Past Award of Merit Recipients 

2019  |  2018  |  2017  |  2016  |  2015  |  2014

2019 Award of Merit Recipients


Florence Griswold Museum

This educational program and website used Seven Miles to Farmington, a painting by Connecticut artist George Henry Durrie, as a primary source for teaching state history. The online learning portal was designed to help change the way teachers and students SEE works of art. Aligned with Connecticut's Social Studies Frameworks and utilizing inquiry-based and visual thinking teaching approaches, it was developed by a team of museum staff, content and curriculum specialists, classroom teachers, web designers, and a professional evaluator. This program serves as an exemplary model for other institutions to develop collections-based curriculum projects.

Institute for American Indian Studies
Wigwam Escape

This physical adventure is an innovative, interactive, engaging learning experience set in the year 1518 that utilizes problem solving by individuals and teams. Participants are members of a woodland Native American village who must complete a series of puzzles to aid a neighboring village seven miles away. All the challenges represent actual activities, responsibilities, and jobs faced by Native Americans as part of daily life. This experience informs the type of understanding that only comes from active immersion.


Company F, Fourteenth Connecticut Volunteer Infantry
Restoration and Preservation of the 17th Connecticut Flagpole on Gettysburg National Battlefield

In honor of the 155th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, Company F 14th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry raised the funds to restore and preserve the 17th Connecticut Flagpole working closely with the National Park Service. As a preservation, education, and reenactment organization, Company F held a re-dedication ceremony at the flagpole site accompanied with a preservation booklet.  This project is an important reminder of our state's sacrifice during the Civil War.

Connecticut State Library
Remembering World War One: Sharing History/Preserving Memories

This project invited people to bring their photos, letters, and keepsakes from WWI for digitization. More than 40 public programs, with speakers, musicians, genealogy workshops, encampments, and films were held in conjunction with the Digitization Days. Events were held at 47 museums, libraries, and community centers across the state. All images and stories gathered will be added to the library’s online archive. The grassroots process resulted in Connecticut being recognized by the US World War One Centennial Commission as one of the most extensive digitization projects underway in this country to commemorate and increase interest in the local stories and impact of “the forgotten war.”

Fairfield Museum and History Center
Culper Ring: The Spies of George Washington

Graphic novel-style panels tell in bold, dramatic fashion the story of the spy ring that operated between New York City, Long Island, and Fairfield during the Revolutionary War. The artwork and text explored the motivations and actions of the spy ring members, bringing to life the risks they took in their intelligence-gathering activities that gave the Continental Army a decisive advantage. Public programs included spying techniques and joint tours with the Three Villages Historical Society in Setauket, Long Island, where the spy ring was based. The exhibition illustrates Fairfield’s role in this war from a new perspective and was also turned into a booklet for continued use outside the museum.

Farmington Historical Society
Art in Farmington Village

The history of the Farmington art scene is traced in this exhibit, bringing together the work of over 50 accomplished artists working in Farmington from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Original research resulted in an exhibit catalogue and also 78-page Artists Biographical Sketches booklet. First displayed at the Barney Library, it was followed by an expanded exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art introducing artists of the Farmington Art Colony to today’s audience.

Greenwich Historical Society
An Americal Odyssey: The Jewish Experience in Greenwich

This comprehensive exhibition and catalogue chronicled the untold story of Greenwich’s Jewish community dating to the late 1800s. Primary sources and oral histories highlighted the significant contributions that Jewish families have made to the cultural and economic vitality of Greenwich, despite experiencing prejudice. Given today’s climate of increasing religious intolerance, and the town’s stereotyped reputation for social anti-Semitism, this story is particularly timely and pertinent. As evidenced in guest book comments, emotional impact to visitors was powerful.

Hartford History Center at the Hartford Public Library
Hartford Hip Hop Digital Stories

In collaboration with Trinity College students of the Global Hip Hop Cultures class, this project examined and documented Hartford’s hip hop scene in the 1980s and 1990s and how Hartford made direct contributions to one of the biggest cultural phenomena of the 21st century. After completing background research, students conducted video interviews of seven Hartford hip hop pioneers within the context of neighborhood and cultural life in this city. Stories were screened publicly, followed by a panel discussion with participating pioneers and students. These digital stories, along with full interviews in text and video form, are now part of the Hartford Hip Hop Digital Repository of the Hartford History Center.

Mansfield Historical Society
Female Finery: Local Women's Fashion, 1850–1910

This exhibit showcased 24 dresses including hats and bonnets from the society’s collection owned and worn by local women. Genealogical research of these garments conveyed an intimate understanding about each original owner—the women who lived in rural Mansfield and the neighboring, upscale mill town of Willimantic—who were well informed of current fashions. A recreated 1900 millinery shop portrayed the proliferation of milliners in the area during this period. Each dress was photographed from twelve angles to create 3-D images that will become an addition to the Virtual Museum of the UConn Historical Costume & Textile Collection.

Mattatuck Museum
A Night at Jacques (That's Jake's)

An advertising poster for a Waterbury burlesque hall, Jacques Theatre, inspired the creation of a musical production set in this theatre on New Year’s Eve 1929 when the Jacques celebrated the 10th anniversary of the WWI peace treaty signing. The musical review included a seven-piece band, six dancers, five singers, comedians, and skits all featuring music, dance and comedy of the 1920s with some city history. Ads from local establishments and a list of local and national events from 1919 to 1929 were included in the show’s program. The first theatrical presentation of its kind produced by the Museum, this period was brought to life through music and humor with historical context.

