Third Thursday Presentation: “Prescribing from the Bookshelf – Louise Sweet and Connecticut’s Role in the Library War Service”

Hartford, CT – Mary Mahoney, Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Connecticut, gave a talk on “Prescribing from the Bookshelf – Louise Sweet and Connecticut’s Role in the Library War Service”. This program will take place on March 15, 2018, 12:00-12:45 at the Connecticut State Library. 

When Connecticut’s servicemen went to war in 1917, they didn’t go alone. Connecticut’s charitable organizations and libraries, supported by donations from the state’s residents, provided reading materials for soldiers and sailors throughout the war. Librarians who served on the front lines and in military hospitals believed books had important uses during the war: to educate, to entertain, and when prescribed in hospitals, to heal. This program offered a history of the Library War Service itself, the roles women played as librarians dispensing books, and Connecticut’s place in this history.  

Mary Mahoney is a Ph.D. Candidate in History at the University of Connecticut where she studies the history of Bibliotherapy, or the use of books as medicine. She came to this topic after she was offered two cancer memoirs and a history of the JFK assassination during a hospital stay and wondered what therapeutic effect such reading might have. Her work focuses on the relationship between reading and health and examines the stakes of investing reading with the authority of medicine. Her work has been published and made the subject of a touring exhibit on Bibliotherapy and World War I; an online version of which can be found at  She is also the host of a podcast called “Chapters” which shares the stories of readers’ lives through the books that have meant the most to them.

This program is part of the State Library and Museum of Connecticut History’s Third Thursday Brown Bag Lunchtime Speaker series. This series features a variety of speakers on various aspects of Connecticut History. All programs are free and open to the public and attendees should feel free to bring their lunch.