Our History

ABOVE: Duane Shaffer, co-founder of the CWRTNH, pictured here in 2005.

BELOW: (L-R) Malcolm Wetherbee, Duane Shaffer & Bill Hallett, 2008

How we formed...

 "When I assumed the directorship of the Harvey-Mitchell Memorial Library in Epping in the fall of 1985 I started looking at what the library had on New Hampshire history. It seemed to me that people in NH were mostly interested in the Revolutionary War and not much outside of the regimental histories had been done. I gave my first presentation on Epping’s role in the Civil War in October 1986.

After that I started receiving invitations from other libraries and historical societies in Rockingham County. By 1989 I was doing one presentation somewhere in NH every week. Ken Burns came along in 1989-90 with his series and people really started to take notice of the war. The Exeter Newsletter had already done a society article on me because I was the director in both Epping and Newington and they referred to me as the “Circuit-riding librarian.” Somewhere in that piece I mentioned that I did talks on the Civil War. Soon after that they did another article where they questioned me closely about my impressions of the Ken Burns series and the movies Glory and Gettysburg. The wave of interest in the war was really at its peak then.

One afternoon in March or April of 1991 I was at the front desk and this distinguished looking gentleman comes in {Malcolm Wetherbee} and starts talking to me about the war. He had seen the Exeter Newsletter articles and was excited about starting a roundtable. He stated that he had been studying the fact that Boston had a roundtable discussion group and wouldn’t it be great if New Hampshire could have one too. I was, at first, very skeptical that such a group could succeed in New Hampshire. Boston was one thing because it had such a well publicized Civil War history. He insisted that we try so we set a date in May 1991 and so the roundtable was born. The first slate of officers was: Myself as President, Malcolm as Vice-President, Bruce Smith as Treasurer and Rhonda Smith as Secretary."

Duane Schaffer, co-founder CWRT-NH