Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Collections Management and Williams House

This morning we didn't have anything to do until 11:00, so I was able to finish up the homework from last night this morning and stop by the library. I will definitely be researching a lot this evening. At 11:00, we met with the collections manager, and he explained his responsibilities at Historic Deerfield. It was very interesting, and it was nice to hear the difference between curator and collections manager/registrar. Most of us didn't really know what each position entailed exactly, so having it explained was nice. The afternoon was spent shadowing the guide in Williams House. Williams House is the most accurately renovated house on "The Street." The owner built the house in the 1730s, but her great-nephew expanded the house in 1816. It has 14 rooms! It is a really neat house, and anyone interested in wallpaper would love the interior. Each room has reproduction wallpaper (well, except for one, because we don't know what wallpaper would have been in there), but it interesting to see the colors and designs on mid-19th century wallpaper. I will guiding in this house through next week, I believe. There were three tours this afternoon, so while I didn't give a complete tour, I did the upstairs rooms of the last tour. This whole guiding thing isn't as bad as I though it be. I mean, I figured I would get nervous exactly, but I now know how much the guides really have to go through to learn a complete house. Studying all the objects as well as everything else; so while I'm not as informed as they are, I can still manage to give a tour, which is a good feeling.

Let's see, I don't think there is any other news. I will be researching tonight. A field trip tomorrow to the Hancock Shaker Village will be fun, I'm sure. I'll post pictures tomorrow!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Day Off...Incredible!

Today was amazing! We had a very light load this morning. One of the educators took us on a Native American history walking tour. It was really nice this morning, despite the overcast. At least it didn't rain. We walked around and saw the ridge and Sugarloaf Mountain (which we will be going to at some point and I will take pictures). Afterwards, we met with a woman from the PVMA Memorial Hall museum and she talked to us about the Native American and Deerfield Raid of 1704 exhibits. Our morning actitivites ended by 11:30, which is much earlier than normal. There was also a group from York, Maine, who we hosted for lunch. They have a summer fellowship program as well, but three of their four fellows were grad-students, and their summer focuses more on guiding than anything else.

Well, the lunch didn't end until 2:30, so Josh gave us the rest of the day off, instead of shadowing the guides for a new house. Therefore, we decided to go to a swimming hole in the Deerfield River. We tried to find one, but it wasn't what we were expecting, so we found another. It was SO MUCH FUN! The water was so cold, but after a while you get used to it. I actually enjoyed myself and swam around a little bit. I also felt the current, which was cool, so long as I stayed close to shore. Tonight for supper we went to Amherst, home of U-Mass and Amherst College. Another college town and fun things to do. We ate at Amherst Brewery, a pub and restaurant. The food was pretty good. Then we walked around, stopped in a few shops, and went to Target. It actually felt like summer today - the weather, the friends, and the activities. Today was a great day! I have some reading to do for tomorrow, so I will write later!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Continuation with this weekend

So, as I said earlier, Saturday was beautiful. Unfortunately, blogspot hates me at the moment, so I can't post any pictures, but I will later. Saturday, two of the girls and I went to the Salvation Army in Greenfield to check it out. I found a dressy red and black skirt for $4. so I figured I could buy and did. That night we all ate out in Northampton. It is a very yuppie town. One of the all womens' college, Smith, is there, so it was a bustling college town. It was nice to be in a crowd (I know, it sounds strange coming from me, but it's true). We ate Morroccan food. I have discovered that I like lamb, but I still don't like spices or chickpeas. It was okay; I'm not raving about it like some of the others were, but to each their own. After eating we went and walked around. There are some really great gift stores. Everything was SO HIPPIE. We also found a great used book store, and all but one of us bought something. I really want to take my sister people-watching to Northampton because I think she would get a kick out of how the other side lives. Very fascinating, indeed. We finally came back to Deerfield and hung out at Wright House (where the girls live). We played Apples to Apples. I totally kicked butt! I don't think I have ever had that good of a night with that game. Clearly I know my fellow fellows very well.

Today I helped Matt fix pancakes for brunch. They were delicious. It was also great to have a filling meal before guiding. I ended up giving two tours; both of them had kids in them. That makes for a very interesting experience. The guide today didn't watch me. I was totally on my own, and honestly, much more comfortable. My first tour went really well. One of the ladies has a master's degree in history and was a lawyer and really liked it. She wanted to know who she needed to tell about how great of a tour I gave. That obviously made me very happy. The last tour of the day was a family with three kids, so the youngest kids directed my tour. Everything they asked about was what I told them and that was about it. It was a good experience, though. I probably should do research for my final paper, but I think I may just go back to the house and relax tonight. I can kick my butt on weeknights to get everything done. I'm not worried. I am also the only person who doesn't have plans for the 4th of July, so I can research then (maybe, I'll have to see if the tutor is going to be around at all....) Otherwise, I don't have any news. I'll be more regular with my blogging this week, I promise.

3 days without blogging...la gasp!

I know this is delayed, but yesterday was one of the first beautiful days! No rain, bright sunshine, it was beautiful! After sleeping in from Friday's hanging out, I went around town and took pictures and on a nature walk. However, I should probably tell you about Plimouth Plantation first.

