The internet is such an amazing resource! Recently, we’ve had two folks contact us after finding objects made by their ancestors in our collections database, The Chace Catalogue.
First, there was the man who ran a search on bing.com for his family name, Lessard, and Waterville, Maine. He was thrilled to discover that we have two hats in our collection made by his grandmother, Clara Thibodeau Lessard. As far as the family knows, these hats are the only existing examples of her handiwork. They immediately contacted us (to correct the spelling of her name) and have since provided us with a scanned image of Clara and her five children, as well as an image of one of her business cards. Clara was a hardworking, creative woman who continues to be a source of admiration for her family.
Another researcher, the great-great-great granddaughter of George Deterich, was searching for information about his weaving patent when she came across a coverlet made by him in our collection. She has done a great deal of work establishing his whereabouts throughout the years. As an adult, George migrated from Pennsylvania to New York and then on to Michigan. He farmed the land while working on his trade as a weaver, eventually becoming quite proficient doing custom fancy work. We are grateful to her for providing us with a scanned image that family lore suggests is of George Deterich. Hopefully, one day, she will be able to make the trek up to the museum and view his workmanship in person.
I’m always eager to learn more about the people who created the wonderful artifacts in the ATHM collection. It’s one of the aspects I enjoy most about my job – making the connection between objects and people. Hats and coverlets are nice to look at, but it’s the personal stories, the history behind the object, that really brings them to life. So, if you have more information about an object in our collection, drop us a line, we’d love to hear from you.