Category Archives: Public History

Suffield Academy’s Presentation to Suffield Historical Society

The American Studies class presented highlights from their fifteen week investigation about the history of Suffield’s homefront during WWI at the April meeting of the Suffield Historical Society.The program was also open to the public, and attendees entered the room hearing popular songs of the era, including the 1915 hit, “I didn’t raise my boy to be a soldier” as well as the iconic rally cry written just after our entry into the war in 1917, “Over There,” by George M. Cohan. The class presented over 130 slides of information, many of which were archival materials from Suffield Academy and the Suffield Historical Society. While many in the audience knew a good deal about the evening’s topic, many of the seniors wrote in their reflective writing assignments that they “enjoyed presenting to the Historical Society because this was a topic that they were interested in and they were able to learn new things from us.” Working together as teammates in a project-based learning environment, the students engaged well with the community audience and appreciated most the question and answer period and further discussions over refreshments. Please add your reaction to comment section on this post, and the class will get back to you with a response.

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMMany in the class play varsity sports, and Myles leveraged that spirit and stepped up to be a captain on the spot by helping everyone focus and leading the introduction gracefully. His contributions about Connecticut culture and the role of Connecticut manufacturing elicited great dialogue after the presentation. His insights about the anti-war movement, in particular about Carl Sandburg’s contribution to the peace movement was appreciated. Later in the presentation while he was elucidating trends in propaganda posters, Ben Sylvester also explained how the two above songs served as cultural markers that showed first the country’s stance for isolationism and then the spirit to enter the war and fight “Wilson fight for democracy.” Each student also conducted family research to how many ancestors were involved in WWI, and Senior Sedley Benitz pursued research similar to her ancestors’ services, such as ambulance driving and nursing. Along with researching espionage, a topic related to his own family research, Rory Tettemer also pursued important Connecticut history topics such as the 1920s census, the 1916 election, and the sinking of the Lusitania; the closest figure to Suffield from the event turned out to be one the heroines, Theodate Pope. Chase Moran adroitly explained how partisan politics polarized Wilson’s neutrality stance throughout the early years of the war against a strident national preparedness movement. While many in town knew that Suffield Academy was called Suffield School during WWI, they learned how Suffield School was one of the first schools in the area to order uniforms for students and have experienced officers conduct military training exercise. After Michael Burch explained how Sgt. Stubby (now a motion picture), was the first war dog in the history of the American Military, he shared the campaign that he, Rory, and Chase helped launched on Twitter (#BringStubbyHome) to request from the Smithsonian that Stubby be installed during this commemoration year in a Connecticut Museum. Michael explained how much the class learned of the request protocol of the Smithsonian Museums from their thoughtful response and how the campaign enhanced our Twitter network among Connecticut historians. He then illuminated how the class discovered an unwritten Connecticut chapter of history regarding the new national history being written about the “Hello Girls,” the untold story about America’s first female soldiers who were telephone operators along the front lines organized by the Signal Corps. While Owen shared narratives regarding the manufacture history of Connecticut and the national economy during the second decade of the twentieth century, he also explained his original research regarding data about an African-American enclave in Suffield from 1900-1930s. Using Stacey Close’s thesis from the seminal work, African-Americans Connecticut Explored, the class followed Rory’s insight to delve into Suffield’s 1920 census records as Professor Close explored Simsbury’s 1920’s census records to illuminate Great Migration trends in Simsbury. Owen reported the significant results when the class tested Professor’s Close’s thesis. Since the presentation, the class hopes to publish more content on this chapter later in the month on the classroom blog. Along with explaining the complex causes of WWI as well as each significant turn at the Battle of Seicheprey, Connecticut’s finest day in WWI, Dylan Chase leveraged his past courses on presentations and digital mediums and communicated some of our most challenging topics with clarity and confidence. On his reflection prose he appreciated the experience to share our learning in an authentic setting with an audience who turned the questions period into an engaging dialogue. Dylan was a great academic ambassador during the subsequent conversations that occurred over refreshments. Dylan’s reflection prose also captured the spirit of the night as the class had not had the time because of our recent schedule to rehearse the whole presentation in one setting. “I really enjoyed the presentation and getting the chance to be a part of a class that worked so well collectively. Everything really came together last night, and I can speak for everyone when I say I’m proud of our work.”

