Inside the CHS

Here We Go Again

March 4, 2014 · Collections ·

Winter isn’t over yet. Historically, some of the worst winter storms have happened between the end of February and the end of March. The Blizzard of 1888 took place March 11-14th. The Great Ice Storm of 1898 took place on February 20-22nd.  Looking at pictures of these historic storms reminds us that giant piles of…
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The More They Change……

March 3, 2014 · Education ·

Toys have been around for as long as parents needed a way to distract and entertain their kids. From the bone toys of the Native Americans, to the wooden toys of the Colonists, to the action figures of today; their meanings have not changed, just the complexity, maybe.

Pave Paradise, Put Up a Parking Lot, or, You Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone

February 28, 2014 · Collections ·

Of the many buildings that Hartford has lost to development since the mid-twentieth century, the one that seems to sting a little bit more than most of the others is the Hartford-Aetna Bank Building. When it was built in 1912, the 11-story building was Hartford’s tallest. In 1990, the building was slated for demolition by…
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Quilts, Costumes, and More!

February 27, 2014 · Collections ·

Last week I had the kind of day that I simply adore!  They come around rarely, but when they do, I enjoy them so immensely.  It was last Thursday and Lynne Bassett came to research in our collection for a very special presentation / program she is involved with here at CHS.  And that meant…
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Fairly took away my breath

February 26, 2014 · Collections ·

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but love goes on forever. A letter recently received with the Keller family archive evokes both the holiday and the lasting power of love.

What is this?

February 25, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it?

Sledding Down Drive A

When I found Drive A on a map last summer, when we were in the middle of our map project, “Finding Your Place in Connecticut History,” I knew that I had found my place. There it was on a map of Greater Hartford from the 1950s: Drive A in the housing complex known as Silver…
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Dollie McLean: From the West Indies to the Capital City

February 24, 2014 · Collections ·

Born (Dollie) Clarice Helene Simmons in Antigua, West Indies, Dollie McLean was raised in Manhattan, later lived in the Bronx, and graduated from both the University of Hartford and FIT. Mrs. McLean has been an avid participant in the arts throughout her life, having performed off-Broadway as an actress and dancer with various organizations like…
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Katharine Hepburn – Still an Inspiration!

February 21, 2014 · Exhibits ·

As I sit in my office writing this post, I look out my window that faces Elizabeth Street, and see a very cold and dreary scene. Not to mention the icicles, some taller than I am, hanging from the roof!

What in the “World”?

February 20, 2014 · Collections ·

Sometimes the genesis of a blog is a current news story that has obvious historical parallels. Then again, a recent acquisition can certainly get my creative juices flowing. But once in a while I just like to slowly walk through collections storage, drawing inspiration from the many fabulous objects that help us connect to our…
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Catherine had her miniature taken

February 19, 2014 · Collections ·

One of CHS’s great friends recently donated another Charlotte Cowles letter to add to what we already have. Of course, I was pleased as punch! In this letter, again written from Farmington to her brother Samuel in Vermont, she indicates their mother is dictating what to write, but I still hear Charlotte’s voice. She relates…
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Love Tokens

February 18, 2014 · Collections ·

Last week on Valentine’s Day I was musing about some of the objects in the collections here at the CHS that were given in former times as tokens of affection. Yes, we have Valentine cards–lots of them–but we also have more intimate artifacts that were exchanged by engaged couples or by husbands and wives.  These…
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Celebrating Birthdays at the CHS!

February 14, 2014 · CHS Buzz, Education ·

This past week I celebrated my 31st birthday (not a milestone year at all!) – at home, in my pajamas all day, glued to hour after hour of non-academic television shows, and watching the snow fall outside. By the end of the day, my Connecticut yard was blanketed with about 10 inches of snow. I…
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Meet Annie

February 13, 2014 · Collections ·

Today is a snow day…and who does not love snow days?!?  Each time we get a snow storm that is nasty enough to close the CHS, I feel like a kid again (albeit a kid who has to shovel out a car and get some semblance of actual work done at home regardless of the…
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To the Honorable the Senate and House of Representatives

February 12, 2014 · Collections ·

Connecticut residents were heavily involved in the settlement and development of the area of Ohio called the Western Reserve. In fact, there is a Western Reserve Historical Society. They look at the area from the Ohio “side” while we look at it from the Connecticut “side”. One family heavily invested in the Western Reserve was…
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What is this?

