February 23, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Art, art history, Berkshire County, History, Museum)
Tags: Art, Art History, Claude Flight, Cubism, Futurism, Machine Age, modernism, The Clark
Machine Age Modernism Exhibit At Clark Art Institute Captures Turmoil & Upheaval
Clark Art Institute’s Machine Age Modernism exhibition explores groundbreaking printmaking and offers community-based learning opportunity on art history. Exhibition opens February 28, 2015 in Williamstown, MA.
The Clark Art Institute considers the history and politics that inspired many artists working during and between World Wars I and II in the exhibition Machine Age Modernism: Prints from the Daniel Cowin Collection. Influenced by such prewar movements as Futurism and Cubism, and using innovative techniques developed by artists associated with London’s Grosvenor School of Modern Art in the 1930s and 1940s, artists of the Machine Age defied aesthetic and technical conventions in order to convey the vitality of industrial society and changed printmaking in the process. Machine Age Modernism will be on view in the Clark Center February 28–May 17, 2015.
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February 17, 2015 at 9:00 am (Hampden County, Hilltown Families, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Community Based Education, community based learning, junior ranger, Local History, military history, national history, Revolutionary War
Kids Can Learn About Local History and Become Junior Rangers at this Community-Based Resource
Tying local history with important national and international events, the Springfield Armory provides visitors with a glimpse into the history of military arms manufacturing and the history of the industrial revolution. In addition to opportunities to learn about history from exhibits, families can learn to be Junior Rangers or participate in special hands-on programs held during school vacation week!
Opened as an arsenal to support George’s Washington’s troops during the Revolutionary War, the Springfield Armory served as a major arms manufacturing center for over two centuries. Closed since 1968 – but designated as a National Historic Site – the armory provides families with opportunities to explore the intersection of local and national history. Weaving together the stories of major industrial innovations and the workers themselves with national and international military history, the armory’s exhibits and educational programs provide context for some of American history’s major events.
As part of the National Parks system’s Junior Ranger program, the Springfield Armory offers young visitors the opportunity to become Junior Rangers – a rank that requires visitors to first learn about the site’s history and relevance! Aspiring rangers ages 6+ can explore the museum’s exhibits guided by a special Junior Ranger packet that will lead them to make specific discoveries. As part of their self-guided training, Junior Rangers will learn about Civil War rifles manufactured in Springfield, the local inventors and inventions that helped drive the Industrial Revolution, and a special kind of counter-intuitive gun that saves lives! Read the rest of this entry »
February 3, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: commuinity based education, flooded towns, Local History, Massachusetts History, photo exhibit, Photography Exhibit, Quabbin Reservoir
What’s in a Name? Villages, Hamlets and Hollows of the Swift River Valley
An exhibit of historic photographs, What’s in a Name? Villages, Hamlets and Hollows of the Swift River Valley, opens at the Great Falls Discovery Center in the village of Turners Falls, MA, with a public reception on Saturday, February 7, 2015, 1-3pm.
Seventy-six years ago four towns in west-central Massachusetts were destroyed to construct the Quabbin Reservoir—to quench the thirst of the growing city of Boston to the east. In addition to the four “lost towns”— Dana, Enfield, Greenwich, and Prescott—land was purchased from nine other towns: Belchertown, Hardwick, New Salem, Orange, Pelham, Petersham, Shutesbury, Ware, and Wendell. These towns were made up of small villages and even smaller hamlets and hollows. People settled near each other for one reason or another— perhaps they were extended family, or worked in a mill or factory. Sometimes the name of the village or hamlet gives us a clue as to its origins, for example, the names Atkinson Hollow and Cooleyville came from families, Bobbinville from the factory that made bobbins, and Soapstone Station from the quarries nearby.
An exhibit of historic photographs of villages, hamlets and hollows, reproduced from the collection of the Swift River Valley Historical Society, is opening at the Great Falls Discovery Center in Turners Falls on Saturday, February 7th. The public is cordially invited to an opening reception from 1 to 3 pm. On view are images of families, houses, stores, mills, factories, schools, churches, and scenic vistas. The family-friendly exhibit includes an interactive area inspired by village schoolhouses and colorful 3-D art by Pioneer Valley Regional School District students under the guidance of their art teacher, Althea Dabrowski.
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February 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Hampden County, Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: Black History, Black History Month, In Living Color, Westfield State
In Living Color: Westfield State celebrates Black History Month, bridges racial gap
“I hope to bring awareness and a different perspective,” Richeme said. “Black History Month is not just about Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, and Ferguson. It’s more than just African American history as well. My hope is for attendees to see beyond the typical themes of the month and learn while enjoying themselves. Each program has its own definition, unique style, and is educational.” [Oil painting from exhibit]
University will celebrate Black History Month
by hosting a month-long celebration of events ranging from poetry performances, panel discussions, and interactive experiences.
Since 1974, Westfield State has held special events during the month of February dedicated to informing students, faculty, and staff as well as the community about the importance of black history, culture, and traditions. Black History Month is organized by a committee of faculty and staff.
