Inside the CHS

I Love New York

July 29, 2014 · Collections ·

Artist Richard Welling loved to drawing buildings, especially very large buildings. He was therefore drawn to cities, and his two favorite cities were Hartford, Connecticut and New York City. His drawings chronicling the construction of the World Trade Center are today at the New-York Historical Society, but some of his other New York drawings came…
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Teeth and Innovation

July 28, 2014 · Collections ·

On this day 149 years ago, the American Dental Association established their code of ethics. In Connecticut, compared to Horace Wells’ anesthesia of the 1840s, other innovations may prove lesser known but just as intriguing.

Strike Up the Band(box)!

July 24, 2014 · Collections ·

In recent years the issue of waste materials being sent to landfills has become a concern. Excessive packaging, involving paper, cardboard, plastic (don’t get me going on those impossible to open blister packs) and other materials, seems to be the norm now. And at home, we have large plastic bags filled with smaller plastic bags,…
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How many copies does it take?

July 23, 2014 · Collections ·

Sometimes you just don’t realize what you are looking at. I was reviewing the Wolcott papers to make sure I put the right volume- and object-numbered document in the correct “folder” of the finding aid (just one step in the project funded by NHPRC to get our manuscripts online through Connecticut History Online). I kept…
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What Does this Photograph of the Farmington River have to do with Downton Abbey?

July 22, 2014 · Collections ·

Inscriptions on the back of this 1930s photograph of the Farmington River provide quite a bit of information about it. The dam in the foreground is said to be in the same location as the dam for the first gristmill on the river, established in 1701. In the 1930s, there was still an active gristmill…
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Linocuts and an Apology

July 21, 2014 · Collections ·

Last time I wrote a blog post, I wrote it about Richard Welling’s linoleum blocks. I mistakenly wrote that we don’t have prints made from the blocks. I would like to formally apologize for that. We actually do have linocuts of most of the Welling linoleum blocks. I just got through cataloging them, and they…
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Adventures in Exhibits

July 18, 2014 · Collections ·

I just received a few emails from people congratulating me on LinkedIn for my fifth year work anniversary. That was news to me! I started in the summer of ’09 as the Interpretive Projects Assistant and had a lot of memories working at CHS since. So of my favorite adventures in exhibits…   When I…
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A Change of Plans

July 17, 2014 · Collections ·

I was quite literally in the middle of writing up today’s blog post, all nerdily excited to teach you a thing or two about weighted silk, when I was interrupted by some young researchers.  So, instead, I’m going to tell you about one of the reasons I love my job (don’t worry, you’ll hear about…
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Just what is on those tapes?

July 16, 2014 · Collections ·

On  Saturday, volunteer VivianLea Solek and I launched a project that will take years to complete, but which I think is very exciting.

What is this?

July 15, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our newest exhibit, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, showcases over 40 costumes form Hepburn’s illustrious film and stage career. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its background every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it?

Who Were the Harvard Five—And What Do They Have to do with Connecticut?

When most people think of Connecticut architecture, they most often think of Colonial saltbox houses or white steepled churches nestled in green hills. They usually don’t think of the International Style of modern architecture, and they certainly don’t think of Harvard University. But in the 1940s, five architects from Harvard settled in the green hills…
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What made Katharine Hepburn Nervous?

July 14, 2014 · CHS Buzz ·

Not many things made Katharine Hepburn nervous, but the prospect of meeting French fashion icon Coco Chanel had her worried.

Summer Time= Recharging Teachers

July 11, 2014 · Education ·

I usually talk about my past teaching experiences in the blog posts; so I thought I would switch it up and talk a little about the work here in the museum. Since I will doing a good deal of editing and writing for our new website this month, I decide to just to a quick…
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The Colonial Revival in Art

July 10, 2014 · Collections ·

Over the years that I have worked at CHS I have noticed that some items seem to have a particular appeal as illustrations. Sometimes it is clearly understandable, as with the flag that decorated Lincoln’s box at Ford’s Theater, or Amos Doolittle’s engravings of Lexington and Concord. But in other instances the attraction is less…
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John Trumbull, artist

July 9, 2014 · Collections ·

John Trumbull (1756-1843) was the son of Connecticut governor Jonathan Trumbull and first cousin of M’Fingall poet John Trumbull. John the artist graduated from Harvard in 1773 and served as an aide to General Washington during the Revolution. In 1784 he went to London to study with the painter Benjamin West.

