Storrowton Village Host Interactive Tour: Civil War
West Springfield, May 28th
The storytelling tour at Storrowton Village in West Springfield, MA recognizes the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War on Tuesday evening, May 28th. Those who are intrigued and fascinated by Civil War history and want to learn more about life during this period, are urged to attend this unique and educational learning experience. Storrowton Village plans to present four such programs each year.
Storrowton Village will present an interactive, educational tour titled Storrowton and the Civil War, Tuesday, May 28, from 6-7pm, offering an inside look at how folks in the Northeast coped with the Civil War and the absence of our men who were called to duty or joined the patriotic fervor.
Participants will meet “townspeople” and hear their personal stories and points of view regarding the Civil War. Storrowton Village volunteers will be portraying the characters of the time as visitors travel through the Village’s historic buildings meeting residents, shopkeepers, farmers, family members, and tradesmen along the way, all with information and their own experiences to share.
Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum Opens for 2013 Season
The rooms in the Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum remain as they were arranged by members of the family to accommodate the procession of folks who crossed the house’s threshold. From farmers and businessmen, to religious leaders and social workers, to servants and slaves, the stories of many men, women, and children spanning 250 years of American History are told within the house.
The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum, an historic house museum dating to 1752 in Hadley, MA opens today (Wednesday, May 15) for its 64th season, and will continue their summer music engagement series, Wednesday Folk Traditionsand A Perfect Spot of Tea this summer.
Known as Forty Acres, the museum is an 18th-century farm on the banks of the Connecticut River that today interprets life in rural New England over three centuries. Through the words, spaces and possessions of the women and men who lived there, the Museum portrays the activities of a prosperous and productive 18th-century farmstead.
Plainfield Historical Society Unveils Website Full of Local History
“In 2003 the Plainfield Historical Society acquired a 1.5 acre parcel along the Mill Brook in Plainfield where there’s a story waiting to be told. The Plainfield mill site contains remnants of three mill foundations that date from the early 19th century through the first decade of the 20th century Thanks to the Historical Society’s conservation effort, the public will soon be able to visit the trio of mill site remains, which illustrate the technological innovation and basic evolution of early water-powered industry in Massachusetts.” – Source: Plainfield Massachusetts Historical Society
Bring local history to life as you plan family activities for the summer! Thanks to Plainfield resident, Lori Austion, The Plainfield Historical Society has recently unveiled their new website (plainfieldmahistory.org). Although a work in progress, it’s filled with a rich amount of information on local historical sites and homes, notable former community members in the Hilltowns, and self-guided historical tours that history buffs of all ages can participate in!
Studying local history can be an incredibly enriching and experience for students of all ages that nurtures a sense of place. For younger students, a look at community history provides learning opportunities where kids can physically experience the historical places that they learn about. Older students can benefit from such studies, too, as it will help them to put broad knowledge of American and world history into a local context – they will learn how larger scale changes and events affected their own community and physical surroundings. Read the rest of this entry »
The remnants of the Pioneer Valley’s silk trade are still around – one can find the iconic Silk Mill, visit Silk City (Florence), and gaze up into the branches of mulberry trees all over Northampton. All of these things are representations of the city’s long-ago to silk production and the silk trade in China and Japan.
During the first half of the 19th century, Northampton was a huge producer of silk. Mulberry leaves fed the hungry silk worms, and women worked in factories, helping to spin the silk onto spools in order to be woven into beautiful fabric. Eventually, the demand for silk became too much for the town’s supply of silk worms, and manufacturers began outsourcing to China. However, Chinese silk production methods proved incompatible with mechanical production, and Japan replaced China as the valley’s silk provider until the industry collapsed during America’s Great Depression.
Pothole Pictures presents “Root Hog or Die”
May 17th & 18th in Shelburne Falls, MA
“Root Hog or Die” captures the lives and stories of the old time horse farmers in Franklin County in their own voices, faces, ingenious technology and well-tended land. According to Pothole Pictures coordinator, Fred DeVecca, “Rawn Fulton’s film provides a vibrant and down-to-earth historical context for the resurgence of local agriculture, CSAs and micro-farming in Franklin County today…It connects us to our neighbors, our history, the land and the farms we depend on and gives us all an opportunity to show our support for local agriculture.”
Nearly forty years after its first release, “Root Hog or Die,” the Franklin County documentary film on the last of the old time horse farmers in Western Massachusetts, re-appears on the big screen in Shelburne Falls. On Friday and Saturday, May 17th & 18th at 7:30pm, Pothole Pictures presents two screenings of “Root Hog or Die” in historic Memorial Hall Theater in downtown Shelburne Falls.
On Saturday, May 18, the film’s director, Rawn Fulton will present the recently re-mastered digital version of the original 56-minute film made in 1974, and will lead a community conversation about farming then and now together with a panel of local farmers. They include farmers and local families whose experience stretches back for generations and who are connected to many of the farmers featured in “Root Hog or Die” – Jim Wholey and the Dole family of Shelburne, and Al Pieropan of Ashfield.
Contemporary farmers with long family roots in Franklin County also include Faith and Peter Williams representing the Our Family Farms dairy cooperative and John and Carolyn Wheeler of Wheelview Farm. Newer arrivals to Franklin County farming include Paul Lacinski and Amy Klippenstein of Side Hill Farm in Hawley and David Fisher and Anna Maclay of Natural Roots CSA in Conway. New Roots brings the horse-powered farming tradition back to Franklin County in a new form – community supported agriculture. Recent Mohawk High School graduate will represent the new generation of young farmers revitalizing agriculture in Franklin County.
Greenfield’s Lost Museum: Dexter Marsh and the Dinosaur Tracks
The town of Greenfield was once home to a world famous museum – it drew a stunning 3,000 visitors in just 7 years! The museum, opened during the mid-19th century by a local jack-of-all-trades named Dexter Marsh, was home to the first ever dinosaur tracks to receive a thorough and official scientific examination. What happened to the tracks? And what happened to the museum? Find out more about this fascinating piece of Pioneer Valley past at Greenfield Community College’s Sloan Theater on Wednesday, May 8th at 7pm. Presented by the Pioneer Valley Institute. 1 College Drive. Greenfield, MA. (FREE)
Many local people know that Dexter Marsh (1806-1853), quarrier — stonemason, janitor, handyman, and jack-of-all-trades in 19th-century Greenfield, MA — was among the first to discover dinosaur footprints, but how many know that he opened one of the first dinosaur museums in the country? In 1835, when he first saw the prints, he thought they had been left by very large birds — and professional geologists agreed with him. These became the first known tracks in the world ever to receive a thorough scientific examination, performed by a professor at Amherst College named Edward Hitchcock.
In the following years, the largely self-educated Marsh learned about paleontology and built an extra room onto his house to exhibit his collection. From 1846 to 1853, an astonishing 3,000 people signed the visitors’ register of his house-museum, including such famous Americans as Oliver Wendell Holmes and even travelers from Europe and the Near East. At his early death in 1853, Marsh’s museum was dispersed at public auction, split mostly between Amherst College and what is today the Boston Museum of Science.
