History Bites

2014 History Bites Lecture Series

Each spring History Bites, comprised of ten local historical societies and museums, presents a series of weekly lunchtime lectures designed to bring topics of local history to the attention of the regional community. With generous funding from the Connecticut Humanities and from the Connecticut Community Foundation, this year’s lecture series entitled, The Way We Worked/Work, will explore the past, present and future of work in the lives of Connecticut residents.

The lectures will complement the Smithsonian Institution’s traveling exhibition, The Way We Worked, visiting seven locations throughout Connecticut. American jobs are as diverse as the American workforce. From agriculture to industry, American workers keep our economy and our society up and running. Adapted from an original exhibition developed by the National Archives, the exhibition traces the many changes that have affected the American workforce and work environments thoroughout our country’s history. (For more information on exhibition dates and locations, visit cthumanities.org.)

The lunchtime lectures will be hosted on Thursdays between March and May from 12:00 to 1:00 pm. Lectures are free and open to the public.

The Way We Worked / Work

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Old Bethlehem Historical Society

New Spin on the Old Family Farm

Speakers: Ben March and Ken Assard

Lecture Site: Church of the Nativity

48 East Street, Bethlehem, CT

203-266-5196, www.ci.bethlehem.ct.us

Two young entrepreneurs tell how they have preserved their family farms and how farm work has been transformed by technology and innovation. March Farm and Percy Thomson Meadows are two

examples of creativity in land use.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

The Old Woodbury Historical Society

Industry and the Growth of Woodbury

Speaker: Sarah Griswold

Lecture Site: New Morning Market

129 Main Street North, Woodbury, CT


This illustrated presentation will be about the rise and decline of factories and mills in Woodbury, and the legacy of those activities on our landscape. The talk will include a discussion of the unique

geology of the area that contributed to both the rise and fall of industry. It will also touch on the larger forces that determined industrial growth in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Torrington Historical Society

Torrington Works

Speaker: Mark McEachern, Executive Director

Lecture Site: Torrington Historical Society Carriage House

192 Main Street, Torrington, CT

860-482-8260, www.torringtonhistoricalsociety.org

Drawing from the Torrington Historical Society’s rich photographic collection, this visual presentation will illustrate residents at work from the late 19th century through the mid 20th century. Photographs in this program show men, women and children in various occupations. Included are scenes on farms, in factories, in shops and offices.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden

American as Apple Pie

Speaker: Tom Christopher

Lecture Site: Bellamy Hall of First Church of Bethlehem

21 Main Street South, Bethlehem, CT

203-266-7596, www.ctlandmarks.org

Tom Christopher, a graduate of the New York Botanical Garden School of Professional Horticulture, will explore the role of domesticated apples in the history of rural Connecticut, including the Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden, and introduce some of the historic apple varieties that are still available today. He will explore how apples were a key cash crop for farmers especially through cider production and offer tasting of some hard ciders produced with traditional recipes and methods that allow the modern New Englander to taste again the flavors that delighted their predecessors in this region.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Litchfield Historical Society

How We Didn’t Work: The Rise of Litchfield’s Tourism Industry

Speaker: Kate Meador, Curator of Education

Lecture Site: Litchfield Historical Society

7 South Street, Litchfield CT

860-567-4501, www.litchfieldhistoricalsociety.org

In the late 19th century, Litchfield’s tourism industry boomed. The advent of the railroad and the concept of a weekend brought many seasonal residents to the area to enjoy the peaceful atmosphere and unspoiled scenery. This talk will explore the many ways Litchfield transformed into a resort community.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Glebe House Museum & Gertrude Jekyll Garden

The Antique Trade in Woodbury

Speaker: Wayne Mattox, Owner of Wayne Mattox Antiques

Lecture Site: Gallery at Woodbury Public Library

203-263-2855, www.theglebehouse.org

From vintage porcelain to 20th century Modern, the antique shops that line Main Street in Woodbury are a destination for antique lovers from all over the country. Wayne Mattox, owner of Wayne Mattox Antiques and well-known antiques dealer, appraiser and auctioneer will talk about the evolution of this exciting business, which has been Woodbury’s main industry for over 50 years, and the people involved in its growth.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust

Creating Art and Artists Throughout the Greater Woodbury Region

Speaker: Don Giroux, an educator, local presenter and Flanders Board member.

Lecture Site: The Studio @ Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust

5 Church Hill Road, Woodbury, CT

203-263-3711, www.flandersnaturecenter.org

Among a variety of accomplished artists living and working in the Woodbury region, Natalie Van Vleck was lesser known but gaining stature as a historic art figure. Don Giroux will take us on a journey that explores some of the areas known artists (especially Natalie) and the local art they helped to create and celebrate.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Gunn Memorial Library & Museum

Women at Work: Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Connection to The Gunnery

Speaker: Olivia Judd, 2013-14 Gunn Scholar, The Gunnery

Lecture Site: Wykeham Room of the Gunn Library

5 Wykeham Road, Washington, CT

860-868-7756, www.gunnlibrary.org

The oldest school in town is The Gunnery, which was not only founded as an excellent independent school, but also a platform for antislavery activism. Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher, both nationally known abolitionists, sent their children to The Gunnery in the 1850s and 1860s. Ms. Judd will look into the relationship of the Stowe, Beecher, and Gunn families and the impact they made on The Gunnery, Washington, and the nation as a whole.

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Mattatuck Museum

The Way They Worked Us

Speaker: Jeremy Brecher, Historian

Lecture Site: Mattatuck Museum

144 West Main Street, Waterbury CT

203-753-0381, www.mattatuckmuseum.org

Jeremy Brecher has interviewed, studied, written books, and made films about work and workers for the past forty years. Books like Strike!, a history of peak periods of class conflict in America, and Brass Valley, an account of the brass workers in Connecticut's Naugatuck Valley, have told workers' stories, often in their own words. His talk will argue that work is more than simply an activity; it is also a set of relationships -- and that workers have been crucial in shaping those relationships throughout American history.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Topsmead State Forest

The Work that Built and Maintained Topsmead

Speaker: Jerry Geci, Educator and Guide, Topsmead State Forest

Lecture Site: Litchfield Community Center

421 Bantam Road, Litchfield, CT

860-567-5694, www.dep.state.ct.us/rec/parks/ctforests.htm

Behind every end product is a process that required thought and effort. Learn about the work that brought into being Edith M. Chase's beloved Topsmead and the establishment of Topsmead State Forest.