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Photo Preservation Workshop for Members and Friends at the WHM

Posted by on Apr 27, 2015 in Featured slider, Talks | Comments Off on Photo Preservation Workshop for Members and Friends at the WHM

Photo Preservation Workshop for Members and Friends at the WHM

Photo Preservation Workshop with Collections Curator, Laura Staneff, MA Saturday, May 9th,  11 am at the WHM Do you have a collection of old family photos that are fading fast?  What can you do to protect them?  Should you tape photos into your scrapbooks?  Our freelance collections curator, Laura Downey Staneff, will answer your questions.  In this workshop Laura will discuss different types of photographic processes, their mounts, and how they deteriorate as they age.  She’ll also discuss how photographs should be displayed and stored.  Did you know that displaying a high quality facsimile reproduction of your favorite family photo is a great way to preserve the original?  Workshop participants are invited to bring individual photographs and plenty of questions for discussion about how to preserve your precious photos.  As a benefit for participating in this workshop, attendees will receive an acid-free protective sleeve for one of their photographs.  Don’t miss this exciting information-filled opportunity! Laura holds Master’s degrees from the State University of New York at Buffalo and from the University of Arizona as well as having studied as a Mellon Fellow in the Advanced Residency in Photograph Conservation at the George Eastman House/Image Permanence Institute in Rochester, New York.  She has been involved in the fields of conservation and the history of photographs for more than 20 years. For more information or to let us know you’re coming, contact Sarah at [email protected] or at...

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Current Projects

Posted by on Dec 4, 2014 in | 0 comments

Audio Recording of Williamstown the First 250 Years Are you skilled at reading aloud?  Perhaps you can help us… In the spring of 2018, the WHM was awarded a grant from the Fund for Williamstown, a fund of the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation, to support the Williamstown History Accesibility Project and the purchase of  recording equipment to create an audio book version of Williamstown’s history book, Williamstown the First 250 Years and to create an audio tour recording of the captions from the permanent orientation exhibit at the WHM. The Williamstown History Accessibility Project and its resultant audio book and audio tour will enhance the local history resources available to community members who seek to learn more about our town’s past.  The Value of History Statement presented by History Relevance states that, “History, saved and preserved, is the foundation for future generations. History is crucial to preserving democracy for the future by explaining our shared past…History lays the groundwork for strong, resilient communities…”  This statement underscores the importance of our project which will  provide opportunities for all residents to connect with and understand the past and can encourage residents to analyze our ideas and experiences through a broader context, thus making Williamstown a stronger and better community in which to live. Once the audio book is recorded, the goal is to upload it to multiple online platforms and to provide the audiobook to all listeners for free.  The audio tour of the WHM exhibit will be uploaded to the WHM website.  Your help in recording would be a great way to give back to your community.  Contact the WHM today to learn more: 413-458-2160 or [email protected] Textiles of Williamstown:  Selections from the WHM Collection Textiles conserved at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center with CPA Funds, 2018-2018 The WHM is excited to share a collection of beautifully conserved textiles with the community.  The selection of textiles includes a uniform from a woman who served in the Women’s Auxiliary Corps during WWII,  an Emancipation Period sampler, wool blankets from Mt. Hope Farm, a sheet made from flax farmed and processed in South Williamstown, and a velvet opera coat that once belonged to a well known town resident.  Most of the pieces in this exhibit were evaluated in 2016 by a textiles conservator that was funded through a board initiative, and were then conserved at the Williamstown Art Conservation Center with funding from the Community Preservation Act Fund.  Many thanks to the dedicated staff and supporters of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center for their good work.  The WHM is also grateful to the town and its vote to support this Community Preservation Act funded project.  We hope you will be able to visit the WHM to view the exhibit which will be on display until December 29. 1875 Southworth Album of Photographic Portraiture 2016 – 2017 Conservation and Digitization The exquisite Southworth Golden Wedding Anniversary Album is truly a remarkable object. Compiled in 1875 to honor Emily and Sumner Southworth’s 50th wedding anniversary, the album contains both cabinet cards and cartes de visite (calling cards) featuring portraits of the Southworth social circle – friends, relatives – chiefly Williamstown residents. As was then the custom, the photos were most likely left by the guests upon their arrival at the anniversary party, as gifts commemorating the event. The album provides valuable photographic evidence of the fashion and personal grooming trends of the late 1800s. And, more importantly, it offers a virtual pictorial Who’s Who, a Williamstown Social Register, of 1875.   We have been given a unique and remarkable window with which to visually taste the flavor of...

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Self Guided Tour of Williamstown