By looking into his daybooks and visitors’ registry in the archives at Amherst College, Dr. Robert Herbert has given Dexter Marsh the most thorough examination to date, bringing the man and his museum from obscurity back into the light. On Wednesday, May 8th at 7pm, using maps, photographs, and illustrations, Dr. Herbert will give a lively talk about this brilliant day laborer whose curiosity moved him into another world. It is our great good fortune that Dr. Herbert, formerly an art historian at Yale University and later Mount Holyoke College, has long been interested in the history of geology. In recent years, he has written about Edward Hitchcock and Orra White Hitchcock and continues to delve into the history of dinosaur footprints in the Connecticut River Valley.
Dr. Herbert’s talk will take place at Greenfield Community College, Main Campus, Sloan Theater (Main Building, South Wing). For more info contact Cynthia Herbert at email@example.com
Submitted by Cynthia Herbert. Photo courtesy of the Historical Society of Greenfield.
Planes, Trains, and Automobiles
History of Transportation in the Pioneer Valley
One of the best ways to learn about the changes that historical events and innovative inventions create is by studying local history. By learning about broad concepts and eras within history, we can gain an understanding of how things changed on a large scale. However, to really understand how these changes were played out on a smaller scale, we must examine the effect that they had on our own communities.
The Wistariahurst Museum is offering a series of lectures this spring on the history of transportation in the Pioneer Valley. Titled, “Planes, Trains, and Automobiles: Transportation in the Pioneer Valley,” the series aims to teach the community about how changes in technology, industry, and politics played out in they way that we get from place to place. Some of the topics addressed in the lectures will include:
Westover Field’s role in our country’s involvement in the Cold War
The short history of rail travel and transport in the Pioneer Valley, and its place in our future
Travel by foot or on bike, as supported by the many hiking trails and bike paths in the valley
The systems we’ve implemented in our waterways in order to accommodate changing energy needs and the upstream travel of fish
Best for older students, the lectures will explain lots of important local history and will focus on 20th century history (though a few of the topics deal with late 19th century history, as well). Each event will take place at 6pm in the museum’s carriage house, and they will take place on Monday evenings from March 4th-May 13th, 2013. The museum asks a small donation to attend the lectures. Wistariahurst is located at 238 Cabot Street in Holyoke, and can be contacted at 413-322-5660.
Blogging the Days in the Life of William Cobbett Skinner
1888 Journal is posted online as the year unfolds.
William Cobbett Skinner (1857 – 1947) 1888 Journal
In 1888, William Cobbett Skinner was 31 years old, working under his father’s guidance at Skinner and Sons Manufacturing in Holyoke, MA. Wistariahurst Museum’s blog entries will track Will’s 1888 journal. Each week new entries will be transcribed and uploaded to the Wistariahurst Museum website for interested readers to follow.
“The journal entries will unfold like a mystery” remarked Penni Martorell. “It is all new material to us. We’ve never had the time to transcribe this journal and we thought we would share the discoveries as they happen along in the year.”
Follow along as Will’s journal lends insights into his business dealings, family relationships and social life.
Dale Platenik, a select volunteer with skills at deciphering handwriting has stepped up to take on this time consuming and yet intriguing process. “I love the challenge of decoding Will’s handwriting and I am learning all sorts of things about Will and the Skinner Family. It is quite fun.”
Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines
The Roots of Valentine’s Day Traditions
Old Sturbridge Village: Feb. 9th & 10th
Historians at Old Sturbridge Village will celebrate the history of Valentines in America and demonstrate old-fashioned chocolate-making with “Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines,” a weekend program set for Saturday and Sunday Feb. 9-10, 2013. – UPDATE: Due to the impending storm, the Village will be closed, Friday, February 8 and Saturday, February 9.
[02/08/13 UPDATE: OSV will be closed Sat., Feb. 9th and opened Sun. Feb. 10th]
The tradition of having chocolate on Valentine’s Day is a longstanding one – it has been around since the early days of New England, even! Today’s Valentine’s traditions tend not to involve a lot of homemade chocolate or laborious preparations, however – usually we buy our chocolates at the grocery store or, in the most thoughtful of cases, from a local candy shop. However, early Americans spent a lot of time preparing their delicious chocolate foods – a tradition that families can learn about this weekend at Old Sturbridge Village!
The village’s annual Be Mine: Chocolate and Valentines offers families a chance to learn about the history of chocolate – how it was prepared, where it came from, and how it was eaten. Cacao beans were processed and ground by early New Englanders in order to create things like a spicy hot chocolate-style drink or a chocolate cake – with a surprising secret ingredient! There will be both displays and demonstrations from which families can learn about 19th century chocolate-making techniques. Do you know where the first Americans were supplied their chocolate from? Before visiting, watch a video on the history of chocolate to learn some useful background information on the process of acquiring and preparing cocoa beans!
Along with chocolate, Valentine’s Day brings the sharing of valentine cards! Since the roots of this tradition are local, the village will have special educational programs and hands-on activities on this topic, too! Families can learn about the Worcester resident whose humble handmade card business blossomed into a large card-making company and, eventually, the huge tradition of Valentine’s Day cards that we have today. Then, make your own valentines to share – inspired by images of antique cards shared by villages in the 1800’s.
Families can use a visit to the village to make this Valentine’s Day an educational one, rather than a commercialized one! Students can exerience the roots of some of the traditions that they participate in, and will learn to better understand early American culture. The village is open from 9:30am-4pm on both Saturday, February 9th and Sunday, February 10th. More information and a complete schedule of events is available on the village’s website. www.osv.org
Did You Know?
Spanish conquistadors brought chocolate from Central America back to Spain in the 16th century. From there, it traveled through Europe, to England, and back to America.
Early versions of “chocolate cake” do not actually contain any chocolate. The name means that the cake was intended to be enjoyed with a cup of chocolate, just as “coffee cake” today is meant to be served with coffee.
Boston pharmacists advertised chocolate as a medicinal remedy as early as 1712, and by the late 1700s, there were hundreds of chocolate vendors in the city.
Chocolate was drunk as a medicine during the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and by California Gold Rush miners, but later in the 19th century, with the addition of milk and more sugar, chocolate was preferred more as a confection than as a health tonic.
New manufacturing processes developed during the Industrial Revolution transformed chocolate from an expensive drink into an inexpensive food. By the late 1800s, chocolate was widely advertised to women and children through colorful posters and trade cards, and its iconic status as the world’s preferred candy was secured.
The best known legend about St. Valentine has that he was a Roman martyr killed for his faith on February 14, 269 A.D. He may have been a priest who married couples in spite of the Emperor’s ban.
Valentine’s Day, like Christmas and many other Christian holidays, was originally an attempt to Christianize popular pagan festivals. In pagan Rome, February 14 was dedicated to the goddess Juno (Hera in Greek mythology), wife of Jupiter (Zeus) and patroness of women and marriage.
Few New Englanders marked Valentine’s Day before its rise in the increasingly sentimental and economically prosperous 1840s.
As with other holidays, those who made money from Valentine’s Day encouraged its observance. In the 1840s when printing technology improved, sending handwritten notes and printed cards became even more popular. Enterprising shopkeepers encouraged the exchange of gloves, books, candy, and other gifts among a growing middle class.
Esther Howland, of Worcester, Mass. began designing fancy Valentine cards in 1848, and hired girls to help cut and paste together these small works of art. By 1850 she was advertising her cards in the newspaper, and by 1860 she was selling between $50,000 and $100,000 worth of Valentines annually.