For the first time, Black History Month celebrations are themed this year. The theme is “In Living Color,” a play on the 90’s sketch comedy of the same name, which utilized comedy, fashion, satire, and other media to captivate audiences. Black History Month Committee Chair Ashiah Richeme, staff assistant in Residential Life, said it was important for her to organize a variety of events including some contemporary discussions.
Director of Diversity, Inclusion, and Student Activities Jessika Murphy said the plethora of events allow students to understand the time table of racial injustice: “We want to bridge the gap, to show where we as a country started, notice the positive changes we’ve made, and to look forward to ways will still need to grow,” Murphy said.
While the university has held events around Black History Month for 40 years, it recently began expanding cultural awareness programs, including its first recognition of Latino Heritage Month last fall.
“Part of our job as educators is to provide students with the opportunity to learn beyond their comfort zone, which includes learning about different cultures,” Murphy said. Read the rest of this entry »
January 26, 2015 at 9:00 am (Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: Cash Crop, ice harvesting, New England History
Five Ways to Learn about the History of Ice Harvesting in Western MA
Ice harvesting is an industry of the past, and one whose roots lie only in cold climates – like western Massachusetts! Done both as a necessity in early New England and as a profitable industry more recently, ice harvesting plays an important role in local history. Over the course of the next few weeks, numerous opportunities exist for families to learn about and take part in ice harvesting!
In the days of western Massachusetts past, when refrigerators weren’t standard kitchen equipment, ice was quite a luxury during the summer. In order to have ice after the spring thaw began, early New Englanders would have to harvest and strategically store ice from local lakes and ponds. Kept in the proper conditions (in the dark, and surrounded by insulation – usually sawdust), the harvested ice would last much longer than the cold weather did.
In addition to providing cool comfort at home during a New England summer, Massachusetts’ past ice harvesting industries sent locally frozen chunks all over the world. Begun in 1844 by Frederic Tudor, the local ice industry shipped ice first to London, then to warmer climates all over the world where, before electric refrigeration, ice was essentially unheard of. By the early 20th century, ice was one of America’s biggest crops (measured by weight).
Part of a rich history of economic pursuits driven by available natural resources, ice harvesting plays an important role in the history of communities all over western Massachusetts. Throughout the upcoming month, local historical societies and museums offer families opportunities to learn – in some cases, experientially – about the process of ice harvesting. Read the rest of this entry »
January 20, 2015 at 11:00 am (Community Based Education, Hilltown Families, History, Museum, Outdoor Activities)
Tags: Community Based Education, community based learning, Sense of Place
A Diversity of Learning Right On Your Doorstep
Western Mass is home to an incredible array of community-based resources that offer a diversity of embedded learning opportunities. From historical societies to libraries, trails to art galleries, there are numerous opportunities to connect with your community and embrace your sense of place. Read on to see what treasures rest on your doorstep.
Community-based learning is not a product of simply one resource or another. Instead, it is the product of many different local resources, the offerings of which pool and connect in order to create a web of educational connections and opportunities. Families in western Massachusetts are lucky in that this web is especially strong, thanks to the many well-stocked libraries, beautiful trails and outdoor centers, active historical societies, gallery-filled museums, and supportive family centers. Together, these types of resources help to provide opportunities for unique and authentic community-based learning, wherein families are able to explore broad concepts within a local context.
With over 1,700 libraries in the Massachusetts Library System, families have access to thousands of book. But our local libraries are not solely a book-based resource. In addition to volumes upon volumes of reading material, libraries offer opportunities to explore and discover new interests through more nontraditional resources like musical instruments, games, and exploration kits. Amherst’s Jones Library, for example, has instruments to lend, including child-size violins, ukeleles, guitars, and even a glockenspiel! The Meekins Library in Williamsburg offers discovery kits that promote hands-on exploration of interesting topics like salmon and local rivers, and important social reformers, civil rights, and human rights leaders in American history. Additionally, many local libraries allow patrons to borrow passes to local museums – helping to make these similarly valuable resources more accessible. And as for community sustainability, libraries are one of the oldest and most common forms of collaborative consumption that we’ve got here in western Mass! Read the rest of this entry »
January 13, 2015 at 8:00 pm (Hilltown Families, History, Suggested Activity, Volunteer Opportunity)
Tags: Civil Rights Movement, Community Service, History, Jr. Day, Martin Luther King, Martin Luther King Day of Service, MLK Jr. Day of Service
Meaningful Ways to Celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day in western Massachusetts, 2015
Next week, the celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day on Monday, January 19th, 2015, presents families with a three-day weekend. Instead of spending your extra day off sleeping in and lazing around the house, highlight the historical significance of the holiday for your family and find a way to make it meaningful. Families can find special events and service opportunities taking place across western Massachusetts, each of which presents students with the chance to learn experientially about the history of oppression in our country, community activism, and the importance of kindness and a commitment to serve others. Here are six ways to celebrate with your community and family in meaning ways in western MA: Read the rest of this entry »
January 13, 2015 at 4:00 pm (Hampden County, Hilltown Families, History, Springfield, Springfield Museum)
Tags: Big Y, Grocery Store, Industry, Supermarket, Supermarkets, Western Massachusetts History
The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket
This exhibit tells the story of community development and business innovation and how this local grocery store impacted the food industry. Through photos and memorabilia, the story of its evolution unfolds and connects visitors to a piece of western MA history.
