If you’re an admirer of nineteenth-century freethought orator Robert Green Ingersoll, it’s been a red-letter year.
As many Free Inquiry readers know, the Council for Secular Humanism, Free Inquiry’s copublisher, operates North America’s only freethought museum at Ingersoll’s birthplace. The Robert Green Ingersoll Birthplace Museum stands in Dresden, New York, in the heart of New York State’s Finger Lakes region. The Museum has been open to the public on weekends each summer and fall since 1993. The Council also sponsors the Freethought Trail, a collection of historic sites relating to radical-reform causes including freethought, women’s rights, abolition, nonreligious utopianism, and anarchism. Ranging from formal museums to historic sites both marked and unmarked, all Freethought Trail sites lie within one hundred miles of the Ingersoll Museum. Why? It turns out that West-Central New York was once fertile ground for all sorts of social and cultural experimentation. The area encompassing Rochester and Syracuse was, essentially, the Southern California of the nineteenth century.