February 11, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it?

Black Portraits of White Americans

This silhouette portrait of Joseph Morgan, the proprietor of Morgan’s Coffee House, an important gathering place for Hartford businessmen in the early 19th century, was cut by Peter Choice, an itinerant silhouette artist who was probably of African descent. Choice also cut portraits of Morgan’s wife and two young daughters.  Choice was a man of…
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Got Style?

February 10, 2014 · CHS Buzz ·

My fashion-show debut was in the juniors department in Macy’s. It was the culmination of several weeks of classes in style and etiquette, and I strutted down the make-shift catwalk in a yellow polka-dot outfit. I don’t remember the details, except I think there was a vest and I know my collar was up (hey,…
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What it was like 50 years ago.. when the Beatles came to the US

February 9, 2014 · CHS Buzz ·

Once again, I’m compelled to write about one of the events that changed our culture and had a major influence on the 60’s- the British invasion! At the time, kids like me listened to scratchy music on a little transistor radio with an ear plug. My favorite AM station was WDRC. We heard some Motown,…
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Nuclear Power Means Peace of Mind

February 7, 2014 · Exhibits ·

Last week I was working on a short article for the CHS’s weekly history series on WNPR.org. Check out the article, “Connecticut Yankee and Millstone: 46 Years of Nuclear Power,” for a fact-based, measured, and brief history of Connecticut’s four nuclear reactors, two of which are still operating and generating nearly 50% of our state’s…
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Trade with China, Nineteenth Century Style

February 6, 2014 · Collections ·

As China has emerged in the past decade as one of the world’s largest and fastest growing economies, it makes sense to think about how China and the U.S. engaged in commercial activities two centuries ago. By the late 18th century western European powers were cementing commercial relationships with the reclusive Chinese empire. The newly…
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The Real Cinque?

February 5, 2014 · Collections ·

This portrait is of the freed Amistad captive Cinque. Or at least that is what we are told. How do we know that this is what he actually looked like? Cameras were in their infancy, so we cannot look at another image to compare. And the toga-like garment and the scenery, was that all the…
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On the Road with Richard Welling in Stonington, Connecticut

February 4, 2014 · Collections ·

As you’ll know if you’ve been following our blogs about Richard Welling, Richard Welling liked planes and trains and automobiles—and he also liked boats and ships. Not surprisingly, he was drawn to Stonington, Connecticut and its famous fishing fleet. Two of his drawings of Stonington, “Stonington Docks” and a view of the Stonington Lighthouse, were…
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Comparing Times

February 3, 2014 · Education, Exhibits ·

If you could not tell teaching students and talking about the concept of time, as it relates to history, has always been interesting to me. I think it all comes from watching Back to the Future when I was five years old, the concept found a spot in my head and never left. So when…
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What is your favorite time period?

January 30, 2014 · Collections ·

I get asked this question quite frequently.  The truth is that it changes depending on what I am working on at the moment because I don’t have a true favorite period.  I love various aspects from almost every period of costume history, especially between the 1770s and the 1960s.  However, there is a period that…
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A little bit of matchmaking

January 29, 2014 · Collections ·

I took a brief “field trip” to the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center on Monday to look at their collection of John and Isabella Hooker correspondence, focusing on those that mentioned or were written by Charlotte Cowles Hull and her husband Joseph. Of course, anything related to Charlotte is fun in my book. Three of the…
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What is this?

