The kiln is cool, the work table is clean, all clay items have been bisqued, and the studio will be quiet for a week. Time for a change of pace to invigorate the mind, although the thought of clay never seems to leave. While spending time in Boston this week, I will be visiting the Massachusetts Historical Society. Seven years ago, while working as a para in a 5th grade classroom that was studying the Civil War, I tracked down a distant cousin in AZ that I knew had information about ancestors who fought in the war. We became pen pals as she shared family history. It turned out the person she has the most information about was the great great grandmother I was named after and her brother who had enlisted in the Civil War. After months of correspondence, my husband and I decided to visit her in Tucson, AZ. By the end of the visit, not only had she shared much family history, but she gave me my great great grandmother’s wedding dress that had been preserved nicely in the dry AZ climate. In addition, she gave me the letters my great great grandmother had received from her brother in the Civil War, written in about 1861. My great great grandmother and family had lived in the Braintree, MA area.
Upon arrival home to Newport, RI, I realized the wedding dress would not survive in the damp seaside climate, so i had it cleaned and stabilized at Museum Textile Services. I then donated the dress to the University of Rhode Island Textile Conservation Program. Their facility is climate controlled and much about the 1860’s could be learned from the dress. The Civil War letters remained safe in a file in box at home, always on my “how to preserve it safely” to-do list, until now. Realizing I would be in Boston next week, I contacted the Massachusetts Historical Society and asked if they would accept a donation of these letters, by a Braintree, MA soldier, for their Civil War collection. A reply to my email came within 5 minutes–Yes! So this week I will finally get these fragile letters into the proper preservationists hands so they may be shared for many more years.
Wonder what else I can cross off my to-do list this week?