The right visual can really make the message. I am very lucky that when I begin to plan marketing for the various programs, events, and initiatives the Historical Society executes annually, I have access to thousands of photos, objects, documents, paintings, etc. to help communicate our message.
There are many benefits to using images from our collections for social posting, press releases, and such when we need them. We are most likely to have a clear copyright with items for our collections and using them in our communications collateral helps showcase the richness of our collection.
For example, when I created the top left graphic in the grid, I knew we had some great photos of winter fun in the collection, but wasn’t sure which would be the best fit for the message. I searched by keyword (you can too on our online collections site) for “sled” and this image of Levi Doran with his grandsons on a sled in the early 20th century popped up. I knew it would be a great one for our winter holiday post.
We also like to use our portraiture for events, as it’s wonderful to see some of our sober seated portrait subjects reimagined for a modern audience or situation. You can see above how we showed John Buckman as a bidder for our Bids for History auctions in 2020 and 2021. We also gave William Munroe the proper PPE for our hard hat tour of the new Archives and Research Center in March 2019.
One consideration, especially with human subjects, is respect. We would never show the people in our collection in unusual or disrespectful positions. It’s one of the basic tenets of museum best practice to care for the items in our collection as though they were our own and this applies to the subjects as well. Many of our uses of human subjects in marketing collateral are lighthearted, but we are careful to respect the humanity of the subjects in our care.
It’s much simpler with photos of landscapes or objects. In the above grid, I’ve used images of Lexington Park and a set of 18th century embroidered bed hangings to illustrate information for events and historic houses. And sometimes we can pair archival images with images from present-day Lexington, such as in the Then & Now duo of the Old Reservoir in 1968 and 2021.
As I mentioned earlier, one of the benefits of using our own photos, paintings, decorative arts, documents, etc. in our communications is how it allows us to share our rich collections with both the general public and the press involved in getting the story to the public. Often, a background image from a social post or a press release will spark a research request and someone who didn’t know we even existed will realize that we have something they are looking for! It’s highly gratifying when this happens and it reminds us that ultimately, caring for and sharing our collections is the purest form of mission fulfilment.
-Stacey Fraser, Collections and Outreach Manager
Over the course of our staff blog, I’ve written about some of the more frequently asked questions our visitors have regarding our historic houses (original floorboards and original paint colors). Today I’m going to continue looking at our FAQs and chat a bit about the windows at each house. The information presented below comes from the historic structures reports on each house and serve as a wonderful resource if you ever find yourself asking, “I wonder if that’s original?”
We’ll start our discussion with the oldest home we manage, Buckman Tavern, built in 1710. While most of the original windows were replaced sometime around 1870 to stay in line with the popular Victorian style of 2 panes over 2 panes, there is evidence that the westernmost window in the northeast chamber (present office space on the second floor) is a surviving 18th century window. It is described by Abbie Griffing as being “Mary’s clothes room” and being full to the brim of clothing, so it is possible the room was too full for workers in 1870 to get in and replace the window. All the other windows showing the popular 12 panes over 12 panes style were reproduced in the first major restoration of the building in 1917. The only other surviving 18th century window is the inner transom window above the front door and has a popular “bull’s eye” pattern set in it. Despite the panes being replaced over the years, the frames of the windows all date to the 18th century and were more than likely installed sometime before the Tavern’s final expansion in 1755.
Despite moving locations back and forth across Hancock Street, the window frames of the Hancock-Clarke House have not changed in size or their location on the building due to the fact that the openings are integral to the original window trim that is located in the interior of the building. However, the design of glass windows have been changed at least twice over the course of the building’s history. There is evidence that the original configuration of the windows was a nine over nine construction (9 panes over 9 panes) as evidenced by a painting of the home from the 1840s. However, that design was changed to the current design of the windows that features a twelve over sixteen (12 panes over 16 panes) in 1897.
One unique aspect of the windows at Hancock-Clarke House has that the other two houses do not have are interior shutters. The four main rooms (Keeping Room, Hancock-Adams Room, Dorothy Quincy Room and Rev. Clarke’s Study) all have interior shutters installed and have a unique story. For example, the shutters located in the Keeping Room and the Hancock-Adams Room are original to the construction of the home, however, were shifted around during the 1897 restoration of the home. Both rooms have a combination of 3-panel shutters and 2-panel shutters, but originally the 3-panel shutters would have been reserved for the Hancock-Adams room as it was the most elaborate room in the home. The shutters located in the Dorothy Quincy Room and Rev. Clarke’s Study were reproduced in 1897, so while they are “old”, they aren’t “old, old” like the shutters on the first floor.
Munroe Tavern has seen the most exterior work of the three houses done over it’s lifetime and as a result, not many original aspects of the windows remain in the current structure. All the windows and frames are reproductions of 18th century windows that were installed during a major restoration in 1939. After studying a pre-1859 photo we are able to determine that the windows originally were of a 6 pane by 9 pane style that are displayed in the Tavern today (seen in the pre-1859 image). The 1939 restoration also restored to original locations of the window frames to pre-1860 locations, the post-1860 locations of the window frames are shown in the below photo. So while Munroe’s windows and frames are not original, the story behind how they look today is intriguing.
Stay tuned for more information on our historic doors and if you have questions/ suggestions for another “Is it original?” blog feel free to comment below!
-Chris Kauffman, Education and Interpretation Manager
It is only fitting that our the ribbon cutting for our brand new Archives and Research Center (ARC) took place in October – American Archives Month. After years of planning, the completion of the building project in 2019, the completion of the collections move in early 2020, the cancellation of our originally scheduled opening in April 2020, and a prolonged closure due to the pandemic for the bulk of the next eighteen months, we are very excited to announce that our grand opening took place on October 7, 2021. It was a lovely event which gave us the chance to thank our donors and supporters, and it was certainly a long time coming.
With that, we are pleased to announce that today, November 1, we are officially opening our doors to the public for research access. With our custom built shelving and storage for our archival and curatorial collections, our spacious processing room for volunteers and staff, and our beautiful reading room with a browsing library and exhibit cases, we are more prepared than ever to share Lexington’s history with visitors, scholars, and researchers.
Our previous Archival Procedures remain generally unchanged for researchers visiting this new space; however, as seems to frequently be the case recently, the pandemic has necessitated that we implement some additional requirements for those wishing to do research in the new space. We will be requiring proof of vaccination prior to research visits, masks will be necessary for all visitors, and the number of researchers permitted in the space at any given time is limited to two. We hope to make the space as safe as possible for staff, volunteers, and researchers.
If you are interested in making an appointment for research, please fill out a Research Request Form on our website. We will accommodate researchers as soon as possible, but please allow three weeks for research appointments to be scheduled, and please allow three weeks for us to respond to all research requests.
We look forward to sharing ARC with all of you, and we are incredibly excited to finally have this wonderful storage space for all of our historic treasures!
-Elizabeth Mubarek, Archives Manager
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.