Past Award of Merit Recipients

2021  |  2020  |  2019  |  2018  |  2017  |  2016  |  2015  |  2014


2021 Awards of Merit Recipients

Watch a video of the presentation on our YouTube channel. Download a PDF of the Awards of Merit Booklet.


Projects marked with an asterisk received funding from CTHumanities. For more information about CTH grant opportunities, visit their website.


PROJECTS

Connecticut History Day State Contest Program, Connecticut Democracy Center

Connecticut Democracy Center at Connecticut’s Old State House

Connecticut History Day Virtual State Contest*

For this annual March competition, thousands of students from across the state conduct historical research projects and present their learning in a variety of formats – research paper, exhibit, performance, documentary, or website. Half-way through the regional contest, Covid-19 struck, making the in-person state contest impossible. The event was quickly reimagined, pivoted online, and the 448 regional winners shared their work during a week in early May. This extended virtual event enabled even more people to present, judge, and cheer - a silver lining. A reviewer noted, “It is much more than a program…most important is the life-long love of exploration, the camaraderie, and…sharing that is developed by this one remarkable day.” 

The Work Must Be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote, The Connecticut Historical Society

Connecticut Historical Society 

The Work Must be Done: Women of Color and the Right to Vote*

This project was conceptualized to work toward a truer picture and more inclusive history of the suffrage movement in Connecticut. Despite restricted access to archives of historical organizations due to Covid-19 closures, extensive research was conducted beyond suffrage to issues of racism and segregation; and resulted in 25 biographies of women of color that are available at chs.org/WOCvotes. In partnership with five other history museums, six virtual presentations reached people from 41 towns throughout the state and expanded understanding about the marginalized roles of African American and Indigenous women who participated in the suffrage fight. The project team demonstrated an active role in educating the public on how to research under-documented lives and history

CT state lib

Connecticut State Library

Digging into History: WWI and Trench Restoration in Seicheprey, France 

This project received a 2021 AASLH Leadership in History Award

Fifteen high school students from around the state lived and worked with sixteen French students in Seicheprey - the site of the first clash in France involving American troops - to restore a trench section once occupied by Connecticut soldiers. To prepare for the 2019 three-week trip, students researched a soldier from their community who was at this battle; they also learned the Great War’s history, French customs, and engaged with soldiers’ descendants. After returning, students shared their research and experiences at numerous venues culminating with a Veterans Day event at the State Armory. This immersive, hands-on approach to history is an exemplary program demonstrating history’s unifying power and capacity to intersect and impact lives today.

Saving Land, Saving History, East Haddam Historical Society Museum

East Haddam Historical Society and Museum 

Saving Land, Saving History* 

In collaboration with the East Haddam Land Trust, an exhibit and four short documentaries were produced about three preserves containing remains of mills that played a vital role in the town’s past. The ruins of crumbling stone dams, sluiceways, foundations, rusted turbines, and waterworks were captured in these films, which also included interviews, photos, and documents from the Society’s collection. Posting the films on YouTube increased reach beyond expectations, and encouraged hiking in the woods and enjoying the natural environment as a safe activity during the pandemic. This impressive partnership demonstrates how limited resources can be maximized by sharing a common vision and purpose.  

Centerbrook: Essex Historical Society

Essex Historical Society

Follow the Falls, Centerbrook: Digital Magazine and Virtual Flyover

The importance of Falls River in Centerbrook, Essex’s most overlooked village, was examined in collaboration with Essex Land Trust. When the pandemic shut down public gatherings, plans refocused to two online offerings. A digital magazine was produced with services donated by a local marketing firm that explored geography, industry and commerce, transportation, and social history, from Native American presence to today; and resulted in this village’s first comprehensive history. Working with a pro bono architectural firm, a virtual flyover video was created using augmented reality depicting Centerbrook in 1910, based on research and images from the Society’s collections. This project demonstrates a unique and immersive interpretation of the area’s changing landscape as an exemplary model for cooperative efforts.   

