Category Archives: Artifacts and Archives

Blog posts include anything that involves items from the artifact and/or archives collection of the Historical Society.

Inside the Collections: Laundry Day

When this object was offered to the Society as part of a larger donation, my first assumption was that it was a simple piece of luggage. It was shaped like a small suitcase, had a handle where you would expect one to be, and was dotted with the kind of paper labels you sometimes see on pieces of older luggage. But then I took a closer look. Instead of a hinged lid, the case was comprised of two separate pieces that fit tightly together. The material itself was rigid but very lightweight. And the labels were not for cruise lines or airlines, but for shipping companies. On one side of the box, I found a partial label reading, “Fiberco [      ]ipack.” A quick internet search told me that this object was a laundry box, not a suitcase; and that it was meant to be mailed to its destination, not carried.  

“Laundripak” laundry box, Fiberco, c.1938, LHS Collection
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A Book Review by the Chief Justice

The Litchfield Historical Society is thrilled to announce the acquisition of a previously unpublished letter from U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall to Judge James Gould, instructor at the Litchfield Law School, in which Marshall provides feedback on Gould’s book about pleadings.

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Engraving of James Gould
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Inside the Collection: Alexander Calder Designs a Rug

The Litchfield Historical Society will host a lecture by the Calder Foundation on June 5, 2021, in the Tapping Reeve Meadow. To celebrate that partnership and the life and work of Alexander Calder (1898-1976), we are going inside the collection to look at one of the Society’s most intriguing works of art.

Needlepoint rug, c. 1960. Designed by Alexander Calder, worked by Leslie and Rufus Stillman. Collection of the Litchfield Historical Society.

Alexander Calder was born into a family of artists. His mother was a trained painter, and his father and grandfather were accomplished sculptors. Beginning his career with illustrations and paintings, Calder experimented with wire sculpture before moving to Paris in 1926. In France, he began work on the Cirque Calder, a body of articulated wire sculptures designed to be performed for an audience. Calder performed and evolved his Circus for a number of years in both Paris and New York. Many of Calder’s early kinetic sculptures were moved using motors—it was fellow artist Marcel Duchamp that first dubbed these moving sculptures “mobiles.” Soon, Calder stopped using motors and began creating sculptures that would move freely in the air.

In 1933, Alexander and his wife, Louisa, purchased a home in Roxbury, Connecticut. While they remained world travelers, the Calders left a rich legacy in their adoptive state.

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Young Lawyers Head West

Contributed by Leith Johnson, Project Archivist

Among the women and men who settled the Connecticut Western Reserve in the early 1800s were students of the Litchfield Law School. To get an idea of the impact these individuals had on the development of the territory, I selected one student more or less at random and researched his life and the lives of his children. What I am going to sketch out here is by no means comprehensive, but it does offer an illustrative case study. Much of what I am writing is taken directly from The Firelands Pioneer, a journal first published in 1852 by the Firelands Historical Society, that is an indispensable resource for information about the settling and development of the area farthest west in Western Reserve known as the Firelands.

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Litchfield Cowboys and Cowgirls

Recently someone on the “I Grew Up in Litchfield” Facebook group asked when the high school sports team adopted the nickname “the Cowboys.” We did some digging, and came up with roughly the same answer as another member of the group. We thought you might enjoy some of the wonderful sources we used to come to the conclusion that the name was in use by the 1920s, and possibly earlier.

Scrapbook from the Donald B. Peck papers
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