New Haven Museum
New Haven Goes to War

The impact of World War I on individuals was examined in this exhibition and 18-month commemoration. A story of international scope, here it was told from a distinctly local and personal angle. Using manuscripts in the museum’s collection, it focused on stories of two New Haven soldiers whose love of the emerging technologies of motorcycles and aircraft brought them into the theater of a new kind of conflict. Supplementing these was a changing display case that highlighted roles played by other New Haven residents who also served in France. The exhibit reminds us that “big” stories are at heart the collective experiences of ordinary men and women who find themselves in extraordinary circumstances.

The Norfolk Historical Society
Norfolk in the Great War

Showing the impact on the town and how dramatically life changed during WWI, this exhibition documented the activities in Norfolk on the home front. Thoughts and experiences of Norfolk servicemen and women were shared through diaries, letters, and military service questionnaires completed by war veterans and the families of those who died. Personal vignettes highlighted the eight young men who lost their lives in combat. Artifacts told of war themes that resonate today, and the society’s collection of original WWI posters recreated the atmosphere of patriotism and sacrifice, and connected local themes to national ones.

Prudence Crandall Museum
The Story Will Outlive the Canvas

“The artist has been very successful in taking the portrait of Miss Crandall; but the story of her persecution will outlive the canvas...” are the words written in 1834 by abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison, editor of The Liberator newspaper. He was referring to the recently completed portrait of Prudence Crandall he had arranged to be displayed at anti-slavery fairs. The exhibit explored the time frame of Crandall’s academy for African American young women and girls, to the anti-slavery movement focusing on the growing impact of women’s involvement. It illustrated how women’s work in the anti-slavery cause empowered them to organize for their own rights.

Westport Historical Society
Remembered: The History of African Americans in Westport

This exhibition uncovers the long-obscured stories of African Americans and their importance to the holistic history of Westport. Through 18th-century manumission and enslaved peoples’ sale documents, Civil War era letters, photographs and reports of the downtown African American community through the 1950s, misconceptions of the town’s history are addressed. Names of over 200 enslaved persons have been memorialized revealing the prevalence of the institution of slavery. With TEAM Westport, the town’s diversity action committee, a program series has explored African American life and culture.


Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
Connecticut Architecture: Stories of 100 Places

Architectural historian and Deputy Director of the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation Christopher Wigren selected 100 structures—ranging from Colonial churches and Modernist houses, to tobacco sheds and refurbished factories—to reflect the wide variety of building types in the state, and as narratives that contribute to the larger picture of the state’s history. Featuring more than 200 images and thoroughly researched text, the book is a culmination of more than 30 years of fieldwork and research with a viewpoint of architecture as “making places.”

Deep River Historical Society
Billy Winters: One Man's Journey to Freedom

Using primary sources, this publication tells the story of Daniel Fisher, a.k.a. William Winters, a man enslaved in Virginia and South Carolina who sought and achieved freedom via the Underground Railroad in Deep River. Mr. Fisher’s perilous journey to attain freedom is told in a readable manner suitable for third and fourth graders, a valuable resource for the school groups that the historical society serves. The book is also an effort to document the lives of individual African Americans in Connecticut’s towns and their contributions and impact on our state and nation.

2018 Award of Merit Recipients


American Clock & Watch Museum
CLHO awarded the American Clock & Watch Museum an Award of Merit for its educational program, the Assembly Line Traveling Program. This program was developed to meet the needs of the third grade curriculum and allowed the history of clock and watchmaking to be accessible to students. By allowing students to not only learn the history of local manufacturing, it enabled them to take part and experience the difference between making a clock one by one and making them via an assembly line.

Wethersfield Historical Society
The CLHO awarded the Wethersfield Historical Society an Award of Merit for its educational program, the 2017 Old Wethersfield Lantern Lights Tours: Forgotten Residents of Wethersfield. In this edition of the annual tour, the historical society developed scripts based on residents who are frequently underrepresented in the town’s recorded history, including women, servants, and people of color.


Connecticut Historical Society
The CLHO awarded the Connecticut Historical Society an Award of Merit for its project, Language, Culture, Communities: 200 Years of Impact by the American School for the Deaf. This exhibit was inclusive of a specific community to both share the history, but also make the information accessible. The collaboration between CHS and the American School for the Deaf is a wonderful example of working to create a more inclusive exhibition that reached groups beyond Connecticut.

Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation
The CLHO awarded the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation an Award of Merit for its project, Mills: Making Places in Connecticut. This website makes accessible the history of Connecticut’s mills, through interactive digital maps and images. It has enabled preservation enthusiasts and students to delve into the industrial history of Connecticut.

Fairfield Museum and History Center
The CLHO awarded the Fairfield Museum and History Center an Award of Merit for their new multi-building exhibitions, the Museum Commons, a revitalization of the Fairfield Town Green. This project activated spaces important to Fairfield’s history, making them accessible to new audiences and drawing connections to contemporary issues facing the community today. Through interactives, multi-generational audiences have the opportunity to engage with history in a broader context.

