Mass Moments Presents a Day-by-Day Calendar of State History

Mass Moments Presents a Day-by-Day Calendar of State History

On this day in a time long ago, something important happened in Massachusetts! A full year’s worth of monumental Massachusetts happenings is offered through Mass Moments, a web-based project made possible by Mass Humanities. Featuring an important moment in history for every day of the year (366 of them, to be exact!), Mass Moments spotlights all facets of the state’s long history. Families can use the program, which updates daily, for a daily dose of state history, and can use the program’s archived moments to dig deep into specific themes, regions, or people of significance.  Read the rest of this entry »

Remembering the Lost Towns Through Swift River Historic Photos

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.

Read the rest of this entry »

Greenfield’s Museum of Our Industrial Heritage New Web Exhibits

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.

Greenfield's Museum of Our Industrial Heritage New Web Exhibits

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 »

Western Mass Historical Heritage for All to Explore

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 »

Hear the Tales of Local History at the Wistariahurst Museum

History Comes Alive in Holyoke

Students and families have a great opportunity to learn about local history by taking a tour of the Wistariahurst Mansion with the last living Skinner descendant to call Wistariahurst home on Sunday, June 19th @ 4pm in Holyoke, MA.

Marjorie Latham of Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke, MA writes:

For most people, Wistariahurst is a museum. But when Allerton Kilborne enters the home on Cabot Street, it is like entering a time machine. On Sunday, June 19th at 4pm, Allerton will return to Holyoke to offer a tour of Wistariahurst as he remembers it as a child and will share intimate stories about the family not often told. Allerton lived at Wistariahurst with his grandmother, Katharine Skinner Kilborne, and a full staff, whom he remembers in detail and with great affection.

Two years ago, the Springfield Republican wrote the following about following Kilborne on a tour of the house: “Allerton Kilborne has given tours before at Wistariahurst according to museum executive director, Melissa Boisselle, and each time, the tours have been extremely popular. Last week’s tour was no exception. More than 40 people attended the event…Kilborne began the tour by talking about the well known history of the Skinner family. . . But it was the lesser known, intimate stories about the Skinner family that seemed to keep the audience spellbound.” Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: