Historic “gems” lie in wait to be discovered–one student’s story

You never know what sort of historical treasures lie right under your nose. I was cleaning up one of the barns at my family’s farm when I stumbled across a large stack of documents. Upon closer inspection, the documents turned out to be pages of an herbarium (i.e., a collection of pressed plants) that was compiled locally. The herbarium was in excellent condition and fairly detailed. Many of its entries listed the year, location, etc. pertaining to each plant. The herbarium was compiled in 1889 by cousins John Sedgwick Tracy and Benjamin Sedgwick.

When I returned to college after Thanksgiving break, I brought the herbarium to the attention of Dr. Betty Ferster, an adjunct biology professor at Gettysburg. Ferster suggested that we could use my findings in a biohistory study. The idea was that I would create a modern herbarium depicting different sites on the farm. Later, I would compare the 1889 herbarium to the modern one.

Such a story shows that you never know what historic “gems” you can find in your very own attic! Do you have any herbariums in your own collections?

Viola cucullata (common blue violet) collected by Benjamin Sedgwick.

-Abby Adam, Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center Summer Intern and rising junior at Gettysburg College

The herbarium is a collection of loose-leaf pages. It was compiled by John Sedgwick Tracy and Benjamin Sedgwick.

Conversations on the Commons: Reopening in an Unprecedented Era

On Friday, June 5, from 1:00-2:30 PM, join Ken Turino (manager of Community Partnerships and Resource Development at Historic New England), Pleun Bouricius (curator of the Plainfield Historical Society and President of the Mass. History Alliance), and moderator Margo Shea (Assistant Professor of History at Salem State University) for a discussion on the reopening process. They’ll share what reopening looks like at their own institutions, and they’d love to hear your own plans and questions as well. After all, how do you prepare for reopening when so much of what you need to know and do is still so new?

The event will be live streamed on YouTube while they monitor your questions and comments.

Click here to register (it’s free!) Participation is limited to 40 people. After registering, you’ll be sent a link to the meeting.

Questions to consider:

Are you preparing for reopening? What are you planning to do, and what resources are you using to help make your decisions? What obstacles do you face?

How do you plan to support visitor engagement while promoting physical distancing? Do you have any ideas for making lemons out of lemonade?

How are volunteers responding? How are you supporting and training staff and volunteers for new challenges related to reopening?

What are you hoping for upon opening?

Which changes might be long-term?

Please send any questions to Caroline Littlewood at conference@masshistoryalliance.org

Jacob’s Virtual Pillow archives brought to your computer

Jacob’s Pillow is a National Historic Landmark that hosts America’s longest-running international dance festival. In addition to hosting the Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, the site also consists of extensive archives. For years, Jacob’s Pillow archivist Norton Owen has been building a formidable collection. Now, during this period of self-isolation, the archives are finding their ways into many homes. On the Virtual Pillow web page, one can find videos and playlists with clips ranging from the 1930s to the present, interviews and essays by dance scholars, podcasts, and more.

Click here to be redirected to Virtual Pillow.

CLHO Colleague Circles are back—virtually!

Every other Friday at noon, join the Connecticut League of History Organizations on Zoom for discussions on timely topics.

Coming up:

June 5: COVID Collecting with Mike Kemezis (CT Digital Archive), Molly Woods (CT Historical Society), and Caroline Klibanoff (National Museum of American History)

June 19: Digital Internships with Leah Glaser (CCSU)

Click here to be redirected to the CLHO Colleague Circles website.

Witness to History, Mass Historical asks, What are your COVID 19 experiences?

From the Mass Historical Site

Momentous Happenings

In 1798, founder of the Massachusetts Historical Society (MHS) Jeremy Belknap realized that the momentous happenings of his lifetime would be tomorrow’s history. He sat down and wrote to Paul Revere and asked him to recount the night of his famous ride. Revere’s response is how we know what happened.

Now it is your turn. Years from now historians will research the impact of the COVID-19 virus in Massachusetts and across the country. In order to have first-person accounts of daily life during this extraordinary time, the MHS invites you to contribute your experience(s) to our collection.


Mass. Historical inviting people to contribute their COVID-19 experiences

Mass Historical is inviting people to contribute their COVID 19 experiences to their collection.

Record your experiences on a daily, weekly, or intermittent basis by:

  • Keeping a journal and donating it to the MHS. For more information, contact collections@masshist.org.
  • Contributing your thoughts and images online. Visit our COVID-19 web display to learn more and to share your thoughts.

Thank you to everyone who has shared so far. If you have not yet done so or would like to contribute again, please visit: www.masshist.org/projects/covid/index.php. You can also read what others have shared.

The story of a circus elephant in the Berkshires, 167 years ago

For 167 years, the remains of Columbus, a circus elephant, have been lost beneath the woods in Lenox, Massachusetts.  Two attempts to find him have been unsuccessful, but now local film maker, Leo Mahoney is solving the mystery.

You are invited by Leo Mahoney  to listen to the story of Columbus.  The talk will be on Sunday, May 10, at 3 p.m. Send an email to Leo at: mahoneyleo53@gmail.com.  An invitation to join the talk will be emailed shortly after noon on the 10th. The one- hour presentation will begin promptly at 3 p.m.

Stockbridge Library asks kids to help them document pandemic

The Stockbridge Library is asking kids to help them document the pandemic.  See News & Events for that post.


Stockbridge Library asks kids to help them document the pandemic

The Stockbridge Library, Museum & Archives presents a special project just for kids! Our current pandemic and Global Pause mean that all of us are living in unprecedented times. Youth Librarian Jenney Maloy would like to invite children ages 4 to 18 to share their daily experiences and thoughts to help create a historical record of this moment. Future generations will be able to visit the Procter Museum & Archives of Stockbridge History to see what life was like for young people during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We want to know what your lives are like right now. What did you do today? How is your life different than it was before this stay-at-home time? Do you get to see friends, electronically or in person? Do you go to school at home? Do you go outside? What are you playing? What are you reading and watching on T.V.? What do you like about this stay-at-home time? What don’t you like about this time? These are just suggestions. Whatever you have to say is important!
There are several ways to participate:
Younger children can draw pictures. Parents can annotate the drawings to provide more information. Parents might prompt children with questions like: “What did you do today? What was fun today? What made you sad today?” Young children are probably already drawing about life during the pandemic; parents can submit anything they think is appropriate. Please send submissions to: Stockbridge Library Association, c/o Jenney Maloy, PO Box 119, Stockbridge, MA 01262. (Parents: For children under age 18, please include a short note with your permission and signature.)
Write a letter to Miss Jenney. Please mail letters to: Stockbridge Library Association, c/o Jenney Maloy, PO Box 119, Stockbridge, MA 01262. (Parents: For children under age 18, please include a short note with your permission and signature.)
Older children can fill out a questionnaire: Please click here. (Children under age 18 will be asked to provide the email address of a parent.) Multiple submissions are welcomed! Thank you so much!

Afternoon Tea with CLHO & New England Museum Association/virtual of course

Brew a cup of your favorite tea and join us for an online conversation with other Connecticut museums and history organizations! Share what’s on your mind, hear what your colleagues around the state are doing, and talk with League director Amrys Williams, as well as staff from the New England Museum Association.

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Afternoon Tea with the Connecticut League of History Organizations & NEMA

4:30–5:30 pm

RSVP here

This is part of NEMA’s virtual happy hour series.