Upcoming Events

Upcoming Events

Please see below for details and descriptions of upcoming events at the Filson.  All events times are in EST or EDT depending on the season. Please check each event for details.  Click here to register and pay for programs, tickets are required. Filson members will need to log in to access the member pricing for events.  Many of our past events can be viewed on the Filson YouTube Channel.


Exhibit Opening: The Incomparable Helen Humes

Date: May 22, 2022
Time: 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person Event Only)
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She is often compared to better-known performers.

When she first joined Count Basie’s band, she was taking over for the great Billie Holiday. Her “lithe, light timbered” voice was likened to that of Ella Fitzgerald. She was spoken of in the same breath with Ethel Waters, Mildred Bailey, and Nancy Wilson.

Helen Humes was one of Louisville’s greatest singers. Her career in jazz and blues took her all over the world, winning her numerous accolades and critical praise. This exhibit displays items from the Filson’s collection that illuminate her incomparable life.

But Helen Humes needs no comparison. Jazz critic Leonard Feather wasn’t exaggerating when he called her “one of the handful of complete originals in the history of jazz singing.” All you have to do is hear her voice, watch her radiant smile mesmerize a crowd, and it becomes clear Helen Humes was a talent all her own.

“Humor and a sheer love of singing flow through Miss Humes and instantly infect an audience. You just want to sit back and enjoy the magic.”

– Richard Boyd, The States-Item, February 16, 1978

This exhibit is made possible by a 2021 donation from former Filson board member Kenneth Clay and Carolle Jones Clay. The donated items include manuscript material, photographs, and museum objects.

Jazz at the Filson featuring the Dick Sisto Quartet

Date: May 22, 2022
Time: 2:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person Event Only)
Dick Sisto

This event is sponsored by PNC Bank.

Jazz at the Filson is a three-part series of jazz presentations featuring the stylings of regional and national jazz artists. Dick Sisto, whose earliest teen experience in Chicago was co-leading the Quartet Four with drummer Maurice White who later became the founder of Earth Wind and Fire, will perform. The lineup of other musicians will be world-class players from the region and supported in part by the Lional Hampton Project. Lional Hampton was a Louisville native and an American jazz great. The December Jazz at the Filson will explore and perform a repertoire of holiday music from various sources that have been reimagined by numerous Jazz Masters such as Miles Davis, Oscar Peterson, Bill Evans, Roland Kirk, John Coltrane and others.

The first part in the series features the Dick Sisto Quartet and Louisville’s Own Jazz Saxophone and Flute Master, Don Braden.

Law in American Meetinghouses: Church Discipline and Civil Authority in Kentucky, 1780-1845

Date: May 24, 2022
Time: 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm
Location: Zoom Lecture (Virtual Only)
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Most Americans today would not think of their local church as a site for arbitration and would probably be hesitant to bring their property disputes, moral failings, or personal squabbles to their kin and neighbors for judgment. But from the Revolutionary Era through the mid-nineteenth century, many Protestants imbued local churches with immense authority. Through their ritual practice of discipline, churches insisted that brethren refrain from suing each other before “infidels” at local courts and claimed jurisdiction over a range of disputes: not only moral issues such as swearing, drunkenness, and adultery but also matters more typically considered to be under the purview of common law and courts of equity, including disputes over trespass, land, probate, slave warranty, and theft.

In Law in American Meetinghouses, Jeffrey Thomas Perry explores the ways that ordinary Americans—Black and white, enslaved and free—understood and created law in their local communities, uncovering a vibrant marketplace of authority in which church meetinghouses played a central role in maintaining their neighborhoods’ social peace. Churches were once prominent sites for the creation of local law and in this period were a primary arena in which civil and religious authority collided and shaped one another. When church discipline failed, the wronged parties often pushed back, and their responses highlight the various forces that ultimately hindered that venue’s ability to effectively arbitrate disputes between members. Relying primarily on a deep reading of church records and civil case files, Perry examines how legal transformations, an expanding market economy, and religious controversy led churchgoers to reimagine their congregations’ authority. By the 1830s, unable to resolve doctrinal quibbles within the fellowship, church factions turned to state courts to secure control over their meetinghouses, often demanding that judges wade into messy ecclesiastical disputes.

 Tracking changes in disciplinary rigor in Kentucky Baptist churches from that state’s frontier period through 1845, and looking beyond statutes and court decrees, Law in American Meetinghouses is a fresh take on church-state relations. Ultimately, it highlights an oft-forgotten way that Americans subtly repositioned religious institutions alongside state authority.