An Unfinished Revolution: Greenwich Historical Society

Greenwich Historical Society

An Unfinished Revolution: The Woman’s Suffrage Centennial*

Emphasizing the suffrage movement’s unfinished story, this exhibition connected experiences of 19th-century activists and the continued fight for equal rights for all Americans today. Compelling artifacts from the Society’s collection and private lenders followed the national struggle through personal stories of tenacious Greenwich women and men from the social elite to marginalized groups. Suffragist symbolism still worn today was highlighted by a State Representative’s white dress near a timeline of women’s fight for equality, and conveyed how past achievements made today’s opportunities possible. In response to the pandemic closure, the exhibition was transitioned online with the addition of videos that examined themes and objects in an intimate experience. This remarkable work is a memorable and valuable resource of Connecticut history.

First Congregation Church of Woodbury, CT

The First Congregational Church and Ecclesiastical Society of Woodbury, Connecticut

The First Congregational Church of Woodbury, Connecticut: 350 Years of Faith, Fellowship, and Service

This comprehensive history was published to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the church’s founding. The authors’ diligent inquiry into a trove of unused records documents the church as the founding body of Woodbury, and examined the church as an exemplar of the changing theologies and culture through the centuries for communities across the state. The book is organized thematically to reflect this vibrant community anchor’s response to local, regional, and national events and values, and to significant trends in society. While the church’s future is uncertain, this solid work is a requiem for a venerable institution. It provides an important contribution to the understanding of Connecticut history and will serve as a valuable resource for future historians.  

October 1920: Hartford history Center

Hartford History Center

October 1920: Celebrating the Centennial of Women’s Suffrage 

Voter registration cards offered a unique window on women’s experiences as newly-eligible voters in 1920 with the passage of the 19th Amendment. Original research pieced together stories of the racial and cultural diversity among the 15,000+ Hartford women who registered, thus adding a new understanding of women of color and immigrant women in early 20thcentury Connecticut, and the high value most women placed on claiming and exercising their electoral voices. Addressing pandemic challenges, a virtual exhibit was launched enabling viewers to visit repeatedly and discover new information through layers of resources. These seemingly mundane primary sources, accessible at ctdigitalarchive.org, cast a different perspective on the suffrage centennial, connecting it to current voting issues that encouraged civic participation in 2020 and beyond.  

Sisters Images, Keeler Tavern

Keeler Tavern Museum and History Center

SISTERS*  

This project received a 2021 AASLH Leadership in History Award

Based on a play of the same name, this program confronted “hard” history head-on using Keeler Tavern’s stories to illustrate national events. It explored the lives of a white woman and a free woman of color raised as “sisters” who ran the Resseguie Hotel, today’s museum site, during the mid 19th century. Respecting Covid restrictions, one performance to a small, socially-distanced audience was live-streamed and recorded for future viewing. A virtual talkback was conducted with play members and launched Let’s Talk Hard History! Combining history and theatre harnessed the power of humanities to address difficult history around race, gender, privilege, and enslavement, while connecting the play to online school and public programs for engagement in historical inquiry and critical thinking. 

Turning the Tide Madison and Covid-19 Image

Madison Historical Society

Turning the Tide: Madison and COVID-19*

Filmed as the crisis unfolded during the statewide shutdown, this documentary captured history as it was happening. Like communities across the country, Madison saw closures of businesses and schools, shortages in grocery stores, restrictions on daily life, and the illness and deaths of beloved members of the community. This film is a time capsule of personal stories, thoughts, and the raw emotions of coping and persevering as people were experiencing the pandemic, adapting to working and learning remotely, sheltering in place, and practicing social-distancing. Working with professional film makers, it documented vivid reality beyond the more typical collecting efforts of local museums. It is a poignant and valuable record and resource of how one Connecticut town was impacted, and how it responded to the historic global pandemic.

Factory, New Haven Museum

New Haven Museum 

FACTORY

The post-industrial history of the former New Haven Clock Company was brought to life in this exhibition illustrating how its manufacturing heyday was followed by an artistic afterlife of reinventions in the ruins - a succession of visual and performance artists, punk bands, skateboarders, and nightclubs. The building’s massive scale was innovatively portrayed within the galleries featuring architectural salvage, film clips, and also ephemera contributed by former occupants, artists, and employees. After a second closure due to a spike in Covid cases, the museum persevered, shifted content online, and launched “FACTORY Weekly” videos showcasing exhibit sections. A changing city was explored through the lens of a single building, bridging architecture, art, culture, and urban history; and documented often-overlooked Connecticut history. 