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Join Our Inquiry into Women’s History

Screen Shot 2018-05-16 at 1.07.33 PMWhat famous Connecticut women made history in your community? Who is making history now? What significant woman’s contributions to your community history has been overlooked? Forgotten? Undervalued? Start researching and writing about your local history. We will plan to do the same research and share research methods when we published our discoveries on this CAISCT PBL blog. Bill Sullivan’s class will also be putting on a community presentation to the town’s historical society in April of 2019 where the students will share what they learn and show how they learned it. In some ways, CAISCT students and teachers can find their own venues to add more depth of authenticity to the way they share their local history discoveries with their community. Perhaps it is best to consider this work as another form of service learning.

Curious about using a classroom blog and student-operated Twitter account to accommodate project-based learning? Plan to join our day hike for the 2018-19 academic year and dive into this authentic, local history challenge. Any CAISCT learner is welcome to collaborate on the CAISCT-PBL blog and Twitter account. So provide your students the opportunity to write history and appreciate the discipline form another perspective. They will soon learn that Connecticut’s history is complex, and one ingredient of our historic inquiries acknowledges that a local history perspective will CAISCT learners shed a new light in the historiography of Connecticut’s narratives. Lisa Leveque from Rectory School and Bill Sullivan from Suffield Academy will share their students’ learning experiences while working on one blog during the 2016-17 academic year in which they investigated freedom and slavery in the pivotal year of 1774 as well as the 2017-18 academic year, which pursued homefront issues of WWI.

Bring your day hike bag and learn about next year’s inquiry into Women’s history and set your students on an adventure course where they explore possible nominees for the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame in their community. http://cwhf.org/induction-ceremony/induction-process#.WvxbmNMvzaY

Suffield Academy Students Present: WWI Homefront

Screen Shot 2018-04-22 at 9.52.40 PMWhen the American Studies class began its investigation in December with a trip to the Suffield Academy archives, students were very curious to find young students one hundred years ago were wearing military uniforms. After researching our local and national history, the students are ready to share insights about the preparedness movement in Suffield, the region, and nationwide to help explain how Suffield School (now Suffield Academy) was one of the first schools in the area to start such a military prep program that provided students military uniforms and training. While following the research methods of Connecticut Historian, Stacey K. Close, the American Studies students used his chapter in African American Connecticut Explored as a model to look for patterns of the Great Migration here in Suffield. Close’s chapter, titled “Black Southern Migration and the Transformation of Connecticut, 1917-1941,” centers around migration trends in Simsbury. Please join us to learn how the American Studies students discovered similar patterns in Suffield. The class will present during the Suffield Historical Society meeting, which is open to the public, on Tuesday night, April 24th, 7-8pm at the Suffield Senior Center on 145 Bridge St, Suffield, Ct. Finally, like everyone in Connecticut who is excited to learn about the story of Sargent Stubby and see the newly released film, Sgt. Stubby: An American Hero, find out about four of the WWI veterans from Suffield who served in the famous 102nd of the Yankee Division, alongside “Stubby,” the first service or therapy dog. For more on the movie that was just released, click here: http://www.stubbymovie.com/

Suffield.Academy.Presentation.Flyer4.24.18

The Government’s Tight Grip

Screen Shot 2018-03-04 at 9.34.43 AMMedia censorship was heavily seen in the war effort. The media could only report on a fraction of what actually happened in the war. Once the U.S entered the war, the government began to tighten its hold over what was said to the public. The U.S needed to make sure it could produce enough soldiers for war, and when the draft came out, some were skeptical if everyone would continue to support. If chosen anyone would have to fight and possibly die in war. In order to counter these many anti-war ideas, media sources were either terminated or forced into changing sides to support the war. People who promoted any anti-war ideas were fined heavy amounts and possibly even arrested.

