Annual History Camp to Start!

History Camp will be from July 9- 13. Hours are 9:00-12:30. The cost is $125 plus a $20 Historical Society one year membership which includes the newsletter.

Campers will have a busy and fun filled week learning about our town history and participating in hands on activities from the 18th Century. Each day, Monday through Thursday, we will learn about a different aspect of life in the 18th. century. Topics to be covered are slavery in CT, household chores, social graces, the Revolutionary War and town history with a historical walking tour of our town.

We will use our historical Captain David Judson House c.1750, as a teaching tool. Campers will learn to be junior docents by studying each room and learning what the different objects are, what they were used for and how they were used. Along with each room related activities are planned. For example when learning about chores and the kitchen and buttery we will churn our own butter to sample and dip candles.

On Friday each camper will dress in 18th century clothing from our costume department. On this day the campers will receive a certificate welcoming them into the Junior Historical society which entitles them to volunteer to help during public tour times. Also on Friday campers will give tours through the Judson House, in costume, to all friends and families. Afterward there will be refreshments and 18th. century dancing and games.

If your child or grandchild is interested please contact the Society by telephone at 203-378-0630, or e-mail at to hold a spot; there are a limited number of openings. Spend a week with us in the 18th century, it will be a lot of fun!


A new newsletter without a new look in the new year.

January 2012 Newsletter

A Firkin Please

2 pints makes 1 quart ... 6 gallons makes 1 firkin

That’s how it goes!

So Digital archiving went from Day One to Done! The kids did a great job. I was not surprised but was IMPRESSED. The kids did the tedious work of scanning and uploading images, the somewhat fun work of describing images and the interesting bits researching the images. Now the younger ones could have used more supervision, and the older one probably wanted more challenge and original research opportunities.

Still the kids titled 247 images in 5 sessions! Here’s the rough draft: Stratford Historical Society Digital Archive

Now I will clean up the archive, hopefully export it to a straight Omeka site, and rally the troops again!

DAY 1 – Digital Archiving

What a Day. Five of six confirmed high school archivists appeared. Uninitiated high school students during their summer break have agreed to spend four hours a week in a crowded room describing old pictures! After boring the kids for nearly an hour with a *real* slideshow, using a slide projector and some slides made in the mid-twentieth century from glass negatives from the end of the 19th century… we started an Omeka digital archive of the images! The students performed better than I expected, and I expected a lot. They uploaded and described twenty-five images from a previously digitized set of slides. We will work on standardizing the metadata and subject headings next week. 🙂

Now I have a couple of hurdles ahead in the coming weeks. I must convince the VIP’s of the Historical Society of the value in this project. I have to understand their resistance or antipathy to the “computer-i-zation” of the catalog and images. And I must make sure the high school age volunteers are appreciated as the next generation of Historical Society members.

Librarians Rock!

Admittedly I am biased about Librarians.

This month has been about collecting the volunteers. I cannot say enough about how helpful the librarians at the Stratford Public Library have been. The teen services librarian recruited a few volunteers, and the children’s librarian allowed me a few minutes at the beginning of her Summer Reading Volunteers Orientation. This netted four more interested kids.

The Board was surprised at the turnout (8 total) because they have not experienced successful outreach in the past few years.  With more time and effort I feel I could have doubled the number of volunteers, but there is not physically any more room in the archives. I feel this will be a good crowd for the pilot phase of the project. Optimistically, we will expand this project through the school year and many more participants.


Interns. Interns. Issues and Invites.

The official volunteer application has been printed, emailed and otherwise distributed. I don’t want to rush anything but I have to move this project forward if it will happen this summer. The Board at the Historical Society thinks a digital archive is a wonderful idea, but are not putting any effort into moving the project along. I think this is due to a lack of understanding of the project and the benefit to the organization. The language of digital archiving is different from the cataloging and indexing they have been doing for decades, though it means the same thing. I have to slow myself down and use the indexing terms they are familiar with to make communication smoother.  The benefits to the organization come from availability of the collection and greater exposure within the state.

Council Representative Philips introduced me to Tammy of the Community Services office. A quick emailed description of the program got forwarded to the School-to-Career offices at the high schools and even responses from teachers.  Last week I also had a sit down with the Teen Services librarian who loves this sort of program/project and is also involved with Perry House. She has agreed to pass out the volunteer form and refer extra volunteers from the library.

The Historical Society has seen many initiatives come and go over the years. There is evidence of individual efforts, and then the projects are tabled when that person goes. The programs that go on are the ones that have a seat on the Board. Programs, newsletter, docents, and upkeep are their primary concerns.  This has to be something that is sustainable by people other than me. I wonder… would another library student fit the bill?

The cart before the horse.

I got a bit ahead of myself yesterday.  BUT The digital archive project took a step forward this week with initial contact with Community Services for interns in the fall and with the discovery of an old database of the cataloged items!  More adult volunteers are stepping up and everyone likes the look of the Omeka archive.  The interns will be concentrating on the photographic images, and I will have to draw up a controlled vocabulary for the photos.
However the artifacts’ information is already digital!  Approximately 10 – 15 years ago, a volunteer typed up a database of the artifacts as index by the historical society. This was done on her own, not requested or used by the historical society. I was excited to find a workable version of Diane(?)’s database because when we move on to other parts of the collection, the subject headings and other bits of controlled vocabulary will be prepared with proper spelling. With this, we will be able to concentrate on finding or creating the digital images and relating the items within the collection.  This is ‘a ways’ away in the archive project, but we are not on a deadline.
As an exhibit display, I like the simple presentation by the Smithsonian. They limited the data displayed. I think we should display more of the data, but maybe not all of it.

Trial Run

This gallery contains 4 photos.

In order to persuade the board and volunteers of the historical society to work on the digital archiving of the collections, I am setting up a trial archive to demonstrate the types of exhibits and collection displays with images already … Continue reading

Digital Archive – Go!

Last month, the president of the board suggested publishing some of the orphaned photos he scanned as  way to connect with the community, draw the attention of the members and  perhaps gain some information about the images. This was actually discussed at the CLA conference. The state library (or historical society?) had put images up on flicker, with a plea for help. They actually received expert information on an entire collection of images from an enthusiasts club that discovered the images. Stratford has a weekly paper delivered to just about every household. A portion of the town does not have internet access, or the desire to access it.  A photo in the local paper is eye catching, and in this community still the best way to reach out to the whole population.

However, there is a lot of work to be done before these images are ready for their debut. First, they came from the collection of a researcher, so the originals are numbered. But without his notes, this is meaningless.  His notes may have been donated in a separate file. He is also still alive so the notes may be still in his personal files. Some images will still have missing information, asking for community feedback is a great way to engage people who might not be aware of the historical society. A great first image would be the boys painting the railroad station.

Boys painting the Stratford Railroad Station. All Rights Reserved.

"Do you know these boys?"

The images were scanned from slides, in most cases without accompanying information noted in the file name, and spread across a few discs.  My first order of business, once the board approves the project, is to get the images into Omeka with any notes from the actual slides themselves.  I will have to organize volunteers for data entry and that is a whole other can o’worms. I hope the Stratford High Honors History class needs community service hours!

The development of the meta-data and nitty-gritty of the archive will be discussed in The Nickel Tour.