Stroll Through Granby History, Salmon brook Historical Society

Salmon Brook Historical Society 

Stroll Through Granby History

In recognition of the Society’s 75thAnniversary, this project was envisioned to provide an outside activity conducive to social distancing during the pandemic. This self-guided walking tour of 44 historic homes and buildings along Granby’s main street created a month-long opportunity for the community to explore its history. Incorporating technology in the tour, signs at each property had a QR code for “strollers” to access information by phone, and customize their experience from basic historical information about This House to A Bit More, and for those with still more curiosity Even More. This low cost, high impact program is a template for increasing community and online engagement in fun and meaningful ways to learn about local history.  

Wilde and Beautiful Creatures: The Life and Work of JJ Audubon

Sharon Historical Society and Museum

Wild and Beautiful Creatures: The Life and Work of J. J. Audubon

This multi-site exhibition with accompanying twelve-page guide was a collaboration between three Sharon organizations that showcased the artwork, life, and legacy of 19th-century artist and naturalist John Jay Audubon. The Tremaine Gallery at the Hotchkiss School displayed the artist’s hand-colored prints; the Sharon Historical Society display explored his career and working methods; while the Sharon Audubon Center held lectures, field walks, workshops, tours, and children’s activities. This exhibition initiated and emphasized  cooperation and cross-programming among Sharon’s cultural and educational institutions, and had the good fortune to be fully enjoyed in-person before Covid struck. It brought together environmental and natural history to tell the national story of conservation alongside the history of a local organization.   

An Interactive Map of the Old Warren Center Cemetery, Warren Historical Society

Warren Historical Society 

Interactive Map of the Old Warren Center Cemetery

As a unique document of Warren’s history from 1755 to the present, this cemetery was photographed and mapped using a drone. Grave markers were then individually photographed and matched with the map, identifying them using past records compiled and the work of the 1930s Works Progress Administration. Pandemic challenges provided an opportunity for this digitization project that could be completed safely; it resulted in the map and data being available online as a finding aid for specific burials, while also preserving the vital inscriptions rapidly wearing away. The partnership with the Housatonic Valley Association and young history enthusiasts demonstrates how the power of cooperation combined with new technologies makes meaningful resources available to a broad online audience.

Outdoor Interpretive Signage: Weston Historical Society

Weston Historical Society 

Outdoor Historic Interpretive Signage*

Five colorful signs provide a self-guided tour that lead visitors through the campus of the former 105-acre farm operated by five generations of a single family from the early 19thto mid 20thcentury. They feature carefully researched text and historic photographs to tell the history of the Coley Homestead residents and its buildings - the 1840 Coley House, carriage house, barn complex, and outbuildings including one of the remaining bunkhouses in Connecticut. Applying knowledge gained in the StEPs-CT program, these signs were developed to provide an outdoor museum experience. During Covid restrictions, it offered a safe, socially-distanced activity. Other sites with numerous structures will be inspired to follow this model to expand the educational value of outdoor spaces.

Westport's Suffragists

Westport Public Library

Westport’s Suffragists - Our Neighbors, Our Crusaders: The 19th Amendment Turns 100*

Illustrating how Westport women engaged in the Votes for Women campaign, this exhibition paid tribute to over 50 local suffragists. Designed as a component of WestportREADS 2019-2020 Our Vote, Our Future centennial celebration of the 19th amendment’s ratification, it explored issues of voting rights to the present day. A week after the opening, the exhibit closed due to the pandemic restrictions on public gatherings. Undeterred, like the suffragists highlighted, the project team created a virtual exhibit; and lectures became articles and virtual programs. Through these online experiences, visitors engaged with topics of citizens’ rights and responsibilities, equality, and social justice that resonate today. As the Library’s first foray into historical interpretation, it is an impressive contribution to women’s and local history. 

Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote, Wilton Historical Society

Wilton Historical Society

Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck and the Vote

This exhibition commemorated the passage of the 19thAmendment showcasing two Wilton women instrumental in fighting for women’s right to vote. Plans shifted to create a digital exhibit with the sudden Covid-19 closure. Working with a researcher, videographer, and actress, seven videos and ten essays featured striking artifacts, costumes, ephemera, poignant family stories and photos, punctuated with narration and period music. As part of the Society’s History is Here initiative, the local movement was tied to the national one, addressing grassroots action, symbolism in clothing, and also some women’s opposition and internal racism as countercurrents. The result is a valuable contribution in exploring and honoring the suffrage movement as a culmination of efforts by local communities throughout the country.  

