Carolyn Ivanoff Presents Historical & Educational Programs for School & Community Organizations

Available on this website are a variety of local and American history programs and publications. Programs are offered free of charge to non-profit organizations.  Contact  if you wish to schedule at program for your organization. 
Carolyn Ivanoff is an educator and independent historian committed to bringing history, social studies, and literacy programs beyond the classroom and into the community.In 2003 she was named Civil War Trust Teacher of the Year.   In 2010, 2011 and 2013 the Connecticut League of History Organizations recognized the quality of educational programs with Awards of Merit.  In 2016 the Connecticut Council for the Social Studies honored her with the Bruce Fraiser Friend of the Social Studies award.

Click on the image to the right for a genealogical publication on researching Civil War soldiers.  The focus is on Connecticut but the publication can be used to research any Civil War soldier, north or south.  If you are interested in having this program presented for your library or organization you may schedule the accompanying presentation/workshop by using the information on the Contact Me page to the left.  


 Learn about the first Black Ambassador from the United States, Ebenezer D. Bassett, his life and times.  Gaining an education in Derby, CT in the 1850s would launch this quiet American hero into the diplomatic corps of the U.S. during Reconstruction.  A short biography and educational resources for classrooms are also available.  This program received a Connecticut League of History Organizations Award of Merit in June 2010.  

To read the Connecticut Explored magazine winter 2012 issue article,  Ebenezer Bassett's Historic Journey go to:

The Civil War Medical Program provides an overview of the practice of battlefield medicine in the 1860s.  It highlights the practices that saved lives and dispels the myths that Civil War surgeons were butchers. Suitable for students and adults interested in science, medicine,  and the historical era of the Civil War. This program has been presented to the Raymond U. Massey History of Medicine/Medical Humanities Lecture Series, UCONN Medical Center, the National Museum of Civil War Medicine, various cable television stations.  To view a video of this program go to:

This program examines healthcare in Victorian America. What was it like to need and experience medical care in 19th century America? How did people handle and treat inevitable illnesses  that come with the human condition?   On the frontier, far from any medical help or knowledgeable practitioner, individuals and families had to rely on themselves and their own abilities to treat illness. A garden for most Americans was an utmost necessity and many home medical manuals evolved to contain herbals and recipes or “receipts” that allowed Americans to create commonly used medicines in their own homes.  Americans were their own doctors and caregivers. 

American medicine would change forever because of  the Civil War and the  catastrophe of the mass casualty rates and health care crisis the war created.  This program examines not only the health care experience of 19th century Americans, but many of the Civil War medical practices that the war ultimately embedded into the fabric of American life during the later half of the 19th Century. 


This program, One Family's Civil War, is based on almost 600 letters of Captain Wilson French, Company G, 17th Connecticut Volunteers, his beloved wife Martha Bouton French, and the remarkable journey of those letters through the generations.  Captain French was wounded at Gettysburg, captured, and paroled.  With the 17th Connecticut in service in Florida, he served as the Provost Marshal of St. Augustine.  On February 5, 1865 he was captured at Dunn's Lake and sent to Andersonviille where he was incarcerated at the officers' stockade in Castle Reed. In the summer of 1865 he was subsequently summoned to testify at the Wirz Trial in Washington D.C.  Through his letters to his beloved wife, and hers to him, his strong character as a good officer and a good man shine through all his trials and hard service.  An amazing story of the Civil War and a family that lived through and survived those difficult and extraordinary years.

Two Programs: In the first, longer program, First Lady Dolley Madison appears in period dress to discuss her life and times.  She will discuss her husband James Madison's role as the Father of the U.S. Constitution, the War of 1812, and the great men and events of the era.

In the second program, Dolley Madison, and the U.S. Constitution, Mrs. Madison focuses on her husband's role as father of the document and the great men of the era and founders of our nation.  She will also speak about her role as a "founding mother."


This program takes the audience back to the first summer of the War of 1812. The War of 1812 was not a popular war.  Some historians have billed it the second war for American independence, but hindsight makes a declaration of war by a fledgling nation against the superpower of the day seem like insanity. Two men from the Hull Family of Derby fought for their nation that summer.  Uncle William's infamous defeat would bring him national scorn and Nephew Isaac's extraordinary and astonishing naval victory would bring him national fame.   Travel back to that summer of 1812 and the events of the nation's most unpopular war.  To read the Connecticut Explored Summer 2012 article, Fame and Infamy for the Hulls of Derby go to:

The Ghosts of Gettysburg Battlefield is a popular program around Halloween.  It is suitable for all age groups and those with a high interest in the Civil War, the Battle of Gettysburg, and the supernatural.  It provides an overview and description of the three day battle with period and contemporary photos and maps.  The highlight of the program are the ghostly images caught on film.  Decide for yourself if what you see in the images.