Who Was Hartford Louise?

July 8, 2014 · Collections ·

The gentleman driving the sulky is John A. Pilgard. The horse is Hartford Louise. Pilgard had come to Hartford as a poor immigrant boy and became a successful merchant, banker, and civic leader. A butcher and grocer by trade, Pilgard greatest love was fast horses, especially those that he bred and raced himself. He was…
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Celebrate America at Muzzy Field

July 4, 2014 · Exhibits ·

If you’re looking for something to do this Independence weekend (between barbecues and World Cup games that I do not authorize you to skip), what could be more appropriate than visiting one of this country’s oldest baseball parks, right here in Connecticut? Today kicks off Bristol’s 100th Anniversary Celebration of Muzzy Field, a family event…
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The Connecticut Landscape…in our entrance hall

July 3, 2014 · Collections ·

As some of you may already know, this year we are teaming up with FoxCT and the Hartford Courant to celebrate the Courant’s 250th anniversary.  Part of that partnership is a segment on FoxCT every first Thursday of the month called From the Vault where we bring a few items out of storage and give…
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Blue cloth coats with red facings and white lining

July 2, 2014 · Collections ·

As we prepare for the July 4th holiday and enjoy the fireworks celebrating American independence from Great Britain, it is hard to realize that our country faced a rather treacherous beginning. I thought about that when reading a series of militia brigade orders from the 1790s.

A Moment in Time

July 1, 2014 · Collections ·

It’s the Fourth of July. An American flag is flying from Fort Trumbull, and a stately procession of tall ships is leaving New London harbor. The monument commemorating the Revolutionary War Battle of Groton Heights is visible in the background. It could almost be a snapshot taken during OpSail, but this drawing was made by…
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Switching Gears for the Summer

June 30, 2014 · Education ·

Summer is here, which means less teaching for the education staff. We still have summer programs, but we are not as busy in July and August. The lighter teaching schedule gives me a little down time to breathe, work on the website, and reflect on my teaching this year. 

What’s in a Name…

June 26, 2014 · Collections ·

The Connecticut landscape is filled with place names based on Native American antecedents, from towns and villages like Naugatuck, Niantic and Scitico to rivers such as the Housatonic, the Shetucket and, of course, lest we forget, the Connecticut. Many of these names are based on words in various Algonquian dialects spoken by Native inhabitants during…
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Samson Occom- Getting More Collections Online

June 25, 2014 · Collections ·

The past few days I have been preparing the scans from the microfilm of the Samson Occom papers so I can publish them in Connecticut History Online. This is another of the collections we are getting online with funding from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission. I have already blogged about the Wolcott papers,…
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Hartford Blooms at CHS

June 24, 2014 · Collections ·

At the end of the nineteenth century, much of the west part of Hartford was still farmland. Cows grazed in the meadows along the Park River, where small boys went swimming in the summertime. But the area was beginning to build up, primarily with great estates, but also with more modest homes in the neighborhood…
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In Lieu of Virtual Keys…

June 23, 2014 · Collections ·

While many of us have become accustomed to the world of virtual keys on tablets, phones and laptops, we often forget about the technologies that came before them, such as the typewriter. In 1868, a man by the name of Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for his invention of the typewriter, which spawned a…
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Richard Welling’s Lino Blocks

June 20, 2014 · Collections ·

Linoleum blocks, either mounted onto particle board or left unmounted, are perfect for printmaking. The linoleum is soft enough that it can be carved into with a knife or special chisel-like tools. The areas that are carved out will not appear in the print; ink gets applied to the raised, uncut portions of the block,…
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The Mystery Shoes

June 18, 2014 · Collections ·

The Connecticut Historical Society has been collecting costume and textile items since the 1840s.  With all of those wonderful objects floating around it is hard to solve all of their mysteries.  One particular mystery has intrigued me since I started here, and I thought I would share it with all of you….

