What were the Chautauqua Assemblies?

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Noelle Thompson eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I have a Canadian friend who continually travels to Lake Chautauqua, NY, in order to take part in many "Chautauqua Assemblies," which are still going on (even though the word "assembly" isn't really connected with the movement much anymore) under the more recent term Chautauqua Institution.  The history of this learning environment is quite interesting, actually.

Chautauqua Assemblies was the early term that President Teddy Roosevelt used for these educational gatherings in the early 20th century.  They were meant to enrich an entire community (often a rural community) with many different aspects of education and culture.  Therefore, music, drama, and religion were not neglected (considering that the entire movement was originally Methodist in its beginnings).  Sometimes the main institution was called "Mother Chautauqua" becase the Chatauqua Assemblies were sometimes referred to as "Daughter Chautaquas."  They always had a camp-like feel and were associated with the lyceum movement.  Supposedly, the Chautauqua Movement is in decline (in that one must go to one of the proposed institutions now to participate, and they are few and far-between); however, don't tell my Canadian friend.

Also, today there is a negative connotation associated with the Chautauqua Institution that it is only for the "elite rich."  Well, when any group of people gather (no matter what the environment) in order to gain more education, I can't see it as a bad thing.  (However, I must admit that I cannot afford to attend myself.  Ha!)

csemack | Student

The Chautauqua Assembly is a four-day "celebration of learning" in Florida.  It based on the four pillars of the Chautauqua:
/ʃəˈtɔːkwə/) is an adult education movement in the United States, highly popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Chautauqua assemblies expanded and spread throughout rural America until the mid-1920s. The Chautauqua brought entertainment and culture for the whole community, with speakers, teachers, musicians, entertainers, preachers and specialists of the day.