Signature Events

Since 1835, The Mercantile Library has continuously sought out dynamic lecturers and speakers, experts on a wide array of subjects—politics, art, literature, science, religion and more. William Makepeace Thackeray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Rabbi Isaac Wise, John Updike, David Halberstam, Seamus Heaney, Salman Rushdie, Robert Caro, David Brooks, Michelle Alexander, Julia Child, Sandra Cisneros, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and Claudia Rankine are just some of the lecturers hosted by the Mercantile.

The Library’s Signature Events are annual lectures, each around a recurring theme.

These Signature Events are now FREE to members.  This member benefit is supported by the generosity of more than 40,000 contributors to the ArtsWave Community Campaign, and a matching grant from the Robert C. & Adele R. Schiff Family Foundation.

Annual Meeting & Mercantile History Lecture. The Mercantile History Lecture, delivered at the Annual Meeting, highlights an aspect of local and regional history. Held January 17, Lecture delivered by Greg Hand, retired AVP, Public Relations, University of Cincinnati. His subject was “Cal Crim On The Case: From Headless Pearl Bryan To The Black Sox Scandal” 

Words and Music. Our newest Signature Lecture, explores the process of songwriting and its parallels to literature. The Words and Music Inaugural Lecturer is Josh Ritter, singer-songwriter and novelist. Josh will perform, discuss the creative process and more, Thursday, January 19.

The Modern Novel Lecture invites novelists who are writing at the top of their form and whose work in literary fiction frequently becomes a part of popular culture. Nathan Hill, author of The Nix, Thursday, March 23.

The 1835 Lecture. This history-focused lecture sheds light on a historic person or event from the period of the Library’s founding in 1835 to the present. it is held on or around the anniversary of the Mercantile Library, April 18, 1835. Ken Adelman, author of Reagan at Reykjavik. Tuesday, April 18. For more, visit here.

Hearth & Home: Typically held late spring, this lecture and subsequent series take advantage of the bestselling authors and personalities who write about the art of living. Topics include food and wine, interior design, and landscape architecture. Cincinnati native Amanda Dameron, editor-in-chief of Dwell Magazine, Thursday, May 11.

The Harriet Beecher Stowe Lecture & Award.  Lecture by award-recipient whose work best exemplifies “writing to change the world”. The Stowe Lecture is in June of each year, as close as possible to Harriet Beecher Stowe’s birthdate, June 14. Harriet Beecher Stowe spoke at the Library in 1873. Wesley Lowery, Pulitzer Prize-Winning Journalist, Wednesday, June 14.

The 2035 Lecture.  With a nod to forward-thinking young business leaders who founded the Mercantile Library, this annual late summer lecture looks at the future of business, design, technologies, and entrepreneurialism and the ways those will shape the global economy. Chuck Klosterman, former Ethicist for The New York Times Magazine and author of What if We’re Wrong? Tuesday, August 8. 

Pyle Urban Lecture. Inaugurated in 2014 to honor former Library Director Albert Pyle’s two decades of service to the library, this lecture features urban thinkers speaking on issues important to the vitality of our city and beyond. R.T. Rybak, President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation, former mayor of Minneapolis. Thursday, September 14.