Chautauqua highlight

The 1950s set the stage for changes to American life. Humanities Nebraska will present “The Fifties in Focus,” a Chautauqua-type program that combines history and historical figures, Aug. 1-3 in various locations in Kearney. Admission to all events is free.

KEARNEY — For the past 35 years, Humanities Nebraska created Chautauqua programs that helped audiences connect with history.

“We are taking the opportunity to change up the model for Chautauqua,” said Kristi Hayek Carley, program manager for Humanities Nebraska. “Times change and the expectations of the public also changes a little bit as well. We’re trying to take those signals and formulate a different type of program, which at the same time will capture our own goals for Chautauqua.”

Humanities Nebraska will present “The Fifties in Focus” on Aug. 1-3 with events at the Kearney Public Library, the Merryman Performing Arts Center, the Museum of Nebraska Art and the World Theatre. Admission to all events is free.

“Chautauqua has always been an event where the public is able to immerse themselves in history and other humanities topics centered around a common theme,” Carley said. “In that respect, nothing has changed. We’re just changing the time line and the format a little in order to appeal to different audiences. We chose the ’50s as our theme.”

Many people consider the 1950s as a nostalgic time.

“We’re going to attempt to pull back on that a little and see what else went on behind that nostalgia and see what other kinds of crises were going on at the time,” Carley said.

Sixty years removed from the decade, the speakers and presentations will help to make sense of the 1950s.

“We can look at it with a more objective point of view,” she said.

Keynote speaker William Hitchcock, the William W. Corcoran Professor of History at the University of Virginia and author of “The Age of Eisenhower: America and the World of the 1950s,” will present an overview of the decade with his