Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Remembering the Past, Building the Future: Our 2014 Graduate Intern

Tegan Kehoe, Summer Grad Intern, reading at "Judith Speaks" (5/15/2014)
Each summer, the Sargent House Museum invites one graduate school intern to learn more about the work behind a historic home first-hand. This summer's intern is Tegan Kehoe, a recent graduate of Tufts University, Boston.

Tegan completed her combined Master's in History and Museum Studies. At Sargent House, she will be working with our collections, doing research and adding data to our database files.

Tegan says, "My concentration in history is the social history of collective identities, such as race, class, gender, and ability/disability, in the United States. My background is in museum education and collections management, and in the future I hope to work in collections and curating with a strong educational leaning."

Along with Sargent House, Tegan currently works at Old South Meeting House in Boston. And, previously, she worked at the Old State House Museum, USS Constitution Museum, and Museum Textile Services.

Tegan feels right at home working in Gloucester on Judith Sargent Murray. She first visited Gloucester with her upstate New York family while she was attending college at Brandeis University. She fondly remembers teaching her younger brother to say “gloss-stir” instead of how it's spelled.

As for Tegan's connection to Judith, she says, "Judith Sargent Murray was actually the sometimes rival of one of the people I did my undergraduate thesis on. My thesis, titled 'Female Education, Gender and the Public Eye in the Literary Careers of Sarah Wentworth Morton and William Hill Brown,' got me very invested in the life of Morton. Morton (1959-1846) was a Boston-based writer who was not quite as explicitly forward-thinking as Murray in her writings on gender. There was a period of time when both she and Murray were using the pen name 'Constantia,' and they had a bit of a polite squabble in the literary columns of some newspapers over the name before Morton backed down and began writing as 'Philenia.' My research on Morton was my first introduction to Murray."

Tegan has also studied Rev. John Murray in her research. She is a Unitarian Universalist and therefore, along with all UU parishioners, claims Murray as a “founding father” of the church. One of the long-term projects that she's put on the back burner while she worked on her degree is a guidebook to sites related to Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist history.

We are so happy to have Tegan with us this summer. What a perfect fit for our little museum!

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Remembering the Past, Building Our Future: Herb Donation from Food Project at Long Hill

When studies of period early American gardens are done, they most often mention the inclusion of herb gardens, as every home would want to have these savory kitchen favorites within easy reach.

Thanks to our friends at the Food Project at Long Hill Trustees of the Reservations in Beverly, MA, Sargent House has received a welcome donation of thyme, oregano, mint and parsley for our herb garden by the kitchen ell. In case you aren't familiar, the Food Project at Long Hill runs a two-acre organic vegetable farm as a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) project.

The donated herbs have been planted amongst the flourishing chives. The new plantings may look small now, but with the wet and sultry summer ahead they will soon become full and lush, adding a special historical note to our growing gardens. 

It is just heartwarming how the community is reaching out to the Sargent House in appreciation of our recent garden enhancements. We're making great strides this year, with help from our friends!

Thanks so much, Long Hill! And, thanks to Board member Jo-Ann Michalak for transplanting, and Rachel Meyer for making the connection to Long Hill.

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate

Friday, June 6, 2014

Remembering Our Past, Building the Future: Judith's Dictionary

Among the few objects in the Sargent House Museum's collections that belonged to Judith herself is her English Dictionary, published in London in 1715.

This is John Kersey's "Dictionarium Anglo-Britannicum; or, A general English dictionary."

Here are two close-ups of the scanned version of the book via Google books: 

The black and white page scans make it clear that the word "incomparable"--which Judith has appended to the lower lefthand page--does not appear in the book. Its omission prompted her, apparently, to add words to the volume beyond those compiled by Mr. Kersey.  Indeed, a woman with a vocabulary larger than a dictionary's was nigh "incomparable" in eighteenth-century America. Kudos to Judith! Though she often lamented her education, and was forever concerned that her writing would be critiqued for falling short of perfection, clearly Judith was a diligent scholar and scriver. 

A note in the back of the volume reveals that Judith passed the book on to her youngest brother, Fitz William, who in turned passed it along to other members of the family. It was donated to the museum in 1994.

How very special to have this evocative object, one which must have been so very precious to Judith in her life. It rests just steps away from her writing closet, and we can imagine her leafing through those well-loved pages time after time, bringing us just a little bit closer to her.

By Kimberlee Cloutier-Blazzard, Development Associate