History Bites Lunchtime Lectures
How V-Mail Won World War II
On Friday, November 2nd, local retired educator Tom Weiner will draw from his book ‘Photographed Letters on Wings: How V-Mail Helped Win WWII’ to tell the little known story of the 1.5 billion letters sent to and from the front in England and America during World War II. Tracing the history of microfilm from its invention concurrently with the camera itself in 1839 and its use in the Siege of Paris in 1870 to transmit documents and letters via carrier pigeon, Wiener’s lecture will explore the invention of V-mail, and its strategic use in enabling many more troops and supplies to be shipped by greatly decreasing the space need for the mail, as well as its human impact in carrying the voices of home to troops abroad.
History Bites is a series of thirty minute lectures to inform and entertain, covering various aspects of the history of Amherst and the lives of those who once lived here.
Bring your lunch, and we provide coffee, tea and cider for you as you listen to the presentations. The programs begin promptly at 12:15 with seating and beverages ready just before noon. The lectures are free and everyone is welcome to attend.
Amherst House Tour – “Come Over to My House”
In the words of Doctor Seuss: “There are all kinds of houses around to be found!” Inspired by his joyous portrayal of home, Come Over to My House is the theme of the 2018 Amherst Historical Society’s annual house tour. This year’s tour, on Saturday, November 10, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., features seven Amherst area properties designed in a multitude of styles and built with varied materials.
The self-guided, go at your own pace tour features seven properties, including five private homes, open just for this day, the Historical Society’s c. 1760 Simeon Strong house, and the former chapel at the University of Massachusetts, most of which have both been through significant changes, renovations, and uses during their history.
So whether you are a history buff or always wanted to see the inside of one of these private homes, join us and “Come on Over to My House.” We’re all waiting for you.
It’s Official! Weights & Measures
Introducing our most recent addition to the collection: the official cabinet of weights and measures used by the Town of Amherst beginning about 1900.
Today, we are assured that a gallon is exactly that when we purchase gasoline–the pump bears the official seal of the State of Massachusetts. But in the past? How did you know a pound was a pound when purchasing produce or other goods? We are the pleased recipient of the official Weights & Measures used by the Town of Amherst beginning about 1900. The cabinet is approximately 6 feet across x 6 feet high x 2 feet deep–filled with scales, weights and liquid measures. Come visit this new treasure!
You can learn more from this story by Scott Merzbach in the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
Opportunities for Local Learning
On Wednesday, November 1st, second graders from the Common School visited the Jones Special Collections and the Amherst Historical Society!
This experience gave the hands-on experience into researching local history by exploring the collections of artifacts and primary documents. They examined straw hats, a wooden yoke, a wooden scythe and a wooden plane and practiced making inferences about the objects using what they had learned in class. Visits like these give kids a first-hand look at the history of their own town, tangible enough to reach out and touch, connecting the next generation with all the generations past.
Facilitating these key historical experiences is one of the most important missions of the Amherst Historical Society. If you’re interested in scheduling a visit for your classroom or other group, please get in touch with us! We would love to hear from you.