The wonderful history of Springfield is coming to life as we begin our systematic approach to catalogue, evaluate and research the wide variety of items collected over the years. With it comes a renewed sense of urgency and resolve for preservation.
The challenge of meticulously wading through documents, maps, photographs, and memorabilia currently in storage is slow, but as we identify what we have, no small task in itself, we will be ready to create a cataloguing system that will allow any document to be findable for future research. Many items are quite fragile and must be stored in the accepted method to ensure it will last well into the future. We encourage visitors to come explore. Some items include:
- ~ a letter from President Calvin Coolidge to Springfield resident Dr. Morgan thanking him for some venison
- ~ 1783 Leather bound handwritten Arithmetic book
~ Civil War letters from NH Adj. General about non-Springfield men paid bounty to substitute for Springfield men
- ~ 1800’s collection of handwritten sermons and notes of Rev Howard, minister at Meeting House for many years
~ Many old hand-drawn Springfield maps from 18th, 19th and 20th Centuries
Here are some recent finds:
1840’s Town Map – A recent an inquiry about property owned by an early family in the pre-Civil War settlement of the town lead us to a fragile town map drawn by a Colonel Sanborn, circa 1840, and then redrawn at a larger scale in 1901. With some careful investigation we were able to identify family names and places to help in this family research. The use of maps in our collection made it clear how important it is to preserve and care for them so future researchers can study these primary documents in detail.
Spelling and Arithmetic books. Tucked away in the old school house was a handwritten in beautiful calligraphy, leather bound Arithmetic workbook from 1783 originally written in Connecticut. Using the name of the creator and his notations, a genealogy trace allowed us to follow its winding path over two centuries from Connecticut thru New York and Vermont to its discovery on a dusty shelf tucked in amongst other school books and materials where the family inheritor of this wonderful document left it upon settling in Springfield. It is fragile and needs proper storage to ensure it may survive for future Springfield generations to appreciate.
The story of the autograph book highlights the diversity of items in our little museum. While further study is needed, the book seems to be from the Clough family with the owner’s mother being Martha E. l Clough. Entries come from Vermont as well as Springfield and date back to 1881. How the book ended l at the museum is also quite a story. In March 2021 David Rothschild of Amsterdam, The Netherlands, sent a Facebook inquiry asking if anyone in Springfield had an interest in the book, which he had found in 1992 when cleaning out his brother’s apartment in New York City. David mailed the book from Holland and in May it arrived safely and in excellent condition. Come take a look at this precious 140-year-old book on your next visit to the museum!