“Religions Are For a Day: Robert Green Ingersoll Appreciated”

July 18, 2014

The folks here at the Center for Inquiry have published a new book on Robert Ingersoll. Tom Flynn, director of the Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum and editor of Free Inquiry, and Julia Lavarnway, assistant editor of Free Inquiry, put together this work which includes a biography of Ingersoll, several short pieces by Ingersoll himself, and descriptions and stories of some of the more interesting pieces at the RGI Birthplace Museum. The Freethought Trail, another of Flynn’s related projects, has several chapters devoted to it in this work.

I was able to assist with research questions for many of the items discussed in the book. The Awkward Squad Cartoon, contributed to the museum by Margaret Downey and George Kelley, was particularly interesting to work on. Eventually, we were able to identify everyone who was caricatured in the cartoon, but it was a different type of research problem. We needed to identify who the people were in the cartoon by both seeing who was prominent in Grant’s administration, but also by photographs of those prominent politicians, and then try to compare them to these potential caricatures.

Other chapters of this work include Ingersoll’s Masonic Sword (an interesting problem because Ingersoll could not have been a Mason), a bust from the Beckwith Theater (Dowagiac, Michigan), the Gramercy Park Plaque (Ingersoll’s residence was located there in New York City) and the Breed Bust, another item I assisted with by researching. The focus of the book is the historical mysteries, both solved and not-yet-solved, about artifacts at the Ingersoll museum.

This book is being sold on the Council for Secular Humanism website (click here ), and will also be sold at the upcoming Ingersoll Conference taking place here in Amherst and Dresden, NY later this year.