January 28, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it? To find out more,

Total Eclipse Visible in Connecticut

A solar eclipse is not an especially rare astronomical event.  A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the earth and the sun and this happens a couple of times each year.  During a total eclipse, the sun is totally hidden behind the moon cutting off its light and turning day to night.  The…
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1914: One Hundred Years of Reflection in the Making

January 27, 2014 · Collections ·

While searching for images of life captured in 1914, I was amazed by the range of subjects; prison halls, family picnics, and at least three different fires were all immortalized one hundred years ago.

Creating Multisensory Exhibitions

January 24, 2014 · Collections ·

When I went to the New England Museum Conference in 2011, I attended a presentation about making exhibitions “multisensory”. The presentation defined multisensory as a way of processing information through more than one of our senses. The presenters mentioned that combining senses gives a person a more powerful, overall experience. During the session, we explored…
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More Than One Man’s Story

January 23, 2014 · Collections ·

As a museum curator I am of course interested in the big picture, the sweep of events that bear on us all to one extent or the other. But the stories of individuals also have an undeniable lure, because sometimes in the story of one person we can better understand some of the larger forces…
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An Anti-Abolition meeting

January 22, 2014 · Collections ·

What would one do on a January day in 1836? In Farmington, one might have attended an Anti-Abolition rally. We know from Charlotte Cowles that one was indeed held in that town, and although Charlotte could empathize with slaves and indeed help them to freedom in the north, she was prejudiced against those who did…
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On the Road with Richard Welling

January 21, 2014 · Collections ·

I’m inclined to think of Richard Welling inassociation with two cities—New York City and Hartford, Connecticut, but in addition to his iconic drawings of New York and Hartford, Welling produced views of many of other buildings and landscapes throughout the Northeast. The Richard Welling Collection at the Connecticut Historical Society includes views of Washington, D.C.,…
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The Value of Gallery Tours

January 20, 2014 · Collections ·

I have had, in the past few weeks, the opportunity to lead gallery tours of our temporary exhibition, Through a Different Lens. I spent so much time with the photographs on display when we were preparing the exhibition and I was writing the publication that I’ve sort of forgotten what it’s like to see them…
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Snowflakes and Resolutions at the CHS!

January 17, 2014 · Education ·

During our January FREE first Saturday family program, children and families were able to create their own indoor Winter Wonderland to take home. Our visitors revealed their creativity once again! Check out some of these awesome snowflakes:

Printing Pretty Pictures

January 16, 2014 · Collections ·

On textiles that is.  Yesterday CHS hosted a teacher development workshop for art teachers.  For my part, I brought out some examples of printed textiles from the 18th and 19th centuries and we discussed the processes involved in printing textiles with brilliant colors and patterns.  Well, since I already spent time brushing up on the…
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Who is Alvin?

January 15, 2014 · Collections, Manuscripts ·

One of the things I really like about working with manuscripts is trying to identify the people mentioned in a document. For example, we recently received a letter that was written June 12, 1864 from Willimantic, written by D.F. Johnson to his mother and referring to “our Alvin that was reported wounded”. Okay, it is…
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What is this?

January 14, 2014 · Collections, Exhibits ·

Our exhibit, Making Connecticut, showcases over 500 objects, images, and documents from the CHS collection. “What is this?” posts will highlight an object from the exhibit and explore its importance in Connecticut history every other week. What is this object? What is the story behind it? To find out more,

Sam Colt in Texas

A month ago I visited Aransas National Wildlife Refuge on the south Texas Coast, the wintering grounds of the last wild flock of whooping cranes. The great white birds can be seen feeding in the vast marshes of the refuge, and also foraging in pastures and agricultural fields in nearby communities such as Lamar. In…
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Peek Behind the Scenes All Year Long!

January 13, 2014 · CHS Buzz ·

It is time to unveil the 2014 line up of Behind-the-Scenes Tours. We’re offering even more access to the hidden treasures of Connecticut history that are normally behind closed doors, and with the option of buying a Season Pass, you can get that sneak peek at a great 20% discount!

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Please note the museum & research center will be closed for Thanksgiving (11/22)