Past Events

Lecture: Washington Irving

2017-10 Irving Lecture


The Historical Society of Rockland County Invites You to Join Us for

Washington Irving: American Dreams
and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
Screenings and Discussion with the Filmmaker Jim Ormond

When: Thursday, October 19, 2017, 7:15 SHARP (As a courtesy to the speaker, please arrive early to avoid interruptions)
Where: History Center, 20 Zukor Road, New City

Price: $FREE (but registration is required, and donations are greatly appreciated!)

Born in New York City in 1783, Washington Irving would be an unlikely candidate for the title "Father of the American Short Story." Yet he is perhaps best known today as the author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." Just in time for Hallowe'en, Jim Ormond will return to the HSRC with two films focusing on Washington Irving:

  • Washington Irving: American Dreams: Irving's own life was as interesting as his best stories. Irving's family encouraged him to become a lawyer, but he never took to the law and never had a facility for it. In his teens, he took part in New York City's vibrant newspaper culture by writing humorous columns under a pseudonym. He later founded the satirical magazine Salmagundi, which became a huge hit with the reading public. In Salmagundi, he coined the name "Gotham" for New York City. His 1809 bestseller A History of New York, offered a spoof history of the development of Manhattan and introduced the term "Knickerbocker" for New Yorker.

    In reflecting on his life, Irving remarked, "Shadows have proved my substance; and from them I have derived many of my most exquisite enjoyments; while the substantial realities of life have turned to shadows in my grasp. . . . What revelry of the mind I have enjoyed; what fairy castles I have built—and inhabited."

    Using historical reenactments, Jim Ormond's forty-three-minute documentary traces Irving's life from his beginning as a precocious teenage writer to become the most famous man in America. Viewers follow Irving's journey from the streets of early nineteenth-century New York to the palaces of Europe and the American frontier. The film also touches on Irving's relationships with other writers and politicians, including George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Mary Shelley, Andrew Jackson, Edgar Allan Poe, and Herman Melville.
  • The Legend of Sleepy Hollow: "In the dark shadow of the grove, at the margin of the brook, he beheld something huge, mis-shapen, black and towering. It stirred not, but seemed gathered up in the gloom like some gigantic monster ready to spring upon the traveller." First written in 1821 as part of Irving's Sketch Book, "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" has alternatively been called "A Classic of American Literature" and "The Great American Ghost Story." Combining spooky moments with gentle humor and quaint charm, this new twenty-four-minute adaptation closely follows the spirit of Irving's original tale. A narrator tells the story as actors silently act out the scenes---including the thrilling chase of Ichabod Crane by the Headless Horseman!
About the filmmaker: Jim Ormond started Local History Channel in 2012. Since then, his local history segments have been seen on Cablevision in the New York metropolitan area and, more recently, on PBS. Ormond is a former reporter and print editor; together with a talented team of actors, narrators, researchers, videographers and video editors he effectively tells important stories about local history.


Or you can email us at; call (845) 634-9629; or complete the PDF form below and return it, by October 12, 2017, to:

Historical Society of Rockland County
20 Zukor Road
New City, NY 10956

As a courtesy to our guest speaker, please arrive early to avoid interruptions. The presentation will begin promptly at 7:15 pm. Latecomers with reservations may forfeit their seats. Walk-ins will be admitted only if space permits.


The Historical Society of Rockland County is a nonprofit educational institution and principal repository for original documents and artifacts relating to Rockland County. Its headquarters are a four-acre site featuring a history museum and the 1832 Jacob Blauvelt House in New City, New York.

2017-10 Washington Irving Films and Discussion Reservation PDF


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