Okay, so on Thursday the six fellows, our tutor, and his daughter piled into an eight passenger van for two and a half hours to get to Plymouth, MA. We came to the museum, watched a very impressive orientation video (the history channel helped produce it, so the cinematography was excellent), and went to the sites. Plimouth Plantation is a bi-cultural museum, so they try to tell the story of the Wampanoag tribe as well as the Pilgrims. However, the approach is very different. With the Wampanoag Village, real Wampanoag interpreters are dressed in period clothing, but answer questions in first-person. There is NO ACTING. Before entering the village signs announce to visitors "Do not act on common stereotypes," but it has got to be difficult for both sides to interact and engage knowing that there is this understanding even if it is wrong. The Pilgrim settlement, on the other hand, is filled with actors. It is living history; the pilgrim actors only answer as a Pilgrim would. I did not take pictures of any people at Plimouth, because I felt awkward doing so. Actors are there to inform, not just for photo-ops. As for the Wampanoag, I wanted to be respectful of the fact that this is their culture. I took a lot of pictures of landscape and structures, though. Here are a few...

Imagine this image turned...This is a frame of a living structure in the Wampanoag Village.

Hanging meat outside a structure where women were cooking. There is also a fence to separate the village from the woods. I didn't get the entire house in the shot because I wanted to respect the three women cooking. It just doesn't feel right taking pictures of people trying to live like their ancestors, even if they are employed by a museum. It would be like going to Pennslyvania and taking pictures of the Amish living and working. That just isn't right...

There is a wooden path that visitors walk along to get from the Wampanoag village to the Pilgrim settlement. Here is one of the sights you see when you are making your way to the 1627 Pilgrim settlement. Apparently it is a salt marsh, since it isn't a river and we are close to the ocean...

Here is what you see of the settlement when you are on the top of the hill near the watchtower. In the distance is the Atlantic Ocean!

Another view of the houses and the ocean. I LOVE TAKING LANDSCAPE PICTURES! I don't know if it's because an amateur photographer can still have decent looking pictures with landscapes or what, but it was beautiful.

I have other pictures of the inside of the houses, but it is pretty standard objects. Ceramic mugs, limited furniture, drafty houses, etc. Of course, in Plimouth you can take pictures inside the houses because everything is reproduced. There is a workshop on the site that makes everything the village uses. It was different to be in reproduced houses, especially since spending so much time in Deerfield. Historic Deerfield has such a history of preservation and material culture that is was nice to touch things in a museum. Of course, I didn't touch much because I have been trained not to, but it was nice.

After visiting the site, we had lunch with some of the museum staff and interns. They were great. We got the email of two of them. They were very enthusiatic and completely willing to help us, since "we are the next generation [of historians and museum professionals]." They shared how they have restructured the museum to be bi-cultural, some of the roadbumps, difficulties they are still encountering, they vision for the future, etc. It was very informative. It also helped that they provided lunch.

Afterwards, we went downtown to see an exact replica of Mayflower. The Mayflower II was really cool. AND I GOT TO SEE AND TOUCH THE OCEAN! It was very exciting. Here are some images of me and the ship.

Here is the crow's nest of Mayflower II.

A boat...I don't know what the proper name would be, but it's the boat that the ship passengers would have used to get ashore and so on.

One of the berths below-decks. Could you imagine having to sleep here on a rocking ship?

And finally, the moment we are waiting for - me touching the ocean!

That was a good day. A long day, especially since we all had papers to finish for Friday. But we all turned our papers in before deadline, and relaxed Friday night. We just hung out and played games. Good times. It's great because our group has such a nice social dynamic. We get along great, and they are all fun people to be around. There has been casual talk of getting together for St. Patrick's Day in Chicago - I really hope it happens, because at the moment I can't imagine not seeing the other five fellows everyday.

Oh, also on Friday I gave my first tour. I co-toured with the guide who was there. It went fine. I was more nervous than I was expecting, but it went well considering how terrible the weather was.

Saturday was the opposite. A gorgeous day! Here are pictures of the landscape around Deerfield that I took. There are mountains (or hills, if you are from near the Rockies...), the Deerfield River, and lots and lots of trees. These images don't need captions...

Okay, so I have to go help cook supper, but I will write a blog when I come back with pictures of the buildings, and telling of our goings-on on Saturday and Sunday...

Friday, June 26, 2009

Exhaustion from paper-writing

This is going to be a really lame blog-post, but I just wanted to let you all know that I will be talking about my experience at Plimouth Plantation at some point this weekend, but right now I need to relax and take time for myself. Tonight will involve movie watching - lots and lots of movie watching. I also need to upload my pictures and figure out how to organize it, so the Plimouth blog will have to wait until tomorrow. Sorry! But at least my paper is done and turned in. I'm going to make pizza for the group, and then chill. It will be a great night! Look out for a more detailed post later...

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Writing, writing, writing

This morning, we had a lecture about Josiah Wedgewood. He was a very famous potter in Staffordshire, England, in the seventeenth century. Historic Deerfield has a few of his pieces, so the curator of ceramics talked to us about him. It was interesting for what it was, but there are other things I would have preferred hearing about. But afterwards, we went to the history workshop. This is the place that is actually kid-friendly. There is a craft room and a playroom. After a brief tour of those rooms and the garden, the musuem educator gave us a lecture on museum education theory. I have to say that this sounds like a very interesting profession. I think I would really enjoy working with kids in a museum setting. I asked whether or not I needed an education degree to become a museum educator, and while she said it helps, it isn't necessary. After our talk, I was thinking about places to apply to for work after next year, and as a result of this enlightening job description, I think I'm going to apply at a children's museum as well as anything else I can find. I don't know if museum education is where I want to go, but it sounds like fun, and I think I'd be decent at it.

