Under the Shade of Deerfield’s Elms: Memory Making and Community
The elms that used to grow on Old Main Street in Deerfield played a foundational role in the formation of community and village identity. They embodied memories and stories the town’s residents told, and provided visual beauty to the landscape. Rooted in traditions of commemoration, Deerfield’s residents took it upon themselves to proliferate, preserve, and memorialize the elms on the Street. Unfortunately, most of the Street’s elms died in the 1950s through the 1960s from the fungal Dutch elm disease, leaving the Street without a trace of these majestic plants. This paper examines sources from the nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century to recount the stories associated with the elms, including newspapers, publications on historic trees and on Deerfield’s history, paintings, photographs, the 1929 Deerfield tree census, and Flynt’s many correspondences and papers on treating the trees for Dutch elm disease. Secondary sources are used to complement Deerfield’s history and put it in the context of a larger history of elms in New England villages and throughout America. From these sources, it is evident that Deerfield’s sense of community history is drastically altered in the absence of the elms. This paper is in broader conversation with the necessity of preserving historical landscapes because of the memories they hold.
The Silhouette of Classical Antiquity: Neoclassical Fashion and Ideals in an American Context, 1795-1815
The beginning of the 19th century saw a noteworthy change in women’s fashion. At the cornerstone of three revolutions: the American Revolution, the French Revolution, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution, fashion rapidly began to reflect these changing political and social developments. Using fashion as a form of individual expression, gone were elaborate court dresses rich in color and decorative materials. Replacing these extravagant displays of wealth and status was a new informal, simplified dress style inspired by ancient art. The empire silhouette, resembling the ancient peplos and chiton with a high waistline, gave women the columnar look they desired and made them seem straight out of an ancient vase or mosaic. With the already established emergence of classical republican ideals in America, the neoclassical look with its more austere appearance and lack of a stiff-bodied corset, allowed women to represent the aesthetic of a post-revolutionary world via their clothing; i.e. the clothing of ancient democracies and philosophical development. My paper aims to investigate how Deerfield, as a case study, can be used to represent the American adoption of this style. When discussing this trend, many fashion historians focus on France as the main source of this style; however, I want to use Deerfield to prove otherwise. The ideals of the American Revolution, what Americans valued, were shared by ancient Romans; ideas of independence, patriotism, and moderation.
’They Will be Rich Men’: The Economic Integration and Assimilation of the Polish Community in Deerfield, MA
The picture of Deerfield, Massachusetts is often that of a town “stuck in time,” however, following the increase of immigration in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the landscape of Deerfield would not remain untouched. Polish immigration into Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley began in the 1890s, resulting in not only demographic changes to the area, but cultural, economic, and political shifts. In this paper, I examine the Polish community, who originally arrived as farm laborers through labor brokers, and how they were able to gain economic success within the Deerfield area and eventually become farm owners and educated members of society. Through this economic mobility, the rise of Polish social and religious institutions can be seen, as well as an increased Polish presence in local politics. As the generations have passed, the Polish community has been able to gain this economic success and social standing in the Connecticut River Valley, Western Massachusetts, and Deerfield, but the assimilation and acculturation of this group must also be considered. Many of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations that currently reside in the area have lost their linguistic ties due to there never being an attempt to formalize the education of the language, but other traditions, such as cuisine, dance, and music, are kept alive both within families and through organizations and social groups.
The Life And Death Of An Abolitionist: A Study Of David Starr Hoyt Within The Abolitionist Movement And His Connections With Deerfield
In 1856, while helping in the fight to protect free staters living in Lawrence, Kansas, and the surrounding areas from pro slavery border ruffians by supplying them with arms such as Sharps rifles, David Starr Hoyt, at age 35, was brutally murdered, leaving his body was completely mutilated. Stories of Hoyt’s murder travelled fast. In various areas of America, the violence of the event was recorded with outrage in newspapers and in free state speeches to rally support for the cause. The area of Deerfield and local areas within Massachusetts reacted in outrage. Flyers, newspaper articles, the graphic details of his death, and a bloodstained map found with his body, reveal the huge impact that David Starr Hoyt’s death had in perpetuating a message that proslavery supporters were brutish and not to be trusted in contrast to David Starr Hoyt and the other heroic people opposing slavery. Hoyt was eulogized and produced into a martyr, figurehead, and a symbol for the free-state cause to abolish slavery and end the violent slavery debate. There were many other important abolitionists either within Deerfield or who had connections to the area that had greater impacts within the wider American wide debate surrounding the abolition of slavery, such as Thomas Wentworth Higginson. However, the memorialisation of David Starr Hoyt as a heroic figure and martyr had such an impact on galvanising the movement, particularly within Deerfield, due to the emotional response it evoked.
