Council for Secular Humanism Unveils New Freethought History Projects in Video, Print, and Online

The Council for Secular Humanism has completed a series of media productions dealing with the history of 19th century American freethought. These include a new orientation video for the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum, a new website offering a virtual tour of the Ingersoll Museum, and a redesigned website and educational brochure spotlighting radical reform history throughout west-central New York state, where the Ingersoll museum is located.

A new 14-1/2 minute orientation video has been completed for presentation at the Ingersoll Birthplace Museum in Dresden, New York. The new video was produced by the Center for Inquiry in high definition video, which has almost five times the image resolution of conventional television. Museum visitors will view it on a 47" LCD screen, the largest such installation presented by any historical attraction in the Finger Lakes region. The museum, operated by the Council since 1993, profiles the life and times of Robert Ingersoll, an agnostic orator who was one of the best-known of all Americans during the three decades following the Civil War. The video can be viewed online at Posted to YouTube in high definition, the online version is considerably sharper than most online videos.

Two related historical websites went live in March. At, visitors unable to visit the actual Ingersoll Museum can take a "virtual tour" instead. Visitors "move" from room to room to view displays; clicking on an object or artifact brings up detailed information on that item, often including detailed studio photographs. Hundreds of photos were taken of items in the Museum's collection to form the basis of this website. At, visitors can discover the rich "hidden heritage" of radical reform history that occurred within an 80-mile radius of the Ingersoll museum during the 19th and early 20th centuries. The region between Rochester and Syracuse, New York was a hotbed of social and cultural innovation in those years, a center for abolitionists, early feminists, sex radicals, and freethinkers. The informal Freethought Trail includes almost 50 locations ranging from museums and marked sites to unmarked locations whose stories may be known only to Trail visitors. The site includes interactive mapping that lets users locate sites on satellite photographs or plan their route between attractions in any sequence they prefer. A companion print brochure will be distributed in tourism information brochure racks throughout the region during summer and fall of 2009.

These projects were coordinated by Tom Flynn, executive director of the Council for Secular Humanism, and funded by a grant from the James Hervey Johnson Charitable Educational Trust.

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