Vermont Humanities Council Presents First Wednesdays Lecture

Montpelier’s First Wednesdays Talk Includes Charlie Chaplin Film Seen Only Once in 77 Years – First North American Showing!

Susan Cooke Kittredge, daughter of the late journalist Alistair Cooke, will give a talk about her father’s life, which will include a rare screening of his 1933 short film on Charlie Chaplin, at Trinity United Methodist Church in Montpelier on April 7. The talk, “The Unseen Alistair Cooke,” is part of the Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays lecture series and takes place at 7:00 p.m.

The talk has been moved to Trinity United Methodist Church from its original venue next door at Kellogg-Hubbard Library to accommodate a larger audience due to the addition of the film.

Alistair Cooke filmed the 11-minute silent picture All at Sea, a comedy-documentary featuring Charlie Chaplin, in 1933. The film was lost for over 70 years and was only rediscovered after Cooke’s death in 2004. It has been seen only once before by a public audience—at a silent film festival in Italy in 2007.

The short film features Chaplin, one of the great film stars of his day, miming characters ranging from fellow actors such as Greta Garbo to the Prince of Wales and Napoleon. Cooke made the film during a weekend boat trip with Chaplin off of Los Angeles.

One of the preeminent journalists of the 20th century, Alistair Cooke reported extensively on the major events of his time as well as the evolving American culture, but he rarely spoke about himself. His daughter and Vermont resident Susan Cooke Kittredge will speak about her father’s life beyond his stature as a journalist to nationwide audiences.

Cooke Kittredge is the former senior minister at the Old Meeting House in East Montpelier Center, Vermont. She now lives in Shelburne.

The Vermont Humanities Council’s First Wednesdays series is held on the first Wednesday of every month from October through May, featuring speakers of national and regional renown. Talks are held at Kellogg-Hubbard Library unless otherwise noted.

First Wednesdays is also presented in eight other communities statewide: Brattleboro (at Brooks Memorial Library); Burlington (at Fletcher Free Library); Manchester (at First Congregational Church, hosted by Mark Skinner Library); Middlebury (at Ilsley Public Library); Newport/Stanstead, Quebec (at Goodrich Memorial Library and Stanstead College, in alternating months); Norwich (at Norwich Congregational Church, hosted by Norwich Public Library and Norwich Historical Society); Rutland (at Rutland Free Library); and at St. Johnsbury Athenaeum. The program is free, accessible to people with disabilities and open to the public.

The 2009-10 First Wednesdays series in Montpelier concludes with “1763 and How America Became American” with author and Dartmouth professor Colin Calloway on May 5.

The Vermont Department of Libraries is the statewide underwriter of First Wednesdays.

For more information, contact the Kellogg-Hubbard Library at 802.223.3338 or contact the Vermont Humanities Council at 802.262.2626 or, or visit

A similar program, “The Unseen Alistair Cooke,” will be presented at the Ilsley Library in Middlebury at 7 pm on May 5, also as part of the VHC’s First Wednesdays series.

The Vermont Humanities Council is a private nonprofit working to bring the power and the pleasure of the humanities to all Vermonters—of every background and in every community. The Council envisions a state in which every individual learns throughout life—a state in which all its citizens read, reflect, and participate in public affairs.