Programming Requirements

Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

Site Support Notebook

Each library selected for the Louisa May Alcott project is required to present the following five programs:

1. Louisa May Alcott: Through Her Eyes

A community-wide library event focusing on the life, work, and times of Louisa May Alcott

Libraries are encouraged to create a nineteenth-century atmosphere with music, displays of books and other media, food, dance, artwork, games, related programs for children, and other activities. At least one program during the event must be presented by the project scholar. Suggested program ideas include, but are not limited to:

  • presentation of film clips from the documentary film,
    Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women, and reading of passages from the biography of the same name;
  • a program on nineteenth-century gothic novels, including Louisa May Alcott’s little-known thrillers
    Behind a Mask, or a Woman’s Power; and
    A Long and Fatal Love Chase;
  • a program about Louisa May Alcott’s personal relationships with the famous Concord Transcendentalists Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, and a discussion exploring the utopian ideals of Transcendentalism;
  • readings by community members, including local celebrities and journalists, of works by Louisa May Alcott and the literary figures she knew and admired, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Margaret Fuller, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, as well as excerpts from early women’s magazines, such as
    Godey’s Lady’s Book;
  • a program connecting Louisa May Alcott’s nineteenth-century era to your library’s region. How was your community involved in the Civil War, Abolitionism, Transcendentalism, the women’s rights movement, or social reform?

2. Louisa May Alcott Wrote That? Reading and scholar-led discussion of Alcott’s lesser-known works

Louisa May Alcott is best known for her children’s novel Little Women, but she authored many other stories for adult audiences, including 1) Transcendental Wild Oats, a satire on her family’s life in a nineteenth-century Utopian community; 2) Hospital Sketches, an account of Alcott’s time spent as an army nurse during the Civil War; 3) Behind A Mask, or a Woman’s Power, one of the best of Alcott’s recently discovered thrillers; and 4) Work: A Story of Experience, a novel about women’s rights and responsibilities beyond the family. The project scholar will facilitate a discussion exploring these short works, which together help display the range of Alcott’s writing and exemplify her strong and dynamic connections to the culture in which she lived. Libraries may choose to discuss three of these works, or excerpts from all four texts. The materials are available online, free of charge at:

3. Louisa May Alcott: Literary Phenomenon and Social Reformer

This scholar-led program should focus on Louisa May Alcott as a self-trained and successful professional writer, as demonstrated by her stories in new publications for women and mass audiences, such as
Godey’s Lady’s Book; and on how she used her writing to advance many of her era’s ideas for social reform, such as Abolitionism and women’s rights.

4. Film screening –
Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

Viewing of the documentary film, followed by a discussion led by the project scholar about Alcott, her writing, and her legacy.

5. Reading and discussion of the biography –
Louisa May Alcott: The Woman Behind Little Women

A scholar-led discussion of the biography; documentary film clips may be presented during the discussion.

Note: Although the five required programs do not focus on Little Women and other well-known Alcott works, libraries are welcome to present programs about these works, in addition to the required programs, if they wish.

Please send an invitation for major programs to:


National Endowment for the Humanities

1100 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.

Washington, DC 20506