In Connecticut, people could really see a crackdown in Bridgeport. Bridgeport was one of the U. S’s biggest exporters of war, and keeping those workers in the dark about the horrors of war was something the government worried about. The U.S did not directly come out with the idea of censorship but rather tried to use wordy language to try and confuse people to not quite understand what the Government means. This was because it violated the first amendment and was seen in Suffield, Connecticut by the lack of newspaper articles talking about war, and more specifically what was happening overseas.

Wilson had two major concerns. One being the abrupt change to pro-war might lead to some confusion and anger in the population and by silencing the media. The second reason is if the people were told about what was really happening, Wilson feared the people of America would be angry with him. The response he might have endured from the people could crumble the war effort around him. Wilson was so nervous of a possible revolt, he “prepared a bill authorizing the president to censor the press. (Wilson) himself declared this to be absolutely essential.”(Meyer, Source 1) Wilson had to manipulate the American people to get excited about the war by going as far as staging robberies and damaging property. He then claimed the attacks were from the Germans. It got so intense once the war was underway, a man was sent to prison for calling the war foolish. Things like this happened all throughout the war. Once the war was coming to end Wilson’s administration actually liked the idea of media censorship and the tight hold they had on the American people. Luckily this was stopped by the House of Representatives, and this censorship was lifted. This Censorship on the American people also raise an interesting question, “How much of the information we know today about the war was true?”

wwi-on-the-american-homefront-5-638.jpg

These two images portrayed the Germans as beasts and promoted liberty bonds, which directly helped fund the government’s war effort.

Sources:

1: http://www.signature-reads.com/2017/03/that-time-in-wwi-america-when-censorship-was-legal/

This talked directly about Wilson and his plans to continue to censor the media and keep the firm grip the government had on the people even after war.

2: https://encyclopedia.1914-1918-online.net/article/censorship

This gave some background as to what the censorship was and how harsh it became.

3: https://revisionworld.com/gcse-revision/history/world-history/world-war-one-1914-1918/propaganda-censorship

This was more on the shift of the nation and how tight the hold of the government was on the American People.

Suffield In WWI

In WWI Connecticut had many successful people enter the war effort. Specifically, our town of Suffield has four registered soldiers that were in the 102nd regiment. We tweeted @mozactly, a professor who is investigating CT’s involvement in WWI. She replied by sending us information on the people in WWI from Suffield. This was very useful to us and one, in particular, was Harry M, Convery.

Mr. Convery was born on August 20, 1884, in New York. At an early age, he moved to Suffield CT, where he lived the rest of his life. Prior to entering the war, he was single and worked on a farm for the Kullie family. It is not known if Mr. Convery wanted to go to war or not, but once president Wilson implemented the Selective Service Act men between the ages of twenty-one to thirty had to register and possibly be called upon to go fight in the war. This must have a very anxious time for people selected to fight in the war. Most of these people have never held a gun and before they know it they are off to use guns regularly. Going into this blood bath of a war was not easy and these young troops had the right to be nervous.

With all of this preparation toward war, Mr. Convery was soon required to make his draft card and was eventually chosen to take part in the war. We found his draft card that everyone had to fill out before going to war. He was a medium sized man and had blond hair and blue eyes. Once in the war, he was given the rank of private. It is not known exactly what role he played in this war, but we do know that people from our small town served in The Great War. A possible avenue would be to try and find more information on his war efforts. There possibly could have been someone we have not found yet that played a large role in the war. We are assuming that this information is true; however, we can not know for sure. The way I could do this would be to contact the Suffield or Connecticut library and ask if they have any more records. I could also tweet at Professor Gil again or #CTUntold. Maybe they will have some more information on Mr. Convery in war or more names of troops from the war.

Mr. Convery was not killed in combat but rather lived a long life. He died in 1989 at the age of ninety-seven. I want to dig deeper and see if there were any additional people who participated in the war.

