Continuing Education

Union in an Age of Disunion: Tom Thumb, Lavinia Warren, and the Dawn of Modern Celebrity Against the Backdrop of Civil War

The wedding of sideshow performer Charles Stratton (otherwise known as Tom Thumb), and Lavinia Warren Bump in 1863 was in its time viewed as the "wedding of the century."  Reporters breathlessly reported every detail and Abraham Lincoln threw a reception for the celebrated couple at the White House.  Behind the scenes however, master showman P.T. Barnum had artfully manipulated every detail and every carefully placed snippet of news.  Against the backdrop of the Civil War, the marriage of this incredibly famous pair of little people captured the hearts of the American public as they sought to escape the realities of wartime depravation.  The marriage of Tom Thumb and Lavinia Warren can thus be viewed as a one of the first examples of modern celebrity in America, a fluffy event borne out of tremendous upheaval and a desire for visual displays of domestic harmony as the threat of the union's destruction loomed.

Anna Hajdik, lecturer, Literature, Writing, and Film

Thursday, September 28, 2023, 2:00 pm

Lectures are open to the public and held at 2 p.m. in the Gathering Room at Cedar Crest, 1702 South River Road in Janesville. Free parking is available and registration is not required. Updates will be posted on facebook, along with live streaming, when available. Contact Kari Borne at or 262-472-1003 for further information or to request accommodations. 

Cedar Crest

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