Affiliate News

Autumn 2016

Center for Independent Study: Celebration amid regret

Since 1977, the Center for Independent Study has been a vibrant intellectual group in New Haven, CT—one that reached and exceeded its original goal— “to foster intellectual stimulation outside the formal academy.” Over almost 40 years of existence, CIS became:

  • a forum for a wide range of intellectual and creative pursuits;

  • a place of connection for independent scholars and artists; 

  • a community of colleagues for those who work and/or study on their own.

CIS members organized Sunday afternoon salon gatherings where topics could be explored in depth; affinity groups; and peer analyses of work in progress. Over the years, CIS also organized topical one- and two-day conferences that were free and open to the public; one on biography was especially successful. In short, CIS made significant contributions to the intellectual vitality of the New Haven community. Connections between CIS and NCIS run deep and long: CIS member Barbara Bell was one of the founders of NCIS; her work helped assure the new national organization’s success. Many other CIS members have also supported NCIS in a variety of roles over the years.


It is therefore with regret that we relay the news that, due to declining membership, CIS has voted to disband. Applause and thanks go to CIS officers and members for their decades of service to and support of independent scholarship. The Center for Independent Study will always remain part of the history and DNA of the National Coalition of Independent Scholars. 


Barbara Williams Ellertson, NCIS Affiliate Liaison—October 2016


Summer 2016

CIS: Center for Independent Research (New Haven).

May 15, 2016 – At the Spring Luncheon a panel led by former Board member Barbara Currier Bell and supported by Ruth Hein, Ellen Brainard, and Lauren Pinzka offered a review of the history, current situation, and future of Independent Scholarship particularly as  related to CIS.

April 3, 2016- CIS sponsored a Sunday Salon on “Displacement” providing an apt opportunity to discuss the ethical and cultural issues surrounding immigration. The discussion, led by Teri Dykeman, took us to unexpected places from ethnic personal histories to the meaning of “home.”

November 15, 2015 – The CIS Fall Sunday Salon on Ta Nehisi Coates’ Between the World and Me presented discussion led by Connie Sherak and Lauren Pinzka which served to heighten issues and solution attempts regarding race relations.

November 15, 2015 – CIS sponsored A Peabody Museum Tour led by Richard Yanowitz “Samurai and the Culture of  Japan’s Great  Peace” provided abundant information on Asian culture in a context of global thinking.

September 17, 2015 - Arranged by James van Pelt, CIS co-sponsored with Yale Book Store the author Nancy Ellen Abrams’s presentation “A Coherent Big Picture of Our Time” which laid out the emergent theory of current science and Abram’s  emergent concept of  God.

For ongoing activities, see the CIS website:


IHS: Institute for Historical Study (San Francisco)

IHS held their annual pot-luck in June 2016. Most of the Institute's activities take place in sub-groups:

  • The Writers' Group:  Recent meetings have focused on discussions of problems of editing, publishing and publicizing manuscripts and books; an examination of chapters in Celeste Macleod's manuscript on Fanny Trollope, "A Woman of Unbearable Opinions" and examination of Charles Sullivan's conference paper on Elizabethan explorers and the quest for the Northwest passage
  • California and the West Study Group: Work here featured an art exhibit curated by Ann Harlow on Berkeley as the "Art Capital of the West" and a field trip to the San Francisco Presidio. In September Rose Marie Cleese will lead a two-day trip to the California Gold Country.
  • The Medieval Study Group, led by John Rusk discussed Michael Pye's "The Edge of the World. " Discussion led by Ellen Huppert focused on E .M. Rose's "The Murder of William of Norwich: The Origins of the Blood Libel in Medieval Europe,” and Lyn Reese reported on females who appear as "sleuths" in fictional medieval mysteries.
  • The Play Reading group focused its energies on Timberlake Wertenbaker's “Our Countru's Good" and Dion Boucicault's "The Poor of New York." 

