Sarah Handley-Cousins Submitted photo

Pejepscot History Center, which owns and operates the Joshua L. Chamberlain Museum, plans to present the second annual Chamberlain Legacy Lecture at 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 15.

The lectures takes place in Lemont Hall, on the corner of Maine and Pleasant streets in Brunswick, according to a news release from the center.

Keynote speaker Sarah Handley-Cousins, clinical assistant professor of history and associate director of the Center for Disability Studies at the University of Buffalo, takes up the often unexplored and hidden theme of disability and its impact on soldiers in a talk titled “Disability and the American Civil War.” Handley-Cousins is the author of “Bodies in Blue: Disability in the Civil War North.”

Her research explores how notions of masculinity changed in the 19th century as a result of war wounds, both external and internal. The book includes a full chapter dedicated to Joshua Chamberlain’s near-mortal wound at the Battle of Petersburg and how that affected the rest of his life. The talk will also address how people think about disability in today’s world.

“Our goal with this series is to address aspects of Joshua Chamberlain’s life that highlight contemporary issues in a new way,” said PHC executive director Larissa Vigue Picard. “Major disability was a fact of life for Chamberlain for five decades post-war. His wife, Fanny, dealt with severe eye pain and eventual blindness. Despite that, he prospered professionally and traveled widely, while she managed a home, raised a family, and pursued the fine arts. Given the many millions of people who live with disability today, it’s a vital topic for us to address.”


The lecture takes place in the restored 19th century Knights of Pythias Hall, on the second floor of the Lemont Block. Famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass once spoke in the hall, as did Chamberlain. The lecture is one of the first public events to take place there since the restoration was completed this summer. The building went through major renovations to become fully accessible, including rebuilt stairwells and the installation of an elevator.

Handley-Cousins holds doctorate and Master of Arts degrees from the University of Buffalo, an Master of Science degree in education from Niagara University, and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wells College. Her fields of expertise include Civil War and Reconstruction, social and cultural history, gender and sexuality, and history of medicine, disability and science. She is the executive editor of the history blog “Nursing Clio,” and producer of “Dig: A History Podcast.”

Tickets cost $30 for the general public and $20 for center members. Refreshments and cash bar provided by Vessel & Vine, with sweets provided by Wild Oats. Additional information and tickets are available at or by calling 207-729-6606.

Pejepscot History Center is a nonprofit, educational organization that promotes the wonder of history, and invites people to “discover your place in time.”



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