When you think about shopping local, do you think of Friendly’s Ice Cream? Yankee Candle? The Big Y? All three of these successful businesses had their beginnings here in Western MA!
A new exhibit at the Lyman and Merrie Wood Museum of Springfield History traces the journey of Big Y Supermarkets from a small neighborhood grocery store to one of the largest independently owned supermarket chains in New England. The exhibit, entitled The Big Y: From Neighborhood Grocer to the Modern Supermarket, is now on permanent view at the Wood Museum. In close proximity are displays honoring other local success stories like Friendly’s Ice Cream and Smith & Wesson. Read the rest of this entry »
January 13, 2015 at 12:00 pm (Franklin County, Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: American History, Cheapside, Connecticut River Valley, History, Massachusetts History, Museum of Our Industrial Heritage, pioneer valley history
When the Connecticut River Dammed Us All To A Different Topography
In centuries past, before car travel was the norm and the Connecticut River had been dammed to generate electricity, boats and barges on the river helped to connect communities in the Pioneer Valley to the small cities and towns further down the river’s bank. Throughout the Pioneer Valley, there are traces leftover from the days before automobile and if you know where to look, these traces can help to teach about the development of these local communities.
One such place that gives clues as to its past is a village in the southeastern end of Greenfield. Originally called Cheapside, all that’s left of this early 19th century hub is a street bearing the former port’s name. Cheapside Street runs parallel to the western shore of the Connecticut River, and marks what was once Cheapside Port, a bustling barge stop. Read the rest of this entry »
December 8, 2014 at 9:00 am (Hilltown Families, History, Holidays)
Tags: christmas classic, cultural symbolism, history education, literary symbolism, middle ages, song history
Christmas Classic is a Literary & Cultural Symbolism Goldmine Where Learning Just Keeps Coming!
There is just so much to the 12 Days of Christmas song beyond the 2 turtle doves.
By the end of the popular Christmas carol, “The Twelve Days of Christmas,” the lucky (and truly loved) gift recipient has accumulated quite a holiday haul – nearly 400 gifts have come their way, and with quite a stunning amount of variety, too! Items as varied as gold rings, dancing men, and partridges have been given in bulk in the name of Christmas – but why?
Families can discover the roots and possible hidden meanings of the gifts described in “The Twelve Days of Christmas” with local author Dr. Thomas Bernard! On Saturday, December 13th at 2:30pm, the Jones Library in Amherst, MA, will host a talk by Dr. Bernard, who will lead participants in an exploration of the possible secondary symbolic meanings of each of the gifts described in the song’s lyrics. A professor Emeritus of Psychology at Springfield College, Dr. Bernard’s work on the subject grew simply out of sheer curiosity about the odd combination of items described by the song, and he is the author of The Twelve Days of Christmas: The Mystery and The Meaning. Read the rest of this entry »
October 14, 2014 at 9:00 am (Community Based Education, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: ghosts, Halloween, Harvest, Local History, shorter days
7 Halloween-Themed Events that Spotlight Western MA History
On Saturday, October 18 and Friday, October 31, come to Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA, for ghoulish fun and eerie entertainment. Tour the ghostly Skinner Mansion by candlelight or take a bone chilling walk through the cemetery!
As the hills and valleys of western Massachusetts brighten with the changing of seasons, the evenings become just a bit darker and a bit spookier. While we enjoy the harvest and enjoy our fair share (at least) of apples, squash, and all things pumpkin, the days shorten and darken around us – serving as a reminder that Halloween is creeping up on us. In addition to Halloween’s costume frenzy and the potential for candy accumulation that the holiday presents, the spooking season brings with it a myriad of ways to learn about local history!
This area of New England is rich with history, and much of it spooky and surrounded by mystery. Towns across western Massachusetts are home to potentially haunted historic buildings, controversial centuries-old community history, and cemeteries that are the final resting place of folks who may have met questionable ends. All of these eerie tales amount to more than a good, healthy scare – they offer entry points for learning about the history of many small communities, as well as the western portion of the state as a whole.
Additionally, an examination of the history of a single community can help children to understand the history of the region and country better, as it provides context for understanding the specifics of a large, broad look at the events and aesthetic of a particular era. Learning about Civil War-era community members, for example, can help students imagine life during that time period, as they’ll be able to imagine the surroundings in which such people existed. Trying to understand life in the past without context, on the other hand, may lead to more guesswork on the child’s part – something that exercises their imagination but may not lead to as thorough an understanding (and definitely will not lead to developing deeper ties to their local landscape!).
To begin exploring local history through the lens of spooky history, take advantage of one (or all!) of the many upcoming Halloween-themed events that spotlight local history:
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October 1, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Franklin County, History)
Tags: cursive, cursive writing, Education
The Lost Art of Cursive
New Exhibit Debuts at Hatfield Fall Festival
What ever happened to the art of cursive writing? Find out about cursive writing and interesting related historical facts at the Hatfield Fall Festival on Sunday, October 5, 2014, from 11am-3pm. There will be exhibits related to local history and fun activities for the entire family. During the Fall Festival, stop by the Historical Museum (2nd floor of Hatfield Public Library) for a new exhibit titled, “Simple Tools, Elegant Script: The Lost Art of Cursive.”