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT

Images of Charles Lyle

Charles T. Lyle

Throughout a distinguished career spanning fifty years, Mr. Lyle has led six historical organizations with vision and commitment to elevating these institutions and advancing public history. During his fourteen-year tenure as Executive Director of the Webb-Deane-Stevens Museum, Charles managed the restoration of its three historic houses and privies, and spearheaded the design and fundraising to build the new Education and Visitor Center. His leadership transformed the museum into a welcoming, thriving, and innovative center of historical learning to become the first Colonial Dames property in the country to receive AAM accreditation. By leading this museum to new levels of programming, community engagement, financial health, preservation excellence, and prominence in the public history field, he has profoundly influenced the Connecticut history community. 

Myron Stachiw

Myron O. Stachiw

For more than 45 years, Connecticut native Myron Stachiw has been a strong advocate for historic preservation and local history in multiple capacities: as a museum professional, adjunct professor, archeologist, consultant, and historian. A gifted scholar-educator-consultant, Myron is a sought-after architectural historian with an extraordinary ability to “read” a building; his meticulous research and keen insights often lead to transformative interpretations of historic structures. He has worked on architectural investigations for a lengthy list of organizations, including: Governor Jonathan Trumbull, Sr. House; Mashantucket Pequot Museum and Research Center; Stanton-Davis Homestead; Mark Twain House; Governor Samuel Huntington Trust; and the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation. His devoted service on national and state boards includes Vernacular Architecture Forum, CT Humanities, Preservation CT, and numerous organizations in his town of Woodstock. Myron’s endless curiosity and infectious passion for history, archaeology, and preservation have had a profound impact on deepening the understanding of Connecticut history.

2020 Awards of Merit Recipients

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

Christina Volpe and Mattatuck Museum
The History of Rose Hill

This educational program presented a detailed interpretation of Waterbury history through stories of three prominent manufacturing families who resided at Rose Hill, the c. 1852 Gothic Revival house built by brass, from the 1850s to the 1970s. Thoughtful research using the museum’s collections uncovered letters, diaries, photographs, scrapbooks, and objects, which were brought to life in exhibit panels and a popular illustrated lecture series in the setting of Rose Hill. By connecting themes of industry, women’s history, immigration, and historic preservation, this program explored the vital economic and cultural role this house has played in the city’s history.

PROJECTS

Ancient Burying Ground Association, Inc.
Uncovering Their History: African, African American, and Native American Burials in Hartford’s Ancient Burying Ground, 1640 – 1815

This research project and resulting website and database provide profiles that act as “virtual headstones” for 500 individuals interred in this Hartford cemetery. Easy to navigate and downloadable, it is a valuable tool for researchers, and will include a platform for names to be added to the database. An excellent example of a digital humanities project, https://africannativeburialsct.org/ demonstrates what good historical research can achieve to illuminate aspects of the past that have been hidden or unexplored. The recovery of this important history deepens understanding of the site, early Hartford, and Native Americans, Africans, and African Americans in this region, and is an outstanding model for cemeteries around the state.

Colchester Historical Society
Emerging from the Shadows: Colchester's School For Colored Children, 1803-1840

Recipient of a 2020 AASLH Leadership in History Award

Prompted by construction of a replica of this school in 2016, the almost forgotten one-room schoolhouse that operated in Colchester was explored in this thoughtful exhibition. Using considerable supportive documentation, the little-known story of formal education for African-American children in early 19th-century Connecticut was brought to light. This comprehensive project incorporated the story of an underrepresented population in the town’s history. It developed a picture of the school, its teachers and pupils, and contextualized the story within the larger struggles for access to education and civil rights.

Florence Griswold Museum
Fragile Earth: The Naturalist Impulse in Contemporary Art

Continuing the tradition of Florence Griswold herself, who welcomed artists to her boarding house, this groundbreaking exhibition embraced the talents of contemporary artists to engage visitors with natural history and the museum’s Connecticut landscape. Interweaving the historic with the contemporary enticed contemplation of the continuing thread of how American artists have considered the natural world, as well as humans’ significant impact on the environment. The reimagining of Miss Griswold’s home radically reshaped how a historic interior can be experienced by museum visitors through the lens of contemporary art, and serves as an inspiration for other house museums to explore innovative ways to engage visitors.

