Inside the CHS

Punctuate This

January 10, 2014 · Exhibits ·

I just finished reading Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation by Lynne Truss. These two quotes might well sum up the thought and feeling of the book:  “Proper punctuation is both the sign and the cause of clear thinking.”                                      “The big final rule for the comma is one that you won’t…
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Memories Come Flooding Back

January 9, 2014 · Collections ·

Recently the Hartford Courant has begun publishing a series of articles focusing on memorable events in Connecticut’s history since the newspaper’s founding 250 years ago. And let’s face it, there have been plenty of significant events to cover. Staff writer Jim Shea, better known for his humor column, tackled the story of flooding in Connecticut…
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A Keepsake

January 8, 2014 · Collections ·

It only measures 3-3/8” tall and 2” wide and has a gold stamp on the front and back cover. It is one of the latest additions to the CHS collection. The title is A Story for the Beautiful and it is inscribed “For Mary from Mary” and Hartford, 1845. The binding may be an example…
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You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby!

January 7, 2014 · Collections ·

Does anyone recognize the handsome piece of furniture in this 1920s photograph?  The booklet that the little girl is holding provides a clue:  It reads “Victor Records.”  Perhaps she’s picking out a favorite song to play on the new family phonograph.  “These wonderful instruments” were sold in music stores and department stores all over Connecticut…
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Teaching Time

January 6, 2014 · Education ·

Museums bring up images of Indiana Jones and Warehouse 13; but museums are rarely that exciting. They tend to be places where you can look at really old stuff. So, how do you get kids excited about looking at a pot that is over 400 years old?

History and STEM

January 2, 2014 · Collections ·

In a nation where the focus is being put on the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM for short), many of us in the fields of humanities are beginning to question our relevance.  With an education that included four years at a liberal arts college, I am definitely among those who hope to…
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Reflecting on the year 1965

January 1, 2014 · Collections ·

One of the longest diary runs we have were written by Thomas John Crockett, a Unionville resident and United States diplomat; the diaries date from 1954 to 2009. Following a brief career at the Hartford Times and in the Army, Crockett joined the Department of State where he served for 40 years. Stationed throughout eastern…
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What is this?

December 31, 2013 · 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,

Sending New Year’s Greetings

Did you know that New Year’s cards were once nearly as common and popular as Christmas cards?  While Christmas was at first a religious and then a family holiday, New Year’s Day was long a traditional occasion for visiting one’s friends and exchanging good wishes.  It was also a purely secular holiday, celebrated and enjoyed…
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Ringing in the New Year (in Connecticut)

December 30, 2013 · Collections ·

Another productive year has almost come to a close, and a New Year will soon commence. At midnight tomorrow, many of us will pop the champagne cork as we ring in 2014, and reflect on our accomplishments from this past year.

Sending Holiday Wishes is Changing

December 27, 2013 · CHS Buzz ·

Communication has been changing much quicker in the past few years. Letters have been replaced with emails, phone calls replaced with texts, and Christmas cards and birthday cards replaced with Facebook wall posts.

Some Holiday Sparkle

December 26, 2013 · Collections ·

The end of the year and with it the approaching holidays always get me to thinking about the past twelve months. Sort of a time for personal reflection, thoughts of things that went great and those that didn’t. I guess it all boils down to memory, which is our link between the present and the…
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Christmas greetings from Melancthon Woolsey

December 25, 2013 · Collections ·

One of my favorite Christmas-related manuscripts, aside from the occasional diary entry, is a series of illustrated verses created by Melancthon Woolsey in 1783 for his Grandmother Woolsey. I can understand why it survived; it is beautiful. Each verse is illustrated by a vignette in a circular “frame”, and includes the angels appearing to the…
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Celebrating Christmas in Connecticut

December 24, 2013 · Collections ·

Looking at old prints and photographs in the collections of the Connecticut Historical Society, I’m surprised how little Christmas customs have changed over the years.  Though Christmas in colonial Connecticut was primarily a religious affair, by the Victorian age, it had become a family holiday, complete with presents delivered by Santa and those eight tiny…
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Christmas in Connecticut… Cliché, but True