Did you know that the Declaration of Independence was written with a quill pen? Or that feathers from the left wings of birds were favored by right-handed people? Did you know that children’s school work, and business and municipal records up until the 1920s and ’30s were mostly written using dip pens? Come see how the tools have changed over time and what handwriting looked like when writing was an art.
To complement the exhibit, organizers will be offering an all-ages activity, “Calling All Scribes!” where you can try your hand at writing using old-fashioned tools, led by Hatfield resident and calligraphy neophyte Hollington Lee. (Located in the Children’s Room, 1st floor of the Hatfield Public Library.).
Does handwriting matter in modern times? Are your kids learning cursive writing in school? Psychologists and neuroscientists say new evidence suggests that the links between handwriting and broader educational development run deep. Check out these articles and share your thoughts:
- Cursive Is an Endangered Species, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Sept. 27, 2014
- The Lowdown on Longhand: How Writing by Hand Benefits the Brain, Edutopia, August 6, 2014
- Some Teachers Haven’t Written Off Cursive Yet, USA Today: The Arizona Republic, July 27, 2014
- What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades, The New York Times, June 2, 2014
- Should Schools Still Teach Cursive?, MindShift, June 28, 2013
- How Handwriting Trains the Brain: Forming Letters Is Key to Learning, Memory, Ideas, The Wall Street Journal, Updated Oct. 5, 2010
October 1, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Cemeteries, Gravestones, Graveyard, Graveyards, History
Learning Lurks Amongst the Gravestones in Historic Cemeteries
Rich with community history, cemeteries across western Massachusetts offer families a variety of rich learning experiences this fall. From gravestone rubbings to tours of historic burying grounds, there are many ways in which families can tap into the knowledge buried amongst the graves.
Accompanying fall’s spook-filled Halloween celebrations come opportunities to explore and learn about cemeteries and graveyards across western Massachusetts. Filled with stone markers that chronicle a community’s history, local cemeteries can provide visitors with a look deep into the past. Some local communities have been existed for over 300 years, and gravestones in such places speak volumes about centuries past. Everything from the names of buried people to the style of the stone can tell visitors something about the time period to which that a headstone dates back. And on top of learning about the history of a place, visitors can celebrate and honor the things that members of generations past have contributed to their present day community.
A study of a local cemetery (or a few of them!) can help students to understand how individuals’ life stories contribute to the re-telling of history. For young cemetery explorers, making gravestone rubbings is a fun way to introduce the study of headstones, and can help children learn that cemeteries don’t have to be scary. Turning the beauty of hand-carved headstones into a similarly beautiful art-producing activity adds to the intrigue of a cemetery, but decreases the fear factor.
To broaden and deepen independent cemetery studies, browse through resources offered by The Association for Gravestone Studies. The locally-based organization offers resources for learning to preserve and conserve cemeteries, support for decoding the symbolism found on headstones, and extensive online archives. For a look at cemeteries a bit further from home, apply what you’ve learned by exploring nearby burial grounds to images historic headstones from around New England.
In addition to self-guided studies of cemeteries are many upcoming opportunities for community-based learning surrounding cemeteries. From walking tours to stone carving, these intergenerational community events offer a wide range of exciting learning opportunities! Read the rest of this entry »
September 30, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Hilltown Families, History)
Tags: Community Based Education, historical reenactments, history education, Living History, Western Massachusetts History
Living History Events Bring Multi-Faceted Education Experience for All Ages
Combining the magic of theater and the mystique of history, living history events provide families with the opportunity to experience the past (and its people) as they were – in character and in context. By teaching history with a theatrical – yet incredibly realistic and accurate – approach, the age range to which a topic appeals becomes wider, allowing younger children to learn about the aesthetic aspects of certain historical eras, while their older counterparts explore the culture, politics, and relevance of the same time periods
Season of Thanks: Society of the 17th Century, Hall Tavern Visitor Center, Historic Deerfield, MA.
Early fall in western Massachusetts brings with it this year a wealth of immersive living history events, affording families a multitude of opportunities to learn experientially about a variety of historic eras, events, people, and practices. By attending one (or many!) of the upcoming living history events, families can explore new ideas and deepen their preexisting understanding of the roots of modern American society. Read the rest of this entry »
September 17, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Berkshire County, Community Based Education, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Berkshires Events, Geological studies, heritage walks, historical walks, massachusetts culture, nature walk
Housatonic Heritage Walks Highlight Berkshire Natural, Cultural and Historic Heritage
Housatonic Heritage Walks take place Sept 20 & 21 and then again Oct 4 & 5. Don’t miss these community-based educational opportunities taking place in Western MA this fall!
Rich with cultural heritage and fascinating history, explorations of western Massachusetts’ Berkshire region lend themselves to studies of the local flora and fauna, watersheds and river ecology, local and national history, and even great literature. A home to everything from prehistoric landforms to icons of the wealth of members of generations past, the Berkshire are a perfect place for adventurers of all ages to explore and learn about.
