I recently presented a paper at the annual meeting conference of the Assn. for the Study of Connecticut History, held at Manchester Community College. Fortunately, my presentation was the first after the keynote address so I could relax the rest of the day and enjoy all the other presentations.
Women in Connecticut
The theme of the conference was “Women in Connecticut,” which fit so well with my book “Tracing the Invisible Women Who Helped Birth Connecticut.” The three concurrent sessions each had three presenters. There was great variety in the subject matter of the sessions. The negative, if one feels it necessary to find a negative, was that it was hard to choose what sessions to attend. A number of times sessions I wanted to attend were opposite each other so I had to choose.
Although the majority of the speakers were from academia or museum staffs, I was gratified to meet other independent historians that are passionately working on projects similar to mine. As the day progressed, my mind was assimilating some of the ideas and words I was hearing for use in my book. Once again, I see the importance of being around like-minded individuals who can understand how you are feeling.
Two of my favorite presentations were right in the same session with me.
1) Patricia Oat from the Hill-Stead Museum gave a very enlightened talk about the challenges of being a loyalist during the Revolutionary War, entitled “Behind the Kings Lines: The Experience of a Loyalist’s Daughter in the American Revolution.”
2) Kevin Finefrock’s “The ‘Peculiar Haughtiness’ of ‘the Very Agreeable and Accomplished’ Susannah Wyllys Strong: The Politics of Gender and Social Status in Early Connecticut’” was a revelation on the class system and politics of the time.
Two talks I would have loved to attend but couldn’t fit into my schedule were:
1) “The Hidden Ones: Southern New England Women Reconsidered,” by Joann Zeisner from the Stanley-Whitman House. I was presenting at the same time or this would have been one of my choices.
2) Christopher Collier from the University of Connecticut gave a presentation on “Sarah Banks and the ‘Married Virgins’ Property Act of 1877. Even though it is outside my research period, I would have chosen this one if I could have because of its intriguing title.
The only drawback of the conference for me was that there was almost nothing on the seventeenth century, which is my area of research. This is a continuing problem for me. It is very difficult to research the seventeenth century because so few primary sources are available and few people are researching it.
Conferences, especially for writers, are always great for revving up the enthusiasm and getting the creative juices flowing