The Magnificent Life & Art of Mabel Loomis Todd

The Magnificent Life & Art of Mabel Loomis Todd

The Amherst Historical Society and Museum opens for the season with The Magnificent Life & Art of Mabel Loomis Todd, an exhibit that offers a fresh interpretation of the Society’s founder.

Developed by visiting curator Diana Limbach Lempel, the exhibit explores Todd’s work as a nature writer, painter, conservationist, lecturer, and the editor of Emily Dickinson’s poetry.

Viewers can get to know Mabel Loomis Todd, founder of the Amherst Historical Society, through her botanical artwork, nature writing, and efforts in both historic preservation and nature conservation. Mabel created a chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution and was proud of her family’s American pedigree; she also committed herself to land conservation in the Amherst area as well as in Florida and the Maine coast. She painted local plants, such as the sweet pea flowers that decorate her dress in the photographs seen below. She wrote about the sunsets from her Amherst home and savored every moment of her wild life.

How can Mabel help us think in new ways about the relationship between nature, history, and what it means to care for a place? How can her loving attention to the details of birdsong, sunsets, smells, and even weeds, inspire our own relationship with where we live? How can understanding the origins of the Amherst Historical Society help us tell better stories about Amherst today, and tomorrow?

This exhibition calls us to be moved by Mabel’s unabashed enthusiasm, unbridled love, and unquenchable capacity for seeing beauty in the world.

In addition to the Mabel Loomis Todd exhibit, several of the rooms at the museum have been reinstalled, providing the opportunity to see the ongoing work of the Society. Visitors will be able to view parts of the textile collection including dresses dating back two hundred years, sit in the historic parlor with a collection of browsable books, and learn about the founding of the museum. There are also rotating displays researched and designed by student interns covering a wide range of subjects from historical policing, traditional women’s work and local business signs. Children are welcome and there are installations designed with all ages in mind.

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.

Eastern Hampshire History Day, and Friday history lecture

Eastern Hampshire History Day, and Friday history lecture

Don’t forget that Saturday is Eastern Hampshire History Day, with seven local museums open from 11AM to 4 PM

Participating Locations:

  • Amherst Historical Society & Museum, Amherst
  • Hadley Farm Museum, Hadley\Hadley Historical Society, Hadley
  • Pelham Historical Society, Pelham
  • Porter-Phelps-Huntington House, Hadley
  • Stone House Museum, Belchertown
  • The Sycamores, South Hadley

Coming up next week: Ed Londergan will lecture at 2:30 PM on Friday, October 7, at the Jones Library, on his book, Unlike Any Other, based on the life of Revolutionary War-era woman Bathsheba Spooner. 

 — Like her father, Bathsheba was smart, strong-willed, and a staunch British loyalist. Forced to marry a man she did not love, Bathsheba withstood her husband’s abuse for years until a young Continental soldier entered her life. But when the well-heeled mother of three small children discovered she was pregnant with the soldier’s child, her thoughts quickly turned to murder…

The History of Reproductive Rights in the Valley

The History of Reproductive Rights in the Valley

Almost 10 years ago, in 2013, Dr Joyce Berkman gave the Amherst Historical Society a lecture on the history of reproductive rights in the Pioneer Valley. Starting with the career of Dr Charles Knowlton (1800 – 1850) of Ashfield, her lecture is a brief, fascinating outline of the history of reproductive rights and laws generally – a history which has acquired new relevance with the recent Supreme Court decision.

Dr Joyce Avrech Berkman, who retired from UMass in 2013 after 48 years of teaching and research, is a highly respected educator and researcher. Her lecture shows both her knowledge of the subject and her talents as an educator
Next week: mark your calendars for another concert in the Strong House garden, when Strings at the Strong will present the Conway Fine Arts Quintet on Saturday, August 27, at 2PM.
DuBois Library Special Collections

DuBois Library Special Collections

by Aaron Rubinstein

“Expanding our great national reservoir of knowledge and intellectual thought:” past, present, and future of the Special Collections at UMass Amherst.

Former Chancellor Randolph Bromery’s ambitious words, written in 1974, presage a transformation of the Special Collections at UMass that began with the acquisition of the W. E. B. Du Bois Papers and blossomed after the arrival of Robert Cox in 2004. The new Head of the Special Collections, Aaron Rubinstein, will discuss the this transformation and how it sets the stage for the future of the department.

Aaron Rubinstein is the Head of the Special Collections and University Archives at UMass Amherst. Aaron grew up in Amherst, graduated from UMass, and has worked in SCUA for over a decade. Before SCUA, he was the Archivist for Digital Collections at Tufts University, and before that Collections Manager at the Yiddish Book Center.

(video in process)