This year’s Housatonic Heritage Walks bring nearly sixty opportunities for families to engage in inter-generational community-based learning about science, history, culture, literature, and more. Held over the course of two weekends, the walks aren’t all technically walks. While most of the events in the series involve walking tours, exploratory hikes, or other activities that take place on foot, families can take part in canoe and bicycle trips as well!
On Saturday, September 20th, and Sunday, September 21st, exciting events begin at 9am and continue throughout the day – all over the Berkshires! Families can tour the historic Colonial Theater, paddle the Housatonic, walk with cows at a local farm, and learn about the plants of the Berkshire Botanical Garden. Each and every event highlights a different – and very important – part of the Berkshires’ cultural heritage, and teaches participants about the roots of the Berkshire communities that we know today.
Additionally, on Saturday, October 4th and Sunday, October 5th, similar events will be held. Read the rest of this entry »
September 17, 2014 at 9:00 am (Berkshire County, Film, History, Suggested Activity, Video)
Tags: Art Exhibit, Film Series, historical documents, history education
Film Series Pays Homage to “Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution” Exhibit; Gives Context in Popular Culture
In conjunction with the Clark Art Institute’s recently opened exhibition, Radical Words: From Magna Carta to the Constitution, the Institute offers a series of three free Saturday films beginning Saturday, September 20 at 2 pm. “Documents of Freedom: A Film Celebration” features three films centered around some of the documents in the exhibition, which offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see an original 1215 Magna Carta alongside the Declaration of Independence, the U.S. Constitution, and other key documents in the founding of America.
The family-friendly matinees are as follows: Read the rest of this entry »
September 10, 2014 at 9:00 am (Community Based Education, Franklin County, History)
Tags: Experiental Learning, experiential education, fall history, Fall in Western Massachusetts, History
Immerse Yourself in Fall & Uncover Its Traditions
Late summer and autumn were busy times in early American kitchens. The abundance of fresh produce needed to be processed and preserved for the winter. This fall, Historic Deerfield interpreters will be cooking dishes featuring apples, pumpkins, and corn.
As brightly colored leaves replace the lush green of summer, sweaters and sweatshirts emerge on chilly mornings, and fresh, local apples become a daily staple. A full calendar of events at Historic Deerfield offers families countless ways to learn about fall in early New England. Families can visit the 350-year-old village for demonstrations and hands-on experiential activities so as to learn – through immersion – about the changes that fall brought to some of western Massachusetts’ earliest settlers.
Of course, some fall traditions remain a part of New England culture today. Exploring Historic Deerfield can help families to uncover the roots of some of their own fall activities and traditions, and can help children to understand the season-related reasons for the timing of certain cultural events. Harvesting the last of the summer’s bounty, for example, and celebrating the changing of the seasons through food of all kinds is a seasonal activity that families will easily relate to. A visit centered around learning about the settlers of Deerfield’s open-hearth cooking style and the crops that they harvested in fall can help children to compare and contrast the things that happen during their own lives in the fall with the events of autumn for early New Englanders. Read the rest of this entry »
August 5, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Hampden County, Hampshire County, History, Northampton)
Tags: American Industrialism, Art in Western Massachusetts, Easthampton, Hampshire and Hampden Canal, Northampton, photo exhibit, primary source documents, Transporation History, western massachusetts
Photographer Examines Hidden History of Local Landscape in the Valley
At 2pm on Saturday, August 16, 2014, Carl Walter, a canal historian, will give a talk in Historic Northampton’s Gallery III. He has been studying the Hampshire and Hampden Canal since 1991, and has created a digital database that contains several thousand photos and documents containing information about the canal. In his talk, he will explain why the canal was built, where it was located, and how it was constructed, as well as its importance to the canal towns, with an emphasis on the relationship between the town of Northampton and the canal.
As part of Historic Northampton’s Contemporary Art series, Anthony W. Lee will exhibit seven large format photographs, collectively titled A River of Dreams, from Friday, August 8 through Saturday, September 6, 2014.
Lee, an historian and documentary photographer, is the Idella Plimpton Kendall Professor of Art History at Mt. Holyoke College. His show is inspired by the history and legacy of the early-nineteenth-century Hampshire and Hampden Canal, which ran from New Haven, Connecticut to Northampton, Massachusetts. Established in the 1820s, the canal was New Haven’s attempt to prevent the city of Hartford from gaining a monopoly on the trade and movement of goods in the region. In Northampton, the canal ran along the west side of New South Street, then known as Canal Street, and continued north, crossing King Street at Damon Road until it joined the Connecticut River. Despite the relatively successful operation of commerce over a ten year period, the venture as a whole was fraught with problems, and the canal was defunct by 1946. The remains of the canal beds were rapidly repurposed into railroad lines, streets, and other modern edifices, and it takes a discerning eye to see the subtle clues left on the landscape. Read the rest of this entry »
July 28, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Berkshire County, Franklin County, Hampden County, Hampshire County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: community education, community learning, historical heritage, History, Massachusetts History, Western MA history, Western Mass History
Summer is History-Exploring Season in Western MA!