Posted by on Apr 10, 2014 in | 0 comments

Self Guided Tours of Williamstown and South Williamstown Williamstown is a beautiful town with more than a few historic sites.  We invite you to take the self guided tours of the town featured below.  Sites are noted on the maps, (with some exceptions from buildings being moved which are noted in the text).  While some of the sites are close enough to one another to view on a walk, completing the entire tour is best done by vehicle. The second map was put together by the South Williamstown Community Association (SWCA) and focuses on the Five Corners district in South Williamstown. Enjoy! 1. Westlawn Cemetery: The only cemetery in the north part of the town for about 75 years, Westlawn was laid out in 1766 on land purchased from John Newbre.  Newbre’s daughter Anne, was buried on the property in 1762.  The next oldest stone (1766) on top of the hill with the oldest graves, six stones north of Main Street, is that of Jonathan Wright.  Six rows west and two stones north of Wright’s is the grave of Elizabeth Smith who died in 1771.  The design on her stone was once used on the letterhead of the Association of Gravestone Studies. 2. Dr. Jacob Meack House (1192 West Main Street): Built or bought by Dr. Meack about 1768, the front part of this house includes the original “regulation” house.  It was for Dr. Meack, the first physician in town, that early settlers named this part of Hemlock Brook “Doctor’s Brook.” 3. Site of the 1st Meeting of the West Hoosac Proprietors, December 5, 1753 (1183 West Main Street): Seth Hudson’s house, which stood at the southeast corner of the West Main Street bridge of Hemlock Brook, was a regulation house built in 1753 and located in what was then the center of the settlement.  Here the Proprietors chose officers and committees, imposed taxes upon themselves, planned the division of meadows and uplands and made provision for highways.  The present house was built in the 1830s. 4. Site of Fort Hoosac (Marker): At the end of the French and Indian War, the fort became the meeting place for the Proprietors until the building of a schoolhouse on the northeast corner of North and Main streets. 5. Glen Female Seminary (39 Cold Spring Road): The Misses Snyder opened the Glen Female Seminary in 1878 in this circa 1830s Greek Revival house.  Its growing enrollment and the admittance of boys soon required the building of the house next door (29 Cold Spring Road) as a dormitory. 6. Field Park: This park, at the junction of Routes 7 and 2, is a remnant of the town green, which once ran the length of what is now Main Street and served as a common grazing area.  The park was created in 1878 by Cyrus Field (of Atlantic Cable fame) and the Village Improvement Society. 7. Site of 1st (1768-1798) and 2nd (1798-1866) Meetinghouses (Marker in Field Park): After the arrival of the first pastor (1765), and the town could be incorporated as Williamstown, there was felt a pressing need for a meetinghouse for worship and town meetings. The first meetinghouse was a crude building with one door, few windows and no chimney.  It was the site of the first Williams College commencement (for four students) in 1795.  It was moved further to the west in 1798 to make way for the second meetinghouse and was used for town meetings and as a school until it burned in 1828.  The second meetinghouse, built in 1798, was larger and more dignified than the first crude building....

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How Did We Become Williamstown?

Posted by on Sep 26, 2013 in | 0 comments

In 1750 the General Court of Massachusetts Bay Colony, wanting to encourage permanent settlement in the western parts, passed legislation that in order to incorporate, and for settlers to gain title to their cleared lands, a town must have a settled pastor.  That same year, the first lots were sold in the newly surveyed West Hoosuck plantation, which later became Williamstown. West Hoosuck occupied a strategic location.  It lay adjacent to the Dutch colony of New York, and at the junction of two Native American trails in land that was part of Mahican territory. The Court sold the house lots in order to create a buffer settlement in this northwest corner of the colony.  It needed to protect towns to the east and south from raids mounted along the Indian trails and to prevent Dutch settlers in New York from encroaching upon Massachusetts territory from the west. The area was a heavily forested wilderness, and although some of the lots were purchased by speculators, many were acquired by soldiers from Fort Massachusetts, four miles to the east. 2) Hardship and Danger The early years were difficult for the settlers.  Because the French and Indian War brought fear of ambush and arson by Native American tribes supporting the French, in 1756 a blockhouse and stockade were built at the site of the present Williams Inn as a refuge from repeated raids. 3) The Settlement Grows With the coming of peace in 1760, settlement began to increase.  More land was divided and cleared, some roads were cut, and farming became the dominant way of life in the valley.  Small saw, grist, and fulling mills appeared, easing the labor of colonial living. Professionals and craftsmen began to arrive as well: a doctor, a lawyer, cobblers, carpenters, blacksmiths, and shopkeepers. Until the Industrial Revolution, the town flourished on a combination of dairy farming, sheep herding and wool production, and its small local mills and general stores. 4) Becoming Williamstown In 1765, after 12 years of searching (mostly during the French & Indian war), a settled pastor was found who was willing to come to the wilds of West Hoosuck which then officially became incorporated as Williamstown.  This was the first term complied with in the will of Colonel Ephraim Williams, Jr .  Williams had bequeathed funds to found a free school for local children only if the hamlet were incorporated and renamed Williamstown, and lay within Massachusetts.  After the American Revolution, the border with New York was finally agreed upon (putting our town safely on the Massachusetts side of the border), the school opened in 1791 but its life as a free school was short.  The free school became Williams College in 1793. When it opened, the college was a small, struggling institution with only one building and eighteen students, a tiny piece of the town with limited impact.  As the college slowly grew into a larger enterprise embracing increasing numbers of more highly educated faculty and student members, its influence on the town burgeoned. Farming was Williamstown’s primary way of life, but the presence of the college shaped and changed the town. 5) The College: A Defining Presence Shaping the Town Typical rural towns do not have astronomical observatories!  In 1838 Professor Albert Hopkins designed the building, helped his students quarry the stone, and together they erected in Williamstown the first permanent observatory in the United States. This same professor Hopkins formed The Alpine Club in 1864 “to explore the interesting places in the vicinity and to become acquainted…with the natural history of the localities…”  It was the first mountain-climbing organization in the country,...

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What We Do

Posted by on Aug 27, 2013 in | 0 comments

Programs & Events During the academic year Williamstown Historical Museum presents monthly programs on the history of our area. Follow the links to learn more about our upcoming programs: Upcoming Programs Cable Mills Roundtable: The Mill’s History, Industrial Life, and Adaptive Reuse A Tale of Two Cities…. and a Country Town: Boston, New York and Williamstown, Here is the current exhibit: Before & After; the Story of a Small Town’s Artifacts and Their Conservation   Research: Year round we are available for research into more information on your family or community.  The materials in our collection document the diverse people and buildings, the associations and businesses, and the institutions and events which form Williamstown’s rich history from the earliest days to the present time.  We work to increase the public’s knowledge of Williamstown’s past by using our materials to mount exhibitions, present educational programs, facilitate research and enhance community events. Resources for Teachers Genealogical...

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