This afternoon I worked on my paper. I now have a rough draft, which our co-tutor is currently reading. I have a feeling I am going to need more analysis, but at least I have something to work with. We'll see what she says...I'm afraid I don't have anything else exciting going on. I'll tell you all about Plymouth after our field trip tomorrow (pictures will be included). Hopefully it doesn't rain...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Frary House and guiding

This morning after our seminar meeting, we had an almost two hour long tour of the Frary House! It was so long! The guide was the vice president of museum affairs, and she's really fun, but she does like to talk. Frary House is different from every other house on The Street because it has a history from the Colonial Revival period (1880-1910s ish) rather than an authentic colonial interpretation. A native woman from western Mass named C. Alice Baker went to school in Deerfield, moved to Chicago, became an educator, established some schools, and then came back to Deerfield and became interested in the Arts and Craft Movement and Deerfield's history. She bought Frary House in order to preserve it. Of course, her preservation was like anything else from that time, a focus on aesthetics and not necessarily accuracy. It's really important to Deerfield history, though, and one of the guys (Andrew) is actually writing his paper on C. Alice Baker and her involvement in the Colonial Revival. It's interesting to talk about the genderization of history. Women were really important to the development of historical house museums, but then the study became professionalized so men took over...

This afternoon I shadowed the guide at Wells-Thorn. Marcia was really fun. I told to her a lot at the craft fair, so hanging out this afternoon was fun. She actually reminds me a lot of my Grandma Menken. She's friendly, talkative, and somewhat loud. Of course, she also taught middle school history and then became a high school guidance counselor. We gave one tour today to a family from Springfield, MA. I was totally really to co-tour with Marcia the rest of the afternoon, but no one else came. Maybe on Friday. We had a cookout tonight, but now I need to work on my paper. Hopefully I can write a little bit tonight and work all afternoon tomorrow. Since we are alternating afternoon to guide, I have tomorrow off. It will be exciting. I really want to get to the paper done tomorrow because we have a field trip Thursday and it's due Friday after I guide. Wish my luck!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Starting the object paper

I currently have five pages double-spaced of my object paper due on Friday. Granted, that is all just description, so I actually have to research and analyze for the rest of the paper, but at least I've started. It feels good. This morning we talked about the weekend activities and guiding, then we finished our Ashley House study and went into the Sheldon House. It was a lot faster than the others have been. Hopefully we can get through the rest of the houses that quickly. I would really like to get to the rest of the houses soon. This afternoon, I got to study my second sampler and work on my paper. These are the two samplers that I am studying:

For supper, we went to Greenfield and ate at a Greek restaurant. It was pretty good. It actually was just a larger gyro than I would have gotten at Knox. The fries were really good. There isn't much going on at the moment. Tomorrow afternoon I get to shadow at the Wells-Thorn House and I think I'm going to ask to give a tour after listening to the first few. I think I'm ready for that house. It must be my ability to quote movies, because I'm pretty sure I am able to give the tour of the two rooms open at the craft show because I heard the guides give it so much. We'll see what happens...Since there isn't anything else to say, I'm going to post some pictures from the exhibits open at the Flynt Center. I should be able to caption most of them pretty well.

These are images from the textile gallery. There are four sections: silk, cotton, linen, and wool. Each section has a doll on the stand with fabric samples, so visitors can feel the fabric without being so tempted to feel the artifacts. The material on the walls behind each of the dolls are samples of the materials on display. It's really, really cool. I thought that was a great design choice.

These are more images from the textile gallery.
Here is a beautiful silk embroidery that I wish I could do...

This a child's corset...

Okay, so I think I have procrastinated from my homework long enough. Enjoy the pictures!

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Craft Show

Today seems like a waste of a day, but it was enjoyable considering. I slept in until 10:30, ate, and then went to walk around the craft show while I waited for my shift at the Historic Deerfield information table. The show was nice, but not as impressive as I was expecting. I mean, I'm in New England, right; I figured there would be this extensive material crafts, but there was more jewelry, wooden arts, doll clothing, of course, and lots of food. I went around a collected business cards, which is good. Much of the jewelry was really pretty, but I don't want to buy it now. Fortunately, most of the jewelry exhibitors have websites, so I should be able to order something if I wanted. The only things I ended up buying were three dessert mixes. Okay, so there was this table with dip mixes and cheesecake mixes. There were samples! So GOOD! She also has a website and ships, so I will definitely have to buy more for my apartment next year. One of the girls and I went around and tried all the free samples. There was homemade ice cream, fudge, those dips, and cookies. We are cheap scavengers, but it works for us. I was going to take pictures of the town today, but because of the random sprinkles and overcast, I will have to postpone again. Someday you all will see what Deerfield looks like. But that day is not today. I am going to continue researching my samplers, especially since the paper is due on Friday. Wish me luck!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Wells-Thorn Guiding

After waking up at 10:30 in order to somewhat recover from our late night/early morning bedtime, I realized that I had laundry and other house-keeping responsibilities to do before shadowing the guides this afternoon. Today was our first day inside the house for the specific purpose of learning how to guide in it. We were split into three pairs and each pair shadowed the guide in the one of the houses. Andrew and I were in Wells-Thorn. Wells-Thorn is the house that has rooms set up to travel through time. So there is a 1725 kitchen, 1735 parlor, 1775 parlor, 1800 office/parlor, 1815 bedchamber, 1835 bedchamber, and 1850 attic. The guides were so awesome! It was a lot of fun to listen to them give tours, but today was different than it normally would be. Because there is a craft show in Deerfield this weekend (and yes, I'm very excited about walking through it, though I doubt I will buy anything), only the 1825 kitchen and 1835 parlor were open because it's too difficult to give tours of the house when there is so much foot traffic. One of the guides did take us through the entire house, so that was good. I remembered a lot from when we went through as a group, which was good. Now I just have research the samplers and start writing the object paper. That's the plan for tonight, I think. I know it's Saturday, but I need to get this done to feel better and productive...