Life After Death: Deerfield’s Autopsies of the 19th Century
Death in Deerfield, Massachusetts is nothing new, yet the information from past centuries has been preserved for modern eyes to rediscover. This paper discusses autopsy reports that were done and cataloged by five different individuals during the time of the 19th century in and around the town of Deerfield. Their names were Dr. Elihu Ashley, Martha Ballard, Dr. Stephen West Williams, Dr. Danielson, and Dr. Rollin C. Ward. I have examined and transcribed much of their autopsy reports, journals, diaries, and secondhand accounts to get an insight into how they viewed the body postmortem. Some of what they had to say was brief, some was lengthy, yet all of it speaks greatly to the attitudes of postmortem autopsies, dissections, and the anatomical culture during this span of a little over a hundred years. I use these sources to illuminate the process of how autopsies would have been done will be discussed, the professionals that were at the forefront of anatomical knowledge, how anatomy and dissections were taught to medical students in the United States, how those teachings were displayed outside of the classroom, and what this has to say about the values and beliefs of medical professionals. Finally a comparison between how autopsies were done versus how autopsies are performed today will give the reader an insight into how much has changed, and yet, how some of the issues present then can still be seen around us.
Womanhood and Artistry in the Life of Margaret Crowninshield Wilby
Margaret Crowninshield Wilby was a portrait artist and watercolorist who lived in the northeast United States and southern Canada from 1890 to 1968. She was born in Detroit, Michigan and studied at the Art Institute of Chicago, among other prestigious artistic institutions. She kept consistent and detailed diaries from 1934-1965. However, my research examines the diaries from 1934-40 because they represent the time when Margaret was most artistically active in Deerfield. I also examine additional biographical materials relating to her life and career, including her artworks and a photograph album made by her. Margaret Wilby had a unique experience in Deerfield as one of the first members of the Deerfield Valley Art Association, who was active in the later phase of the Arts and Crafts movement and experienced the effects of the Depression on the arts. This paper analyzes how she lived and worked within the Arts and Crafts movement in Deerfield, and how her career was shaped by larger social and economic forces.
Wayfaring Painter: The Life and Career of Zedekiah Belknap
Zedekiah Belknap was an itinerant painter who was born in Massachusetts in 1781. His earliest known work dates to 1810, and he produced about 150 portraits before ending his career in 1848. Belknap died alone and penniless in 1858, and is now remembered as one of the notable members of the 19th century folk portraiture movement. This paper will use Belknap as a case study to better understand the life of a 19th century itinerant artist, explaining his backstory and exploring the social and economic realities that he encountered. It will amount to a biographical study of Belknap which tries to gain insight into 19th century socioeconomic history by thinking about his lifestyle and applying historical understanding to it. Because only an extremely rough outlin of Belknap’s exists nowadays, it is important to attempt to construct an identity for him and place him in his correct context in history. Rather than assessing the aesthetics of portrait painting this paper will analyze the logistics behind his livelihood. Doing so can help demonstrate the effects of larger scale developments like the Industrial revolution on America’s laboring classes. By asking what world Belknap belonged to, I also managed to find answers about his relative socio-economic standing. In recent memory Belknap’s work is being purchased by Historic Deerfield, studied by academics, and featured on Antiques roadshow before being sold at auction for thousands. Before that, Belknap was mostly unknown and unloved. This paper will try to raise awareness and create a discussion around the ways that products of our nationally treasured cultural objects were treated by life and society in their own times. Ultimately, it concludes, the artists were living on the margins of society as economically insecure and often deprived victims of 19th century industrialization.
The Kwinitekw Agricultural Corridor
Maize agriculture arrived in New England ca. 1000 CE, although the shortage of regional data has frustrated scholars in understanding the nature of its spread. In light of the exceptional amount of prehistoric maize excavated along the Connecticut River, this study investigates its valley’s viability as a path for agricultural development. Archaeological site reports; geological data; early colonial accounts; and Indigenous mythology, exchange routes, and cultivation methods serve to illustrate the Connecticut River Valley’s fertility and status as a frontier for Late Woodland agriculture. Meanwhile, corridor visualization, which has found use in many global and local contexts, establishes a theoretical basis for the argument. Using statistical methods to interpret maize’s spatial and temporal spread, the following conclusions arise: maize agriculture agriculture spread from the Connecticut River’s mouth to the upper New England interior in a period of 230 years or less, and environmental limitations halted northern development before European contact. This study’s findings have implications not only for Late Woodland and contact-period archaeology but for similar agricultural border regions in North America.
Working Gentility: The Appearance of Domestic Labor in the 19th Century
This paper is a reexamination of American gentility through the appearance of domestic labor. The investigation of this relationship is hosted through the descriptive articles of the 19th century that choose to depict domestic labor and laborers in them. These descriptive articles reflect in my research the dual roles of domestic laborers within gentility as both practical and performative laborers which allow those, they serve the ability to engage more readily into genteel culture. My research pays particular focus on domestic laborers’ handling and facilitation of genteel culture, mainly through its material objects. I compare both European and American descriptive articles to illustrate the European influence on American’s depiction of domestic labor and laborers. In certain cases, I also use objects from Historic Deerfield’s collection as examples for comparison within the descriptive articles themselves to further illustrate this connection. This research can help to enhance reinterpretation of genteel culture from the function of domestic labor used to maintain their material culture and facilitate their use.
