Norm Dann will Talk on October 19

Hear Norm Dann talk about Gerrit Smith and Gerrit’s family at 1 PM on Wednesday, October 19 in the Oswego Public Library Community Room. The Library is located at 120 E 2nd St, across from the Oswego County Courthouse, and is open 9-7 Monday through Thursday and 9-5 Friday and Saturday. Everyone is welcome!

Norm Dann with Gerrit Smith

The Gerrit and Ann Smith Family of Peterboro, New York Through a Century of Reform

Norm Dann’s latest book is “The Gerrit and Ann Smith Family of Peterboro, New York Through a Century of Reform.”  It is a synopsis of the five biographies he wrote on the members of that family (Peter Smith, Gerrit, Ann Greene, and Elizabeth).  The first half of the book is a detailed treatment of The Reform Era – a prelude to prepare readers to understand the context in which the family lived; the second half examines how the Smiths navigated through the complex mix of reform issues, and how and why they dedicated themselves and their resources to such risky efforts as abolition and women’s rights.

In 1853, Smith began the Oswego City Library with a letter to prominent Oswego citizens promising $25,000 for the building and collection. The donation to build and stock the library was his largest single donation. The men selected became the first Board of Trustees and opened our “castle on the hill” in 1857.

Gerrit Smith was known worldwide as a compassionate, generous and empathetic man who tirelessly pursued a better world for all. “Much of Smith’s philanthropy concentrated on liberating slaves. He complemented individuals’ efforts to buy freedom. He purchased individuals and families directly from slaveholders. He sent agents into the south to negotiate financial terms for freedom.”

“Smith was criticized by some of his colleagues for giving funds directly to individual persons as opposed to donating larger sums to organizations and societies with missions. Smith gave money to the abolitionists for traveling expenses and publications. By the mid 1840s, Smith had contributed more than $50 thousand (equivalent to five million dollars in 2002) to the antislavery movement.” -from

About Norm Dann

Norman K. Dann, Ph.D., is professor emeritus Morrisville State College, a founder and member of the Cabinet of Freedom for the National Abolition Hall of Fame and Museum in Peterboro, a Steward of the Gerrit Smith Estate National Historic Landmark in Peterboro, and a member of the Madison County Historical Society. Dann lives in an 1840 house in Peterboro, on the Gerrit Smith Estate, and is the author of “Practical Dreamer: Gerrit Smith & the Crusade for Social Reform,” “God, Gerrit and Guidance: The Life of Ann Carroll Fitzhugh Smith,” “When We Get to Heaven: Runaway Slaves on the Road to Peterboro,” “Cousins of Reform: Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Gerrit Smith,” and “Ballots, Bloomers & Marmalade: the Life of Elizabeth Smith Miller.” His latest book is “The Gerrit and Ann Smith Family of Peterboro, New York Through a Century of Reform.”