Friday night and being a "normal" college student

Yesterday was the end to a week that went by so quickly. It was really amazing how fast time flies here. I know we are kept busy, but it is still strange. Yesterday morning we had seminar to discuss our field trip to Old Greenfield Village, and it led to a very interesting discussion on what is a museum, what (if any) social responsibilities museums have, and how much entertainment needs to be there. It was a very productive seminar meeting. Afterwards, we watched a movie about the silver-smith in Colonial Williamsburg to preface our lecture/interaction with the silver collection. We have already had the tour of the silver vault, but not much of a detailed lecture about it. It is very cool to be able to touch something that Paul Revere actually made, as well as being around that much value. Most impressive. After a very quick lunch, we had a brainstorming session with the curators and some trustees about our final paper topic. It looks like everyone's topic will work. Okay, so I finally have something. Here it is. I am going to use the courtship correspondence of Edward Wells Colton and his first wife Susan Heard from 1859-1861. I'm going to let the letters guide my paper, so I have to read through most of them before I can actually say what I'll be writing about. I think it will be a great sketch of the everyday activies of people in the 19th century. I'm also really curious to see how many mentions of the war there are. But yeah, that's what I'm writing on. Hooray for having a topic!

The final activity of the afternoon was open hearth cooking. We got to make a meal in front of an open fire. So much fun! I will try to get pictures from a couple other people (since I didn't have my camera) and post them. It was really great, though. We cooked chicken, corn bread, biscuits, prepared salad, asparagus, and strawberries with cream. Unfortunately, the cream didn't whip since the humidity was so bad, but the meal was delicious nonetheless. It's amazing how comfortable I am doing all these things. People were constantly asking how to do this or that, and I just did it. Whatever works, I guess.

Friday night, we decided to get out of Deerfield and see a movie in Greenfield. We ended up going to The Hangover. Oh my gosh, it was SO BAD! It's just one of those movies that it's stupid humor with the intention of being offensive. It was funny, even though I know I shouldn't have laughed at some of those things, but I did anyway. Think Wedding Crashers, and there you go. It was nice to have that kind of release, though. I am having fun, but our schedule is intense, nonetheless. There's a tavern/restaurant down the street from the theatre that we went to and hung out there for a while after the movie. One of the guys, Matt, had a friend from school meet us in Greenfield, so we hung out with him, and he came back to Deerfield with us.  It was a great night of good conversation and fun company.  Hooray for being a normal college student...staying up later, hanging out, and having fun!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Dreary Day

When will this rain end?!? I just don't believe it. It was so miserable today. And what makes it worse is that the ten-day forecast is predicting nine more days of rain. We just can't get a break. As a result of it being such a dark and miserable day, most of us were less than thrilled about doing anything today. At least our seminar session was at the kitchen table of the Allen House (where we take all our meals and where the boys live). It was comfortable to be around a table and eating breakfast. We talked about/critiqued the exhibits we saw yesterday. The general consensus was that the America's Kitchens exhibit built by Historic New England was very disappointing. There was a lot of potential to have an interesting and interactive exhibit that people could connect with, and it failed. The rest of the morning was spent researching in the library. We have a brain-storming session with museum staff tomorrow, so we were all scrambling for ideas to present tomorrow. Okay, so I am using the Colton Family papers, but for my final I think I'm going to use correspondence. The family patriarch's son and his first wife exchanged courtship letters from 1859-1861, so they are really interesting to read. They provide great insight into the daily activities of Massachusetts and Connecticut for the time. I don't know what approach I will take yet, but I should be able to get some great ideas from the staff tomorrow.

This afternoon was SO MUCH FUN! We had a field trip to Old Greenfield Village. Greenfield is a village less than 10 miles away from Deerfield, so it was a really close drive. There is a gentleman there who collected anything and everything from Greenfield, built houses and building to house everything, and created an old-fashioned model town in his backyard! There was the general store, carpenter shop, pharmacy, toy store/ice cream parlor, blacksmith/tinsmith shop, dry-goods store, butcher shop, wheel wright shop, doctors' offices, printing shops, church, schoolhouse, etc. It was so awesome, despite the rain. It was amazing how many things he had. But it reminded me a lot of home. We have so much of those antiques in our sheds. I guess there is something good about Grandpa and Dad being pack-rats. The last building especially reminded me of home because it had that dirt/rusting iron smell, just like the work benches and sheds. I was so excited about this trip. I am now inspired by this guy. I could totally open up a museum like that on my own. I probably won't but it would be fun.

There isn't anything else exciting going on. I didn't get pictures of this field trip because of the rain. I cooked supper tonight, but it only involved making salad, toasting bread, and putting frozen lasagna in the oven. But it was good anyway. I am now going back to the house, get warm, and read about my samplers for the object paper. I HAVE TO BE PRODUCTIVE TONIGHT!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Traveling to New Hampshire

Today was our first field trip. We went with most of the Historic Deerfield museum guides to Manchester and Concord, New Hampshire. The fellows and Josh went to the mill-yard museum while the guides went to an art museum. It was so cool! The curator gave us a tour, and I took a lot of great pictures, and got a lot of good ideas for exhibit design. Because our focus was more on the design than the content, these captions are going to be kind of lame, but here they are anyway:

Here is a model of the mill-yards. There were miles of brick buildings that had canals going through them to run the looms.