The thee day battle of Gettysburg on July 1,2,3, 1863 was the largest battle every fought in the Western Hemisphere.  The battlefield today is marked with over 1300 monuments, markers and plaques.  The monument to the 116th  Pennsylvania Regiment part of the Irish Brigade  poignantly depicts the death of a young infantryman in battle.  The soldier lies peacefully amid the rocks and fences of the Gettysburg landscape.  The monument is haunting and touching and does nothing to depict the terror and suffering of so many men in the desperate struggle that was Gettysburg.  The three day battle of Gettysburg was the greatest, most costly battle  of a bloody Civil War. This program explores the sacrifices and fate the men who gave their last full measure of devotion.  This program explores the aftermath of Gettysburg and the long lasting devastating effects of war on the soldiers who fought and sacrificed and the civilians trapped between the armies in the greatest battle of the American Civil War.


 In 1863 Cornelia Hancock was a 23 year old Quaker girl who wrote "After my only brother and every other male relative and friend that we possessed had gone to War, I deliberately came to the conclusion that I, too, would go  and serve my country."  Two days after the great battle of Gettysburg she was the first woman to reach the 2nd Corps Hospital.  She would nurse heroically throughout the war.  As well known during the war years as Clara Barton she was venerated by the soldiers she nursed. She is little remembered today because she never publicized her contributions which were immense.  This program is a tribute to her and all the women of the Civil War years who  sacrificed and served.  Told through her words and letters this program highlights the events and tragedies of Civil War from a woman's point of view. 

My name is Clara Barton.  Many of you will know my name as a nurse in the Civil War.  The Angel of the Battlefield.  But that’s only a  part of my story.  By the time of my death in 1912 my life’s work would touch millions of people world-wide and it continues to do so.  I was born into and lived in Victorian America where a women’s place was limited to her home.  Women did not have many legal rights and did not have careers.  few women  worked outside their homes.  although I was a woman in a man’s world, During my lifetime I had several careers,  ANY ONE OF WHICH WOULD HAVE BROUGHT A MAN FAME AND PERHAPS FORTUNE. 

I earned and enjoyed the fame and glory that was showered on me and I used it to support and further my work.  My life’s work was all important and it touched the lives of millionS  and IT CONTINUES to do so.  If you have ever received the care of a trained female nurse, If you have ever given or received a blood donation, if you have participated in or donated to relief efforts to help people who have been brutalized by natural disasters or war.  If you have participated in a first aid course or if you have a first aid kit in your home, office,  car or boat, if your community has an ambulance corps--  THEN my life’s work has touched your life.   and this is my story.

The titanic struggle for Women's Suffrage is described in this program and told through period photos, political cartoons, and editorials.  Often performed in period dress it highlights the great women of the struggle  who fought and suffered valiantly so that American women of future generations would have the right to participate politically in our nation.   A popular program during March in honor of Women's History Month.


The year 1915 would bring Bridgeport’s triumphant, striking summer.  World War I transformed Bridgeport, Connecticut into a powerful arsenal for the allied war effort at home and abroad.  Munitions contracts on a massive scale would profoundly alter the physical landscape, population, and workforce.  In a twelve-month period  in 1915, Remington-Union Metallic Cartridge would construct a 1.5 million square foot manufacturing facility, the world’s largest building under one roof, on Bridgeport’s East Side.  Women workers would play a powerful role in 1915 Bridgeport beginning with a highly publicized teachers’ protest that rocked the city.  That summer fifty-five strikes were called. In August over 12,000 striking Bridgeport women would win the eight-hour day mostly without any national labor involvement.  During the Striking Summer of 1915  Bridgeport was born again as a progressive eight-hour a day town.


This Civil War Program is based on correspondence,  period documents, records of the town of Derby, CT, and a soldier of the  20th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.  Learn why a man would leave his home and family in 1862 to fight for the Union.  The letters highlight the trials and events that the men and women of the Civil War generation would face in order to preserve this nation. From the battlefields to the home front the program celebrates Americans of the Civil War generation and gives the audience eyewitness accounts of what it was like to live during those difficult years. 


These programs follow the 17th Connecticut Regiment from Barlow’s Knoll to the Spangler Farm and beyond during the three-day Battle of Gettysburg in July 1863.  Through first-hand accounts we come as close as possible to seeing what the solders themselves saw, and thought, and felt on the battlefield.  The memories of old soldiers are often criticized as the memories of old men, distorted by time and other factors, however these are the words of those who lived through the trauma of combat and survived to tell about it.  All honor to these men who fought for their lives, who lost friends, and suffered themselves on this great battlefield of the war. Through these first hand accounts we in the 21st century can see the battle through the soldiers' eyes as they describe what they experienced.  This is above all  their story, their legacy to us. This program honors them and their sacrifices and shares with you their experiences and insights through their own words. 