Screen Shot 2018-01-18 at 7.18.36 PM.png*This is Mr. Convery’s draft card from WWI. It gives some information as to who he was prior to the war.

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* This is the questionnaire that Mr. Convery was required to fill our as well as the draft card. We can see his religion, his marriage status and his employment.

Sources:

  • Ancestry. com: Ancestry provided me with multiple documents on this man’s life and is my main source I can use. This site provide people with information that is lost or not available to the public.
  • Twitter: Twitter provided me with the opportunity to connect with other professionals in the field of WWI history. It is how I located the information on the people from Suffield in WWI.

Digging into Richard Fortune’s Whole Story Part II

Ancestry.com, 1 of 3 Images

Ancestry.com 2 of 3

Researching history about slavery and freedom in Suffield Connecticut has evolved into a powerful and important partnership of public history. With help from an independent genealogist from the Suffield Historical Society combined with help from the National Mall Liberty Fund in Washington, DC, I was able to examine more information about Richard Fortune. The National Mall Liberty Fund DC sent us a URL of an amazing and far-reaching text, Forgotten Patriots, published by the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution in 2008. Here’s a URL for the text; wait a few moments for the URL to load on your computer. You can then perform searches of key words. Searching Suffield will help you find the information about Richard Fortune as well as a “Titus” from Suffield as well as two other African-American soldiers we know more information about, Cesar Negro and Titus Kent. http://www.dar.org/sites/default/files/media/library/xpublications/Forgotten_Patriots_ISBN-978-1-892237-10-1.pdf

Click here for a pdf that shows the DAR Sources for Richard Fortune in the important text, Forgotten Patriots.

Simultaneously, a member from the Suffield Historical Society, sent us a most important clue about a letter written by General Israel Putnam’s son who testified to Richard Fortune’s long service, which included Fortune signing up again for service.

Again, below is  from a classmate who found the National Mall Liberty Fund link that my classmate discovered in the winter: http://libertyfunddc.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/HARTFORD-COUNTY-BACKGROUND-AFRICAN-AMERICAN-REVOLUTIONARY-WAR-RESOLUTION.pdf  See page 5 of 5 of this pdf published by the Liberty Fund organization.

The genealogist from the Suffield Historical Society clues also lead us more to the eastern Connecticut story of Richard Fortune. Our initial search discovered his alias as well as someone from eastern Connecticut writing a letter on his behalf when Richard Fortune sought his pension in 1818. Our slide show presents that information: https://caisctpbl.wordpress.com/2017/04/14/suffield-academy-students-present-at-suffield-historical-society-meeting-on-april-18th/

If any reader knows more about Richard Fortune or has a suggestion for a source that will help our research, please leave a comment on this post. I will get an email notifying me of your comment and look forward to learning more.

Below is my first attempt at transcribing the letter; please comment any suggestions where I have a question mark by a word or let me know if I made a mistake with a word.

Jabez CLARK, esquire Brooklyn 1818
Sir I received a line from you on Saturday last request on info regarding the services of Richard fortune, a black man in the army of the Revolution. This man has the commencement of the war was slave, belonging to general Putnam. In December 1775 he was ordered by his master ??? And entered as a soldier in Durkus(?) Regiment as that time ??? For the continental? He was taken from the regiment into the family of his master as a servant and continued with him until April 1777 remaining in the Munster rolls, and drawing pay as a soldier in that regiment. Some time in April 1777 under the promise of freedom as the close of the war he enlisted again in the same regiment and continued as a servant in general Putnam’s (family?) till about the first of April 1779 when he was discharged from service. When I state his services in General Putnam’s family it is to be understood his military family in Corps where he served with such fidelity and good conduct as to obtain?? An honorable discharge from the army had also from (?) Claims of his master.
I state these facts from my own knowledge having hear myself an aide de camp to (?) General Putnam and services in his family most of the (?)(?) In service in the time of the Revolution
I am respectfully (?)
Your servant (?)
David Putnam