Defining the Dictionary

Discovering the story behind words

“Look it up in Webster’s.” A work with such brand recognition that it goes simply by the author’s last name, An American Dictionary of the English Language is the topic of a new exhibit at the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society. While Webster did not invent the dictionary, what he did do was no less important. He wrote the first American dictionary for the country he helped to shape. Webster sought to unite the people of the new nation by establishing a common American language. The exhibit looks at Webster’s early work and influences and also explores the relationship with Charles and George Merriam who, after Webster’s death, purchased the rights to An American Dictionary as well as the remaining unsold copies to sell in their shop. Today, Merriam-Webster Incorporated maintains the spirit of Noah Webster and the essence of his life’s work by chronicling the ever-evolving American English language. 

 

 

Past Exhibits

“THE TOWN: REFOCUSED” EXHIBIT TO OPEN OCTOBER 20
West Hartford Historical Society features the work of Ginny Kemp

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society announces the opening of a photography exhibit featuring work of local artist, Ginny Kemp.  The public is invited to attend the opening of “The Town: Refocused” exhibit on Thursday, October 20, 2016 at 6 p.m. at the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society, 227 South Main Street, West Hartford, Connecticut.  This event is free and no registration is required.

Originally from Michigan, Ginny, moved to West Hartford six years ago with her husband and three kids. She felt an instant connection to the place – the sidewalks, old trees, friendly people, and the history. West Hartford was the Connecticut version of her Midwestern hometown. It was a natural fit.

The exhibit “The Town: Refocused” will give visitors a chance to see a wonderful collection of photographs taken all around town. Ginny uses her camera to capture the historical detail and beauty that make West Hartford and the surrounding area such an amazing place to call home. Visitors will be challenged to try to identify familiar places using just small details that Ginny has focused on in her photography. Curator Sheila Daley says “Ginny has a unique way of looking at the things around us. By paying close attention to details she gets us to take another look at familiar things and see things we may have overlooked.”

Ginny launched her antique print business, The Blue Twig, in 2012.  Although her collection is wide ranging, she’s most drawn to paper that lends itself well to modern settings. Engravings featuring simple architectural detail, woodblock textile designs and astronomy charts are a few that rank high on her list of favorites. Regardless of the subject matter, Ginny’s primary goal for her business is to offer an art collection that includes only the most extraordinary works on paper.

At the start, photography was simply a task among many for The Blue Twig.  Recognizing the importance of quality product shots, Ginny recruited some (very patient) local photographers to help hone her skills. She began to sneak out before dawn to shoot around town while her family and the city slept.  She was hooked and, not surprisingly, the images she loved most had a similar vibe to the antique prints she gravitates toward – architectural close ups, diagonal lines, patterns of all sorts, anything uncluttered with beautiful detail.

As Ginny’s love for and knowledge of photography grew, she noticed that vintage photos and other prints related to the Hartford area were selling quickly. She decided to grow a local line and set out to find more antique paper. A handful of very cool pieces were unearthed but not nearly as many as she’d hoped for. Ginny picked up her camera and hasn’t stopped.

“The Town: Refocused” will be on display at the museum during regular hours through January 2017.

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is a not-for-profit museum and cultural destination where citizens can learn to understand and appreciate the past. The museum preserves the birthplace of Noah Webster, the Founding Father, educator, author and lexicographer who taught generations of Americans what it means to be American. This National Historic Landmark is also a repository for the history of West Hartford, the community that molded Webster’s future and is still thriving over 250 years later. The historic house and exhibit spaces are open daily 1-4 p.m. For information on the museum’s extensive school and public programs, visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org or call 860-521-5362.

 

 

What led a small agricultural town to transform into a thriving suburb? This exhibittraces the evolution of business in West Hartford using a collection of photographs taken in 1966 by the Town Zoning and Planning Commission. Originally taken to document sign and zoning infringements, the collection now offers an incedible view at the town's past.

 

During the 20th century, a major period of growth altered the town's landscape. Advanced in technology like the trolley, factories, and cars allowed city dwellers to escape into the newly developing suburbs. And businesses came along to meet their needs. In 1957, the town had 329 businesses, including 48 food stores, 46 apparel shops, and 11 automotive shops.

Learn more about the last fifty years of business in West Hartford through panels featuring different parts of town, and take a stroll down memory lane with items from the museum's collection. The exhibit will be up through September 2016.

This is a traveling exhibit which can be loaned to local organizations. Please call 860-521-5362 x17 if you are interested in learning more.