West Hartford Historical Society Collections
In 1970, the West Hartford Historical Society merged with the Noah Webster House Foundation, uniting two distinct organizations and collections under one roof and melding their separate interests into a common purpose. Today, the museum building includes the historic house, library, archives, Noah’s Discovery Learning Space (a hands-on space for families to learn about Noah Webster and life on the Webster farm), three 21st-century exhibition galleries, the Jodik Education Center (complete with reproduction colonial kitchen and restaurant-quality prep kitchen), and a one-room school house orientation area.
Collection objects are acquired by the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society by means of gifts, bequests or purchases, archaeological field work, and exchanges with other institutions. All objects should be acquired free and clear of conditions set by the donor or seller unless approved by the Board of Trustees. All objects or collections are acquired with the intention of keeping them into the foreseeable future, with the exception of reproduction items used for programs.
The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society operates and maintains the childhood home of Noah Webster and acts as the historical society of the town of West Hartford. There are four major components to the museums collections: the house and grounds, the house furnishings, Noah Webster related artifacts and the West Hartford collections.
Noah Webster Collection
Artifacts and documents are in the collection that relate directly to Noah Webster. These include his desk, two clocks, a bust, numerous pieces of china and glassware, and an early 19th-century ring with both his and his wife, Rebecca’s, hair encased in crystal. The collection includes over 200 original editions of books written by Noah Webster including several editions of his dictionaries, the "Blue-Backed Speller," his geography and history book and his two-volume History of Epidemic and Pestilential Diseases.
West Hartford Collection
The museum collections include 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century objects and documents related to the town’s history representing individuals, organizations and official town functions. This growing collection of memorabilia belonging to residents contains several hundred pieces, including some small and unique ones. The museum maintains a nice collection of clothing and textiles with over 50 large textile pieces. There are more than 60 cubic feet of manuscripts and documents of local and regional interest, including two extensive sets of personal letters from local families. The collection includes 30 pieces from the Goodwin Pottery, a local firm that flourished in the 19th century.
The House and Grounds
The Noah Webster House and grounds are owned by the Town of West Hartford. All contents of the house belong to the Noah Webster House, Inc.
The house is furnished to interpret late 18th-century New England life to visitors. Because there is no inventory from the Webster family, the house is furnished with items, original and reproduction, found in the inventories of other West Hartford families of the same social and financial background as the Webster’s. Members of the museum staff use reproduction artifacts to demonstrate aspects of 18th-century life and culture. The house is furnished as it might have been in 1774, the year that Noah left home for Yale College. Objects conform to this pre-Revolutionary period.
Library and Archives
The library and archives are open to researchers by appointment only. Appointments can be scheduled Monday - Thursday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m. Call Sheila Daley at 860.521.5362 x 17 to set up an appointment