December 23, 2013 · Collections ·

Christmas has always been an enchanting time of year; the carols, elaborate decorations, and endless celebration all come to mind when thinking of this holiday. In the Nutmeg State, Christmas has influenced many serenades, poems and well wishes for the season. Lydia Sigourney’s Christmas Hymn and Louisa Bushnell’s The Watcher’s Carol are just a couple…
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Hepburn Exhibition Coming This Spring

December 20, 2013 · Exhibits ·

Despite the fact that tomorrow is the first day of winter(!), some of us here at CHS are already planning for the spring. Just last week, we signed a contract with the Kent State University Museum to bring the blockbuster traveling exhibition Katharine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen to Connecticut in April 2014 for…
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It’s party time!

December 19, 2013 · Collections ·

This time of year I always find myself hoping for an opportunity to attend a swanky party that requires a bit of sparkle and holiday elegance.  Yet the season consistently brings casual family gatherings requiring little more than jeans and sweaters, or New Year’s plans including games and staying in with my sisters and our…
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Inside the Artist’s Studio

December 18, 2013 · Collections ·

When the family of artist Richard Welling gave the contents of his studio to the Connecticut Historical Society in 2011 and 2012, they not only donated a vast collection of drawings, prints, and photographs, they also donated the brushes and pens and magic markers that Welling used to create his iconic images, the binoculars that…
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A Great Many Jews

I am often struck by how many men from Connecticut moved south to North or South Carolina to seek their fortune. Daniel Betts of Redding was one such man, and we recently acquired a series of letters he wrote home to his daughter Julia while he was in Charleston, South Carolina. One of his letters…
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What is this?

December 17, 2013 · 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?

New York City in the 1970s

December 16, 2013 · Collections ·

Despite not being alive in the 1970s and having only spent a limited amount of time in New York City, photographs of it in the ‘70s are some of my favorite things on earth. (Actually, really any photos from ‘70s do it for me; the Environmental Protection Agency’s 1972-1978 project, Documerica, is one of the…
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Snow comes to Connecticut!

December 13, 2013 · Collections ·

Winter in New England can be unpredictable. Connecticut has already experienced cold, rainy, icy, and snowy conditions (and it isn’t even really winter until December 21st!).  Although we were not hit as hard as some of the other spots throughout the country, Connecticut received its first, widespread coating of snow this week. Luckily, the roads…
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Look! Up in the Sky! It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Drone!

December 12, 2013 · Collections ·

So were you as amazed or mystified (or vaguely uneasy) as I was when Amazon announced their development plans for Prime Air, an airborne drone delivery system? Whether you think it is feasible or not you have to admit the concept really smacks of 1950s science fiction from the hands of such masters as Isaac…
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Somewhere in France

December 11, 2013 · Collections ·

Ellsworth A. Hawkes worked for the Aetna Insurance Company in Hartford before joining the army in World War I. On December 7, 1917, he wrote to a co-worker, Ben Meyers, from somewhere in France, where he was with the 101st Machine Gun Battalion. He reported that so far the weather had been seasonable and he…
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G. Fox Was Way Ahead of Amazon

December 9, 2013 · CHS Buzz ·

Long before Jeff Bezos imagined drones delivering packages to your door, G. Fox & Co. built their business on world-class service and home delivery—and even air delivery. So many Hartford residents have warm memories of visits to the iconic downtown department store, but the truth was that you didn’t have to set foot in G….
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Two by Two, Hands of Blue

December 6, 2013 · Exhibits ·

Apologies for the obscure sci-fi reference, but every time I don the blue conservation gloves to protect an artifact from my oily, greasy, sweaty, human hands, my immediate thought is River Tam’s creepy chant, “Two by two, hands of blue,” in the underappreciated Firefly series. If you happened to catch me in the galleries this…
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G. Fox for all your holiday needs

December 5, 2013 · Collections ·

The weather is having a bit of a fit this week…it can’t quite decide if it is winter or fall.  Either way, the air is getting chillier and people are looking to get warmer.  Now-a-days we hop in the car and head to the nearest mall, specialty shop, or big-box store to find our cold…
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Highway robbery!