This is where the water would come in. The canal is dammed and empty now, but there used to be water flowing through the entire mill. The gears above the opening, I believe, are authentic artifacts.
This is a wooden replica of the cast iron bridges that were throughout the mill for workers to cross the canals to get to their looms.
Here are some samples of cloth that the mills wove. There are several books displayed from different time periods with such samples.

I liked this display. It is representing some of the objects in a typical mill-worker's house.

Because of a time restraint, we had to speed walk several blocks to meet the guides and reach the bus. We then went to the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord. There was a traveling exhibit about America's Kitchens. This is the first venue of the exhibit built by Historic New England. I have to say, it wasn't particularly impressive. There were no pictures allowed in the gallery, so sorry. I did take some other pictures of the rest of the museum.

These are just some of the things at the museum. Due to more time restraints, I didn't read many labels, but I thought most of the shots were decent...

I think I'm going to buy a postcard from each museum we visit so I can fill up a scrapbook or something about this summer and all the trips. It will be very exciting.

Okay, so I really need to do research now, but I hope you enjoy the pictures. I will post more about Deerfield when I have time.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

An Exhausting Day

Oh my goodness, today was SO LONG. Not necessarily because it was uninteresting, but because I was so very tired. This morning we had a lecture with one of the women about guiding. However, she is an educator, so she brings a new perspective to the interpretation of exhibits. She gave us advice on different ways to invite our visitors to interact with the objects and in the houses in order to learn something. It was very interesting. I'm actually very excited about guiding, even though I know I'll be a little nervous. We get our guiding assignments on Friday and get to shadow the guides this weekend. I'll let you know how it goes. After that, we went to the Ashley house for a house study. The Reverend Ashley's house is actually right across the street from my house. We only got through two rooms, which was unfortunate. We focused a lot on the furniture (as usual); especially since we read about the Rococo style. Basically, Rococo uses curves and sexualizes everything. The furniture, paintings, etc. reflect Greek mythology as well as female sexuality. There were some pieces in the Ashley House that reflected this style. Everyone is very tired, though, and these house studies can be brutal, so it was a long hour and a half.

After lunch we had two more lectures. One was with the collections manager about textiles, and the other was with the curator of ceramics and house interiors about ceramics. Both people are very fun to talk to, so the lectures were interesting, but yet again, we were all dragging by that time of afternoon. Fortunately, Josh recognized how exhausted we were, so we didn't end up having seminar this afternoon. Since we have a field trip tomorrow, we talked about logistics of the trip, then left. I also talked to Josh about my object paper. He is going to help me figure out what frame I need to look through so that my paper will be the most help to the museum. I know this is going to turn into my final paper somehow, but hopefully I will have some idea of how by this weekend. Of course, this weekend I need to do most of my research, if not start writing my object paper. I know it will get done, but I would feel better about it if I had more research done. I've just be so exhausted after doing our homework, that I haven't done as much as I could have. I'll be hyper-productive this weekend. I promise to have pictures posted sometime this weekend. I took some pictures in the galleries today, and I'll go around to some of the houses. Okay, I am going to do some homework and research, so I'll write tomorrow about our first field (to New Hampshire).

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Allen House and Deerfield legacy

This morning we toured the Allen House with one of Deerfield's most legendary workers, Peter Spang. He was a friend of the founders and the Allen House was where they lived when they visited Deerfield. Okay, so a short history lesson. The founders of Historic Deerfield are Henry and Helen Flynt. They were wealthy people from a town in Connecticut, but when their son attended Deerfield Academy in the 1920s, they became good friends with the headmaster of the Academy who wanted to improve the town to better the school. The Flynts began collecting antiques, furniture, silver, etc, and also started buying up colonial houses in Deerfield to decorate and "restore." After they died, Historic Deerfield became a public museum thing; they hired curators and made more than just a hobby/interest. This summary is vastly understated, but it's the basic jist. I really don't know what I think about this whole business of collecting and buying everything to interpret something how you want to instead of researching for accuracy, but the times have changed. It's something serious to consider. I also learned that the Rockefellers were largely responsible for Colonial Williamsburg, which is interesting also.

Anyway, for lunch we listened to a professor from Nova Scotia present her paper on rural women doctors in Western Massachusetts. It was very interesting. It reminded me a lot of when Laurel Thatcher Ulrich came to talk about her Midwife's Tale, because this woman also used correspondence and an autobiography (not quite journals or diaries, but still). The talk was very interesting and very well done. Afterward, we went back to the Flynt Center classroom to have a lecture on using primary sources. The librarian and the vice-president for the museum talked about using probate records and account books. Probate records deal with dividing an estate, for those of you who don't know. Both can be very useful sources to examine while researching. We also had an object study with two ceramic jugs. The rest of the evening will consist of researching and homework.

By the way, I really hate how bi-polar New England weather is. If you think the Midwest is bad, come out here. It is raining, again. It's a good thing one of my house-mates has a car. I don't proper clothing to walk around in the rain because I packed for the summertime, not the spring. Maybe the rest of the week will be better. I hope so, since we have two field trips this week. Off to supper, and then working...

The Dublin Seminar and the weekend

This weekend was the Dublin Seminar. It is a lecture series every year for New England Heritage and Folk Culture, I think is the official title. This year's theme was Byways and Highways: Transportation in New England. From Friday night to Sunday morning we listened to scholars and hobby-historians alike present over 20 papers. Some were interesting, many were not. Most of the people were New England natives, and you could definitely tell. We talked to various people about graduate programs in public history and material culture. Oh my goodness, these programs are not what I want to do. They are way too snobbish for my liking. What Midwesterners think of when we hear New Englanders, that was what I witnessed this weekend.