The Kimball-Salisbury Women: Chicago to Tor Court
Local History & Fashion from the Gilded Age
Arrowhead in Pittsfield, MA
The Berkshire Historical Society at Arrowhead offers a glimpse of Pittsfield’s Gilded Age with an exhibit of exquisite fashions and photographs from Tor Court’s Kimball-Salisbury family. The exhibit highlights the gowns worn by four different Kimball women, all of whom spent summers at Tor Court, one of the Berkshire Cottages in Pittsfield. These “cottages” were actually mansions built by some of America’s wealthiest families in and around Lenox, Stockbridge and Pittsfield during the Gilded Age. These aristocratic manor houses came to be known as Berkshire Cottages.
Learn about the Gilded Age’s local influence at the Berkshire Historical Society at Arrowhead! The historical society is hosting an exhibit of items and artifacts from the lavish time period, including exquisite gowns worn by and photographs of the Kimball-Salisbury family, owners of one of the many Gilded Age “cottages” found in the Berkshires.
Though called cottages, the homes were really anything but – they were colossal, exquisite mansions built as summer homes in the Berkshires for families who lived in the city. The fashions included in the exhibition illustrate the changes in style that took place between 1910 and the mid-1920’s, as they change from beautiful gowns to sassy flapper dresses, illustrating the cultural changes that also took place at that time.
The exhibit illustrates history through fashion, and will help students learning about American history put their learning into a local context.
The Kimball-Salisbury Women: Chicago to Tor Court is open from Thursday-Sunday from 11am-3pm, from February 10th to March 31st, 2013. Arrowhead is located at 780 Holmes Road in Pittsfield. For more information call 413-442-1793 or visit www.mobydick.org.
Celebratory Opening Benefit Brunch happens on February 9, from 11am-1pm at Salisbury Estates Community House in Pittsfield, MA. Cost of brunch includes ticket to exhibit. For more information and to order your brunch tickets, call 413-442-1793 x10.
Our friends at the Hilltown Family Variety Show (HFVS) put together a special program all about the Underground Railroad. Our songs “Underground Railroad” and “Henry Box Brown” are on it. So are great versions of traditional songs by Taj Mahal and Bill Harley, a story read by Morgan Freeman and much more. Listen to it right now:
And listen carefully. That’s the only way you’ll pass the quiz we made up related to the show. The quiz is for 4th grade and up (or advanced readers of any age) and may require some extra research in addition to listening to the HFVS podcast. Post your answers on a blog or Facebook page or public Google doc and share your link here.
Try to avoid using Wikipedia. Searching songbooks, history books, Bibles, and other tomes you hopefully have on your family’s shelves — or in your local library — will be a much more enjoyable way to find the information you don’t know already (Western MA resources available here).
In our song “Underground Railroad,” what is the secret password needed to board? It’s actually three words.
Name three cities or towns that were part of the Underground Railroad — and that we mention in our song about it.
What is the “drinking gourd” described in the story read by Morgan Freeman and sung about by Taj Mahal?
In the traditional song “Wade In the Water,” (Bill Harley’s version can be heard on the podcast) who, as the lyrics ask, are “these children all dressed in red” and “that young girl dressed in white?” There isn’t one right answer — tell us what you’ve read and what you think. (Hint: Many spirituals and Underground Railroad songs contained coded lyrics and secret messages)
Henry “Box” Brown mailed himself to freedom in a box. In which city did he finally climb out of his box a free man?
A state and a musical instrument are mentioned in “Nelly Grey” (Phil Rosenthal sings the version you hear on the podcast). Which state? Which instrument?
Why was “Nelly Grey” written (Another question without one answer. We want your opinions as well as the results of your research)?
“Swing Low, Sweet Chariot” (Leadbelly and a choir close out the podcast with their version) describes a trip to heaven — or to freedom — in a real or metaphorical chariot. Which prophet left life on this Earth in a chariot according to the Old Testament?
When did decorating a Christmas tree become a holiday tradition? Where did the practice of giving gifts originate? The Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA writes, “During the Victorian Era, Christmas bloomed into a season full of tradition when a London newspaper published a drawing depicting the royal family of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert adorning a Christmas tree with lighted candles, tinsel, ribbon, and paper chains.”
The holiday season is full of opportunities to teach your kids about the origins of holiday traditions, getting a glimpse into history and cultures. The Historic Deerfield and Old Sturbridge Village offer opportunities throughout December for holiday history lessons that are fun and engaging!
HISTORIC DEERFIELD: Heritage Holiday
Historical Deerfield has a month long series of traditional festive activities for families to enjoy in December. Visitors can learn about open hearth cooking, holiday traditions, take a horse-drawn wagon ride, and make simple gifts to take home.
Last weekend, silhouette artist and historical actress Lauren Muney was at Historic Deerfield in period dress cutting portraits out of paper. The art of silhouettes was very popular in the 1800′s, and Lauren’s interpretation of the work of itinerant artists from the past, who cut likenesses of people from black paper using just scissors, was an engaging way to explore the history of folk art.
This weekend visitors of Historic Deerfield can make their own simple gifts to give this holiday season, including woodland figures made from natural materials, paper quillwork ornaments, and spiced hot chocolate mix. There will also be horse-drawn wagon rides through the streets of Historic Deerfield.
Historic Deerfield’s program has a refreshing lack of the man in red! If you would prefer your family to take in some history without a distracting bearded figure, this is the museum for you. It is delightfully low key and fun, even for families with young children. The programs run from December 1st-30th, excluding December 24th and 25th, from 9:30am-4:30pm. Open Hearth Cooking starts at 10am, and gift-making starts at 12noon. December 15th-16th will be the final days for enjoying horse-drawn wagon rides. You can get all of the details at www.historic-deerfield.org.
OLD STURBRIDGE VILLAGE: Christmas by Candlelight
For an all-engaging sensory experience, check out the Old Sturbridge Village’s “Christmas by Candlelight.” The staff at Old Sturbridge goes all out to create magic for your family. There are carolers, horse-drawn carriages, dances, a bonfire, mulled cider, Santa Claus, a gift-making workshop… the list goes on! True to the mission of the museum, all of the fun is organized to help visitors understand New England in the early 1800s. Visitors will be able to learn about the origins of the Christmas Tree, Poinsettias, and fruit cake, among other things, and have the opportunity to create their own gifts and decorations. You can read more about it at Christmas by Candlelight.
For more learning opportunities this holiday season, check out Hilltown Families Friday column, Learn Local. Play Local.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Theresa Heary-Selah — Theresa is a teacher and a freelance writer, making her home in Greenfield, MA and Wright, NY with her family. She teaches at S.H.I.N.E. (Students at Home in New England), a social and academic support program for middle school students in the Pioneer Valley, and writes about home-schooling and technology. Theresa’s interests include home-schooling, gardening, cooking, hiking, and dancing.
Old Sturbridge Village hosts Christmas by Candlelight
Celebration of favorite holiday traditions, music & food
Nine evening events set for Dec. 7-9; 14-16; 21-23
The legend of Santa has complex origins, blending diverse tales of magical gift givers with Christian beliefs. Dutch settlers in 17th-century New Amsterdam (New York) brought with them the legend of Saint Nicholas (Sinter Klaus), a 4th-century Christian saint from Turkey known for his generosity to children.
