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Today! What’s your favorite object at the CHS museum?

What's your favorite object-

A reporter at The Recorder is working on an article about small town museums in our area and wants to hear about the gems kept in these places. Do you have a favorite object at the Charlemont Historical Society museum? Perhaps it’s a poster from the Deerfield Valley Agricultural Fair. Maybe it’s the horse treadmill. Or an 1870s ledger from Avery’s general store, a signature quilt your aunt helped sew, or an early Mohawk yearbook.  It could be a photograph of your house from the early 1900s or …

Whatever it may be, The Recorder wants to know! You can send your nomination — due today! — to charris @

Help transcribe documents online!

The Charlemont Historical Society collection includes many handwritten documents that were created between the early 1800s and the mid-1900s. In order to make these documents more accessible for genealogists and other researchers, we are launching a online transcription project — and we need your help! Even if you only have a few minutes to spare, you can be a volunteer on this important project.

Here’s how to get started:

  1. Please go to FromThePage, a website where we have uploaded images of handwritten documents from the Charlemont Historical Society that need to be transcribed.FromThePage1
  2. Look at the upper right-hand corner of the homepage for the words “Sign In.” Click these words and follow the instructions for registering as a new user. (This step just involves setting up a username and password.) Sign in with your new credentials.FromThePage2
  3. Go back to the homepage and click on “Collections.”FromThePage1A
  4. Scroll down through a list of other transcription projects until you see “Charlemont Historical Society.” Click on our name.FromThePage3
  5. Click on the name of a document you would like to help transcribe. FromThePage4
  6. Some documents will have more than one page. Pages that have not been transcribed yet will be marked with this message: “This page is not transcribed, please help transcribe this page.” Click on a page that has not been transcribed yet.FromThePage5
  7. You will be taken to a page that has two parts. On the left, you will see an image of the document to be transcribed. On the right, you will see a box with a link that says “This page is not transcribed.  Please help transcribe this page or mark the page blank.” Click the transcription link.FromThePage6
  8. Start typing the words you see on the original document into the box on the right-hand side of the screen. FromThePage7
  9. When you have typed everything on the page, click the “Save Changes” button. That’s it!

Right now, we just have a few documents available to transcribe, but we will be adding new material regularly over the next few weeks. If you have any questions about this project or need assistance using the transcription website, please be in touch! Thank you for your help!

Save the Date! Quilt Documentation Day

Dresdent Plate signature quilt

Detail, signature quilt in the Dresden Plate pattern, part of the Charlemont Historical Society Collection

The Charlemont Historical Society will host a Quilt Documentation Day on Saturday, September 10, 2016 in Charlemont (location t.b.a.). Volunteers from the Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project will spend the day documenting pre-1950 quilts brought in by local residents. The volunteers also will document the quilts in the Charlemont Historical Society collection.

Each person who brings in a quilt for documentation will receive a report that includes information about the quilt’s design, age, and proper care. Details about the documented quilts will go into the national Quilt Index database.

According to the Massachusetts Quilt Documentation Project website, this organization was founded in 1994. Since then it

“has documented over 7,000 pre-1950 quilts originating or currently owned in this state. Dozens of historical societies and hundreds of private owners have been served.
MassQuilts encourages the study and preservation of quilts and demonstrates that these textiles convey important insights about the lives of Massachusetts women from the colonial period to the present. “

This event is part of the Charlemont Historical Society’s year-long focus on the theme of textiles.

More details about this event will be posted here soon. In the meantime, if you have any questions about this event, please be in touch.

Putting our collection online


One of our big projects this year involves putting items from the Charlemont Historical Society collection online. In keeping with our “Textiles” theme of this year, the first items we have digitized are quilts, coverlets, and flags.

We are using a tool called Omeka to  share these materials online. Developed by the Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media at George Mason University, Omeka makes it possible for small historical societies and museums like ours to make exhibits and collections available to everyone, anywhere.

You can see what we have already digitized by clicking on the “online collection” button on the menu bar of this website. Another way to get to the online collection is to visit:

The total number of items currently online is small. We will be adding more materials on a rolling basis from now on, however, and hope that you will check back regularly to see what new materials have been digitized. Recently-added items are displayed on the right-hand side of the online collection website, as shown in the screenshot above.

