Current Exhibits

Identity and Race in 1940s Keene

The extraordinary story of a radiologist who, after years living as a white person in New Hampshire, including Keene, tries to join the military during World War II but is rejected after being designated an African American, is the subject this month of an historical exhibit, a showing of the acclaimed movie, “Lost Boundaries,” which is based on the story, and a reception and presentation.

The movie is considered one of the top ten from 1949, winner of the Cannes Film Festival for best Screenplay and based on a book of the same name by William Lindsay White.


Date:  Jan. 29 – March 16, 2019

Location: Historical Society of Cheshire County, 246 Main Street, Keene, NH 03431

Contact: email,; website, www.; telephone, 603.352.1895.

Admission:  Free and open to the public               


The Historical Society of Cheshire County is partnering with the Mason Library Archives at Keene State College on the upcoming exhibit about the late Dr. Albert Chandler Johnston, who with his family, is the subject on which the movie “Lost Boundaries” is based.


The Johnstons moved to Keene in 1940, where Dr. Johnston was a radiologist at the Elliot Hospital, as well as at hospitals in Peterborough and Bellows Falls. Born in Chicago, he graduated from the University of Chicago and completed his medical degree at the Rush Medical School. He interned at the Maine General Hospital and then set up a general practice in Gorham, NH, while completing training in radiology at Harvard.

A collection of artifacts and materials from Dr. Johnston and his family will be included in the exhibit as well as items from Louis de Rochemont, producer of “Lost Boundaries”, who lived in Newington, NH. The winner of two Academy Awards, De Rochemont is widely considered to be “father of the docu-drama,” having created films covering controversial subjects such as labor relations and racism, according to the website


Charter Trust Company is sponsoring the exhibit and the presentation.

Special Film Event: Lost Boundaries, A 70th Anniversary Screening Showing

Date: Sunday, January 27, 2019, 2p.m.

Location: The Colonial, 95 Main Street, Keene, NH 03431

Contact: email,; website, www.;
telephone, 603.352.2033.

Admission:  Free and open to the public               


Offered in partnership with the Historical Society of Cheshire County, this film is based on the shocking true of Dr. Albert Chandler Johnston and his family. Dr. Larry Benaquist, retired film studies professor, will introduce the movie. A short documentary filmed by NHPBS on the Johnston family will be screen prior to the film itself. More information on this showing is available online at


Date:  Wednesday, February 6, 2019, 7 p.m.

Location: Historical Society of Cheshire County, 246 Main Street, Keene, NH 03431

Contact: email,; website, www.; telephone, 603.352.1895.

Admission:  Free and open to the public               


Dr. Larry Benaquist, retired Keene State College film studies professor, will discuss “Lost Boundaries” and the Johnston family of New Hampshire, on whom the movie is based and whom Dr. Benaquist met and interviewed following Dr. Johnston’s death in 1988. Dr. Benaquist subsequently created a Lost Boundaries reunion film in 1989 featuring interviews with family member and original actors from the film.

Exhibit Programming

January 27, 2019 2-4pm Lost Boundaries Film @ the Colonial Theater

Introduction to film: Dr. Larry Benaquist, filmmaker

A Short Documentary filmed by NHPBS of the Johnston Family will screen prior to the film.

This film is based on a shocking true story that happened in Keene, NH. The story is about Dr. Albert Johnston and his family, a black family who passed for white in order to work while living in Keene, NH, in the 1930s and 1940s.

The film will be followed by closing words from Dr. Dottie Morris, Associate Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion at Keene State College.

Brother Outsider: The Life of Bayard Rustin

 Thursday, January 24, 2019 at 6 PM – 8 PM
Mabel Brown Room, L.P. Young Student Center, Keene State College

Martin Luther King Jr. Day is intended to empower individuals, strengthen communities, bridge barriers, create solutions to social problems, and move us closer to Dr. King’s vision of a “Beloved Community.”

In honor of this, join us for a screening of Brother Outsider, a documentary following the life of Bayard Rustin, who is said to be one of the most controversial figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Following the film, there will be a facilitated discussion reflecting on the experiences and ideas brought up in the film, how it relates to our current understanding of the social movements, and how we can apply these lessons of history to our current movements and social justice work.

Film description:
During his 60-year career as an activist, organizer and “troublemaker,” Bayard Rustin formulated many of the strategies that propelled the American civil rights movement. His passionate belief in Gandhi’s philosophy of nonviolence drew Martin Luther King Jr. and other leaders to him in the 1940’s and 50’s; his practice of those beliefs drew the attention of the FBI and police. In 1963, Rustin brought his unique skills to the crowning glory of his civil rights career: his work organizing the March on Washington, the biggest protest America had ever seen. But his open homosexuality forced him to remain in the background, marking him again and again as a “brother outsider.” Brother Outsider: the Life of Bayard Rustin combines rare archival footage — some of it never before broadcast in the U.S. — with provocative interviews to illuminate the life and work of a forgotten prophet of social change.

This event is free and open to the public.

Our Beloved Community

Young Student Center – Mabel Brown Room
Thursday,  ·  – 

“Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.” Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

What did Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. mean when he spoke of the beloved community? This event will explore the ways in which our community members are embodying this philosophy. We will ask ourselves how we can continue to create loving and celebratory relationships that uphold Dr. King’s vision.

Our Beloved Community encourages us to cultivate bonds with people and organizations in new and exciting ways. This is an opportunity for our community to gather and work together toward a shared future. We build stronger communities by recognizing our personal and shared responsibility to one another.

All are welcome! Come learn about local community organizations, participate in a collective art project, and hear stories from neighbors who exemplify the spirit of the beloved community.

Join us as we explore Dr. King’s vision through art, storytelling, conversation, and reflection.


Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9 am – 4 pm

Wednesday: 9 am – 9 pm

1st and 3rd Saturday of each month: 9 am – noon

Closed Sunday and Monday