Recent Work-in Progress sessions: Richard Raack gave a talk entitled "When Governments Control History" focused on the way that various governments have distorted the discussion of the origins of the Second World War.  Maria Sakovich reported on Russian choral music in San Francisco during the 1920s and 1930s, and Richard Herr presented a paper entitled "Lincoln's Gettysburg Address in an International Context."

For further information  oni IHS activities consult our website:


ISAA: Independent Scholars’ Association of Australia 

ISAA is preparing to hold its National Conference on October 13–14, 2016 at the National Library of Australia. Political Journalist  Quentin Dempster will present the Annual Lecture, “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Shaping Public Policy in Australia, Past, Present, Future.” Political Journalist Chris Ulmann will speak on his political fiction.

ISAA National Council is taking an active role in Intellectual Property advocacy. The Australian Productivity Commission Report, issued in October 2015 makes numerous proposals, including limiting copyright protection to ten years instead of seventy; removing parallel import restrictions, and other measures that might weaken authors’ rights and remedies under Australian law. ISAA has submitted a request for further consultation with authors and publishers’ associations during the Public Comments period.

NSW Chapter held its Annual General Meeting in May 2016, when Christine Yeats was elected chapter Chair and Brian Nicholls as Vice-Chair.

  • A group of NSW members collaborated on writing and editing a new book from the Sydney University Press, Gardens of History and Imagination, edited by Gretchen Poiner and Sybil Jack.
  • In July 2016, Dr. Mehreen Faruqi MLC presented the keynote address at the Annual Seminar on “Global Issues: People, Race, Identity.”
  • In September 2016, an evening conversation will be held at the State Library of NSW on the topic “Australia: Nation or Commodity?”

ACT (Australian Capital Territory) Chapter:

  • In June, Ernst Willhein gave a presentation on “David Horner's Official History of ASIO.” 
  • In July, Ron Wells talked about Tales about Typhoid, the Slow Fever.” 
  • And in August, Elizabeth Truswell gave a presentation on “The Woman Who Mapped the Oceans: A Revolution in the Earth Sciences”

ISAA publishes a National Newsletter several times a year and the ISAA Review twice a year plus the proceedings of the Annual conference are published, the NSW Chapter publishes a Bulletin every two months. ISAA holds “work-in-process” reviews for members who seek feedback on their research.

For more information:


MISF: Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum

The Minnesota Independent Scholars Forum has regular meetings on the fourth Saturday of the month. Meetings in the spring of 2016 included presentations on:

  • “War and Art: Russian Artistic Expression during WWI”
  • “A Trip to Cuba”
  • “Sad Stories of the Death of Kings”
  • “World Without Genocide”
  • “Poetry Day”
  • “G.K. Chesterton”

There was be a sponsored museum tour at the end of July on “Forbidden Art: Hitler’s Campaign against ‘Modern’ Art.”

For more information about MISF,


NISA: Northwest Independent Scholars Association

NISA meets every other month to encourage and promote scholarly discussion, research, writing, and publication outside of formal institutions of higher education, for individuals who are actively pursuing serious scholarly research.

Recent News:

In February 2016, Tom Hubka presented "The Wall-Painting from an 18th Century Polish Wooden Synagogue Jewish Liturgical Art—painted by, for, and about Jews."

Don Blanchard gave a presentation in March 2016 on  "Henry Gray's Eye Anatomy'"

Margaret DeLacy's book, The Germ of an Idea: Contagionism, Religion, and Society in Britain, 1660-1730 has been published by Palgrave-Macmillan both in paper and online.

Don Blanchard presented a paper on "Henry Gray's (Eye) Anatomy" to the Washington University Medical School during a meeting of the Cogan Ophthalmic History Society in April.

David Ritchie's play, "A Little Horseplay in the Library" was staged in a reader's theater production on Saturday, March 5, 2016 at the West Slope Library as part of library's celebration of Read Aloud Month.

In April 2016, Rosemary Lombard read at Multnomah County's NW Library from her Turtles All the Way: Poems, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press. Also in April she was a panelist on a Conversations with Writers program discussing ways writers can target new audiences for issues of importance. She read from examples including Sharon Appleman's Coyote Willows, an eco-thriller about dangers from the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, published the month before Appleman's death in August 2015. 