Keeler Tavern Museum
The CLHO awarded the Keeler Tavern Museum an Award of Merit for their exhibition, It Takes A Village. The project sought to bring Ridgefield’s historic Main Street alive in an accessible space. Using STEM and Social Science techniques, the Museum was able to create a space that invited visitors to see beyond the facts, and to think about the daily life of colonial Ridgefield. Bringing a comparative component into the mix provided the space for thought provoking comparisons of change over time and has furthered the understanding of Connecticut’s history.

Kent Historical Society
The CLHO awarded the Kent Historical Society an Award of Merit for its Founders of Kent exhibition. Shedding light on the history of Northwest Connecticut, this exhibition made history accessible through comparative spaces, like the kitchen. Additional features of the exhibit included the set-up of the local Kent government, which presented visitors with a look into the legal past, and drawing connections to contemporary town government.

Mattatuck Museum
The CLHO awarded the Mattatuck Museum an Award of Merit for its exhibit, Yankees or Red Sox: America’s Greatest Rivalry. This exhibit created a new entry point for an audience interested in sports history. Guest curated, this project drew from private collections and the Museum’s collection to tell the story of this rivalry and its impact on Connecticut residents. Additionally, the Museum planned public programs that included art, lectures, and public outreach with local youth baseball teams. It was a unique look in the history of America’s greatest pastime through the lens of the crossroads of Waterbury.

New Haven Museum
The New Haven Museum received an Award of Merit for its recent exhibition, Road Trip!. The exhibition examined the history of road trips and roadside attractions, their spread of development in Connecticut and throughout the nation, and encouraged visitors to recall their own road trips through public programming and other interactive elements.

Pequot Library
The Pequot Library received an Award of Merit for its exhibition, Pequot Founders: Building a Library and a Legacy. The exhibit explored the library’s history, founders, and holdings, while reinvigorating Southport’s sense of community, philanthropy, and illuminating the value of Connecticut’s extraordinary libraries and their collections.

Sharon Historical Society
The Sharon Historical Society received an Award of Merit for its exhibition, A Chance for Land and fresh Air: Russian Jewish Immigrants in Sharon and Amenia 1907-1940. As the name suggests, the exhibition and accompanying programs explored Jewish immigration to the town in the early part of the 20th century, connecting local and world history, and the families documented in the exhibit with their own descendants.

Shelton Historical Society
The Shelton Historical Society received an Award of Merit for its project, 1913 Reinterpretation of the Brownson House, a years-long effort to reinterpret the Brownson House to reflect the year 1913. By exploring an often-overlooked pre-World War One-era in Connecticut history, the project increased local understanding of a common local family’s work, trade, and domestic lifeways.

Slater Memorial Museum
The CLHO awarded the Slater Memorial Museum an Award of Merit for its project, Bela Lyon Pratt: Sculptor of Monument. The exhibition and related events took Pratt’s life and work as an artist as a starting point to help examine Connecticut history, partnering with surviving family members to conduct research in previously unexplored family archives, and to call attention to the often-overlooked history and art of our local monuments.


Connecticut Irish American Historical Society
The Connecticut Irish American Historical Society received an award for its publication, From a Land Beyond the Wave - Connecticut’s Irish Rebels 1798-1916. This book documents historical connections between Connecticut’s Irish immigrants and their influence in Irish and local political life. The book’s wide-ranging research cites over 600 primary resources, integrated oral histories, and documents the stories of humanity, community, and an often- misrepresented group, furthering the understanding of Connecticut’s history.

Oxford Historical Society
The CLHO awarded the Oxford Historical Society, Inc. an Award of Merit for its publication, Historical Buildings of Oxford Past and Present. This carefully researched volume documents the historical buildings of the town, increasing will increase the awareness of the community and individual owners of Oxford’s historic and unique properties, therefore giving value in the understanding of Oxford and Connecticut’s local history.

The 2017 CLHO Award of Merit winners at the June 5. 2017 annual conference and awards luncheon.

2017 Award of Merit Recipients

Adrienne Saint Pierre
Individual Achievement

Highlighting an impressive career in the museum field, the Barnum Museum nominated Adrienne Saint Pierre for an Individual Achievement Award for her leadership of the museum’s response to the EF1 tornado which struck the site in 2010, and of an NEH-funded project to catalog, digitize, conserve, and make accessible its artifacts through the CT Digital Archives and Digital Public Library of America. Thanks to Saint Pierre’s leadership, only one collection item was lost to mold following the tornado, the collections were reinstalled, and are on their way back to health. The digitization project will ensure that he museum’s treasures are accessible locally and worldwide, advancing understanding of the institution’s role in American History. 

Emery Roth & Lazlo Gyorsok
Individual Achievement –  Brass Valley, CT: A Photographic Journey

Emery Roth and Lazlo Gyorsok undertook a project to document the industry and architecture of the “Brass Valley” of Connecticut through stories and images. For three years, the photographers gathered stories from workers in the industry and in turn compiled the first book since 1909 to tell the story of the workers and towns that comprise the “Brass Valley”. Additionally, their work is the first to use photographs to help capture the history of a declining industry. For their work in furthering the understanding of Connecticut’s industrial past and present, providing lectures to discuss their work at museums and historical societies around the state, the CLHO is pleased to honor both Emery Roth and Lazlo Gyorsok with Individual Award of Achievement.