This summer, the Sheffield Historical Society hosts the Milt Barnum All American Tool Exhibit, an extensive show of tools used by workers of all kinds throughout the past few centuries. Check out our list of 15 historical societies and history museums below and find out what these community-based educational resources have to offer and discover your local history while nurturing a better sense of place in your kids and in yourself!
Nestled amongst the hills of western Massachusetts are pockets of history – the streets of cities and towns are lined with historic buildings, fields are dotted with centuries-old cemeteries, and even the landscape itself tells stories of generations past, its shape hinting at human influences. It’s obvious that our communities’ history surrounds us, but the challenge in learning about local history is learning how to access it in a meaningful way. Luckily, historical societies and museums across the region offer families a wide variety of ways to learn about the history of their community. From wartime tales to walking tours, resources for learning about local history abound during the summer in western Massachusetts.
An added bonus of the easy accessibility of local history resources is that children will be supported in learning about the history of their own community and a familiar landscape, but they’ll also learn about major historical events – events that took place on a national or international level – and the ways in which they affected folks here in western Massachusetts. In allowing children to learn about large-scale events or cultural shifts on a small scale, families can support learning about broad topics on a level that meets children where they’re at developmentally, while strengthening their sense of place. Adding familiar context to an unfamiliar or confusing topic can help children to understand it – and they’ll develop a deeper connection to their history once it becomes personal. Many local historical societies only open their doors to the public during summer months (for many reasons, including the availability of volunteer staff and the lack of heat in many old buildings), so don’t miss this year’s history-exploring season! In addition to open museum hours, many historical societies and museums offer interactive activities, speakers and educational events, and other special programming – be sure to check out your local society’s calendar for learning opportunities that extend beyond a visit to the local museum or archives. Here are history museums, historical societies and events to consider this summer with your family throughout the region: Read the rest of this entry »
July 2, 2014 at 3:00 pm (History, Museum)
Tags: Bucket Town, buckettown, buried treasure, cooper, Exhibit, history education, toy maker
Artifacts from a Historical “Time Capsule” Revealed at Old Sturbridge Village
Ongoing through Sunday, January 18, 2015
Hingham, Massachusetts., known as “Bucket Town” due to its prominence in the early New England coopering industry, was also the home of the first and largest community of professional toymakers in America.
Now through mid-January 2015, visitors to Old Sturbridge Village will have the opportunity to view artifacts from a recently-excavated workshop on the Hersey Family Farm in Hingham, MA. The workshop spent a century undetected, hidden under vines on the historical farm property, before being discovered in 2008. It had inadvertently become a time capsule, capturing the scene of an early twentieth century New England woodenware and toymaker’s workshop and lying undisturbed for decades.
The exhibit, Bucket Town: Four Centuries of Toymaking and Coopering in Hingham, is on view at Old Sturbridge Village’s Visitor Center Gallery for the next six months. It contains objects from the Hersey Shop that have never before been seen by the public – an intriguing collection of tools, personal artifacts, and exquisite handicrafts – in addition to a generous selection of handcrafted toys and woodenware made by Hingham-based toymakers and coopers.
Read the rest of this entry »
June 17, 2014 at 9:00 am (Hampden County, Hampshire County, History)
Tags: abolition of slavery, community based learning, community education, Emancipation, freedom, Juneteenth
Celebration events invite families to celebrate the abolition of slavery, and to reflect on the daily aspects of freedom in their own lives
Andre Keitt will perform stories and folklore from the African oral tradition during Black History Weekend at Old Sturbridge Village on June 21 & 22, 2014.
These days, when a monumental government decision is made, technology allows the news to travel quickly and we are able to find out almost immediately. However, before the internet and telephones and even motorized vehicles were invented, information took a lot longer to travel. News could take days, weeks, even months to spread, and the further information had to travel, the longer it took for it to get there. In the case of the Emancipation Proclamation, for example, word of Lincoln’s granting of freedom to slaves in Confederate states took nearly six months to reach some parts of the country! While the Emancipation Proclamation was issued on January 1st, 1863, word of emancipation took until June 19th to travel from Washington, DC to Galveston, Texas!
The day upon which Texas slaves learned of the Emancipation Proclamation is celebrated today as Juneteenth. Originally celebrated only in Texas, the day has served as a commemoration of the ending of slavery in the United States since 1865. Across the country – and even around the world – Juneteenth is celebrated in order to honor the struggles of those who endured slavery, and to remind us of the ways in which our country’s history has affected (and continues to affect) our current society. Find out about celebrations in Western MA!
June 3, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Hampshire County, History)
Tags: educational tours, experiential education, Experiential Learning, History, Worthington Historical Society
Community learning opportunity for the family in local history treasure trove
Some parts of local history are easy to access, no matter what community you live in. Families can learn about an area’s past informally by walking through cemeteries, reading plaques and memorials around town, and by looking for construction dates posted on signs and buildings. There are some things, though, that are nearly impossible to discover on your own. Stories about the people whose names mark graves, photographs of events held at local landmarks, and information about the inhabitants of historic homes or the former uses of old buildings could fill in the blanks, and the resources offered by local historical societies help us to do just that.
