Our Board of Directors recently voted to join the #opentoall initiative through LexPride. According to their website, “Open To All is a nationwide campaign to build awareness about the importance of nondiscrimination laws—and to defend the principle that when businesses open their doors to the public, they should be Open To All.” This past spring, we posted our Open to All decals signifying that we do not discriminate and that our buildings are open to all. I am proud that our organization is participating in this program.
Part of our mission at Lexington Historical Society is to “document, preserve, interpret, and present to the public the history of Lexington as a whole.” This means telling the stories all kinds of people who have called Lexington home. I could not help but notice, especially as we hung our #opentoall decals, that our museums and programs do not tell the stories of the many LGBTQ+ people in Lexington today and throughout history. While it might be difficult to learn about LGBTQ+ people in the past, as the written record may not reflect their experiences, I thought that it is certainly possible to learn more about LGBTQ+ people in Lexington’s recent past and to better capture their stories for posterity.
With that in mind, I reached out to Val Overton of LexPride and asked if they might want to partner on a program that features LGBTQ history. Val was on board, and we formed a focus group to put a program together in time for Pride Month.
After a great meeting and dozens of emails, our program, in partnership with LexPride and Greater Boston PFLAG, is happening! Tonight, Thursday, June 20, we will host Dr. Gary Bailey of Simmons College who will discuss the last half century of LGBTQ history since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising. Following the lecture, there will be a panel discussion featuring LGBTQ Lexingtonians who will share their stories of coming of age in Lexington over the last fifty years.
This is an exciting moment for Lexington Historical Society, as we are exploring a new side of history, one that is not often told. However, we still have a long way to go. Like the fight for equal rights for those who identify as LGBTQ+, our inclusion of their stories in our interpretation and programming is still developing and hopefully improving.
I look forward to our continued partnership with LexPride and PFLAG, and anticipate more insightful programs in the future. We at Lexington Historical Society are continuously working to tell the stories of all of Lexington’s people, and I am proud that we are taking this important step.
The program will take place at the Depot, 13 Depot Square, at 7PM. It is free and open to the public, though donations are appreciated. For more information please visit www.lexingtonhistory.org/events.
-Erica McAvoy, Executive Director
Tattoos have a long history in world culture. We don't have a lot of imagery of people showing tattoos in the Historical Society’s photograph collection, however, as they were not widely acceptable in the United States in the 20th century. However, tattoos have become quite common for people aged 40 and under. Our collections manager (me!) has a number of them - some inspired obliquely by museum objects and one that I will show you today that was inspired directly by an item in our collection.
The item shown on the left above is the Reuben Locke powder horn. Reuben Locke fought in the Battle of Lexington. He continued his service in the Revolutionary War as a foot soldier and privateer, was taken prisoner in 1777, and imprisoned in Portsmouth, England. Locke’s experience is one of many amazing stories lived by Lexington’s Revolutionary War veterans.
Of particular note is the carving on Locke’s horn. It's conceivable that the carvings were done while he was imprisoned in Portsmouth England, as a way to pass the time. We don't know the specific inspiration for Reuben’s carvings, but there are daisy wheels and circles and hearts often seen in English folk imagery (more about daisy wheels, or hexafoils). Happily, Locke's story ends well. He survived the war, returned home to Lexington, married his pre-war fiancee Jerusha, had 8 children, and served as a tax collector. He died in 1823.
We featured Locke's powder horn in a exhibit in the CVS pharmacy windows in the spring of 2017. At the time, I was struck by the intricacy and beauty of the carvings on the horn and it quickly became one of my favorite objects in our collection. I selected nine shapes from the horn to be tattooed on my right forearm. And yes, I filled out a permission for use of images form!
When I showed the tattoos (some pictured above) to the collections and marketing committees, we started thinking about other objects in our collections that might make a great tattoo. I have identified a few in the images below, but I will also post more on a future #TattooTuesday. In the meantime, you can visit our online collections website and see if you can find any inspiration yourself!
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.