Take a break from the overwhelming wave of commercialized holiday “spirit” that the post-Thanksgiving season brings – visit Old Sturbridge Village for Christmas by Candlelight, which offers an incredibly wide variety of family-friendly holiday activities, performances, demonstrations, readings, crafts, and more! Villagers dressed in period costume will share holiday traditions from early New England – many of which formed the foundation upon which modern day holiday celebrations have been built! Families can learn about the roots of traditions such as yule logs, roasting chestnuts over a fire, building gingerbread houses, and even having a Christmas tree!
Friday-Sunday evenings from 4-9pm through December 23rd, the village will come alive with performances by Victorian carolers, Celtic music groups, handbell choirs, chorus groups and fife and drum corps. Visitors can view an exhibit of exquisite handmade gingerbread houses or see a miniature New England village decorated for the holiday, a model train show, or a 100+ piece nativity scene. There will be hands-on ornament making (using tin, and utilizing basic skills used by early New England metalworkers), as well as other holiday crafts.
A visit to the village can become a new holiday tradition for families, and is also a fantastic way for families to learn about history – hands-on! Each of the traditions being practiced and/or demonstrated throughout the village is specific to a particular period in American history, and families can work together to place each of their activities into a broader historical context. Visitors can actually see “chestnuts roasting on an open fire” and hear why they were a favored treat in early New England. They can also learn the origins of candy canes, mistletoe, fruitcake and how poinsettias were introduced to this country.
For more information on Christmas by Candlelight, call Old Sturbridge Village at 800-733-1830 or visit www.osv.org. Admission includes a free second visit within a 10-day period and any guests of second-day visitors receive a 25% discount on their admission. You could also inquire with your local library to see if they have a museum pass to OSV to lend. Monson Free Library, Westfield Athenaeum Library and Wilbraham Public Library all have passes to lend. Check with the nearest library near you too.
Did You Know?
The old folk tale of Hansel and Gretel, made famous by the brothers Grimm, inspired many Germans in the early 1800s to create model witches’ houses from hard gingerbread. Building fanciful gingerbread houses at Christmastime spread to America by the late 1800s.
Most early New Englanders did not celebrate Christmas. They saw Christmas celebrations as dangerous foreign (pagan) perversions of pure Christianity and an excuse for sinful behavior.
Yule logs began as a pagan reminder of the light and warmth of the sun on cold mid-winter nights. The word “Yule” is derived from the old Anglo-Saxon word “hweol,” which means “wheel” – a pagan symbol of the sun. The burning of a Yule log originated with the Druids, The modern practice of decorating trees and buildings with flashing electric lights seems to be a logical extension of the lighting of candles and bonfires at Christmas time.
Christmas trees were pretty much only a German tradition until the 1840s, when Queen Victoria’s German husband, Prince Albert, gave her a Christmas tree surrounded by gifts, and the custom began to catch on in the English-speaking world.
(Source of Facts & Photos: Old Sturbridge Village)
Do You Want to Know a Secret?
1963 was Big for the Beatles … and Berkshire Lyric
By Jaclyn Stevenson
The Blafield Children’s Chorus. (Photo credit: Jaclyn Stevenson)
2013 will be a banner year for golden anniversaries. Among many other cultural milestones, the Beatles’ debut album Please Please Me will mark 50 years in existence. Recorded in one session, it seems the album struck a chord; three months after its release, the term ‘Beatlemania’ was coined…and the rest is history.
Also in 1963, Berkshire Lyric – one of the area’s longest running community arts organizations – was beginning its own musical legacy and creating a new resource for music education in western Massachusetts along the way. The multi-generational choral group is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a full season of performances, and will perform a wide array of musical selections by composers such as Handel, Mozart and Stravinsky – as well as Lennon, McCartney, Harrison, and Starr.
A Berkshire Lyric program from 1969 – then known as the Berkshire Lyric Theatre, the group performed musicals in various venues across the county.
In the last half-century, Berkshire Lyric has evolved from a lyric theater troupe staging musicals – Hansel and Gretel and The Most Happy Fella among them – into a choral performance powerhouse with four separate choruses and singers spanning five generations.
Under the direction of Artistic Director Jack Brown of Stockbridge, who serves as choral director at Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington, the choruses present complex classical works such as Requiem by contemporary British composer Karl Jenkins and Rachmaninoff’s Liturgy of St. John Chrysostom. Music education programs including the Young Singers Competition, the Berkshire Lyric Choral Scholars Program, and the annual Blafield Summer Choral Camps named for Berkshire Lyric’s founder, Robert Blafield. These programs complement performances throughout the year and are supervised by Brown and Telly award-winning pianist Joe Rose, music director for St. Charles Church in Pittsfield and the choruses’ accompanist.
Berkshire Lyric leaves no genre behind; its repertoire also offers well-timed slices of popular culture each season to lighten the mood. Concerts in the past have offered island-inspired performances and traditional Irish medleys, for instance, and that diverse, all-inclusive approach to music is one thing that has never changed. It grew, Brown says, from a need in the Berkshires to “create culture for the cold months,” and in turn to offer year-round residents opportunities to study or simply enjoy choral music.
Fifty years later, it seems that stalwart Yankee gumption has stayed strong. In the upcoming season, Berkshire Lyric’s ‘Kick the Winter Blues’ concert theme will be a nod to the year it all started with a 1963 Revival. As the Beatles cemented their place in international history, Berkshire Lyric was creating its own legacy in the woods – one that continues to grow.
Berkshire Lyric’s Upcoming Season
The Berkshire Singers, the teenage chorus of Berkshire Lyric, will be featured in a special concert at the Berkshire Museum in Pittsfield on Saturday, Dec. 8, 2012, at 11am. The chorus is led by Joe Rose and will be performing as part of the museum’s annual Festival of Trees Family Day celebration. Admission is free with a paid admission to the museum.
Deck the Halls, The Christmas Concert takes place on Sunday, Dec. 9, 2012, at 3pm at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in downtown Pittsfield. Featuring the Monument Mountain High School Chorus and the Spartones, both directed by Julie Bickford, and Gaudeamus, a select a cappella chorus of 10 young men from Simon’s Rock College in Great Barrington. Tickets are $20 for adults and free for students and children.
Berkshire Lyric will present Handel’s Messiah as a community sing on Saturday, Dec. 29, 2012, at 3pm at the First United Methodist Church in Pittsfield. The audience is invited to be the chorus and vocal scores will be sold at the door. The concert will be conducted by Jack Brown with accompaniment on the church’s great Austin organ by Joe Rose. A professional string quartet will be augmented by local young string players. Four past winners of Berkshire Lyric’s Young Singers Competition will be the vocal soloists: Felicia Coppola-Pavao, Elaina Pullano, Miles Herr, and Timothy Passetto. Admission is by donation. The free will offering will be sponsored by the Pittsfield Area Council of Congregations, and all proceeds will directly benefit the Pittsfield Area Fuel Assistance Program.
The 50th Anniversary season will culminate in a gala concert at Tanglewood’s Seiji Ozawa Hall on June 9, 2013, with all of the choruses and special appearances by founder Robert Blafield and Berkshire Lyric protégé and world renowned soprano Maureen O’Flynn.
