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attend chautauqua

Chautauqua [shuh-taw-kwuh] is an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries that still exists in parts of the U.S.. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day. Former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt was quoted as saying that Chautauqua is, ‘the most American thing in America.’

The first Chautauqua, the New York Chautauqua Assembly, was organized in 1874 by Methodist minister John Heyl Vincent and businessman Lewis Miller at a campsite on the shores of Chautauqua Lake in New York State.  The educational summer camp format proved to be a popular choice for families and was widely copied. Within a decade, Chautauquas sprang up in various locations across North America. The popularity of the movement can be attributed in part to the social and geographic isolation of American farming and ranching communities. People in such areas would naturally be hungry for education, culture and entertainment, and Chautauqua was a timely response to that need in the late 19th century and early 20th century. The advent of the radio and the automobile diminished its role significantly.

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