Our fall/winter exhibit in the windows of the Lexington CVS pharmacy looked at the eight men from Lexington who died in WWI. They were:
We - staff and volunteers at the Historical Society, family members of the deceased, and members of the WWI planning committee and town celebrations committee - looked for about nine months for photos of all of the men. Three images were in the LHS archives, two were donated by family members, one was at Harvard University, and two were missing.
Starting in 1919, the town of Lexington planted eight trees in its most revered public space, the Battle Green. These were memorial trees for the men who died in WWI. Over the years, some of the trees died and the markers at their bases were reassigned to other trees. This fall, any missing markers were replaced, thanks to the Lexington Department of Public Works and Monuments & Memorials Committee. We used photos of the copper tree markers as stand-ins for Aaron Ready and Timothy McConnell, but we hoped that images of them might be found while the CVS exhibit was up (October 2018 to April 2019).
Recently the family of Aaron Ready found an image that might be him. It is very similar to a painting they found that has been confirmed as Aaron in his childhood. But it might not be. The image could be of his brother or another relative with similar facial features.
We would love to say it is. Would love to blow up the image and paste it to his panel in the exhibit so we could see his face with his story before it all comes down on April 1. However. We cannot absolutely confirm that it is Aaron. so we will take the “responsible public history” route and not say it is. But why? Why be so precise and so cautious?
Museums are some of the most trusted entities in the United States. Support for that very broad statement here:
The public trust is one of the most valuable assets that a museum has. There have been recent instances of museums being perceived as breaking that trust and the consequences have not been positive. Our Archives Manager Elizabeth talks a little about that here.
In what some call a “post-truth” era, it is even more important that our communities believe that we in the museum only share information that can be verified via multiple sources. If we can’t do that, we may present the information (as in this post), but we are beholden to clarify the uncertainty of the facts presented.
All of that being said, here is an image that might be Aaron Ready, paired with a confirmed image of him. What do you think?
Featuring the voices of Lexington Historical Society permanent staff and occasional guest authors.