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Our History

1937: In the town of Hanford, California, Clio Lee Aydelott—a woman of letters—hoped to make an addition to the Central Valley’s intellectual and cultural life by providing a venue for "thinking adults to become better informed." A Town Hall series, already established in twenty other U.S. cities, thus debuted in Fresno with a program in 1938; it consisted of seven morning and six evening lectures. The lectures were so well received that a second series was scheduled for the fall of the same year.

The lecture series continued under the direction of Dr. Rappaport for eight seasons. At that time, the San Joaquin Valley Town Hall of Fresno was formed to produce the lecture series independently. The first series of six morning lectures began in October of 1946, and that format continues to this day.

Over the years, Town Hall has hosted almost 500 speakers who have provided stimulating, intellectual entertainment. Some speakers of note include Margaret Mead, Bennett Cerf, Agnes DeMille, James Michener, Gore Vidal, Maya Angelou, Ray Bradbury, Condoleezza Rice, Henry Kissinger, and Chet Huntley. In the future, Town Hall will continue to work hard to bring you speakers who will enlighten and entertain.


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