December 4, 2013 · Collections ·

Sometimes I think my preferences for new materials for the collection are a bit off-center. When a prison log came up at auction a while ago, I asked if we could bid on it. A prison log? Who would want that? Well, we would, of course. Think of the genealogical and social history enclosed in…
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What is this?

December 3, 2013 · 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?

Blinded by the Glare

David F. Armstrong of Groton, Connecticut patented the device in this photograph in 1906.  At that time, most automobiles were equipped with acetylene headlights, which apparently gave an impressive amount of light.  The concept of low beams did not exist; drivers simply coped with the dazzling light of oncoming cars as best they could.  Accidents…
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History is Sweet!

December 2, 2013 · CHS Buzz ·

What comes to mind when you think about chocolate? If you’re a chocoholic (like me), just thinking about it makes you happy – and hungry. I’ll take it in almost any of the various forms and flavors that are available today, but for nearly 90% of chocolate’s history, it was consumed primarily as a beverage….
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Before Black Friday…there was G. Fox

November 29, 2013 · Collections ·

For decades now, the day after Thanksgiving has been referred to by many as “Black Friday”, the first day of the holiday shopping season. It’s a day of transition from a season of autumn and Thanksgiving to a season of holiday shopping and festivities; a day of drastic sales, crowds and madness at retail stores….
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“Hey, you turkey!” and Other Random Thanksgiving Thoughts

November 28, 2013 · Collections ·

If anyone is reading this, chances are you are still sleepily digesting the remains of Thanksgiving dinner*—or perhaps you are in line waiting for stores to open their doors this evening…  In any event, Thanksgiving, one of the major national holidays, is upon us once again. Based on travel statistics this holiday sees more people…
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David Starr, Civil War soldier

November 27, 2013 · Collections ·

David Allen Starr was the son of David H. and Harriet Rogers Starr of New London, Connecticut. In 1862 he and his brother Elisha enlisted in the 5th Regiment, Connecticut Volunteers. David was captured by the Confederate Army at the battle of Cedar Mountain and taken first to Libby Prison and then to Belle Isle….
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Sarah Bishop’s Cave

November 26, 2013 · Collections ·

A photograph by Marie Kendall in the current exhibition at the Connecticut Historical Society depicts Sarah Bishop’s Cave, a hollow in the rocks overlooking a deep valley on West Mountain in Ridgefield, Connecticut.  Who was Sarah Bishop and what was she doing in this cave?  According to historian Samuel Goodrich, who remembered meeting Sarah in…
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Beyond the Nutcracker in Hartford

November 25, 2013 · Collections ·

‘Tis the season for theatrical performances, and almost nothing has become more synonymous with this time of year than the Nutcracker. Yet despite the Nutcracker’s popularity, there have been numerous other showcases in Hartford over the years, which may not be as popular, but still maintain a place in history.


November 21, 2013 · Collections ·

Next month CHS is kicking off December with chocolate.  To me, this sounds perfect!  I love chocolate and the idea that you can come to a museum (CHS of course!), learn about history, shop, AND taste chocolate…sounds like the perfect way to start the month.  That’s all I will say about the event, (we’ll let…
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An Archival Trip to Hawaii

November 20, 2013 · Collections ·

With the weather getting colder, this might be a good time to consider taking An Archival Trip to Hawaii, offered this Saturday from 11:00 am to 1:00 pm, free with admission to the museum. On display will be a number of objects, books and manuscripts documenting the 200-year connection between Hawaii and Connecticut.

What is this?

November 19, 2013 · 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,

Monument to Progress

Richard Welling had a way of coming up with perspectives that make us see familiar subjects in a new light. In this view of the construction of Interstate 84 in 1966, the piers that will support the highway loom like ancient monoliths, like the remains of a lost culture. What might future civilizations make of…
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