Of particular interest to local families are the resources offered by the Worthington Historical Society. A very active community resource, the Worthington Historical Society offers a museum full of local artifacts, frequently hosts educational tours and events, publishes a periodic blog of stories and photographs, and has an extensive library of books and DVD’s all about Worthington history.
May 28, 2014 at 9:00 am (Franklin County, Greenfield, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Agriculture, Architecture, Greenfield, History, Innovation, Pioneer Valley, Solar Energy, transportation, Western Massachusetts History
Take an educational trip right into Greenfield’s innovative past, present and future
Taken from the upper story front porch of the Grand Trunk Hotel in Turners Falls, this image shows the trolley near Second Street and Avenue A (c.1890), an example of trolly use in the Pioneer Valley. – Courtesy Image.
The Pioneer Valley Institute is offering a day tour of the highlights of Greenfield on Saturday, June 7: “Spring into Greenfield: A Trolley Ride Through our Town’s History and Architecture.” The town’s trolley bus will be the mode of transportation for the day, and is a reminder of the active trolley system available 100 years ago throughout the Connecticut River Valley.
Greenfield, its buildings, its industries, and farmland, offers a complex story. This hub town for Franklin County is the site of fine examples of architectural design, of industrial innovation, and of current efforts to retrofit Greenfield’s fine older buildings to conserve energy for the coming decades. Greenfield was a crossroads for train freight service and will soon see restored passenger service. Waterpower and fine farmland attracted early settlers and investors, and innovators and businesses continue to recognize opportunities in the town.
May 27, 2014 at 3:00 pm (Berkshire County, Hampshire County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Berkshires, Field Farm, History, May 31, Mission HOuse, Naumkeag, The Trustees of Reservations, William Cullen Bryant
Home Sweet Home: Open House Day at The Trustees of Reservations Historic Homes
From early 1700’s missionaries to mid-20th century architecture, The Trustees of Reservations’ Home Sweet Home: Open House Day offers families a chance to learn about lots of fascinating history. Opening the doors of historic homes across Massachusetts all day long on Saturday, May 31st, the Home Sweet Home event will allow visitors to certain Trustees properties access to spaces not often open to the public – this opportunity is not to be missed!
Locally, families in western Massachusetts can choose from five different properties to visit. Each historic home is related to both local and national history, and has its own unique story to tell. The tale of each place uses architecture, landscape, material culture, and the stories of the people who inhabited it in order to put historical eras and events into context for visitors. Covering everything from the Mohican Indians and abolition to to The New York Evening Post, visits to western Massachusetts’ historic homes are a fantastic way for families with children of all ages to learn and explore together.
May 25, 2014 at 8:00 am (Guest DJ, Hilltown Family Variety Show, History, podcast, Video)
Tags: American History, david grover, Family Music, Family Radio Show, History, music, Pete Seeger, podcast, Radio Show
Hilltown Family Variety Show
History Through Stories & Songs Episode
Guest DJ, David Grover
Listen to Podcast:
David Grover is our Guest DJ with a History through Stories & Songs Episode. David puts together an eclectic mix of favorite folk songwriters and singers that highlights the history of our country. – www.davidgrover.com
Saturday from 9-10am & Sunday from 7-8am
May 24 & 25, 2014
Original Broadcast: May 25th & 26th, 2013
WXOJ LP – 103.3 FM – Valley Free Radio
Pete Seeger – “Forever Young”
Archived Podcasts ♦Radio ♦ Facebook ♦ Twitter
- Where am I Going A.A. Milne/music Bob Reid
- God’s Counting on You Pete Seeger/Lorre Wyatt
- English is Crazy/Pete Seeger
- If I Only Had a Brain/Liv Taylor
- John Henry/David Grover
- Ragtime Cowboy /Joe Dan Hicks & the Hot Licks
- 4 Little Sailors/Bill Staines
- The Declaration of Independence/Pete Seeger
- To the South Pole/Bill Harley
- The Gettysburg Address
- Civil War Music/David Grover
- America the Beautiful/David Grover
May 14, 2014 at 12:00 pm (Community Based Education, Hampden County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Civil War, History, interactive tours, Living Museum, patriotism, Storrowton Village
A comprehensive experiential educational program for families to gain insight into major American historical event.
The American Civil War obviously had huge impact on the field of battle. At Storrowton Village, families are offered an interactive insight into the challenges people faced during the war beyond the battlefields.
Often generalized as the war that ended slavery, the Civil War was an incredibly challenging time for Americans – whether or not they were fighting on the front lines. In both the north and the south, communities experienced many wartime difficulties. Many supplies were scarce, community members were absent, and many lives were lost.
On Tuesday, May 20, 2014, Storrowton Village in West Springfield, MA, will offer an informative and experiential educational program for families. Storrowton and the Civil War is an interactive tour of the historic village, providing an inside look at what wartime life was like for villages in the north. While exploring the village, visitors will meet various community members – all of whom will share stories of how they’ve experienced the effects of war, despite remaining at home in Massachusetts. more on the tour
April 30, 2014 at 9:00 am (History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Collaboration, Forbes Library, Midnight to Midnight, Northampton Camera Club, Photography, Photography Blitz, Sense of Place
48-Hour Local History Project Seeks Community Participation
Friday, May 2 through Saturday, May 3, 2014
This collaborative activity is a great educational opportunity for parents, families, and educators because it presents contemporary daily life and daily tasks as being significant (both now and to future generations), and can imbue participants with a sense of appreciation for, and pride of, the place the live, work & travel to.
