Summer Fellowship Program Research Paper Abstracts
Ladies Fashionably Abroad: Clothing’s Role in European Travel, 1854-1855
Beginning in September 1854 and ending in August 1855, Mary Ann Cochran of Northampton, Massachusetts meticulously recorded her European excursion as she and her sister travelled through England, France, Italy, and Switzerland. Situated within entries recounting adventurous expeditions through ancient ruins and landscapes are mentions of a seemingly miniscule facet of travel: clothing.
This research delves into how women adapted their wardrobes in response to the physical constraints of travel and the existence of a market of goods and articles dedicated to travel wardrobes, and the popularity of acquiring accessories and dresses in Europe. Clothing also became a mechanism to draw conclusions about a culture’s refinement, artistry, and civility, as dress provided a visual representation of how traditions differed in other parts of the world. I reached my conclusions about clothing’s impact in 1850s trans-Atlantic tourism by analyzing Mary Ann’s journals, articles from Godey’s Lady’s Book, Harper’s Weekly, and Journal des Demoiselles, paintings, and other surviving travel accounts.
Throughout the course of my investigation, the most intriguing conclusion I reached, for me, was how clothing became a tool for supporting Anti-Catholic sentiment. Mary Ann Cochran’s entries targeted the exuberant and ornate fashions of ecclesiastical officials as evidence for Catholicism’s antiquated practices. Currently, very little scholarship has acknowledged this phenomenon of using clothing to chastise Catholicism and, in the future, I plan to pursue exploring this concept further.
Adoration vs Silence: Abolition in Deerfield
Focusing on Samuel Willard, the Reverend of the First Church of Deerfield, this paper examines how Deerfield could have such a charismatic abolitionist leader with a community of silent supporters in the 19th century. Reverend Willard came into this rural community with a different background, full of ideas about reform. Deerfield, being rural and a part of the valley, was not as radical thinking as Willard. Willard eventually became very well loved in the town, even influencing the town to change their religious values from orthodox Calvinists to Unitarian. Knowing that Willard was such a radical abolitionist, it would be logical to believe that the people of Deerfield simply had to be abolitionists as well.
By looking through journals and letters of the community, I observed that there was not a relation between the Reverend and his congregation within abolitionist thought. There was no mention, except from a small number of people, of supporting the immediate emancipation of enslaved people in the South. In light of these observations, this paper argues why a town that has such a strong abolitionist leader has no stake in the abolitionist movement. Due to racial and social implications, the people of Deerfield did not feel like they wanted to openly support the cause, in the manner of more radical abolitionists such as William Lloyd Garrison. By analyzing the community’s silence about abolitionism, I argue that the people of Deerfield felt uneasy about supporting such a radical cause, in order to better understand why Reverend Samuel Willard was not as influential on his congregation as originally believed. In researching a small town’s feelings about abolitionist support, Deerfield illuminates a greater picture that describes the broader trend of understanding why and how the North as one entity was a confused mess of support and rejection for Abolition up until the Civil War.
National Connections in Country Towns: Lectures and Lyceums in Nineteenth-Century Deerfield and Greenfield
As the United States matured, expanded, and industrialized during the 19th century, its citizens established themselves as members of a distinct nation in the world. Lyceums, mutual-education societies that sponsored lectures and debates, were public spaces where a wide range of citizens connected with pressing social and political issues of the day. For residents of rural towns like Deerfield and Greenfield, lyceums created a space where adult citizens with a wide range of backgrounds could consider modern, national issues. Lyceums cannot be studied without considering the greater movement of public lectures that both preceded and were contemporaneous with them. Lyceums occurred alongside industrialization, growing voter populations, and were intertwined with nineteenth-century ideas about literacy, intellectualism, leisure time, suffrage, self-improvement, cosmopolitanism, and national identity. This paper explores these concepts in the context of public lectures and lyceums. Its method rests primarily on study of advertisements and commentary about the Deerfield and Greenfield Lyceums in the Franklin Democrat during the years 1851-1855, and is supplemented by individual journals of local youth, society records, and rhetorical analyses of speeches. These primary sources are bolstered by the background provided by a robust selection of secondary sources. Despite being one of the better-documented towns in America, Deerfield's lyceums remained understudied until now. Through studying the Deerfield and Greenfield Lyceums, modern viewers can better understand how mid-nineteenth century residents understood and interacted with the changing world beyond Western Massachusetts.
