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The Village Broadside

The Blog of Historic Deerfield


Spiders in the Attic, Beetles in the Basement: Pest Management at Historic Deerfield

Historic Deerfield is proud to welcome visitors from all over the world, but when it comes to the insects that also call western Massachusetts home, we would prefer that they observe our historic houses from the outside. However, since spiders and other insects are wont to set up house wherever they like best, the museum has put in place a program to keep track of these tiny intruders. This system is known as an integrated pest management program, or IPM.

Light Up the Dark Days with a Homemade Lantern

As the days get shorter and the sun sets early in the Northern hemisphere, we look to the past for inspiration for lighting our homes and lives. Historic Deerfield’s collection of eighteenth and nineteenth-century lighting equipment includes fat lamps, candlesticks, sconces, oil lamps and lanterns.

Blue and White Needlework Table Scarf

About twenty-five Deerfield women were paid to embroider vegetable-dyed linen yarns on hand-spun linen cloth. If their work was of sufficient quality, a flax wheel with a “D” was embroidered on the piece by one of the two founders as a “seal of approval.” This table scarf is an example of Pattern No. 7: Shepherd’s Thistle. This scarf is made of unbleached linen cloth with linen embroidery threads with traditional Blue and White Society stitches, in three shades of blue, plus white, detailing the large thistle at each end of the scarf.

Wedgwood’s Anti-Slavery Medallion

Despite its popularity in the 17th and 18th centuries as a sweetener in beverages such as tea, coffee, hot chocolate, and punch, sugar in New England (and globally, for that matter) has a very bitter history. As the popularity of sugar increased, the amount of enslaved labor required to harvest sugar also increased to meet the ever higher demand. However, beginning in the 18th century in places such as England, critics of slavery and the slave trade grew louder, and took to expressing their condemnation of slavery on a variety of media, including ceramics. Josiah Wedgwood (1730-1795) was one such critic, producing in 1787 a ceramic medallion that effectively advocated the abolitionist cause.

Celebrating our Ambassadors – An Interview with William Fennessey

Historic Deerfield is honoring our volunteers this year with a series of interviews we are calling “Celebrating our Ambassadors” that introduces a few of our volunteers to our friends and followers. Our Ambassadors give their time with a variety of special talents. In this blog interview, William (Bill, to us) Fennessey shares his thoughts and memories of his volunteer time.

Board Games

Bored with your daily routine? Are you in a Netflix binging rut? Turn off your devices and dust off your chess set, play a game of checkers or mancala, crack open a dictionary and look for new words for a scrabble match, or teach yourself how to play a favorite old tavern game like table-top nine pins, shut the box, nine men’s morris, or fox and geese.This Monday we’re encouraging you play board games and to create your own.

Picturing Slavery: Clothing, Appearance, and New England Advertisements for Run-Away Enslaved Men During the 18th Century

Enslavers regularly placed “Run Away” advertisements in 18th-century American newspapers when their human “property” attempted to escape a life of perpetual bondage. Such ads are a powerful tool for present-day researchers documenting resistance to slavery. They also offer glimpses of individual enslaved people as they appeared to white contemporaries. Despite their inherent bias, run-away ads are thus an important source that can help us to better understand the clothing and appearance of historically under-represented people living in 18th-century New England.

Corn Husk Dolls

This Monday, we are going to show you how to make dolls using corn husks. Popularly known as “Corn Husk Dolls,” we are presenting our own adaptation of a traditional Native American craft. Corn husk dolls have been, and are still, crafted world-wide by just about every culture that grows corn.

Exploring Engraved Powder Horns

This Monday we’re encouraging you to create your own paper powder horn. We will show you some examples from The William H. Guthman Collection of American Powder Horns at Historic Deerfield, offer a brief description of how a powder horn is made, and then guide you in making your own paper powder horn.

Timekeeping in Early Deerfield

Timekeeping is the measurement of elapsing time. Humans are drawn to timekeeping “up to the minute” because we are self-important with “no time to waste” and because we are driven to master our surroundings through the manipulation of machinery.

Commemorative Plates

This Monday we’re encouraging you to create your own commemorative plate. See examples in the Historic Deerfield collection and learn step by step how to make your own.

Homage to Decoupage

This week’s Maker Monday project comes from a suggestion made by Amanda Lange, Curatorial Department Chair. We have a small wooden box, beautifully decorated with paint and paper cut-outs in our collection. This box represents an art form called decoupage. We thought you would enjoy learning about it and trying to decorate your own special box at home.