Mum Bett exhibit and Mum Bett Walk to Freedom, in Sheffield

The Sheffield Historical Society will present an outdoor exhibit celebrating Mum Bett, the first slave to successfully sue for freedom, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday to Sunday, Aug. 21 to 23, on the Society grounds, 159 Main St., next to the Town Hall parking lot.

The exhibit is a collaboration with the Trustees of Reservations, Housatonic Heritage and Crow Flies Press.

The exhibit is free and open to the public and follows social distancing and mask guidelines. For more information visit or call 413-229-2694.

The 11th annual “Mum Bett Walk to Freedom” will be held Sunday, Aug. 23. The 4 mile walk begins at 9 a.m. at the Ashley House, 117 Cooper Hill Road, Ashley Falls, and ends at the Sheffield Town Green.

Bring a mask and water bottle. Social distancing precautions apply. No shuttle transportation will be provided this year.

This is also a Black Lives Matter march and signs are welcome. All pledges will be donated to the Berkshire Chapter of the NAACP.

For more information or to sign up, call Crow Flies Press at 413-429-6561.

Mass History Alliance, Conversations on the Commons: Reopening Part III

Conversations on the Commons invites you to:

Reopening, Part III: Planning for the fall

A conversation with Lesley Herzberg and Katie MacDonald

It’s official: we’re now in Phase III. While some places are staying closed through the summer, others are back to welcoming the public, with modifications. In these unprecedented times, history organizations across the state are redefining “open,” re-envisioning fall programming, and rethinking metrics of success. Join us on July 24th for the third in a series of informal conversations about reopening historic sites and organizations in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Peer panelists will be Katie MacDonald, Executive Director of the Old Colony History Museum and Lesley Herzberg,  Executive Director of the Berkshire County Historical Society. Conversation moderated by Penni Martorell, Curator and City Historian at Wistariahurst.

Friday July 24, 1:00-2:30 pm

Registration is free! After you register, we’ll send you an invitation to the meeting.


Black Artists Who Found Their Voices in the Berkshires

A talk by Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed, co-hosted by The Westside Legends and The Mastheads.
Q&A to follow.
Facebook link here:
Zoom registration info here:
Black Artists Who Found Their Voices in the Berkshires
The Westside Legends and The Mastheads have partnered to bring Dr. Frances Jones-Sneed to Pittsfield for a discussion of black artists in the Berkshires. Frances Jones-Sneed is a professor of history and former Director of Women Studies at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Massachusetts, and she has taught and researched local history for over twenty-five years.
The Westside Legends is a neighborhood group whose mission is to support and unite the Westside neighborhood of Pittsfield, and The Mastheads is a Pittsfield public humanities project that seeks to connect residents to the literary history of the region and create a forum for thinking about place. Its programming includes a writers’ residency, public conversation series, poetry workshops in public schools, and more, all centered around five sculptural architectural writing studios.

Oral History Center to hire someone for short-term oral history inventory project

The Housatonic Heritage Oral History Center, working with four local history organizations – Sharon, Kent, and Salisbury, Connecticut, and Sheffield, Massachusetts – will hire someone to conduct oral history inventories in the history organizations of the four towns.  The goal of the project is to document numbers and types/formats of oral history recordings and related materials.  The findings will help the four towns and the OHC to determine next steps for safe storage, digitization, and online archiving of those materials.  The project will take up to 40 hours to complete, and will require travel to the four sites.

This person will be someone who has experience working or volunteering in a local history or similar organization, in particular with collections.   An inventory form will be provided, and using that form, the she/he will carefully document each item, and then, when the four collections have been inventoried, using a prepared format, he/she will write a report.

The HH Oral History Center director will serve as coordinator of the project, helping to set up schedules and answer questions.  The consultant will then work directly with each history organization’s director.


Each of the four inventories will take up to eight hours, conducted over one or two days/visits.  In some cases, the inventories will have been started by the local history organization.  In all cases, he or she will work with the directors to determine how to access and handle materials.  The project will take a total of approximately 40 hours.

After the inventories are completed and a brief report written, she/he will participate in an online meeting with the Oral History Center director and representatives of the four history organizations.


COVID-19 related considerations.  In each state – Connecticut and Massachusetts – clear guidelines on face masks and social distancing will be clearly communicated.  At all times, he or she will observe guidelines as set forth by the states. In some cases, there may be additional guidelines put forth by the local organizations and those guidelines will be followed as well.

For more information, please contact Judith Monachina at

Reading Frederick Douglass’s Fourth of July Address

See the link here for the Mass Humanities sponsored virtual readings of Frederick Douglass’s 1852 Fourth of July Address, and other events.



July Events at the Massachusetts Historical Society

Featured Item from the MHS Collection:

Massachusetts Pine Tree penny, designed and engraved by Paul Revere (1776.) It was discovered in Boston’s North End during an excavation in the early 19th century. It is the only known original Massachusetts Pine Tree penny. Click here to see the item.

Upcoming Online Events:
On Wednesday, 1 July, at 5:30 PM, Lindsay M. Chervinsky will virtually present The Cabinet: George Washington & the Creation of an American Institution.

On Thursday, 9 July, at 5:30 PM, Ty Burr, Boston Globe, Robert Allison, Suffolk University, and others will virtually present Boston in Film: From Eddie Coyle to Manchester by the Sea.

On Wednesday, 15 July, at 5:30 PM, Martha Ackmann will virtually present These Fevered Days: Ten Pivotal Moments in the Making of Emily Dickinson.

On Monday, 20 July, at 5:30 PM, Larry Tye will virtually present Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Senator Joe McCarthy.