Friday and Saturday night, we fellows got together to hang out, and didn't end up going to bed until 2:00 a.m.!  There were some great conversations, but it made it hard to listen to more lectures Sunday morning.

Sunday afternoon I swapped music with my house-mates. I know have several new soundtracks that I'm very excited about. We also had 80 plus pages to read. I also watched Hocus Pocus last night after finishing my homework and talking to my parents. It was great to talk to them. Hopefully this week I can get pictures and upload them onto the blog, since I now have my camera cord. We shall see...

Friday, June 12, 2009

The Colton Sampler

After our seminar this morning, we actually got to look at and study our objects! I have three pages of notes about one of the samplers. I mostly took dimensions and examined the materials/colors used, but I'm hoping to find some books about sampler as well as the biographical information about the needle-worker. The first sampler was made by Eliza Colton aged 9. According to my finding guide for the family papers, I have one box with her stuff, and I'll also look at her sister Amanda because the other sampler was done by her. Hopefully I can find some useful information. I am looking forward to finding about the cultural relevance of the sampler. I have seen so many patterns in my numerous stitching magazines, but have never done one or studied them. This should be very exciting.

This afternoon we had a lecture about Deerfield and Connecticut River Valley architecture by the grandson of the founders of Historic Deerfield. He studied architectural history, but knows more about the technical stuff and specialized in preservation. The lecture was interesting for what it was, but I was so tired I nearly fell asleep. I'm really going to have to buy some pop or something for caffeine because unlike most everyone else I don't drink coffee.

I'm at the library now and am getting ready to do research, so sorry this is shorter, but we have a seminar this weekend to attend. The Dublin Seminar is in Deerfield about Riverways, Highways, and Byways. As fellows, we have to attend ALL the lectures. This is going to be a really long weekend; very mentally draining, I think. I may not be able to blog much this weekend because we also have over 80 pages of reading for Monday. I will try to update you all on Sunday, but I can't make any guarantees. Off to do research!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Wood samples and silver

This morning was our first day trip. I think was actually unexpected, but one of the retired professors from the U-Mass forestry school has worked with Historic Deerfield, and so invited us to his house to watch him strip a hickory log. It was very cool, actually. I kind of what to try it. After we got back to the classroom, we looked at different wood samples and studied the end grain. Based on how to the cellular walls of the interior (the tubes transferring fluids throughout the tree) developed and broke affects what grain is on the end. I still don't fully understand furniture, woodworking, or architecture, but parts are slowly starting to come together.

After lunch we got to see the silver collection the Historic Deerfield founders had. It was SO EXTENSIVE. We have silver cast by Paul Revere! It's very cool. And the tour guide was the sweetest old lady. She was totally into the tour and was very excited about the collection. The things that rich people had made of silver! It was all a show to one-up their friends and impress their guests. I mean, there was a silver stuffing spoon, salt bowls, and nutmeg grater! Who does that?! The designs were beautiful, though, and they also reflected the furniture styles from England.

This was what we talked about this afternoon after the silver tour. The two articles we read were actually about mannerism as a design style and not museum theory. Mannerism is a style that reflected classical elements but also had grotesque images. Grotesque in this context meant very busy ornamentation and not something hideous. The style was very popular in the 1740s, but it actually started in Renaissance Italy. It moved to Northern Europe and finally to England thanks to the Spanish invasion of the Netherlands (due to religious differences). From England, the design came to the colonies. You look at everything from the leg designs, ornamentation, types of wood, whether there is veneer, the use of dove-tails or joints, etc. It's interesting.

The rest of the afternoon was spent finishing the House study of the Wells-Thorn House. The fellows got to work to together to evaluate one of the parlors and the two upstairs bedrooms. We dated the rooms at 1800 up through 1820s respectively. It was nice to be able to examine the rooms without Josh just lecturing us about the elements in it. It shows that we are actually developing the skills needed to access. The only thing we have going on tonight is more reading about house construction. Tomorrow I should actually be able to look at my object for my paper. I am going to examine two samplers from the Colton family and use the papers as my main sources in figuring out the context of the objects. Some aspect of this will also become my final project. I'll tell you more once I figure that out. I am going to get those articles read. Until later!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Fabric fun and Colton Family papers...

This morning was awesome. We got a tour of the textile gallery from a very sweet elderly lady. The gallery displays clothing made from silk, wool, cotton, and linen, as well as blankets/quilts/coverlets. Did you know that babies AND boys wore corsets? I thought that was very interesting. I realized this morning that I would really enjoy curating textiles. After all, it is a "language" that I understand, especially compared to the architecture and furniture we have been discussing. The rest of the morning was spent in the Wells-Thorn House. We will be having "house studies" of each of the museum houses; examining the furniture and decorative art pieces in the houses, why they were chosen, what they imply, viewing the entire house and fitting into context, that sort of thing. We actually only made it to three rooms because of all the things we were noticing. My group of fellows is very intelligent, and we ask all kinds of very good questions. :) But after lunch was the real fun. We got to look at the new acquisitions in the collections and pick out our objects for the paper.

So the textile collection is AMAZING! There are drawers of samplers and other embroidery, so I'm very excited about looking at those. What I think I'm going to end up looking at is the Colton Family papers and collection. There are two samplers that this family collection has, and the museum hasn't had a chance to look at much, if any, of the collection. I know that I will be helping them out, besides examining this incredible object and have a lot of fun doing it. The library has several boxes of papers, so I should have enough research information and may actually find my final paper topic in this collection, as well. There are several ideas floating in my head at the moment, though none of them are developed, so I'll tell you what comes about.