Gunn Historical Museum
Washington, Connecticut: An American Story

Recipient of the 2020 AASLH Leadership in History Award

This community-curated exhibition, thoughtfully executed and beautifully designed through a three-year planning and research process, traced millennia of Washington’s history while incorporating it within the confines of an 18th century house. Donations of artifacts, photographs, and documents resulted from the “Help Us Plan” pre-exhibit. With so much content, an expandable digital exhibit layer was created using several touch screens. A Washington History curriculum was also developed for the schools. Demonstrating the power of history as a catalyst for civic engagement, it serves as an exemplary model for other organizations to involve their communities in meaningful ways.

George Jacobi and UConn Archives and Special Collections
Dayglo and Napalm

This exhibition captured the radicalism and activism of UConn students during the late 1960s and early 1970s. Personal essays from outreach to alumni vividly expressed the sentiments students were grappling with during this period of Vietnam War-generated unrest. Materials from the archival collections of the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center illuminated perspectives of this war throughout the campus and town. Both the exhibition and programming revealed strong connections between that era and present-day issues. This project brought together alumni and current students, and created an intergenerational bridge highlighting a moment of national significance through a local story.

Lockwood-Mathews Mansion Museum
From Corsets to Suffrage: Victorian Women Trailblazers

Marking the centennial of the 19th Amendment guaranteeing women’s right to vote, this exhibition illuminated activities and contributions of Norwalk suffragists, and the local traction that impacted regional and national messages of the suffrage movement. Extensive research and loans from institutions and private collections around the state uncovered information, artifacts, and ephemera identifying faces, actions, and words of pivotal women and men. Costumes conveyed suffragist symbolism and the restrictive fashions that paralleled the fight for women’s rights as well as freedom of movement. The first Connecticut exhibition dedicated to this milestone in women’s history, it set an inspiring example.

Sharon Historical Society
Sharon Cures: Centuries of Medicine in One Small Town

Focused on a subject often overlooked by local historical societies, this exhibition delved into the evolving world of health care in past centuries drawing connections to contemporary medical issues, and featured three local doctors’ stories. Sharon was the site of advancements in vaccinations, immunotherapy, and physician gender equality. Inoculations to treat 18th-century diseases and people’s resistance to vaccination resonate with the current anti-vax movement. Exhibit text and handouts stimulated thought about individuals’ social responsibility for public health. The comprehensive original research and willingness to tackle medical history are an important contribution to both Connecticut’s history and medical history, with heightened relevance to today.

Wilton Historical Society
Just Like Grandma Used to Make: A Hands-On Experience of 300 Years of Kitchen History

Using a “please touch” model of interpretation, this hands-on exhibition fosters a highly interactive and multisensory museum experience that engages audiences of all ages. A low-cost, high-reward reboot of a kitchen period room, this project demonstrates how historic house rooms can successfully move away from static displays and traditional methods to enhance the visitor experience. This innovative reframing of a domestic setting provides inviting, stimulating, and immersive activities that allow direct and personal connection resulting in more impactful learning about history.  

PUBLICATIONS

Jeanné R. Stewart Chesanow
Glaciers to Greenhouses: Cheshire Then and Now

This publication captures broad research on Cheshire’s history with an emphasis on the environment, and connections between the land and people. It sets a new standard for local history books by weaving together a rich combination of geology, geography, and archeology, including more research about Indigenous Peoples than typically found. Using an ecological approach to the town’s development, it examines how the natural environment played a role in shaping early settlement to the greenhouse operations today. This town-focused study of environmental history, and its place in Connecticut’s ecological and geographical framework, furthers our understanding of the state’s history. 

Eve Kahn and Wesleyan University Press
Forever Seeing New Beauties: The Forgotten Impressionist Mary Rogers Williams, 1857-1907

Ms. Kahn’s discovery of 100 paintings and pastels along with a trove of letters resulted in an extraordinary portrait of Hartford native Mary Rogers Williams. This book features surviving artworks and illuminates the artist and her accomplishments during the Gilded Age’s male-dominated art world. Researching thousands of vivid letters revealed a fiercely independent woman dedicated to painting, teaching in the art department at Smith College, and traveling throughout Europe while contending with obstacles to gaining professional respect and support as a woman artist. Kahn, a “resurrectionist,” has rescued Williams from obscurity, adding to the perspective of women’s history in Connecticut and the larger story of American art.