This digitization project allows us to share materials that are rarely seen by the public and that may be of interest to researchers, regardless of where they live. If you are a genealogist with ancestors from the Charlemont area, you may find items of interest in this online collection.

For instance, two of the textiles currently in the online collection are signature quilts that show the names of women who lived in Charlemont in the past. One of these quilts dates back to the late 1860s and includes women’s names, the towns where they lived (in Charlemont and surrounding communities), dates, and, in one case, age and birthday details.

If you are interested in helping us with this digitization effort, please be in touch! We welcome volunteers for this and other projects.

Betsy Ross and the Making of America


Join us on Flag Day – Tuesday, June 14 – for “Betsy Ross and the Making of America,” a talk by Marla Miller based on her book of the same title. Marla’s talk will focus on how the Philadelphia upholsterer and flagmaker Elizabeth Griscom Ross Ashburn Claypoole become the iconic “Betsy Ross” of American popular culture.

Marla’s book on Betsy Ross was a finalist for the Cundill Prize in History (“the world’s largest non-fiction historical literature prize”) and was included on The Washington Post’s “Best of 2010” list.

Marla is a history professor at UMass-Amherst, where she also directs the Public History program. Her research focuses on the work lives of women before industrialization. She received the Organization of American Historians’ Lerner- Scott Prize for best dissertation in Women’s History and the 1998 Walter Muir Whitehill Prize in Colonial History.

The event will also include a mini-exhibit of flags from the Charlemont Historical Society collection.

Event details:

Betsy Ross and the Making of America, a talk by Marla Miller
Tuesday, June 14, 2016 at 7:00pm
Hawlemont Elementary School
10 School Street
Charlemont, MA 01339

Museum open hours in June


The Charlemont Historical Society museum will continue to be open on Tuesday mornings (9:00am – noon) and Friday afternoons (noon – 3:00pm) this month. Starting on June 9, we also will be open on Thursday evenings (5:30pm – 7:00pm).

If you would like to visit the museum at another time, please contact us. We would be happy to open the museum by appointment.


Museum open hours in May

Aged Come In We're Open sign by James Palinsad

The Charlemont Historical Society museum will be open on Tuesday mornings (9:00AM – noon) and Friday afternoons (noon – 3:00PM) in May 2016. If you would like to visit the museum during other hours, please contact us to set up an appointment. The museum is located on the second floor of Goodnow Hall (a.k.a. Town Hall), 157 Main Street, Charlemont.

On a related note, we would love to have volunteers to help us staff the museum during these or other hours over the next few months. Please let us know if you would like to help. Thank you!


Image: Aged “Come In We’re Open” sign, by James Palinsad.

Valley Gives update


Thank you to everyone who supported the Charlemont Historical Society yesterday through Valley Gives!

This year marked our first time participating in the online day of philanthropy, and we were very pleased with the results. We raised a total of $710 through the event, including $210 in individual donations and another $500 “golden ticket” gift through Valley Gives.

We were raising funds to help with the following:

  • proper care for and display of the textiles in the Society’s collection;
  • hosting a public talk on a textile-related theme;
  • digitizing our textile collection, so that it is available online for anyone, anywhere;
  • organizing a community quilting bee to create a new quilt for the Historical Society’s collection.

More information about how we are using the Valley Gives funds to support these projects will be coming along in the next few weeks. In the meantime, if you would like to volunteer to help with any of these activities, please be in touch. We would love to hear from you.

On Tuesday, May 3 support textile projects through Valley Gives


As we mentioned in a recent post, the Charlemont Historical Society is focusing on the theme of textiles this year. The activities we are pursuing related to this theme are:

  • proper care for and display of the textiles in the Society’s collection;
  • hosting a public talk on a textile-related theme;
  • digitizing our textile collection, so that it is available online for anyone, anywhere;
  • organizing a community quilting bee to create a new quilt for the Historical Society’s collection.

We are raising funds for these efforts through Valley Gives, a one-day festival of philanthropy that benefits nonprofits in the Pioneer Valley region of western Massachusetts. Valley Gives is coming up on Tuesday, May 3 — and we would appreciate your support!

For more information about our current projects and to make a gift to support them, please go to:

Thank you in advance for your support!