 Jeffrey Thomas Perry is an assistant professor of history at Tusculum University.

This program is presented through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and its Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan initiative. With this support, the Filson will present a series of public programs and launch Resurrecting the First American West, a digital exhibit on the diverse Ohio Valley Frontier.

Violins of Hope Public Film Showing

Date: June 2, 2022
All-day event
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person Event Only)
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The Violins of Hope: Strings of the Holocaust, a collection of more than 60 restored instruments played by Jewish musicians during the Holocaust, visited Louisville for 10 days of exhibits and events in October 2019, and was made possible by a consortium of partner organizations and presented by the Jewish Heritage Fund for Excellence. This is a continuation of that legacy. 

There will be two showings on 6/2/2022.  One at 12 PM and another at 6 PM.

Join the Filson Historical Society for the premiere of Violins of Hope Louisville: Connecting the Past to the Present, a film by Michael Fitzer and 180 Degrees Film Productions. 

Violins of Hope Louisville Continuing Legacy is a partnership program of Kentucky Performing Arts, and the Filson Historical Society, with support from the Community Foundation of Louisville. 

Surveying in Early America

Date: June 9, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person and Zoom Options)
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Join The Filson Historical Society on Thursday, June 9, 2022, at 6 pm for a special event. Co-Authors Dan Patterson and Clinton Terry will be hosting an eye-opening presentation on their publication Surveying In Early America. The event will begin with an author lecture/presentation and will be followed by a Q & A section for anyone to ask questions directly to the authors. Then, the authors will have a book signing and books will be available for purchase at the event.

Dan Patterson is a photographer, graphic designer, and filmmaker. He has published over 40 books, mostly about aviation history. Clinton Terry teaches American History and Liberal Studies at Mercer University in Georgia.

This program is presented through the generous support of the National Endowment for the Humanities and its Sustaining the Humanities through the American Rescue Plan. With this support, the Filson will present a series of public programs and launch Resurrecting the First American West, a digital exhibit on the diverse Ohio Valley frontier.

The Great Dissenter: The Story of John Marshall Harlan, America’s Judicial Hero

Date: June 17, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person and Zoom Options)
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They say that history is written by the victors. But not in the case of the most famous dissenter on the Supreme Court. Almost a century after his death, John Marshall Harlan’s words helped end segregation and gave us our civil rights and our modern economic freedom.

But his legacy would not have been possible without the courage of Robert Harlan, a slave who John’s father raised like a son in the same household. After the Civil War, Robert emerges as a political leader. With Black people holding power in the Republican Party, it is Robert who helps John land his appointment to the Supreme Court.

At first, John is awed by his fellow justices, but the country is changing. Northern whites are prepared to take away black rights to appease the South. Giant trusts are monopolizing entire industries. Against this onslaught, the Supreme Court seemed all too willing to strip away civil rights and invalidate labor protections. So as case after case comes before the court, challenging his core values, John makes a fateful decision: He breaks with his colleagues in fundamental ways, becoming the nation’s prime defender of the rights of Black people, immigrant laborers, and people in distant lands occupied by the US.

Harlan’s dissents, particularly in Plessy v. Ferguson, were widely read and a source of hope for decades. Thurgood Marshall called Harlan’s Plessy dissent his “Bible”—and his legal roadmap to overturning segregation. In the end, Harlan’s words built the foundations for the legal revolutions of the New Deal and Civil Rights eras.

Spanning from the Civil War to the Civil Rights movement and beyond, The Great Dissenter is a “magnificent” (Douglas Brinkley) and “thoroughly researched” (The New York Times) rendering of the American legal system’s most significant failures and most inspiring successes.

Peter S. Canellos is an award-winning writer and former Editorial Page Editor of The Boston Globe and Executive Editor of Politico. He is the editor of the New York Times bestseller, Last Lion: The Fall and Rise of Ted Kennedy.

The Gertrude Polk Brown Lecture Series — Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy

Date: June 22, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Brown Theatre, 315 W. Broadway, Louisville (In-person and Streaming Options)
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Does George Washington still matter? Bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick argues for Washington’s unique contribution to the forging of America by retracing his journey as a new president through all thirteen former colonies, which were now an unsure nation. Travels with George marks a new first-person voice for Philbrick, weaving history and personal reflection into a single narrative.

