November 30, 2006
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens will present a lecture by historian and author Stephen Nissenbaum on “Christmas with the Dickinsons: Bedpost Stockings and Laurel Wreaths” at 4 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 7, at the Amherst College Alumni House on Spring Street. The talk is free and open to the public.

From the stocking hung on Emily Dickinson’s bedpost when she was a girl to the scandalous hanging of laurel wreaths on the front door at The Evergreens, Christmas in the Dickinson family did not go unnoticed. The talk will discuss the changing meanings of Christmas in 19th-century America through the practices of two generations of the Dickinson family.

Stephen Nissenbaum is the author of The Battle for Christmas (1996), a finalist that year for the Pulitzer Prize, and a number of other notable books. He is professor emeritus of history at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst, and an adjunct professor at the University of Vermont. He has been awarded several major fellowships during his career and is an elected member of both the American Antiquarian Society and the Massachusetts Historical Society. For the past several years he has been among the distinguished lecturers at the Organization of American Historians. For decades, Nissenbaum has been a consultant, on- and off-camera, to many humanities films aired on PBS and the History Channel. He has served as president of the Massachusetts Foundation for the Humanities and been a member of the advisory boards of Historic Deerfield, Inc., and the Emily Dickinson Homestead.

The Emily Dickinson Museum: The Homestead and The Evergreens is owned by the Trustees of Amherst College. The museum has a separate board of governors and, with limited support from the college, is expected to fund its operating and capital improvement objectives independently. Through December 1, the museum is open Wednesday and Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. On Saturday, Dec. 9, from 1 to 4 p.m., the museum will offer its final program of the year, the annual Emily Dickinson Birthday Open House, this year with hints of Christmas. The Emily Dickinson Museum is a member of Museums10, a partnership of 10 museums in the Pioneer Valley. For more information about the museum, please call 413/542-8161 or visit the the museum's website.