The winner of the 2014 Homer D. Babbidge Jr. Award is Allegra di Bonaventura for her book on colonial New London, For Adam’s Sake: A Family Saga in Colonial New England (New York: Liveright Publishing, division of W.W. Norton). Dr. di Bonaventura studies colonial New London intimately through a select cluster of its families—white and black, affluent, middling, and poor. In particular, she concentrates on the Rogers family, whose patriarch John Rogers, Sr. departed from establishment Congregationalism and formed the dissenting Sabbatarian sect that came to be known as the Rogerenes. Another New London inhabitant, shipwright Joshua Hempstead, kept a voluminous diary for decades that detailed Hempstead family life and particularly his work relationship with his slave John Jackson, who he eventually freed. This latter half of the book creates an unparalleled study of the vaunted domesticated familial slavery of colonial New England.
ASCH is delighted to present this year’s Fraser Award to the New Haven Museum & Historical Society for its exhibition, Beyond the New Township: Wooster Square. The exhibit delves into the formal creation of Wooster Square in the early nineteenth century, and follows its demographic and manufacturing expansion as diverse manufacturers employed the waves of European immigrants who settled in the neighborhood over the next century. The neighborhood was threatened in the 1950s and ‘60s by urban renewal and highway building, and the exhibition chronicles the efforts to preserve the Square and its neighborhood. This exhibition has done all that a local history museum might seek to accomplish in recreating such a tableau: it drew extensively on its own rich collections of manuscripts, photographs, maps, and artifacts; it arrayed the best of its reviewed materials imaginatively in its distinctive second floor galleries; it enhanced them with the latest technology and social media; it actively solicited contributions and participation from the community; and it sponsored numerous related lectures, educational and family activities, and walking tours of the Wooster Square area. Many adjectives may be applied to Beyond the New Township—energetic, diverse, detailed, entertaining. But perhaps the one that distinguishes it the most is collaborative. The exhibition embodied the collaboration that the best public history is all about: the local institution with its space, preserved materials, and engaged staff summoning the broad community to interact with them integrally to weave a vivid chronicle that recounts and touches that community itself.
The recipient of this year’s Betty M. Linsley Award is the Connecticut State Library for its most recent publication, The Public Records of the State of Connecticut from 1819 to 1820, vol. 20. Under the expert guidance of its editor, Douglas Arnold, this volume supplies historians and the public with further documentation essential to understanding the state’s early nineteenth century history.
This volume includes debates over the Missouri Controversy, the impact of the financial panic of 1819, Governor Oliver Wolcott’s important annual messages to the General Assembly along with much other material pertaining to the state’s political, economic, and social concerns. Volume 20 continues the long tradition of editorial excellence in the publication of The Public Records of both the Colony and of the State of Connecticut.