Between Fantasy and Familiarity: Chinese Tea Culture and Painting Traditions in Historic Deerfield’s Album: Tea Production
My project seeks to understand the place Album: Tea Production (ca. 1790) occupies in both American and Chinese histories. An accordion-styled album with 24 watercolor paintings, the Deerfield tea album was a set of early Chinese watercolors made for the export market during the Canton System (1757-1856). The album’s Western appeal derives from the captivating ways in which its images are fancifully illustrated yet accessible at the same time. Thus, occupying a space between fantasy and familiarity in the eyes of the West.
My research first identifies the consistencies in the construction and content of these early export tea albums by comparing the Deerfield tea album to that of a similar one in the Museum of Fine Arts in Rennes, France. Then, I explore the meaning behind a selection of illustrations common in both albums to reveal the ways in which these early export tea albums were inspired by Chinese tea culture. Lastly, I compare the watercolor technique employed in the Deerfield tea album to that of Qing Dynasty Chinese paintings to further ground the visual aspects of the album in Chinese traditions.
These conclusions draw attention to the Chinese narratives in Chinese export art that are often overlooked in Western scholarship. Ultimately, this project proves that a more complete understanding of Western and Chinese exchanges during the eighteenth-century can be achieved when the awareness of both Chinese culture and Western aesthetics is applied to the analysis of Chinese export art.
“So Great a Soldier:” Deerfield and The Legacy of Thomas Williams Ashley
Thomas Williams Ashley (1894-1918), a beloved Deerfield son, served in World War I as a Second Lieutenant in the Marine Corps, and was killed in action in France in 1918 at the age of 24. In the short time that he lived, he left an indelible impression on Deerfield, as evidenced by the community-wide outpouring of grief that followed news of his death. This paper considers the various social and cultural factors that impacted Tom Ashley’s legacy, including masculinity in the early twentieth century, the concept of muscular Christianity, and the manifestations of wartime grief, especially in small towns. Sources consulted include primary documents such as letters between Tom Ashley and Frank Boyden, letters of sympathy written to the Ashley family, and records related to Tom’s death. Many secondary sources are also interpreted and referenced, especially the writings to have come out of Deerfield Academy in the decades after Tom’s death, along with various sources on masculinity, athletics, and manifestations of mourning after World War I. These and other sources are consulted in an effort to gain a better understanding of why and how Tom Ashley was (and, a century on from his death, still is) remembered, and what that reveals about his place in the history Deerfield, as well as the town’s place in the larger story of World War I.
Refined Bodies: Stays and Bodily Control in the American Context
This paper seeks to establish a local context for stays and staymaking in Deerfield and the greater Connecticut River Valley. Stays, their making, style, and effect on the body are used as an entry point into concepts of bodily control and personal refinement, especially as it applies in the American context. Using account books, probate inventories and extant garments, this paper attempts to local stays in space and time. Extant garments, some from the collections of PVMA and the Longmeadow Historical Society lacking a visual record before this study, are used to discuss hierarchies of materials, rural adaptation, and patterns of construction and style. Stays are framed as the integral garment to building out the refined body, as well as central component of the language of bodily control in dress for both men and women. Without stays, the refinement afforded by fashion would be impossible to achieve, either in colonial urban areas or rural pockets of wealth such as Deerfield. As garments, stays are engineered to create smoothness and a fashionable shape, aspirational markers of taste and refinement. Their widespread use combined with evidence for their wearing and production in Deerfield reflects eighteenth-century cultural attitudes towards bodily control and physical refinement as a component of the projection of status.