Yuletide at Storrowton: Winter Festival at
Storrowton Village in West Springfield
December 1st & 2nd, 2012
Eastern States Exposition’s Storrowton Village Museum will present “Yuletide at Storrowton,” Saturday and Sunday, Dec. 1st & 2nd from 11am-4pm. This free winter holiday festival is a chance for the community to come together to enjoy Yuletide activities and celebrations for the entire family as well as musical presentations and entertainment, all in the historic Village in West Springfield, MA. (Courtesy Photo)
Storrowton Village, the Eastern States Exposition’s historic 18th and 19th century New England village in West Springfield, is getting ready for the holidays – and for families to visit in December!
The weekend of Dec. 1st & 2nd during “Yuletide at Storrowton,” the village will be open for visitors to enjoy holiday activities, tour the beautifully decorated grounds, and celebrate Yuletide – and the special Winter Festival brings even more excitement to Storrowton!
Holiday displays made with all-natural materials have been created throughout the village by community organizations and local businesses – every fence, window, and porch throughout the village is covered in festive garland, wreaths, and sprays. During the festival, tours of the village will be available, and families can take part in a host of activities. A Victorian Santa will be on hand for visiting, sculptors will create beautiful ice-art pieces, live holiday music will be performed throughout the village, and more!
Along with providing a unique way to kick off your family’s holiday celebrations, a visit to the village can help to supplement students’ studies of early American history and culture, a topic often covered around Thanksgiving. Students who have learned about the ways of life of New England settlers can experience a firsthand reenactment of what an 1800’s New England village may have looked like and learn about the many different parts of a community of settlers. “Yuletide at Storrowton,” will take place from 11am to 4pm and is a free holiday festival.
Blacksmithing, fireplace cooking, quilting and spinning demonstrations happen throughout the village. (Courtsey photo)
Yuletide features throughout the Village include:
Ice Sculpting Demonstrations
Celtic Harp performance
19th Century Crafts: Broom making, Tinsmith, Hatter, Windsor chair maker
Hands-on Children’s Crafts
Blacksmithing, fireplace cooking, quilting and spinning demonstrations
Petting Zoo/Farm Animals on the Village Green
Visit with a Victorian Santa
Caroling and tree lighting ceremony (Daily at 4pm)
Performances in the Village’s Meetinghouse include:
Sat, 12noon – Richard Smith as Henry David Thoreau from the essay “Walking”
Sat., 1pm – “Music from the American Traditions of the 19th Century,” Richard Spencer
Sat., 2pm – “Belsnickle, Santa’s Other Darker Side,” Dennis Picard, director of Storrowton Village Museum
Sat., 3pm – Pioneer Valley Fiddlers
Sun., 12noon – “From Sackbut to Jazz Tones,” a brief look at the evolution of the trombone and its uses in popular music with George Garber
Sun., 1pm – “Songs from a New England Farmstead & Fireside,” with April Gran
Sun., 2pm – “Seasonal Songs with a Winter’s Theme,” with Paul Kaplan
Sun., 3pm – “Belsnickle, Santa’s Other Darker Side,” Dennis Picard, director of Storrowton Village Museum
All activities are weather permitting. For more information, call 413-205-5051 or 413-205-5115, or visit www.TheBigE.com/Yuletide
Thanksgiving 1830s-style at Old Sturbridge Village
Hearth Cooking, Native American Foods, Weddings, Shooting Match, and History!
November 22nd through 25th, 2012
A modern American Thanksgiving features pumpkin pie and cranberry sauce alongside the traditional turkey. An 1830’s Thanksgiving was, however, a bit different! Early New Englanders cooked their turkeys in reflector ovens (a new innovation, contributing to even roasting – no basting involved!) and held rifle shooting matches instead of watching football. Early Thanksgiving meals were even accompanied by wedding cake, as many couples used their post-harvest freedom as a time to get married! Native Americans, on the other hand, traditionally celebrated numerous Thanksgiving-type occasions throughout the year.
At Sturbridge Village’s Thanksgiving Days (held November 22nd-25th from 9:30am-4pm), families can learn part of the cultural and historic roots of the holiday we celebrated today. Costumed historians will demonstrate 19th century cooking techniques over an open hearth, while others share stories, songs, and traditional crafts throughout the village.
Native American historian Marge Bruchac will share information about traditional Algonquin foods and celebrations, too!
The event will provide families with a new way of framing the holiday, and pairs well with beginning studies of early American history and culture. For more information, call 800-733-1830 or visit www.osv.org.
Did you know?
In early New England, Thanksgiving was the biggest holiday of the year, far surpassing Christmas, which wasn’t celebrated in the tradition of the Puritans who settled the region.
Turkeys in the early 19th century were much smaller than today’s “butterballs,” and turkey wasn’t always on the Thanksgiving menu, because they were a lot of work to prepare for not much meat.
In the early 1800s, turkey “drovers” herded and marched turkeys on foot from central and western Massachusetts to the huge Brighton market just outside of Boston, MA to sell the birds to wealthy city dwellers.
Many vegetables weren’t peeled for everyday cooking, but they were for holidays like Thanksgiving to show the elevated status of the day.
Pies were baked weeks ahead of time and stored in unheated attics and bedrooms where they would freeze and keep for months. Pies not consumed at Thanksgiving would sometimes last until April.
The cranberry is one of three fruits native to North America, and was used by Native Americans to make pemmican – a survival food made of mashed cranberries mixed with deer meat. They also used cranberries in poultices to draw poison from wounds.
Hurricane Sandy and Halloween Offer Learning Opportunities Online
Hurricane Sandy might have schools closed while we await her arrival, but the learning can continue at home (so long as you have power!). Check out these online resources to brush up on math, chemistry, physiology, language arts and world & local history:
After you’ve battening down the shutters and have prepared your home & family for Hurricane Sandy (and still have power), let’s to use this event for real-world applications for learning. One online resource is “Math in the News” who takes current events as seen through the prism of mathematics every week. They are currently looking a probability maps for Hurricane Sandy. Take a look with your kids at Math in the News and practice math skills:
Who has Halloween candy laying around right now from events this past weekend or for passing out on Halloween night? Did you know you can use candy to conduct science experiments in the kitchen with your kids! Experiments include Acid Test using Pixy Stixs, Chromatography using M&M’s, Density experiment with Skittles, and many others! Check out our post from last year, “Science Experiments with Candy” for ideas.
Here’s a succinct video about the history of Halloween produced by the History Channel: “Straddling the line between fall and winter, plenty and paucity, life and death, Halloween is a time of celebration and superstition. It is thought to have originated with the ancient Celtic festival of Samhain, when people would light bonfires and wear costumes to ward off roaming ghosts. In the eighth century, Pope Gregory III designated November 1 as a time to honor all saints and martyrs; the holiday, All Saints’ Day, incorporated some of the traditions of Samhain. The evening before was known as All Hallows’ Eve and later Halloween. Over time, Halloween evolved into a secular, community-based event characterized by child-friendly activities such as trick-or-treating. In a number of countries around the world, as the days grow shorter and the nights get colder, people continue to usher in the winter season with gatherings, costumes and sweet treats.”
