Gardens at the Museum

Gardens at the Museum

April is National Garden Month, and soon our friends in the Garden Club of Amherst will be tending the Museum’s flower gardens, just to the east of the Museum. Already the east lawn is a mass of color from the blue scilla growing wild there.

In 2015 the Historical Society helped the Garden Club celebrate their one hundredth anniversary, as Elaine Barker and Patricia Holland gave a talk about the history of the Garden Club; you may view the video of the talk here.

In her talk, Ms Holland mentions a 1950′s-era film about growing tobacco in the Connecticut Valley; Tobacco Valley. Some of us still remember the fields of Hadley and Hatfield when they were covered with tobacco netting; a video of the film is available for viewing here.

And next Friday, April 14Jane Wald will give a talk on the history and development of the Dickinson Museum. The talk will be at noon over Zoom; here is the link.

History of the Amherst Record

History of the Amherst Record

The Amherst Record was founded in 1844 by John and Charles Adams as the Hampshire and Franklin Express. It served Amherst, Hadley and Belchertown; it became the Amherst Record in 1868 and was a daily between 1978 and 1980.  The Record published Town Hall news, lots of columns, and information from surrounding towns.  “The Policeman’s Lot” was a precursor to the Bulletin’s police log. The Record published the voting records of Town Meeting candidates, box scores of ARHS baseball games, plus recipes and movie guides. It ceased publication in 1984.

Phyllis Lehrer started working for the Amherst Record in 1977. She started part time covering the schools. She was paid $10 for each meeting attended. The Amherst School Committee met once a month and the Regional school Committee twice a month. She became full time and covered other town boards and committees, elections, Town Meeting and occasionally the news from other town.

Phyllis will give a talk on the history of the Amherst Record on Friday, March 31, at noon, in the Woodbury room of the Jones Library.

Mabel Loomis Todd

Mabel Loomis Todd

In Woman’s History Month, the Amherst History Society is pleased to remember Mabel Loomis Todd, who founded the Society in 1899.

World traveler, author, and lecturer, Mabel was instrumental in editing and publishing the first three volumes of Emily Dickinson’s poetry, as well as two volumes of her collected letters — her partner in these efforts was Thomas Wentworth Higginson.

The Amherst History Museum will be mounting a special exhibit on Mabel when we open in May. Stay tuned!

Coming up next weekHistory Bites will return on Friday, March 31, as Phyllis Lehrer will talk about the history of the Amherst Record newspaper. The lecture will be live at noon in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library.

Lydia Maria Child

Lydia Maria Child

March is Women’s History Month, and Dr Lydia Moland of Colby College has recently published a new biography of the abolitionist author Lydia Maria Child, who spent 2 years in Northampton

From the Chicago University Press website: 

By 1830, Lydia Maria Child [1802 – 1880] had established herself as something almost unheard of in the American nineteenth century: a beloved and self-sufficient female author. Best known today for the immortal poem “Over the River and through the Wood,” Child had become famous at an early age for spunky self-help books and charming children’s stories. But in 1833, Child shocked her readers by publishing the first book-length argument against slavery in the United States—a book so radical in its commitment to abolition that friends abandoned her, patrons ostracized her, and her book sales plummeted. Yet Child soon drew untold numbers to the abolitionist cause, becoming one of the foremost authors and activists of her generation.

Regicide in the Family

Regicide in the Family

The History Bites lecture series returns, beginning its Spring 2023 lecture series at noon on Friday, March 3, over Zoom.  Here is the Zoom link.

… What if you had someone in your family tree who played a role in the beheading of King Charles I in 1649, the only English monarch ever sent to his death? How would that make you feel?

That’s a question Sarah Dixwell Brown wrestles with in “Regicide in the Family,” her lively account of discovering that a distant ancestor, John Dixwell, was one of 59 judges who signed the death warrant for King Charles I following the conclusion of the English Civil War, which had pitted the king’s forces against those of Parliament.  When Charles II restored the monarchy in 1660, many of the 59 judges and members of Parliament who had signed his father’s death warrant were arrested and publicly executed in gruesome fashion. Dixwell fled first to Germany, then came to New England in the mid-1660s, eventually settling in New Haven, Connecticut after spending a brief time in the tiny settlement of Hadley.

Note: There will be no History Bites on March 17. We will resume the series at noon on Friday, March 31, with a live lecture in the Woodbury Room of the Jones Library; Phyllis Lehrer will talk about the history of the Amherst Record.

Re-Orienting Dickinson

Re-Orienting Dickinson

In Black History Month, we can take note of the talented Amherst College graduate Anna Smith (Amherst College ’22), whose historical research led to the creation of the Reorienting Dickinson website.

‘During her first semester at the college, she took “Global Valley,” an introductory American studies course with Karen Sanchez-Eppler, L. Stanton Williams 1941 professor of American studies and English. Even as a first-year, Smith’s passion for the course material and its implications was apparent. “From that first fall, in her first year at Amherst, [she] was an extraordinarily inventive and tenacious researcher, and had a real interest in history and how it’s told,” Sanchez-Eppler said.

‘Throughout her time at Amherst, Smith solidified her role as an attentive American studies major, led research as an assistant for the Archives & Special Collections’ Racial History of Amherst project, and worked as an intern to plan the college’s Bicentennial, where she created a timeline of the college’s history. Ultimately, her research culminated in a thesis on Amherst’s connection to slavery by way of its founders. In many ways, Smith’s work contributes to the broader campus and community conversation about the college’s multifaceted history.’

Coming up next week: History Bites returns at noon on Friday, March 3, with Sarah Dixwell Brown‘s Zoom presentation on her book, Regicide in the Family. The zoom link is here.

And on Saturday, March 4, at 4PM, at the Shea Theatre in Turners Falls, Dr Margaret M Bruchac will give a talk on Native Memories: Recovering Pocumtuck Histories in Franklin County. For more information, go here.