Guilford Keeping Society

Publication – John Beattie and His Quarrymen: Building America Stone by Stone

The book was written by Carl Balestracci, Jr. to tell the story of John Beattie, his Leetes Island Quarry, and his workers who built a great deal of America’s infrastructure. It also tells the story of the Quarry and men who quarried the stone that is in the base of the Statue of Liberty. This publication has helped to further the study of Connecticut’s history, through research and discovery, it is great example of learning and showcasing Connecticut’s past and present, and the CLHO is pleased to honor both the Guilford Keeping Society and Carl Balestracci, Jr. with an Award of Merit.

Madison Historical Society
Project – Over Here, Over There: Madison in World War I

Exploring the War’s impact on the lives of Madison residents who served overseas and on those who remained at home, it looks at peoples’ attitudes to the war and the politics of war; social, economic and technological changes brought about by the war; and the aftermath of the war. The Society’s use of technology to share digital images and audio files, and the creation of a children’s corner so that all visitors - young or old – can gain insight into this period of history, are just a few of the reasons the CHLO is pleased to honor the Madison Historical Society with an Award of Merit.

Middlesex County Historical Society
Project – A Vanished Port: Middletown & the Caribbean, 1750-1824

An exhibition portraying a major New England port during the heyday of the West Indies trade, this project has been well received by the public and fellow history museums and sites for its interpretation of the lives of farmers, shipbuilders, sail makers, coopers, rope makers, and other artisans who benefited from the West Indies trade. In addition to the luxurious life of merchants as evidenced by the collections of the Middlesex County Historical Society, it depicts the suffering of enslaved workers. Using artifacts, manuscripts, and newspapers, the Middlesex County Historical Society has shed light on an era that is often overlooked or unknown to the general public. For their extensive research, exhibit design, and interpretation of this piece of Connecticut history, the CHLO is honored to recognize the Society with an Award of Merit.

Katherine Chilcoat 
Individual Achievement

The Salisbury Association nominated Katherine Chilcoat for an individual achievement award, in recognition of her tireless volunteer efforts in support of the historical activities of the Simsbury Association. These include managing collections, reading and transcribing letters, answering reference inquiries and conducting research, creating exhibits, and serving as a trustee. Her care in managing the closing of the Association’s Holley-Williams House and Salisbury Cannon Museum in 2007, and in creating exhibits for the Association’s headquarters since then, provide an example for historical associations everywhere. For these achievements and others, Katherine Chilcoat is recognized with an Individual Achievement Award.

Carl Walter
Individual Achievement

Honoring his hard work and dedication, the Simsbury Free Library nominated Carl Walter for an individual achievement award for the publication, Farmington Canal Maps. There is a map for each of the towns the canal once traversed: New Haven, Hamden, Cheshire, Southington, Plainville, Farmington, Avon, Simsbury and Granby. The maps combine historical information about the towns along the canal with the geography, engineering, and the construction of the canal. By publishing the maps, Mr. Walter’s extensive knowledge of the canal is preserved and can be shared. The CLHO is pleased to honor Carl Walter with an individual achievement award for these efforts.

Smith-Harris House
Program - Spirit Voices: Victorian Mourning & Spiritualism

For its education program, Spirit Voices: Victorian Mourning & Spiritualism, the Smith-Harris House developed a variety of interpretive activities and talks, to accommodate a variety of learning styles. The afternoon included temporary exhibits and discussion in the house focusing on mourning customs and food, interactions with current Spiritualists, exhibition of a 19th century hearse, and a visit the nearby Old Stone Church Burial Ground, with costumed interpreters portraying previous residents of the house. The program tied history to current practices and beliefs, and collected food for East Lyme Care & Share, Inc. For the strength of this program, the CLHO is please to honor the Smith Harris House with an Award of Merit.

Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art
Project - Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and Its Legacy

The Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art’s exhibit, Gothic to Goth: Romantic Era Fashion and Its Legacy, on view from March-July 2016, drew heavily the Atheneum’s own collections, particularly costumes. The exhibit examined Romantic fashion in context, connected it to local history and architecture, and examined its continuing resonance today. The museum used an interdisciplinary approach, and a variety of public programming, to make the exhibit accessible and interesting to a wider audience. For this impressive project, the CLHO is please to grant the Wadsworth Atheneum Art Museum an Award of Merit.

Webb–Deane–Stevens Museum
Project – Wallace Nutting: Preservation Pioneer

The first special exhibition undertaken by the Webb Deane Stevens Museum, this project utilized the entire first floor of the Webb House to create one of the most comprehensive exhibits ever created on Wallace Nutting. The Museum worked closely with the Wallace Nutting Collectors Club to present objects in the care of the Club. This exhibit raised public awareness of the importance of Wallace Nutting and the Webb House as one of the principle historic sites that feature his remarkable accomplishments. For their hard work and interpretation, the CLHO is please to grant the Webb Deane Stevens Museum an Award of Merit.

Westport Historical Society
Program - Exploring Westport History at the Wheeler House

The Westport Historical Society chose to re-design a third grade tour to meet the needs of the CT Social Studies Standards and provide a more inquiry-based program. Involving the local teachers in the planning process, the Society was able to develop a program based on objects to tell the history of Westport over time. As part of the “learning center” they organized around the following four themes, using costumed docents to help engage the students and teachers in active learning of geography & transportation, kitchen & family, school & play, and commerce & industry. For their thoughtful program design and contribution to the study of Connecticut’s history, the CLHO is pleased to honor the Westport Historical Society with an Award of Merit.