Are your kids all about Zombies this Halloween? In this animated video from TEDed, Tim Verstynen & Bradley Voytek apply the various human medical possibilities that make zombies…zombies. Find out the physiology behind what’s happening in their brains to make them act as they do. After watching this video check out the full lesson.
H-A-Double L-O-W-Double E-N spells Halloween! Remember that song when you were a kid just learning to spell? Here’s a cool video for this song for your young kids to watch for a fun way to learn how to spell Halloween
Are your kids learning about or interested in the Salem Witch Trials? National Geographic has an interactive resource on the Salem Witch Hunt, Discovery Education has tips for teachers and home educators on the Salem Witch Trials for grade level 5-8, the National Teacher Training Institute offers lesson plans on the The Salem Witchcraft Trials and The Crucible for grades 5-12, and Historian Elizabeth Reis uses primary sources in an education video on the history of the Salem Witch Trials at Teaching History. The History Channel offers this short video to help tell the tale of this event in Massachusetts history:
Pride and Passion:
The African-American Baseball Experience
W.E.B. Du Bois Library at
UMass Amherst through Dec 7, 2012
“Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience,” an exciting new traveling exhibition displayed on the Lower Level of W.E.B. Du Bois Library at UMass Amherst from October 12 to December 7, 2012, examines the challenges faced by African-American baseball players as they sought equal opportunities in their sport beginning in the post-Civil War era. — The traveling exhibition is composed of colorful freestanding panels featuring photographs of teams, players, original documents and artifacts in the collections of the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum and in other institutions and collections across the U.S.
When segregation was still a part of American life (and legal, too), African-American baseball players were shut out of American League baseball. As a result, over 200 independent teams were formed, their rosters full of talented players.
Visitors will learn about everything from players’ nicknames to the role that the league played in the desegregation of the American League in 1947. The exhibit is, of course, exciting for baseball enthusiasts, and it provides a unique and valuable learning opportunity for students, too. A visit to the exhibit can teach students of all ages about the effects of racism and segregation in America, and fits well with studies of American history from the Civil War to the present. Students will learn about the cultural context in which the players lived, the blatant racism that they were forced to tolerate, and the gaping inequalities between black and white Americans that existed during segregation.
The exhibit is located in the library’s lower level, and is open through December 7th. For more information, call 413-545-6888 or visit library.umass.edu.
The Library is sponsoring several free programs for the public in connection with the exhibition, including an opening reception on October 25 at 4pm:.
Thursday, Oct. 25, 4pm, Lower Level, Du Bois Library, UMass Amherst: “Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game,” a talk by Rob Ruck PhD, Senior Lecturer in the History Department at the University of Pittsburgh. The event is also an opening reception for the exhibit “Pride and Passion: The African-American Baseball Experience.” Ruck is the author of Sandlot Seasons: Sport in Black Pittsburg;,The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic;Rooney: A Sporting Life and the recently released Raceball: How the Major Leagues Colonized the Black and Latin Game. His documentary work includes Kings on the Hill: Baseball’s Forgotten Men, which won an Emmy for Cultural Programming, and The Republic of Baseball: Dominican Giants of the American Game. He was on the committee that elected eighteen players from the Caribbean and the Negro Leagues to the Hall of Fame in 2006 and recently served as an advisor for Viva Beisbol, the permanent exhibit on Latinos at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.
Thursday, Nov. 8, 4pm, Lower Level, Du Bois Library: “Effa Manley, the First Woman Elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame,” a talk by Doron Goldman. A former lecturer in the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst, Doron “Duke” Goldman is currently a baseball historian and presenter as well as an elder care researcher. At UMass Amherst, Doron taught a course called “Baseball: Myths and Legends.” A longtime member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR), his interests are the Negro Leagues and baseball’s integration, as well as baseball’s role in the ongoing struggle for social justice in America.
Thursday, Nov. 29, 4pm, Lower Level, Du Bois Library: “Red, Black, and Green: The Red Sox, Race and Pumpsie Green,” a talk by Rob Weir. Weir has published four books on the American labor movement: The Changing Landscape of Labor (with Michael Jacobson-Hardy); Beyond Labor’s Veil: The Culture of the Knights of Labor; Knights Unhorsed: Internal Conflict in a Gilded Age Social Movement; and The Historical Encyclopedia of American Labor (with James Hanlan). Weir is a lecturer of history at UMass Amherst and has taught at Bay Path College, Mount Holyoke College, Smith College, and Mount Ida College, and was a senior Fulbright scholar in New Zealand.
The Holyoke History Walk: A Virtual Tour of the City
“Holyoke, Massachusetts is marked as one of the first planned industrial cities famed for its paper manufacturing,” writes Penni Martorell, City Historian. “The City’s rich past is reflected in its architecture: remnants of the paper mills topped with wrought iron widow’s walks; the stunning City Hall, buffeted on all sides by stained glass windows; and the central train depot, originally designed by H.H. Richardson. The Holyoke History Walk was created to engage the public with the history of the city through their direct geographic interaction with its architecture, monuments, and historic landscapes while at the same time utilizing historical collections and materials present in the city’s archival records.”
Have you ever walked, biked, or driven through downtown Holyoke and wondered about the history of the city’s numerous old buildings? Each empty mill, towering church, and brick rowhouse tells a story of the city’s past. An exploration of Holyoke’s history reveals a rich, diverse, and complicated history. Visitors to Holyoke can now learn about the city’s history themselves – from home or while exploring the city’s streets thanks to the Wistariahurst Museum!
The Museum has recently added a gigantic community resource to its repertoire- the Holyoke History Walk, available on the museum’s website, offering a comparative look at the city and many of its streets and buildings as they once were (up to 125 years ago).
“A collection of historic maps from the Holyoke History Room were digitized and stitched together to form a single map. The map was then sliced into tiles and geo-referenced for use as a layer in Google Maps. Overlaid atop the map are approximately 100 buildings, monuments, civic structures, and street views. These images were re-photographed from the same vantage point in the summer of 2012.”
The program (created by UMass intern, Jonathan Haeber) uses Google Maps, and provides a map – created by piecing together numerous maps from the museum’s archives – of Holyoke past, layered above a map of Holyoke present. Scattered across the map are over 100 of the city’s landmarks – churches, civic buildings, prominent businesses, and views across the canal, from hilltops, and down various streets in the busiest parts of town.
The old photos are shown next to a current image of the location. In some cases, the buildings are unrecognizable; in others, entire blocks are boarded up; meanwhile, some others remain relatively unchanged. Families can use the interactive tour to learn all about local history, and can use what they learn about the city to bring context and deeper understanding to American history and changes in industry, technology, and the American way of life.
“When visitors view the map on their device, they can see where they are in relation to the sites, touch or click the site that interests them, and watch as the 19th century photograph fades into the 2012 photograph of the same location,” writes Penni Martorell, City Historian.
Topics to explore include the industrial revolution, immigration to the United States, the Great Depression, and issues of race, class, and gender throughout the last 100 years (students can pursue this topic to varying degrees depending on maturity and background knowledge).
South Berkshire Community Coalition Offers Intergenerational Community Connections
Working together, youth and seniors recreated the life journey of the senior; the culmination of which was a Life History Scrapbook that the senior will share with his/her friends and family. The Senior Life History Project is also an opportunity for social interaction between the elders and young people, engaging in fun activities such as: crafting, build a birdhouse, or play games.
