Room atop the Crowne Plaza Syracuse
$65 in addition to conference registration
Cash Bar

6:45 PM - Awards Banquet
$65 in addition to conference registration

8:15 PM - Reason Embattled in a Culture of Lies: Why Robert Ingersoll Wouldn’t Recognize Trump’s America
Keynote Presentation by Susan Jacoby
$65 in addition to conference registration

Sunday - August 19th

8:00 AM - Motor Coach Tour

Visits Ingersoll Museum, Matilda Joslyn Gage Center, Gerrit Smith Estate, National Abolition Hall of Fame

Exact sequence may differ. Coach tour includes lunch. Coach tour included in all registrations.

Coaches will return to the Crowne Plaza between 6:10 and 6:20 p. m.

Syracuse (home of Syracuse University) has a vibrant restaurant scene. Attendees are encouraged to have dinner in the hotel restaurant or in the community. Both Uber and Lyft are available in Syracuse.

Info


Travel Information

Syracuse is located in central New York State. By car it is four hours west of New York City and two hours east of Buffalo. It is served by Hancock International Airport (SYR); carriers include Air Canada, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, JetBlue, and United Airlines.

Syracuse (home of Syracuse University) has a vibrant restaurant scene. Attendees are encouraged to have dinner in the hotel restaurant or in the community. Both Uber and Lyft are available in Syracuse.

Hotel Information

Sleeping rooms are available at the Crowne Plaza Syracuse at the discounted conference rate of $119 per night (includes complimentary WiFi and parking).

Room accommodation is not included in conference registration. You must reserve your sleeping room(s) directly with the hotel by or before July 25, 2018, in order to receive this discounted conference rate.

Telephone the Crowne Plaza Syracuse at (toll free) 888-227-6393 or (Syracuse area) 315-479-7000. Mention “Center for Inquiry” when making your reservation.