“Some books are so familiar, reading them is like being home again.” Louisa May AlcottThis quote really struck a chord with everyone who came to one of several special pre-broadcast screenings of Masterpiece’s “Little Women” in Fort Smith and Little Rock this past month. I’m Dan Koops with AETN’s Community Engagement team and over the past month I very much enjoyed being a part of bringing this classic story “back home again.”
Loved by generations of women worldwide, “Little Women” is a truly universal coming of age story. Set against the backdrop of the Civil War, the story follows sisters Jo, Meg, Beth and Amy March on their journey from childhood to adulthood. With the help of their mother, Marmee, and while their father is away at war, the girls navigate what it means to be a young woman: from sibling rivalry and first love, to loss and marriage. Author Louisa May Alcott took inspiration from her childhood memories and family members. And like Jo March, she was a tomboy, a writer and an independent woman, being the first woman to register to vote in Concord, when women were given school, tax, and bond suffrage in Massachusetts, in 1879.
On Friday, April 13, AETN and the great people at the Fort Smith Public Library hosted a screening of the first hour of the recently adapted for television version of “Little Women.” The event started with a fantastic lecture from UA Fort Smith’s historian Tom Wing, who spoke brilliantly about the book, gave significant perspective to the time period and what life was really like in New England during the Civil War. He finished by connecting the subject matter locally, including a historically significant story on how President Lincoln had appointed a Fort Smith man as a minister, similar to Mr. March, during the same timeframe as when the book was written.
To say our second screening, held at the Historic Arkansas Museum in downtown Little Rock, was charming and delightful would be an understatement. On Saturday, May 5, approximately 50 people — mostly mothers and fathers with their daughters — started the afternoon with a screening of the film. Immediately following, the museum’s staff led everyone out onto the historically accurate and beautiful museum grounds and outbuildings, built around the same time as the Marsh house, for a series of hands on activities they called “Be Like Jo.” Adults and kids alike donned period hats and aprons, took selfies, learned to write with goose feather quill pens and experimented with wax sealing of letters.
You’ll see from the photos that a great time was had by all. Thank you so much to our friends at the Fort Smith Public Library and the Historic Arkansas Museum for their time, talents and enthusiasm with these screening events. We appreciate their ongoing partnerships more and more every year.
“Little Women” on Masterpiece continues Sunday, May 20, at 7 p.m.