The South Berkshire Community Coalition is offering students and seniors a unique intergenerational community learning project call the Senior Life History Project. This program pairs youth with seniors to help create a life history scrapbook of the elder’s experiences. Throughout the project, youth will help seniors to transcribe, photograph, and create sound, video, etc. to tell the story of their life. Final products are not limited to book format – the term “scrapbook” is used as a suggestion of a potential outcome, but the project leaves much space for students to experiment with multimedia presentations, online forms of information sharing, and other non-traditional “scrapbook” formats.
The project also allows much space for sharing of information and skills across generations. Throughout the development of each senior’s life history scrapbook, youth will get to hear firsthand accounts of life during pivotal moments in American history, learn about local history and changes within their community, and discover the many life experiences of their project partner.
Similarly, participating elders will develop a new and meaningful mentor-style relationship and have their experiences both validated and valued. The project can help both youth and seniors deepen their knowledge of technology and multimedia computer programs, as well. For more information, contact Shelley Brooks at the South Berkshire Community Coalition at 413-528-1919 ex 14.
Tales from the Trail:
Four Centuries of Travels Along the Mohawk Trail
By Gabriel Abbott Memorial School Students
The Mohawk Trail has been an important transportation route to communities across the northwestern part of Massachusetts for hundreds of years. Though the types of vehicles used for transportation and the purpose of transportation have changed, the Mohawk Trail remains an important route through the Western Massachusetts.
Students from Gabriel Abbott Memorial School in Florida, MA conducted a year-long study of the history of the Mohawk Trail, and their work has been made into a full-length documentary! Students in grades 4-7 worked to conduct interviews with community members (featured in the film) and used primary and secondary resources to piece together the story of the Mohawk Trail’s role in the community throughout its history.
Titled, “Tales from the Trail: Four Centuries of Travels Along the Mohawk Trail,” the film is a full 90-minutes long, and is available for viewing at www.abbottmemorial.org. Watch it as a family to learn about Western MA history, the advancement of transportation, and the gradual changes in culture that the area has seen.
Western Mass Jobs for Justice Presents Making History: A Visual Series
Holyoke Heritage Park on Tuesdays in July
Western Mass Jobs for Justice is offering a series of films, photographs, and other images that address issues of labor history, industry, and what it means to work. The series will include both fictional films and documentaries, including, “Salt of the Earth,” a fictional film about Chicano zinc miners in New Mexico and, “Farewell to Factory Towns,” which focuses on the deindustrialization of North Adams and the effects that Mass MoCA has had on the community.
The series will also include a presentation of photographs of child laborers, taken by Lewis Hine in 1908, paired with interviews of descendants of 250 of the photographed children.
The event series offers a unique and valuable learning experience for kids – best for slightly older students (perhaps those with knowledge or interest of labor history and deindustrialization), the films, photographs, and information shared provide a lens through which students can learn about what working means in different communities and eras, how it impacts families’ lives and communities, and how culture changes (and has changed) as a result of the types of workers found in particular industries.
Students can also learn about the harsh realities of child labor and oppression of minority groups in the workplace. Attend one or more of the events and start a family dialogue about human rights, especially as they pertain to the workplace. The events take place on Tuesdays from July 10th-24th from 7-8:30pm at the Holyoke Heritage State Park Visitors Center, located at 221 Appleton Street in Holyoke. For more information, call 413-534-1723.
The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats pays tribute to award-winning author and illustrator Ezra Jack Keats (1916–1983), whose children’s book,The Snowy Day,was the first modern full-color picture book to feature an African-American protagonist, published in 1962 at the height of the civil rights movement in America. The exhibition marks the 50th Anniversary of The Snowy Day which paved the way for multiracial representation in American children’s literature.
The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art presents a new exhibit – The Snowy Day and the Art of Ezra Jack Keats. Opening on June 26th, 2012 the exhibit is made up of over 80 of Keats’ works, including sketches, collages, and drawings, photographs of the author, and some of his less well-known Asian art and haiku, and will run through October 14, 2012.
Keats’ work is significant not only in that his children’s books (The Snowy Day, Whistle For Willie, and Peter’s Chair) have been read to and loved by many families, but is important also in that it features African-American protagonists in run-down urban settings. In fact, The Snowy Day was the first full color children’s book to feature an African-American protagonist. The settings depicted in Keats’ work reflect the environment in which he grew up, and the stories portray African-American characters in environments representative of urban life during the 1960’s.
By visiting the exhibit, families can begin a group dialogue about civil rights, urban life, and racial politics. These themes are best for older students, who are beginning to learn about or have some background knowledge of the Civil Rights Movement, but Keats’ illustrations can be appreciated by kids of all ages! Older students can also use the exhibit as a means of learning and thinking about how art is used to convey big ideas – not only does Keats provide effective illustrations for his stories, he offers a truthful portrayal of urban African-American life. For more information visit www.carlemuseum.org.
Illustration Credit: Ezra Jack Keats, “Peter, Archie and Willie crept out of the hideout.” Final illustration for Goggles!, 1969. Paint and collage on board. Ezra Jack Keats papers, de Grummond Children’s Literature Collection, McCain Library and Archives, The University of Southern Mississippi. Copyright Ezra Jack Keats Foundation.
Discovering Local History in Willamsburg
Saturday, June 2nd
Discovering local history can help students learn to understand and appreciate their community, and can help them learn to use what they’ve learned about the history of New England and America as a whole in context to local events.
On Saturday, June 2nd the Williamsburg Historical Society is hosting “Day to Look Back and Remember 2012,” a day full of events centered around local history in Williamsburg, MA.
The event begins with a reenactment of a school lesson at the Nash Hill School (117 Nash Hill Road) featuring local students from 10am-11pm. Then from 11am-12noon, there will be a guided tour of the Williamsburg Reservoir Dam, a failed project begun in 1874. The tour will focus on the Mill River Flood, which took place as a result of the dam’s failure (meet at Dunphy School). Finally, from 1-3pm, there will be a cemetery tour covering not only the history of each cemetery, but also the genealogy of early Williamsburg (meet at the Dunphy School). There will also be a historical exhibit on display at the fire department, and cross-generational conversations where participants can tell stories about Williamsburg past and present will take place at the Meekins Library from 12:30-3pm.
The Williamsburg Historical Society offers many community-based educational opportunities to learn about local history throughout the day where families can discover great information about the history of the Hilltowns at any one of these events. For more information, contact the historical society at 413-268-7767.
The Museum of Our Industrial Heritage in Greenfield is growing! Last summer, the museum opened a new exhibit on the industrial history of Franklin County and added weekly hours. This summer, there will be another new exhibit – and you can help to create it! The focus of the new exhibit is “Change: Transportation, Trade, and Technology,” and focuses on how these three things have changed communities within Franklin County (and Athol, whose history is also included in the museum).
Community members are encouraged to submit material to the museum for possible inclusion in the exhibit. Among the accepted forms of information are images (digital, preferably), stories, and artifacts, but anything of historical significance is helpful!