For more information about NISA and their bi-monthly meetings, see


Princeton Research Forum

Founded in 1980, Princeton Research Forum is a community of independent scholars in the greater Princeton area. Monthly meetings are held at the Institute for Advanced Study and PRF members share their interests in study groups focused on the humanities, poetry, and science, as well as through works-in-progress sessions and presentation seminars.

Member News:

  • PRF member Winifred Hughes read from her poetry work at the Princeton Public Library March 14. Hughes teaches creative writing at the College of New Jersey.
  • PRF member Shelly Frisch has been nominated for the National Book Critics Circle Award for “Dietrich and Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives” (Liverigh).
  • Bob Craig has published Starting from Scratch: The First Building Tradesmen of Middlesex County, about seventeenth-century building tradesmen in Middlesex County, NJ. It is the culmination of several years’ research, and was the subject of a PRF Work in Progress meeting several years ago.
  • Maureen Mulvihill’s work on early modern emblem books, was published in Appositions, August 2015.
  • Legendary geneticist and PRF member Evelyn Witkin reflected on the earliest days of a new science and her groundbreaking work on how DNA responds to damage in an interview in the New York Times, December 15, 2015.
  • Shelley Frisch and Michael Wood held a Conversation on Dietrich & Riefenstahl: Hollywood, Berlin, and a Century in Two Lives, December 2nd, 2015.
  • Joan Goldstein interviewed fellow PRF member Lara Freidenfelds on her work as an historian of sex, reproduction and women’s health in America on Back Story with Joan Goldstein.  They discussed Freidenfelds’ book The Modern Period: Menstruation in Twentieth-Century America and her book-in-progress, Counting Chickens Before They Hatch? An Historian’s Take on Pregnancy and Miscarriage in Contemporary America.

For more information on the PRF, go to


SDIS: San Diego Independent Scholars

San Diego Independent Scholars holds ongoing meetings of eight study groups, in addition to monthly general meetings. Study groups include Colloquy Café, Culture One, Culture Two, Film Group, Literature Group, and Science Group. 

In May 2016, SDIS held their annual business meeting, where Diana Withee, a 2013 grant winner and current 2016 recipient of the Helen Hawkins grant, outlined her planned fall trip to Europe to continue her research into the art of Heronimus Bosch. Dr. Mary Stroll, our 2015 grant winner, updated the group on her presentation of a paper in Leeds, England last year. Her research focuses on an intriguing early period of the papacy, namely Callixtus II, Pope from 1119-1124.

Other recent study group topics included:
In May 2016, the Culture One study group continued its reading of Sapiens, and Part Three: The Unification of Humankind via Chapters 11 (Imperial Visions) and 12 (The Law of Religion). Readings from last month, Chapters 9 (The Arrow of History) and 10 (The Scent of Money) define “Culture” as a network of “artificial instincts” with internal inconsistencies and gradual merging of our human worlds. This leads to proposing three universal orders of humankind, the first is economic (i.e., currency), see Chapter 10 (The Scent of Money), which presents the history of currency, its role in promoting interaction among peoples, and its underlying principles of convertibility and trust.

The Culture Two study group met on Friday, April 22 for a discussion of issues raised in the group’s current background reading book, Politics and Culture in Contemporary Iran: Challenging the Status Quo, edited by Abbas Milani and Larry Diamond. Our discussion benefited greatly from the insight provided by a visiting guest who was born in Iran and lived there under the conditions described in the book.

The Literature Group met in May 2016 for ongoing discussions of Sinclair Lewis’s Main Street.

The Neuroscience Study Group has met to discuss significant contemporary writings, including essays in the book This Idea Must Die, edited by John Brockman.

Dr. Jonah Cool, a scientist in the therapeutics group of Organovo Inc., gave a presentation in April 2016 about biological applications for 3D printing, commonly referred to as bioprinting. He focused on various methods of in vitro fabrication using human cells to form tissue-like structures that resemble native tissues in form and function.

For more information on SDIS, go to


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