Wethersfield Historical Society
Program – Colonial Experience Day

The program designed by the Wethersfield Historical Society to interpret the American Revolution and the 18th century for the Portland Middle School was achieved through conversation, research, and collaborative with the Wethersfield community. Taking the available materials at the Historical Society and organizing reenactors, the staff designed a day-long program with 8 hands-on stations for students in the areas of: medicine, coinage, games, dancing, surveying, artillery, and cavalry, brought to life Wethersfield in the 18th century. This program is a prime example of using Connecticut’s history as a lens for the broader history of the Country and the CLHO is pleased to honor the Wethersfield Historical Society with an Award of Merit.

Milly Hudak
Individual Achievement

The Winchester Historical Society Nominated Milly Hudak for an individual achievement award of merit for her leadership in establishing the Carriage House of the Winchester Historical Society. Beginning more than twelve years ago, Ms. Hudak collected, described, and preserved artifacts made in the Winfield area, then led the Historical Society in creating a museum to display the collections and tell the story of Winfield’s history. The Carriage House now offers residents and visitors a unique opportunity to learn about the history of Winchester and Winsted, and is a model for other small historical societies to follow. For this work, the CLHO is pleased to honor Milly Hudak with an award of merit for individual achievement.

2016 Award of Merit Recipients


Danbury Railway Museum 

Project - Restoration of Tonawanda Valley Observation Car, Honorable Mention 

This impressive multiyear all volunteer effort by the Danbury Railway Museum restored the Tonawanda Valley, the last remaining example of the “Valley” series of observation cars, built by the Pullman Car Company in 1929 for the New York Central Railroad. These cars were used on the 20th Century Limited, the flagship train of the New York Central Railroad frequented by famous and wealthy passengers between New York City and Chicago. The Danbury Railway Museum raised the funds to complete this restoration through grants and a membership donation drive which culminated in its inclusion in the 100th anniversary exhibit at Grand Central Station. The Danbury Railway Museum is to be commended for preserving this important part of the Golden Age of American railroad transportation history. 

Connecticut Landmarks, Hartford, CT 

Educational Program - History Youth Employment Program 

Celebrating its 14th year in 2015, Connecticut Landmarks’ History Youth Employment Program provides an opportunity for Hartford high school students to develop job skills, learn about Hartford’s cultural and historical assets, and contribute to the future care and ultimate success of the organization’s historic house museums. The program introduces inner city minority students to the cultural resources in their community through hands-on projects, field trips, and primary source research. The teens keep journals of their experiences and share them with the public through oral presentations, visual displays, the program website, and in Poor Yorick, a Western Connecticut State University literary journal.This innovative program allows students to both earn wages and prepare for college, while they experience the power history organizations have to shape and share community values. 

Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame, New Haven, CT 

Educational Program - STEMfems: Women Transforming Our World 

STEMfems is the third module in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame’s award-winning DIY History program, a series of free and flexible educational modules that can be facilitated for groups of young people by classroom teachers, librarians, after-school program educators and community group leaders. STEMfems encourages students to explore the issues surrounding Connecticut women’s participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Each themed module is based on Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Inductees’ inspirational stories and connects them to current events through short texts and a variety of discussion, multi-media, and hands-on creative projects. This program excels because it uses Connecticut history to tell America’s story and highlights the important contribution of women and minorities in Connecticut history. 

Fairfield Museum and History Center

Project - The Pequot War and the Founding of Fairfield, 1637-1639 

The Pequot War and the Founding of Fairfield is a collaboratively developed exhibit to commemorate the 375th anniversary of Fairfield and significantly enhanced and furthered the understanding of Connecticut history through an examination of the seminal event that led to the creation of the Town of Fairfield. The exhibit was successful in increasing visitor awareness about the history of the Pequot War, dispelling myths surrounding Connecticut’s Native American tribes and illuminating the significant role Native people played in the town’s origin. At the same time, all stages of exhibit development, from initial collaboration to educational program development, engaged a significant new audience. Through original documents, nineteenth-century prints, previously un-exhibited archaeological finds, rare examples of Pequot and early American material culture, and 3D models, the exhibit brought a heretofore little know part of the town’s history to life.  

Gunn Historical Museum, Washington, CT 

Project - Over There: Washington and the Great War 

The Gunn Historical Museum commemorated the 100th anniversary of World War One with the community-curated exhibit, Over There: Washington and the Great War, and a diverse series of public programs. An innovative virtual tour of the exhibit was also created so that the exhibit and the rich story will have a continuing presence online. Over There explored a previously undocumented part of the town’s history through original research conducted by a team of volunteers. Extensive efforts were made to reach out to the community to collect and share the stories and artifacts of Washington’s WWI residents, including students from The Gunnery who worked with the museum to document their school’s role in the war. Letters from the battlefield were shared, home front activities of women were featured, and a hallway was resourcefully converted into a life-size trench for visitors to walk through complete with barbed wire, mud, and rats. Through this exhibit the stories, events, and people of Washington, Connecticut during World War One were brought back to life in a way that engaged the community in exciting ways. 