Families can use the solicitation of exhibit material as a learning opportunity – if you don’t have any family stories or preexisting knowledge about Franklin County history, take a trip to your local historical society and do some research! It can also be used as an intergenerational learning activity – interviewing older community members can be a great way to unearth important information, photos, and stories, too. Information ready for submission can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org, or mailed to the museum at 2 Mead Street, Greenfield, MA, 01302.
The Real Housewives of Currier and Ives
Exhibit at Springfield Museums through June 25, 2012
Just as contemporary television and other media portray and define popular culture today, the ideals of Victorian culture permeated the visual media of that era, often in the form of art work designed by the publishing firm of Currier & Ives.
Throughout history and changes in culture, women have been depicted within various media as a stable and nurturing force, despite changes in their role within society.
The D’Amour Museum of Fine Arts (part of the Springfield Museums) is currently hosting a show of hand-colored Currier and Ives lithographs featuring Victorian portrayals of women. The Real Housewives of Currier and Ives, as the show is titled, mainly shows women being portrayed as nurturers, caring for their homes and families, all while looking their best and dressing in period-appropriate, fashionable clothing.
However, the images do not necessarily represent women’s role in society during the periods pictured.
The exhibit will be open to visitors through June 25th, 2012 – check it out, and use the images as a jumping off point for learning about cultural influences on media and portrayal of women. To find the museum’s hours, visit www.springfieldmuseums.org. And check with your local library. Many branches have museum passes for library patron to check out.
Every year National History Day frames students' research within a historical theme. The theme is chosen for the broad application to world, national or state history and its relevance to ancient history or to the more recent past. This year's theme is Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History. The intentional selection of the theme for National History Day is to provide an opportunity for students to push past the antiquated view of history as mere facts and dates and drill down into historical content to develop perspective and understanding.
Kids can celebrate history by participating in the National History Day Contest!
Designed for students ages 11-18yo, the contest challenges students to choose an event, era, important historical figure, etc. that fits the contest theme and create a documentary, exhibit, paper, performance, or web site explaining the topic that they chose and how it fits into the contest theme.
This year’s contest theme is “Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History,” and students participating can choose any historical event they want, from the beginning of recorded history to now.
The many different options for expressing learning provide students with an opportunity to be creative, while still showcasing their knowledge of history. The contest is a great way for students to take a critical look at history, and provides an opportunity to learn about local history. A great project could focus on an event at the local or state level, and discuss how it affected the student’s community! To learn more about the contest, visit www.nationalhistoryday.org, or email email@example.com.
To discover Western MA history resources, revisit these posts from our archives:
Discovering New England History with
The Freedom Trail Foundation Daily Video Series
Are your kids interested in Colonial History? Boston’s Freedom Trail Foundation offers a daily dose of history on their YouTube channel! Every day, the group debuts a new clip (generally 30-40 seconds) offering information about an event that took place on that day in early American history! Centered around the Revolutionary War, the clips feature historical re-enactors dressed in period costumes. The information they offer covers a variety of topics- everything from the aftermath of the Boston Massacre to the settling of new areas surrounding Boston.
Of course the videos are presented in chronological order, but you don’t have to see every single one! Watching a few a week can provide a way for families to learn about history together and extend their study of the American Revolution and Colonial Studies throughout the entire year. Even watching the videos occasionally can be a fun learning activity- think together about all of the changes that have taken place in American society between the event discussed in the video and the events taking place today!
Wintertime is a great season to look for tracks and for kids to discover their outdoor neighbors. (Photo credit: Sienna Wildfield)
I was supposed to write about ice.
I wanted to take you away from the CT river, up into the higher elevations, where the crystal trickles are, and where on steep slopes ice fountains rise below dripping cliff edge. When things really get icy, remaining springs of fresh water attract forest creatures. I wanted to help you find one, and urge you to look for tracks and poops.
Wintertime is a great season to learn who your neighbors are. Last year I found out that an otter lived right down the creek. It had been fishing a creek near Hampshire Regional, dragging itself up and over snow-covered boulders. The photo barely captures the thick, beautifully drawn line (finger through vanilla frosting) that linked the pools upstream. Uniform. Not a blemish or rupture in the smooth.
I wanted to tell you, too, about how winter time—ice 3 inches thick—is the best time to explore wetlands. When else can you safety enter the inner realms of white cedar, black mud and sphagnum? Where else can you skate through snake labyrinths, around raccoon and tick islands, all secret but to the bladed voyager, who sweeps over beaver ponds, scaring the crows?
With maple sugaring already underway, I guess I’ll tell you that stuff next year. I will. I promise.
Weird winter: yes, I know the idea is a cliché at this point. But…
The hibernators never really went to sleep, the full several month cold shutdown they need and depend on. Right now they’re hungry and we have about two months before new forage will be available. Unless spring has begun, that is. Expect to see plenty of black bears and deer. Look for hemlock trees bared near their bases of bark—porcupine. Perhaps there will be more predators—mink, fox, coyote—afoot. May you be lucky enough to see or hear the young girl’s crying sound of a bobcat.
Stoneflies are hatching. Ideally, they’d hatch when lots of hungry birds and fish are around. Are they hatching too soon? We’ll know by the end of the summer, when I’ll return to this issue.
Next up—thaw! At least that’s what I had planned to write about—but I’ve seen honeybees looking for blossoms already.
Sooooooo….anyway, it’s snowing right now.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kurt Heidinger, Ph.D. is the Executive Director of Biocitizen, non-profit school of field environmental philosophy, based in the Western MA Hilltown of Westhampton, MA where he lives with his family. Biocitizen gives participants an opportunity to “think outside” and cultivate a joyous and empowering biocultural awareness of where we live and who we are. Check out Kurt’s monthly column, The Ripple, here on Hilltown Families on the 4th Monday of every month to hear his stories about rivers in our region. Make the world of rivers bigger than the world of pavement inside of you!
Storrowton Village Museum Offers Unique Historic Programs During Winter School Vacation Week
Storrowton Village Museum, an educational arm of Eastern States Exposition in West Springfield, MA, presents hands-on school programs and guided tours of its historic buildings throughout the year as well as seasonal 19th century-themed events.
This year, in order to accommodate the changes made to public school vacation schedules, Storrowton Village’s February break programming will take place alongside special programs designed for students who do not have vacation during the week of February 21st-24th.
The historic village, located in West Springfield at the Big E, hosts four different classes, each of which offers hands-on learning experiences. In “Little Red Schoolhouse,” kids will learn what a day at school during the 19th century would have been like (think quill pens!). The, “Look Back” program teaches about the different roles for girls and boys in daily tasks like cooking and blacksmithing. There is also a Storrowton sampler program that offers a look into many different aspects of 19th century living. The village’s normal vacation program, “A Day Away in the Past,” will be available for students as it normally is during school vacation. This program gives kids the chance to dress in period clothing and to do early American crafts such as candle dipping, 19th century games, and blacksmithing. For prices and more information, or to register for the programs, call 413-205-5051 or TheBigE.com/sv.
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The exhibit will be on display at the Forbes Library in Northampton for the month of February 2013, and at the City Hall Gallery in Easthampton from Sept 13-Dec 11, 2013. - We're currently booking shows for the Spring/Summer of 2013 and for 2014. Each exhibit is a unique showcase of images that correspond with the season and venue. Contact us to inquire about hosting this fundraising exhibit for Hilltown Families in your town/venue.