Oh, you meant that Smith!

I love mystery stories and I find that reference questions let me play sleuth every once in awhile. That happened last week when a nice gentleman from South Dakota contacted me about a manuscript he had that was a “religious exegesis” on the book of Romans written in Greek and English. On the cover of…
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What is this?

June 17, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our newest exhibit, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, showcases over 40 costumes form Hepburn’s illustrious film and stage career. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its background every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it?

A Day at the Beach

During the nineteenth century, a trip to the beach was a major expedition, not something to be undertaken lightly. Because of the difficulties of travel, people went to the shore for weeks or months at a time. Only the very well-to-do could afford such extended vacations, and the less-than-affluent primarily frequented those resorts that were…
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Flowers are Blooming!

June 14, 2014 · Education ·

Summer is right around the corner – the weather is getting warmer, the grass has turned a brighter green, and flowers are popping up in gardens all over the state! Perhaps one of the most amazing Connecticut gardens to view at this time of year is the Rose Garden at Elizabeth Park (Hartford, CT). The…
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In Praise of Porches

June 13, 2014 · Collections ·

With the arrival of summer weather each year I think back to the joys of what I call “front porch living.” Unfortunately, it is an experience that has become more and more rare for a variety of reasons.

Dr. Thompson’s Celebrated Eye Water

June 11, 2014 · Collections ·

Joseph Thompson of Bridgeport, Connecticut, wrote a letter to his uncle Dr. Isaac Thompson of New London, Connecticut, in May, 1842. Joseph related the peaceful death of two of his sisters within a week of each other and how devastated he felt. His mother, he mentions, is also dying. While the above tale is a…
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The Mountain Laurel is in Bloom Again

June 10, 2014 · Collections ·

Certain flowers remind me of certain people. Trailing arbutus reminds me of my father, who knew where to find it growing in the woods around Manchester, where I grew up. Hybrid tea roses remind me of my mother, who grew them in her garden. Mountain laurel reminds me of a woman I never knew, who…
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Got Style?

June 9, 2014 · CHS Buzz ·

Katharine Hepburn was stunning wearing this grey silk marquisette gown in Stage Door (1937), but the beautiful draping of organza and chiffon of silk crepe de chine is just the start of the story this dress tells about how movies were made in the 1930s and how museums research and restore the items in their…
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Hepburn: So Good It’s Scary

June 6, 2014 · Exhibits ·

Only the greatest actors can inhabit a character so fully that you forget who’s who. Daniel Day-Lewis is not Daniel Day-Lewis. He IS Abraham Lincoln. He IS Hawkeye. Christian Bale IS retired boxer Dicky Ecklund. Adam Sandler IS . . . Adam Sandler. This is my way of complimenting Katharine Hepburn. If she wasn’t a…
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Kicking Back in Baltimore

June 5, 2014 · Collections ·

The Connecticut Historical Society has always been the type of institution to encourage employees to attend conferences, lectures, etc. that help them continue to gain knowledge and skills that will help in their jobs.  Last week I had the opportunity to attend one of my favorite conferences in Baltimore, Maryland.  It was three full days…
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He survived Andersonville Prison

June 4, 2014 · Collections ·

Diaries and letters of Civil War soldiers from Connecticut form a large part of our manuscript holdings, so I don’t go out of my way to add more material unless it tells a previously unknown or undocumented bit of history. That is how and why we acquired a certificate issued to Alonzo G. Case of…
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What is this?

June 3, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our newest exhibit, Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen, showcases over 40 costumes form Hepburn’s illustrious film and stage career. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its background every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it?

Where in Connecticut?

The gracious old house has a wide veranda and is surrounded by mature trees. In the photograph, it is autumn, and the ground is littered with leaves, but in spring, the gardens must have been a riot of color. There was a coach house, a barn with one of the first basketball hoops in the…
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