Kent Historical Society                                                                                                                                                                                                                      

Project - The Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer        

The Camps of Kent: Memories of Summer was the annual history exhibit at the Kent Historical Society in 2015. The town of Kent has a rich trove of material documenting the history of summer camps as it was home to about a dozen residential camps, where parents sent their children to get away from city living and enjoy the idyllic restorative features of rural country life. As well-known in the community as this history was, the details, artifacts and histories of the camps were largely unknown and undocumented. The Kent Historical Society made an extra effort to reach out to the community and former campers to collect their camp stories. Each camp was extensively researched to document the founders, camp philosophy and mission, physical location, remaining structures, and oral histories. Programs like camp reunions and site visits to former camp properties were organized. The camps of Kent hold a very special place in the hearts of the former campers and the exhibit was able to successfully connect and resonate with the audience. At the end of the exhibit, the Kent Historical Society found that their archives and object collections were now rich with photos, artifacts and stories that document this story. 

Noank Historical Society and Lawrence R. Jacobsen, Penny Newbury and Louisa Watrous

Publication - Celebrating the Emma C. Berry  

The Noank Historical Society’s book, Celebrating the Emma C. Berry, tells the story of the last known fishing smack in the United States and was published in June 2015, two months before the author’s death at age 94, to commemorate the 150th birthday of the boat in 2016. Built in Noank, Connecticut in 1866, she’s an example of the type of vessel that made Noank world-famous for this design. Lawrence “Larry” Jacobsen’s overview, with accompanying photos and illustrations, follows the Emma C. Berry and her owners, crew, and admirers, as she underwent changes in rig design from sloop to schooner, and changes in service from fishing boat to lobster transport to coasting schooner to cargo carrier to private yacht, finally being donated to Mystic Seaport Museum in 1969, where she was fully restored and is now a floating exhibit. The Noank Historical Society is to be congratulated for publishing a well researched and written book that documents, preserves, and celebrates Connecticut’s maritime history. 

Roger P. Plaskett, Harwinton, CT 

Individual Achievement 

Roger Plaskett was appointed municipal historian for the town of Harwinton in 2006 and is the “go to” person for answers to questions about Harwinton history and genealogy research. Roger is the past vice president and a current member and historian of the Harwinton Historical Society, director of the T.A. Hungerford Memorial Library Museum, member of the Harwinton Historic District and Historical Properties Commission, and historian for the Barber Family Reunion, a group with roots in Harwinton that has gathered annually for about 140 years. Roger’s list of accomplishments in the area of historic preservation is long, varied and exceptional. He has expanded and modernized the role of town historian by establishing a Harwinton history website, digitizing most of the old photographs and scrapbooks for the Harwinton Historical Society and T.A. Hungerford Museum, and launching an oral history project. Roger led the efforts to save and relocate the historic “Harwinton House” from demolition in New Canaan, led the preservation of an Indian soap stone quarry in Harwinton, created a map and index of the second oldest burial site in Harwinton, designed the Harwinton Historic District Handbook, and has created history programs that appeal to all ages like the Harwinton Cemetery Walk. Roger is to be commended for his dedication to preserving and sharing the history of Harwinton. 

Slater Memorial Museum, Norwich, CT

Project -John Meyer of Norwich, An American Original  

John Meyer of Norwich: An American Original was an exhibit at the Slater Memorial Museum that featured over three hundred pieces of clothing designed by John Meyer from the decade of the company’s most productive and popular work, 1959-1969. In the middle of the twentieth century, John Meyer of Norwich was an innovator in fashion for an emerging demographic of career women and college girls. Working with other technological innovators, he revolutionized the garment manufacturing process, introducing cutting-edge methods still used today. Now considered classics of 20th Century design and function, the company’s line of clothing featured everything from “Bermuda” shorts to preppy A-line skirts, Argyle to Fair Isle sweaters. The Slater Museum, worked in close collaboration with John Meyer’s eldest child and the children of those who worked with John Meyer, to collect objects and stories for the exhibit and a team of dozens of volunteers installed the exhibit. Two films and a quality exhibit catalog also successfully shared the in-depth research on fashion, manufacturing, social life, and religion in Norwich. 

Thomas Mulholland, Cheshire, CT

Individual Achievement - Restoration of Dormitory Room at the Cheshire Historical Society  

Thomas Mulholland is a sixteen year old resident of Cheshire who is passionate about history. In 2014 he approached the Cheshire Historical Society with an Eagle Scout Project to restore a third floor storage room in poor condition in the Society’s 1785 house museum, to a high school student dormitory room, which was the function of this room and the entire house from the 1920s to 1969 when Cheshire Academy owned the property. This was an ambitious project that Thomas organized and completed within set time lines. Thomas conducted in-depth research, reached out to the community to obtain authentic items to furnish the room, recruited a team of volunteers to help, kept the public updated on his project through social media, and gave many tours after the project was completed, including to Cheshire Academy alumni who used to live in the building. Thomas is to be congratulated for his dedication in leading this meaningful project that reconnected the house to its own history by faithfully recreating Dormitory Room #10, the strong effort that he made to reach out to the community and the positive response that he received from the public. 

Westport Historical Society

Publication - The New Yorker in Westport 

The New Yorker in Westport is a beautiful book by Eve Potts and Andrew Bentley, published by the Westport Historical Society in 2015, that documents and celebrates Westport’s artistic and cultural heritage. The book features fifty New Yorker magazine covers of iconic Westport scenes that were drawn by local artists and fifty accompanying short stories about Westport’s history written by the authors. The book is a testament to the over 750 New Yorker magazine covers produced by Westport artists between 1925 and 1988. The book quickly became a best seller, created an enthusiastic buzz about the history of Westport, and resonated with the entire community. The Westport Historical Society is to be praised for the imaginative and creative way that they shared the stories and history of their town in this wonderful book. 