On Thursday, 23 July, at 5:30 PM, Ned Hinkle, Jim Vrabel, Brattle Film Foundation, and more will virtually present Boston in Film: Beyond the Oscars.

Click on this link for more information and/or to register for any of these events.


Share Your COVID-19 Experience(s)

The Massachusetts Historical Society invites the public to add your experiences with COVID-19 to their collection. You may record daily, weekly, or intermittently. To learn more, visit MHS’ COVID-19 web display at this link. Alternatively, you can start a journal to eventually donate to the MHS. For more information, please email

Berkshire Museum Summer

This summer, the Berkshire Museum has several different events and exhibitions you can attend in the comfort of your own home. There are currently 7 programs: “Visual Voice: Portfolios from Pittsfield High School”, “W.E.B. Du Bois”, “Snap, Scute, and Swim: The Life and Times of the Common Snapping Turtle”, “Pride Trivia”, “Camp@Home”, “Art of the Hills: Narrative”, and “Are you a writer?”

Visual Voice: Portfolios from Pittsfield High School

From Pittsfield High School comes the digital AP portfolios of 10 different artists. Artists worked throughout the school year on their portfolios. Jeff Rodgers, Executive Director of the Berkshire Museum, had this to say about the students’ work: “We are continually looking for new, creative ways we can serve our community, especially now, when live interactions are impossible. These talented young artists worked hard all year and their work deserved a platform. Virtual exhibitions have their limitations, but they also have their advantages; I encourage you to share this student work far and wide, so that everyone knows that the arts are alive in the Berkshires.” Click here to be redirected to Visual Voice.

W.E.B. Du Bois

W.E.B. Du Bois was a civil rights activist, sociologist, and scholar who was born and raised in Great Barrington. Du Bois fought against misogyny, poverty, and racism and was extremely influential during his time. His activism and contributions to the fight against injustice still ring today. As written by Du Bois in An Appeal to the World, “No nation is so great that the world can afford to let it continue to be deliberately unjust, cruel and unfair toward its own citizens.” Click here to read more about W.E.B. Du Bois.

Snap, Scute, and Swim: The Life and Times of the Common Snapping Turtle

Snapping turtles, or chelydra serpentine, are animals that range from eastern North America to the Rocky Mountains. In this fact sheet, find the answers to 13 questions about this fascinating reptile, including: “Where do snapping turtles live?” “What do they do all day?” and “How can you identify one?” Click here to be redirected to the snapping turtle fact sheet.

Pride Trivia

Thursday, June 25 at 6:00 PM, Peter Liffers will be hosting trivia to celebrate Pride Month. This event is free and open to the community. Test your knowledge and learn something new during this fun evening of virtual trivia based on LGBTQ+ history and culture. Click here to register for the event.


With the cancellation of children’s summer camps, a new challenge has arisen: how do we keep kids entertained during the summer months? Camp@Home is providing kits to gauge the interest of all kids, from those interested in robotics, to world culture, to animation, to chemistry, and all things in between. Click here to browse Camp@Home’s various programs, kits, and other activities.

Art of the Hills: Narrative

From your own computer, partake in a virtual exhibition or guided exhibition video tour on the works of local artists Amy Myers and Seung Lee. They have selected a variety of 2D and 3D works that encompass diverse stories and experiences. Click here to view the virtual exhibition or to partake in a guided exhibition tour.

Are you a writer?

For the remainder of 2020, the Berkshire Historical Society will be accepting applicants for their Writer-In-Residence program at Arrowhead. Click here for further details and/or to apply.

Juneteenth Celebration: An Event in Support of the Movement for Black Lives

This Friday, 6/19, at 5:30 pm, The Williamstown Congregational Church invites community members to join them for a moment of music, movement, resistance, and joy, led by Otha Day. All are welcome, and the event is free. Immediately after the BLM vigil, we will celebrate Juneteenth together at Field Park. Juneteenth is a day that honors Black freedom and Black resistance and centers Black people’s unique contribution to the struggle for justice in the U.S. This event is part of the Movement for Black Lives’ Six Nineteen weekend of action. Please RSVP on the Facebook page. This event is co-sponsored by First Church and Greylock Together.

Conversations on the Commons invites you to: Reopening, engaging, or both?

Friday, June 19 from 1:00-2:30 PM, join Penni Martorell (Curator and City Historian at Wistariahurst) and Gloria Greis (Executive Director at the Needham History Center & Museum) for a follow-up discussion on the reopening process. The event will be live-streamed with questions and comments being monitored.

Some questions to consider are: What are your reopening plans? What is at the top of your list of worries?  How are you managing financially? Are volunteers interested in participating in public programs when the time comes? Is your board helpful? What do you wish you had? What are you hoping for?

Click here to register for the event. Participation is limited to 40 people.

If you have any questions, please email Caroline Littlewood at

Connecticut League of History Organizations Presents: Summer School; Donor Stewardship, Getting Viral and Vocal

Wednesday, June 17 from 1:00-2:00 PM, join Megan Olver (Manager of Membership & Annual Fund at Hill-Stead Museum), John Avignone (Development Consultant at Bristol’s American Clock & Watch Museum), and Nick Foster (Associate Curator & Museum Administrator at the Wilton Historical Society) for a Summer School session to discuss fundraising during the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, learn new methods of communication and acknowledgement to adapt to the challenges COVID-19 has presented.

In the past, organizations have utilized events such as receptions and gatherings to recognize and express appreciation of donors. Given the current circumstances, how can we express our appreciation and achieve a similar outcome to past receptions, gatherings, etc.? Join Olver, Avignone, and Foster to discuss low-cost and no-cost ways in which institutions can host such events.

Click here to register for the session.