There are two articles to read for tonight about mannerism and museum theory, which will be important, so that's the plan for after supper. Hopefully I can get these articles done early enough to have time to watch a movie. I am in desperate need to watch something, jut because that is what I do...Tomorrow we have a short trip in the morning, get to look at new acquisitions (as in a van coming in tomorrow with more objects), and more object research. It should be a good day, though hopefully warmer than it has been...

Rain, rain, go away!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Do you know that walking two miles in the rain is MISERABLE?!? That is exactly what I was fortunate to do this morning. Vickie, Kate, Jenna (my house-mates), and I all walked almost the entire way up “The Street” in the pouring rain, forgetting the fact that Jenna has a car here. Needless to say, we were soaked, cold, and not very happy when we arrived at the classroom. It was also picture day – we had our photos taken for our museum ids. I am officially a Summer Fellow of Historic Deerfield. Wearing these ids will enable us to get into most museums for free, since it is common practice for museums to not charge other museum professionals admission. I really want to try it Illinois after this summer. Apparently other fellows from the past still use their badges to reap such benefits.

The classroom is located in probably one of the newest (if not the newest) building in Historic Deerfield. The community raised money for it throughout the early 1990s, and it was finally constructed in 1997. It opened to the public in 1998. This building – called the Flynt Center – serves as visible storage of the much of the collection, has two galleries, a seminar room, classroom, and staff offices. Historic Deerfield has 20,000 objects in its collection! It is really neat to see the collection is storage; it’s like an exhibition except there are very few labels. We got an official tour of the building from the collections manager. Oh my gosh, part of me really wants his job, but there is SO MUCH you have to know about the museum’s collection to do that.

We also discussed the two articles we read about material culture methodology. Both authors had different approaches to extracting information from the object, and “reading the object as text.” The skills we read about and practiced will be how we complete our object paper due at the end of June. Each one of us gets to choose on object in the collection, gather information, research the cultural implications about it, etc, and write 8-10 pages about it. Tomorrow should be when we pick our objects. I think the museum will have us look at new acquisitions so that they will be able to use our research. In class, we practiced these skills with a late-18th century pewter teapot. We looked at the material, construction, dimensions, shape, form, etc., speculated what this would have been used for, what cultural significance it would have had, and established a personal relationship with the object to evaluate the emotional response it provoked. This also helps us examine our own cultural expectations, not just the culture in which the object was created. Later this afternoon we did the same thing with a piece of furniture in one of the houses. It was really hard, but at least there are six pairs of eyes examining the object. It is going to be really interesting to try and do this by myself for one object.

Our lunch today was a meet and greet with the entire museum staff. Hooray for potlucks! The food was delicious, but there were so many people. Granted, I did better socializing here than I did with the Newberry staff and fellows, but it was still difficult to keep everyone straight. After a few weeks with more one-on-one interactions, I should learn the names and titles.

This afternoon, we went to the furniture exhibit “Into the Woods,” which was designed by our tutor, Josh. He is also the curator of furniture, so he gave us a lesson on wood types, the construction patterns of different furniture types, etc. It was really interesting, though also overwhelming. By the end of the two and half hours, I really wanted to sit down, but instead had to walk to one of the houses (on the opposite end of “The Street”) and examine that furniture piece I mentioned above. The piece was a setter, often used at sitting space near fireplaces. This particular piece apparently belonged to and was built by a religious man who helped found Ashfield, MA, because he didn’t believe in organized religion. He wanted a pure religion in which the spiritual leaders would volunteer their time for their faith and not try to earn a wage through preaching. It was really one of the earliest examples of the separation of church and state. I mean, we are talking about the late 18th century New England. He was arrested for some bogus charges because he made a lot of enemies due to his ideas, but he ended up petitioning the King of England, and was eventually exempt from paying taxes after that. His name escapes me at the moment…It is really interesting though.

This evening, we had supper at a Mexican restaurant in Greenfield, which is only a few miles up the road. It was very good. I actually tried the quesadilla AND the salsa. I didn’t end up eating much of the salsa, but at least I tried it. Tonight was free! No homework! All of us took the opportunity to just chill in the Wright House (my house). We intended to watch a movie, but interesting conversations occurred instead. It was really nice. I can’t believe how busy we have been in three days, and how exhausted we all are. This summer is going to fly by, but it will be very productive and educational.

FYI: Since the internet is weird (as I have mentioned), I’m going to try and type everything out on Word and upload the entries when I get the chance. So don’t be surprised if I post two entries in one day…

Monday, June 8, 2009

Walking "The Street"

Today began the orientation to Historic Deerfield. The Main Street that all of the museum houses are located on is the Old Main Street, called "The Street." Apparently, unlike what most people think about New England, several towns in the western areas of the colonies are set up along a mile long main street instead of a town square. Deerfield has this lay out. We all had a walking tour this morning with the program tutor, Josh, and the co-tutor, Niki. As we walked, Josh pointed out different architectural patterns of the different houses, the general histories of most of the buildings, and just general information about the collections and other museum knowledge. This is going to be such a learning experience since I have never studied architecture before. I also have never had a class on the colonial period, so I am really out of my comfort zone here. After all, we don't talk about the 19th century in Deerfield...That isn't to say that my final paper can't cover this period, since Josh told us anything goes for the final paper so long as it is about New England and can use the library's resources, but more on that in a second.