Windsor Historical Society

Project - Strong-Howard House Reinterpretation  

The Windsor Historical Society’s authentic restoration and innovative reinterpretation of the Strong-Howard House and the accompanying quality guide book are to be held high as a new model for historic house museums. In 2009, the Society began planning for a capital campaign to make major upgrades and stabilize the structure. They always offered the standard “Look, don’t touch” tour given in many historic homes across the country, but the prospect of restoration provided them with an opportunity to address a significant challenge for our field: how to draw the public to yet another historic home. Surveys conducted by the Windsor Historical Society indicated that many visitors yearn for an “authentic experience” drawing upon the power of a real place, using all the senses, where stories of the lives of earlier inhabitants play out. The Windsor Historical Society decided to think outside of the box and offer a new immersive experience where visitors could touch and discover, and offer a variety of ways for audiences to access the home. They refurnished this home not with antiques, but with reproduction artifacts that could be handled and used. Visitors can try out chairs and the bed, pull out desk drawers to examine letters and accounts, sort through a high chest to find items of clothing, and periodically experience hearth cooking. The Windsor Historical Society is to be commended for their reinterpretation of the Strong-Howard House allowing it to become a “learning laboratory for historic home tours” and serving as a model for the entire history community with their creation of a “please touch” museum that allows visitors to tangibly engage with local history.


2015 Award of Merit Recipients


Archaeological and Historical Services, Inc.  

Publication - Highways to History: The Archaeology of Connecticut’s 18th-Century Lifeways


Highways to History is a publication describing the lives of ordinary residents in 18th century colonial Connecticut. Based on a combination of historical and archaeological investigations at four buried homesteads, the book opens a new window into how people in Connecticut lived in colonial times. Distributed around the state, and made available online, Highways to History provides an accessible and engaging account of how ordinary colonial Connecticut citizens lived, and demonstrates the strength of combining archaeological and documentary evidence.


Bated Breath Theatre Company (a collaboration with The Amistad Center for Art & Culture) 

Educational Program - Freedom: In 3 Acts


Freedom: In 3 Acts is a collaborative performance between The Amistad Center for Art & Culture and Bated Breath Theatre Company. This innovative program responded to and amplified The Amistad Center’s exhibition, Emancipation!The three act performance incorporates song, movement and narrative to explore the struggle for freedom and justice for African Americans. Since its initial performance, Bated Breath Theatre Company has performed Freedom: In 3 Acts at a variety of venues, using its innovative and engaging approach to bring the original exhibit off the walls and out of the exhibit cases to engage audiences around Connecticut.


Cheshire Historical Society 

Educational Program - Cheshire Heritage Tour – An App for Mobile Devices


Looking to bring a traditional walking tour of the center of Cheshire alive, The Cheshire Historical Society developed an app that appeals to people of many ages and interest. Free to download, the app combines humor, seldom-seen images from the Historical Society’s collection, and contemporary photos and maps to guide the user around the center of town. With the help of two characters, Alonzo the Adventurer and Emmy, the Magical History Box, the Cheshire Heritage Tour keeps visitors engaged while learning about the history of the area.


Florence Griswold Museum 

Project - Thistles and Crowns: The Painted Chests of the Connecticut Shore


In 2014 the Florence Griswold Museum presented the exhibition Thistles and Crowns: The Painted Chests of the Connecticut Shore to highlight the distinctive beauty and historical significance of a group of painted chests made in Old Saybrook and Guilford, Connecticut between 1700 and 1740. Bringing together a selection of these chests from six museums for the first time since 1950, the exhibit asked visitors to look at aspects of construction, decoration, use and history. Accompanied by a full-color catalog, Thistles and Crowns highlighted stories about Connecticut’s artistic, cultural, and historical legacies that can be found in unexpected places.


Kent Historical Society 

Project - Iron, Wood, and Water: Essential Elements of the Evolution of Kent


As the site of the second most valuable iron ore deposit in Connecticut, Kent became a desirable place to live for iron works, and the impact of their activities had deep influence on the evolution of Kent into the community it is today. While much scholarly research explores the technicalities of the iron making process and the entrepreneurs who ran the industry, the exhibition, Iron, Wood and Water: Essential Elements of the Evolution of Kent told the story of the common men who toiled daily in the mines, at the furnaces, and deep in the woods. It was these workers who left impressions on the community and played a large role in transforming Kent first from an untamed wilderness to a bustling industrial town, and later to a community of dairy farmers and finally to the home for artists and writers that it is today.


Lyman Allyn Art Museum and Stephen Fan, Guest Curator 

Project - SubUrbanisms: Casino Company Town / China Town


In 2014 the Lyman Allyn Art Museum opened Suburbanisms: Casino Company Town/ China Town. Using a variety of approaches the exhibit documented and historicized the development of a suburban Chinatown surrounding the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. Built up by a large number of Asian casino patrons and workers – many recent immigrants - this innovative exhibition presented an under-explored topic in Connecticut’s and the nation’s history. In addressing key themes in suburban, housing, labor, and immigrant history, the exhibit used history to bridge cultural divides and to question the future ecological, social, and economic sustainabilites of the ever-changing American suburban ideal.