The first program emphasizes the medical care and conditions soldiers experienced on the field and in the hospitals during and after the Battle of Gettysburg.  The second program puts emphasis on the battle experiences of the 17th Connecticut men who fought during the campaign and left first hand accounts.  Both programs are based on those first hand accounts and provide audiences with historical context through the words of the men using period and contemporary Gettysburg photographs and images.  These images and recorded memories allow the audience to visualize what the soldiers saw, experienced, and wrote about during the Gettysburg campaign and aftermath. 

 Take a virtual tour of Arlington National Cemetery.  View the history of our nation set in stone as we tour the most prestigious burial place in the world.  Meet the men and women who rest in Arlington who gave their lives so this nation would live.  This program is very popular around Memorial Day and Veterans' Day.


Travel  the last great road trip from Connecticut to Alaska taking a virtual tour of the great North American continent.  Along the way visit the great National Parks in the U.S. and Canada, drive the Alaskan Highway and the Golden Circle.  View the wildlife along the way on the world's greatest safari.    


This is the story of four friends who enlisted in the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry.  They marched, tented, and fought together every day on the hard road from Connecticut to Gettysburg where on the fateful day of July 1, 1863 one of them would be killed, two wounded, and only one left standing.  Their story is based on their letters, primary and period source documents. The program is illustrated with contemporary and period images.  This program was awarded a 2011 Connecticut League of History Organizations Award of Merit in June 2011.  More information on this program and the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry (the Fairfield County Regiment) can be found at:


Meet Queen Elizabeth I, the Virgin Queen of England,  Good Queen Bess who appears in period dress to speak about her family the Tudors, her reign, and the Golden Age of England named  for her. 

Queen Elizabeth I is often called the greatest monarch in English history, and one of the most powerful women in all of world history. She ruled from 1558 to 1603, turning a struggling nation into a world power known for  its military might, religious tolerance, and a flourishing culture led by playwright William Shakespeare.This costumed portrayal of the last of the Tudors details the life of the charismatic leader whose epic rein is still known as the Elizabethan Era.   
The two  programs in this series uncover the mystery of an unsigned diary of a Pennsylvania soldier during the Civil War. It describes discovering his identity and telling his story with period images in his own words.  Travel with him  from his enlistment in August 1862 to the Battle of Antietam, the bloodiest day in U.S. History.  The second program will take the audience from Antietam to Chancellorsville and the end of this man's war after the battle.  If you are booking this program specify which of the two programs you are interested in.   


This program explores history and memory, why we remember and why we forget.  It explores how we choose to memorialize and remember the great triumphs and tragedies of our history both local and national.

Dare to Teach  tells the story of Prudence Crandall who began a school in Canterbury, Connecticut in 1833  to educate black girls.   She would be bullied, harassed, threatened, fined, jailed, and tried three times because she dared to teach.  The school was victimized by the populace who contaminated the well, attempted arson, and ultimately the school was destroyed by rioters and closed.  Connecticut and Canterbury recanted their positions and voted a pension to Prudence in old age.  Prudence Crandall would ultimately be honored and celebrated as the Connecticut State Heroine.  This program was awarded a 2013 Connecticut League of History Organizations Award of Merit Honorable Mention for education programming.  

Seymour, Connecticut could be any small town, north or south, during the American Civil War.  Come to hear the stories of Seymour during the Civil War Era from the home front to the battlefield.    Meet some of the families.  Hear the stories of the men who fought and returned.  Honor those brave men who sacrificed their lives for the Union.  The program will highlight the service of Corporal John Harpin Riggs and the letters he wrote home during four years of Civil War service to his family on Bungay Hill.   What was it like to live in Seymour, or any small American town, during the Civil War years and beyond?  Come and visit with us and explore a small town's Civil War past.  


This program, Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain Rx, is a very different way to view Chamberlain. This program will examine the comprehensive health-care program of Chamberlain. His long life and medical history provides an overview of 19th century medical care, its successes, vagaries, and in Chamberlain’s case, its miracles. Chamberlain survived smallpox, heat stroke, malaria, typhoid, tuberculosis. After Gettysburg he was diagnosed with “neurasthenia” a Civil War illness syndrome akin to modern post-traumatic stress disorder. His horse was shot from under him five times (Charlemagne twice) and six times he was hit with rebel lead causing his obituary to be sent to the New York papers twice. The most devastating injury was the pelvic wound he suffered at Rive’s Salient outside of Petersburg. The complications from that wound would plague him horribly for almost 50 years and result in the cause of death listed on his death certificate at the age of 85 in 1914.

This program explores the World War II home front through the use of primary source objects.  Seeing only with your eyes and not with your hands is no fun. Using authentic World War II era objects as primary sources promotes multidimensional thinking, learning, and knowledge acquisition.   Objects encourage students to cultivate observation skills, sparks ideas and inquiry, promotes critical thinking, evokes feelings, inspires emotions, and invites conversation that  promotes language development.  As we examine the home front through various items of the material culture, these items from the period help us to reduce the fog of time. Objects help us to examine the time period of study with a more immediate and tangible view from the perspective of the generation that lived with these items would have understood and used them in their daily lives.