After the tour and lunch, we went to the sister museum in town. It was really nice just to be able to wander around the museum and become familiar with the history. The lady working the front desk was also SUPER friendly and great to talk to. After having an hour and a half to wander the museum, Niki took us to the library for the orientation. Today I realized how spoiled I was at the Newberry. The reading room is so small, the collections aren't as large as the Newberry, and it generally isn't as fancy. That isn't to say the library is disappointing, because I know it will be useful; it's just very different from where I was eight months ago. I hope to find sources for the Irish in the area, but unfortunately, I don't think I'm going to have the time to try and tackle that project. There weren't many Irish settlers in western Massachusetts, and what sources are here would have to be sorted through by me, which I don't have free time to do. I really hope I can find a diary or something from either the Revolution, the railroad, or the Lowell mill and work with that so I can at least mention the Irish, but I will see what I can find.

This evening we had a cookout for supper. After about half an hour, we finally got the charcoal started, and finally had burgers, but it was nice to just sit and talk with the group. I really enjoy all of my fellow fellows. Unlike at the Newberry, I don't feel inadequate, though slightly out-of-place. It could be because I have never been out East before, and even though there are two other girls from the Midwest (Deerfield, IL, and Kalamazoo, MI), they have both traveled and are more familiar with this region. Nevertheless, people aren't judgmental and we all are obviously history (especially public history) nerds. I mean, we WANT to do this for our careers. It's so great to just get to know everyone, share college stories, family experiences, etc. We have two articles to read for tomorrow about how to look at objects. Tomorrow, after pictures for our museum ids, we get to select an object to write our object study on. I'm kind of nervous since I have never really done this before, but this entire summer is just going to be a learning experience, so I will take it all in stride. I am off to do and read, but I will say, this is going to be more intense (in a very different way) than the Newberry. The research paper isn't as long, but the days are fuller and just as mentally draining. This is going to be an fun summer, but very, very busy. More details to follow...

Oh, and I realized that a.) I haven't a chance to take pictures yet, and, b.) I have to wait for my mom to send the cord for the camera, so you will have to wait for the pictures that I will eventually take to be posted.

Also, I will try to walk somewhere with internet everyday (even though I will probably be walking a minimum of two miles a day anyway), so we shall see if I can keep this up. Until tomorrow!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

The First Flight and First Impressions

Here I am. I am sitting in the Historic Deerfield library, using their internet, hundreds of miles from home and anyone familiar. It is SO AMAZING that I am here! As a forewarning, the house that I am living in does not have an internet connection or wireless capability, so these blogs may be more sporadic than my Newberry blog, likewise with responses to email. But allow me to retell my journey getting here...

After a restless night, I wake up Saturday morning as anxious as I have ever been in the my life. I was shaking much of the morning and well until I got to the airport. My parents and Richard went to the airport with me and waited until noon before leaving. I made it through security without any problems and waited for my flight. Luckily, the Moline Airport was as nice as everyone had told me it would be. The people were friendly and it is really small. I got onto this little plane that would take me to Detroit, and sat next to an older woman who was traveling with her daughter and granddaughter to New Jersey for a high school graduation. She was very friendly and gave me advice when I told her it was my first flight. Fortunately, it was the first flight for the four or so year old granddaughter, so I listened to her and her daughter give the little girl advice and followed them. Gum chewing helped with the air pressure, though the feeling was still very strange.

I made it to Detroit with no problems, and asked for the gate where my next flight would be. Because my ears were plugged, I misheard the man say "69" and went to "6." Now, if anyone has ever been in the Detroit Airport, the wings are massive! I walked a good mile to get to gate 6, asked for help when I didn't see my flight on the screen, and then made my way to gate 69. At least there was a tram to get me to the other side of the airport. It was very similar to the "el," except it was slower. Well, I made it to the gate alright and with plenty of time to spare, so that was fine. Boarded the next flight with a much bigger plane. They had complimentary water and cookies, which I consumed, and waited to get into Hartford. Okay, so for those of you who don't know, I am currently battling a cold (yeah, Tuesday night my throat started hurting and it moved into my head by Saturday...), so my ears really hurt on the second flight because of the pressure from the plane and my cold. I landed and couldn't pop my ears until I blew my nose. It was very uncomfortable. I found the program co-tutor no problem, claimed my suitcase, and went to find the other fellow who had flown in from Chicago earlier in the afternoon. After an hour drive, we got to Deerfield. It was about 9 o'clock when we got in, and by the time I had unpacked and showered, I was exhausted and miserable, so went to bed.

I slept in a little bit this morning, and woke up and ate breakfast before the other two girls arrived. One drove from New Jersey, while the other drove from Michigan. The house we are all sharing is SO CUTE!! It is very quaint, but still has all the necessities. I'm very excited about living with these girls. Three of us walked around town today, and then all four of us talked over snacks before heading over to the other house for the program supper. Okay, so I am living in the Wright House, which has the laundry room, 4 bedrooms, and the front half of the house is available for tours. The 2 boys and the co-tutor of the program live in Allen House, which is where I will be eating most of my meals. Once I get to know Deerfield as a town and everything else, there will be lots of other names being thrown around, so don't worry about those; just know that I live in the Wright House. I will hopefully be taking pictures tomorrow of the rooms, houses, and other places around town...so look for those.

Tomorrow we are going on walking tour which begins our orientation. We also have class and will be discussing the "Redeemed Captive" by John Williams, a pastor in Deerfield. I have to go and read that now, but I will try to go into more depth about what I will be doing with the program tomorrow. There are three places with internet capability, so I will try to make a daily excertion to check email and blog, but I may not be able to do it everyday. We shall see what happens.

Just know that everything is great, the program participants are really great, and while this will be similiar to Newberry, it shouldn't be so intense academically. I am well, and once this cold is gone will be perfect. Until tomorrow (hopefully)...