Mattatuck Museum, Waterbury, CT

Project – The Way We Worked – Connecticut At Work


As one of seven venues selected to host The Way We Worked, a traveling exhibition created by the Smithsonian Institution in 2014, the Mattatuck Museum sought to create a parallel group of exhibitions and a series of programs to bring the story home to Connecticut audiences. Know as Connecticut At Work, the resulting local exhibitions, film series, lectures, and programs engaged broad and diverse audiences and addressed issues of immediate concern. Through providing a local backdrop for the Smithsonian’s exhibition, Connecticut At Work merged the national story with the regional one.


Norfolk Historical Society 

Project -  From the Mills to the Main Street: The Irish in Norfolk


From the Mills to Main Street: The Irish in Norfolk was an inventive interpretive exhibition mounted by the Norfolk Historical Society in 2014. Using historical documents, artifacts, photographs, and ephemera, many not previously on view, the exhibit explored the contribution and assimilation of the Irish in the town of Norfolk from 1836 to 1920. The well-attended exhibit and related programming that included lectures, gallery talks, and walking tours, brought to life the importance of a significant immigrant group to the economic and cultural landscape of Norfolk.


Wesleyan University Press, Connecticut Explored, The Amistad Center 

Publication - African American Connecticut Explored


African American Connecticut Explored is the first book published for a public history audience that provides the long arc of the African American experience in Connecticut with an emphasis on the African American perspective. Through more than 50 essays by more than 30 of the state’s leading historians, curators, and writers, the book covers a wide range of topics. Published by Wesleyan University Press, it was developed by Connecticut Explored, The Amistad Center for Art & Culture, and representatives from the State Historic Preservation Office.


Wethersfield Historical Society

 Project - Castle on the Cove: the Connecticut State Prison and Wethersfield


Mounted in 2014, and on view through 2016 the exhibition Castle on the Cove: the Connecticut State Prison and Wethersfield, explores the Connecticut State Prison during its years of operation between 1827 and 1963 in Wethersfield, Connecticut. The prison was an integral component of the town’s identity during these formative years as Wethersfield transitioned from rural town to suburb. Exploring both previously undocumented and often requested materials the exhibit looks at the prison from the perspectives of the inmate, employee, and local resident to present the history of the prison within a broad context and to encourage visitors to consider the impact of the prison on these three groups.

2014 Award of Merit Recipients


Carolyn Bacdayan – Individual Achievement Award


Carolyn Bacdayan of Lyme, Connecticut is being honored for her leadership in establishing the Lyme Local History Archives as an entity of the Lyme Public Hall Association. Through her hard work, dedication, and perseverance the Archives were established in 2008. In addition to her crucial role in its organization, she has remained dedicated to the cause by volunteering as its unpaid archivist for more than eleven years.


Connecticut Landmarks – Educational Program


In the summer of 2013, 28 New London students explored Connecticut Landmark’s Hempsted Houses and used their discoveries to inspire creative expression about contemporary issues, and to make history come to life. Their resulting original production, The Slave Inside Me, brought together dance, song, and spoken word to explore the history of slavery in New London, and to ask all of us to think about the slave inside ourselves.


Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame – Education Program


Votes for Women: Connecticut Women Changing Democracy is the pilot module of the newest Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame educational program, DIY History. DIY History is a series of flexible educational modules that can be facilitated for groups of young people by classroom teachers, librarian, after-school program educators and community group leaders. Through this free program that utilizes primary and secondary source materials, young people have the opportunity to develop and apply essential 21st century skills while exploring an important part of Connecticut’s history.


Gunn Historical Museum – Project, Exhibit


In commemoration of the 125th anniversary of the Swedish Salem Covenant Church in Washington Depot, the Gunn Historical Museum mounted the exhibition, Coming to America: Washington’s Swedish Immigrants. This exhibit shared the little-known story of the over one hundred Swedish families who made Washington their new home beginning in 1870. For over a year, 85 volunteers and contributors conducted original research that culminated in this community curated exhibit featuring objects loaned from the descendants of Washington’s Swedish immigrants.


Dr. Luccianne Lavin – Publication


Last year Yale University Press published Dr. Luccianne Lavin’s book, Connecticut’s Indigenous Peoples: What Archaeology, History and Oral Traditions Teach Us about Their Communities and Cultures. This pioneering book is the first to provide a full account of Connecticut’s Native Americans from the long ago time of their arrival to the present day. It is a ground breaking volume on the rich 10,000 year plus histories and cultures of Connecticut’s indigenous communities.


New Haven Museum – Project, Exhibit


On view from June 2013 through May 2014 the New Haven Museum’s exhibit, Beyond the New Township: Wooster Square, explored the Wooster Square neighborhood of New Haven in the last of a three-part series of neighborhood exhibitions. By incorporating more than 200 objects from the Museum’s photo, manuscript, and fine and decorative arts collections, this exhibit explored the rich past of the neighborhood and touched on topics such as industry, immigration, urban planning, and preservation. Working to connect the present to the past, the local community served as volunteers, content contributors, and engagers through the planning and implementation phases, creating a true neighborhood exhibit.


Connecticut League of History Organizations
Central Connecticut State UniversityDepartment of History
1615 Stanley Street
New Britain, CT 06050
(860) 832-2674

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