When George Washington became president in 1789, the United States of America was still a loose and quarrelsome confederation and a tentative political experiment. Washington undertook a tour of the ex-colonies to talk to ordinary citizens about his new government, and to imbue in them the idea of being one thing—Americans.

In the fall of 2018, Nathaniel Philbrick embarked on his own journey into what Washington called “the infant woody country” to see for himself what America had become in the 229 years since. Writing in a thoughtful first person about his own adventures with his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, Philbrick follows Washington’s presidential excursions: from Mount Vernon to the new capital in New York; a monthlong tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island; a venture onto Long Island and eventually across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The narrative moves smoothly between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries as we see the country through both Washington’s and Philbrick’s eyes.

Written at a moment when America’s founding figures are under increasing scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with Washington’s legacy as a man of the people, a reluctant president, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery. At historic houses and landmarks, Philbrick reports on the reinterpretations at work as he meets reenactors, tour guides, and other keepers of history’s flame. He paints a picture of eighteenth-century America as divided and fraught as it is today, and he comes to understand how Washington compelled, enticed, stood up to, and listened to the many different people he met along the way—and how his all-consuming belief in the union helped to forge a nation.

Nathaniel Philbrick grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and earned a BA in English from Brown University and an MA in America Literature from Duke University, where he was a James B. Duke Fellow. He was Brown University’s first Intercollegiate All-American sailor in 1978, the same year he won the Sunfish North Americans in Barrington, Rhode Island. After working as an editor at Sailing World magazine, he wrote and edited several books about sailing, including The Passionate Sailor, Second Wind, and Yaahting: A Parody.     In 2000, Philbrick published the New York Times bestseller In the Heart of the Sea, which won the National Book Award for nonfiction. The book is the basis of the Warner Bros. motion picture Heart of the Sea, directed by Ron Howard and starring Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy, Brendan Gleeson, Benjamin Walker, Ben Wishaw, and Tom Holland. The book also inspired a 2001 Dateline special on NBC as well as the 2010 two-hour PBS American Experience film Into the Deep by Ric Burns.   Philbrick’s writing has appeared in Vanity Fair, The New York Times Book Review, The Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, and the Boston Globe. He has appeared on the Today show, The Morning Show, Dateline, PBS’s American Experience, C-SPAN, and NPR.

Lights of Mankind: Earth At Night as Seen From Space

Date: June 28, 2022
Time: 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Location: Filson Historical Society (In-Person and Zoom Options)
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Humans have always been fascinated with looking at themselves. They pass down myths about the dangers of trying to kiss one’s own reflection. They use self-recognition to test interspecies intelligence. And 17,300 years after the first Paleolithic painter immortalized a fellow hunter on a cave wall in Lascaux, France, patrons still flock to art galleries to purchase new portrayals of the themselves and their society.

With the dawn of space exploration, humanity encountered a new perspective. From space, the planet appeared smaller and the greatest of humanity’s creations, larger. Hundreds of miles above Earth’s surface, petty issues of individuality disappear to reveal the complex grandeur of civilization. Containing 287 astronaut photographs and composite images, L. Douglas Keeney’s newest book, Lights of Mankind: The Earth at Night as Seen from Space, turns this macro view into something beautiful and informative.

Douglas Keeney is an historian, researcher, speaker and author of more than a dozen books on American history. After spending sixteen years as an advertising executive at many of the top advertising agencies including Ogilvy & Mather and Young & Rubicam, he launched Douglas Keeney & Company, a publishing and production firm that includes content creation for cable television networks and book packaging. In 1992, Keeney cofounded The Military, now Discovery Communications, and hosted the series “On Target.” He is probably best-known for unearthing the official U.S. manual on how the government would function after a devastating nuclear attack – the basis for his book by the same name, The Doomsday Scenario, excerpted by the New York Times. This was followed by the first exhaustive history of the air war against Nazi Germany in the bestseller, The Pointblank Directive (‘sprey/London). The Eleventh Hour (Wiley) was another bestseller and was widely reviewed as ground breaking and comprises unseen diaries and logs chronicling Franklin D. Roosevelt’s trip to the 1943 Tehran Conference. He is also the editor of the Lost Histories of World War II book series. He has appeared on Fox, The Discovery Channel, CBS, PBS, and The Learning Channel. Keeney earned his Bachelors and Masters degrees from the University of Southern California. During his years in marketing he won numerous awards for new product development.