Sweetmeats & Syllabubs: Early Nineteenth-Century Dessert Presentation in New England and the Extent of its Practice in Deerfield
This paper focuses on the presentation of various desserts in early nineteenth-century New England as an example of refinement. Deerfield functions as an example of a rural community trying to imitate urban elite lifestyles. The first section focuses on various topics relating to dessert that give essential context to the paper: what was dessert, who made them, and why were they regarded so highly? The next section gives details on the kinds of desserts that would be present on a typical dessert table. The final section discussed the extent of dessert presentation in Deerfield, using tax records, probate inventories, and an Orlando Ware daybook. From these primary sources, I discovered that elite families owned multiple objects related to dessert production and presentation, while nonelite families had very few or none at all. This supports the conclusion imitation of refinement in rural areas, where the elite attempting to display their cultural superiority over other town residents. While tracking sugar sales at Orlando Ware’s store from 1827-1828, the proportions of the different purchased sugars caught my eye. Molasses and general sugar purchases are almost even, showing that while molasses was useful in some ways, some families still found it necessary to purchase the more expensive option of dry, refined sugar. Through the studies of dessert, my paper showcases a different kind of refinement than what scholars typically discuss, giving a fresh take on the subject.
Bound Together: Ellen Gates Starr, Bookbinding, and the Arts and Crafts Movement in Deerfield, Massachusetts
This paper argues that Ellen Gates Starr’s contribution to Deerfield, Massachusetts is essential to understanding both her work as an Arts and Crafts bookbinder and the Arts and Crafts movement in Deerfield. Starr’s work was impactful during the Arts and Crafts movement in Deerfield because she deepened connections between twentieth-century Deerfield and eighteenth and early nineteenth-century Deerfield handicraft practice, brought the local Deerfield Arts and Crafts movement into closer contact with the international Arts and Crafts movement, and contributed to manifestations of usable pasts in Deerfield. Starr’s bookbinding practice and Arts and Crafts philosophies, inversely, were also affected by her family, material, and collaborative connection to Deerfield and the Connecticut River Valley. The evidence supporting these conclusions comes from primary sources: photographs, articles written by Starr, local newspaper clippings, correspondence, diaries, wills, and more. This research has larger implications for the body of literature written about Starr, which has not previously addressed the significance of Ellen Gates Starr’s connection to Deerfield on either her bookbinding craft or Deerfield’s Arts and Crafts movement.
Reimagining the Box: Deerfield’s Federal Homes and the Relationship Between Person and Room
Historical houses are rife with creative interior features, but there is a lack of scholarship that treats them as what they are: a cohesive class of material culture rather than a footnote in architectural history. I am looking at this topic in the Federal period specifically, to examine the intersection between a fraught moment in U.S. sociopolitical history and a particularly expressive stylistic language. This paper synthesizes both writings on the Federal style and analyses of relevant Deerfield homes. I also consult writings on architects and craftsmen of the time, locally-published pattern books, as well as the houses themselves, primarily E.H. Williams, Asa Stebbins, and Wells-Thorn. I approach these homes with focuses on spatial and formal analysis, then integrate these analyses with historical fact. The result of this inquiry is a multifaceted understanding of domestic spaces and their interventions. Though focused on the Federal home, by situating this period within the broader scope of stylistic and social trends, this overview demonstrates the ever-evolving relationships between people and homes. The study of historic homes is too often split between form and function, which only serves to feed the misinterpretation that they are orchestrated exhibits, lodged in time from their inception. Through integrating these two aspects, this paper seeks to make the architectural aspirations of people from the past more tangible to people of today.
The Reintegration after the Revolution: The Deerfield Tories from 1781 to 1800
During the Revolutionary War, the citizens of Deerfield, Massachusetts, were divided on the issue of independence. This paper uses tax records, church seating charts, town meeting records, and case studies of significant individuals to examine what happened to the Loyalists (a.k.a. Tories) in the following decades, as well as secondary sources to place Deerfield within the social and political landscape of the time. These sources reveal that despite intense divisions in pre-war society, the Deerfield Tories were able to successfully reintegrate into the community after the Revolutionary War. The most important reasons for this reintegration were the willingness of the Tories to accept the new political order, the importance of community and consensus in Deerfield, and the relative political conservatism of the town.
Post-Revolutionary Cyphering Books and the Construction of American Identity
Mathematics cyphering books are a subset of the copybook tradition created by young students. Students copied from their instructors and constructed their own mathematical reference works for their future careers. In the American colonies, the cyphering tradition was transplanted from England and adapted as the colonies matured and eventually established independence. Though these works are characterized by conformity and consistency, they are also notably personal. American cyphering books from the period in between the Revolution and the Civil War offer insight into the construction of American national identity by uncovering the values and capabilities which adults sought to instill in the younger generation. These values include an emphasis on individuality and ingenuity within the confines of an established structure. This paper takes three cyphering books as in-depth examples: Amos Bardwell, Arabella Sheldon, and Jabez Bushnell. All three cyphering books are housed in archives in Deerfield, Massachusetts.