Does your family live in or near Northampton, Massachusetts? Do you have any favorite buildings in town? How about any spots where a treasured memory was made? And, over the course of your time in the area, how have you seen Northampton changed? A free public art project called “Midnight to Midnight” wants to know how YOU would answer these questions (and more)! From 12:01am on Friday, May 2nd through 11:59pm on Saturday, May 3rd, all are encouraged to use photography to document aspects of Northampton that they feel are significant. A collaboration between Historic Northampton Museum, the Forbes Library, and the Northampton Camera Club, this two-day event seeks to create a digital record of the city as it is today, in 2014. Each image submitted will build up a virtual archive of images and information about our present-day Northampton – a story told from many different perspectives and with a variety of photographic tools and techniques. While it is important and exciting simply because it is an accessible, collaborative project organized by three local organizations for anyone wishing to participate, the underlying goal is to foster a sense of connection to the people and places of Western Massachusetts, and an understanding of the larger community that Northampton contains.
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April 23, 2014 at 10:00 am (Franklin County, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: Bog, History, Industry, Logging, Pioneer Valley Institute
History of Logging & Hawley Bog
Pioneer Valley Institute Features Local Industry & Natural History Events This Weekend
Western Massachusetts is rich with both local and natural history – both of which are topics that Greenfield Community College’s Pioneer Valley Institute highlights in its educational programs. Blending topics like geology and natural biodiversity with the study of local agriculture, industry, and culture, the Pioneer Valley Institute offers intriguing programs that allow community members to explore their surroundings while also learning about their natural and cultural significance. Read the rest of this entry »
April 7, 2014 at 2:00 pm (Community Based Education, History, Suggested Activity)
Tags: walking tours
Learn About Western Massachusetts Communities & History on Foot with Self-Guided Walking Tours!
We’re rich in walking tours here in western Massachusetts, an excellent community-based educational learning activity families can do together. Unlike scheduled tours guided by interpreters, self-guided walking tours offer lots of flexibility. Families can use walking tours as a way to expand on a subject that children learn about in school. Alternately, families can utilize available tours as a means of answering questions that they’ve stumbled upon together.
Spring is here! Alongside the longer days and afternoons filled with sunlight comes warmer weather, and as the out-of-doors draws us from our winter hibernation, each day brings opportunities to explore our community. All over western Massachusetts, community organizations have organized self-guided walking tours, helping to add a new layer to the discoveries made while meandering through a neighborhood or district. Using paper maps and brochures, as well as tech-y resources like QR codes and interactive tablet and smartphone maps, families can use a spring walk as an opportunity to learn more about the fascinating history behind buildings, monuments, neighborhoods, and communities as a whole.
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April 2, 2014 at 12:30 pm (Hampshire County, History)
Tags: Civil War, Civil War soldiers, Hatfield Historical Museum, Historical Society, History, Primary Source
While most of the major events of the Civil War took place further south than New England, the war plays a major role in the history of communities all over western Massachusetts. Not only did the area serve as part of the Underground Railroad and a home to abolitionists, but agrarian towns changed drastically during the Civil War, as men and boys who farmed in order to sustain their families left home to fight in the war.
Thanks to a new exhibit at the Hatfield Historical Museum, families can learn much about local ties to the major events that took place during the Civil War. A newly installed exhibit at the museum includes a variety of Civil War-era artifacts, including a blood-stained bible that once belonged to a soldier, the Civil War diary of Hatfield resident Daniel White Wells, a knapsack worn by soldiers in the Union volunteer infantry, a 32+2 star American flag, and a Confederate tourniquet, taken as a souvenir by a young Hatfield soldier.
A visit to the exhibit is educational and informative for students of all ages, even if they don’t have any background on the Civil War yet. Young students can compare the items displayed to their modern equivalent, so as to reflect on changes in technology, culture, and use of items, and they may also begin to think about what late 19th-century Hatfield must have been like with many of the men and boys gone to fight in the war. Older students who have already begun to learn about the Civil War in school can develop a better idea of what Civil War life was like for those who fought – the objects displayed in the exhibit convey the hard work, long distances traveled, and terrifying battles endured by those who left Hatfield (and communities just like it all over New England) to join in the war.
In celebration of the new exhibit, the Historical Society will be hosting two exciting opening events. On Saturday, April 5th, 2014, from 9:30am-12:30pm, families can visit the museum to meet members of the 15th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry at an encampment, sample Civil War foods, and see demonstrations of drills that Civil War soldiers took part in. The Historical Society will host a similar event on Sunday, May 25th, 2014, from 10am-12noon as part of the town’s Memorial Day celebration – this event will feature a larger number of reenactors – three tents in all! Both events are free, and present a unique opportunity to experience living history. Read the rest of this entry »
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