Thomas Lenz and Killingworth Historical Society
The Early Gravestones of a Colonial Town: Killingworth, Connecticut

Images of more than 450 gravestones form an impressive catalogue that is also a field guide to Connecticut cemeteries more generally, replete with information about changing styles, iconography, symbolism, causes of death, widespread maladies, and meanings of burial practices. After photographing 18th- century gravestones in the oldest cemetery, the project was extended to all seven town cemeteries and a private one; many gravestones were cleaned, repaired, and reset. This book is an invaluable documentation of the gravestones, which inevitably wear over time, and an important historical record of the area’s early residents.

Norfolk Historical Society
A Remarkable Legacy: The Photographs of Marie Hartig Kendall

Selected works by late 19th and early 20th century Norfolk photographer Marie Kendall are beautifully showcased in this impressive volume. An exhibition accompanied the publication of this book, which is enriched by essays from three residents. Kendall’s striking images demonstrate a broad range of skills, an adventurous spirit, and a high level of artistry that won her considerable recognition including medals at two international expositions. During this era, she was a role model for photography as a woman’s profession to produce both art and income. Her work recorded Norfolk’s transformation from a charcoal village into a stylish summer resort, providing an important window into the town’s history.

INDIVIDUAL ACHIEVEMENT

William Hosley

For over 40 years, Bill Hosley has been a dedicated advocate for the importance of local history. During tenures at the Wadsworth Atheneum, Antiquarian & Landmarks Society, and New Haven Museum and Historical Society, he blazed a trail as a prolific speaker promoting place, past, and community. His passion for Connecticut history resulted in acclaimed exhibitions including The Great River: Art and Society of the Connecticut Valley for the state’s 350th celebration, and Sam & Elizabeth: The Legend and Legacy of Colt’s Empire, which inspired a preservation initiative for Coltsville to become a National Park. He founded Terra Firma Northeast to serve the needs of small organizations rich in historic resources and continues his popular lectures. The heritage community is indebted to Bill’s lifetime commitment to Connecticut history. 

Edwin Parry

As an expert on Colonial armaments, Ed Parry of Black Hart Long Arms has been making custom reproductions for 30 years. Noted for his master craftsmanship and historical accuracy, he receives commissions nationwide, and he won the Discovery Channel’s “Master of Arms” competition. A founding member of the 1775 Ye Olde Lebanon Towne Militia, he participates in encampments and battle re-enactments throughout New England as an educator about the Revolutionary War. For Eastford Conservation and Historical Preservation Commission, he has dedicated himself to the restoration, preservation, and cataloguing of the town’s 12 historic cemeteries. Ed’s exemplary achievements have greatly contributed to the understanding of Connecticut history.

Judith Robison

Founder and long-time President of the Stony Creek Museum, Judith Robison was the driving force that resulted in its creation and 2011 opening. With passionate leadership, vision, and inspiration, she raised funds and worked with the town to convert an old church into a local history museum. She continues to be a steward of the museum, dedicated to preserving and sharing the history of this unique Branford village with its residents as well as the wider public. Robison’s work has profoundly impacted the Stony Creek community, and brought its rich history into the Connecticut story.

Kendall F. Wiggin

During his 21-year tenure as State Librarian, Ken Wiggin championed collaborations among libraries, archives, and museums on numerous initiatives to benefit Connecticut’s cultural heritage community. Ken’s leadership and mentoring have been instrumental to the success of such projects as the Connecticut Civil War Sesquicentennial Commemoration, the World War I Centennial, the Connecticut Digital Archive, Connecticut History Online, Conservation ConneCTion, the Historic Documents Preservation Program, and many more. His tireless advocacy, inspiring counsel, and devoted work to ensure increased access to historical resources for researchers, scholars, and Connecticut citizens have made him an icon in our state’s historical community.

2019 Award of Merit Recipients

EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

Florence Griswold Museum
SEE/Change

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.

PROJECTS

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.

PUBLICATIONS

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


EDUCATIONAL PROGRAMS

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.


PROJECTS

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.


PUBLICATIONS

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
info@clho.org

with support from
CTHumanities

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