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New Year's goals; Preserving priceless documents;
Maple sugar -  a sweet tradition!
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    ICRC a Participant in Old Mystic Holiday Stroll

           On December 5th the ICRC participated in the Old Mystic Holiday Stroll; several board members and volunteers were at the bank during the stroll to welcome guests and introduce them to the splendid resources the Center has to offer. Twenty-two guests took advantage of the opportunity to visit the ICRC on a Saturday afternoon. A celebratory cake was served at the end of the evening.
            Installation of new track lighting in the front gallery room was in place and the Commonalities photos that had been exhibited at the Mystic & Noank Library were rehung in time for the event. This was an exciting opportunity because it was exactly the sort of enhanced community involvement that the Center is trying to encourage and be a part of! 

      Annual Members’ Meeting Reviews 2015 Progress and 2016 Goals

 

      The 48th ICRC Annual Membership Meeting and Luncheon was held at Go Fish in Olde Mistick Village on November 14th. The ICRC was incorporated on December 9th, 1965 and the 50th Anniversary was celebrated in 2015. There was much to be thankful for, including the hospitality and generosity of Mr. Jon Kodama who returned all proceeds from the event to the ICRC.         
            We were fortunate to have as our guest speaker, Dr. Brian D. Jones, the state archaeologist, who gave a fascinating talk on “Five Things Everyone Should Know about the Native American Archaeology of Connecticut.”  During his discussion, Dr. Jones singled out ICRC founder, Eva Lutz Butler, for the significance of her contributions and her ground breaking work.
            As usual the 50-50 Raffle was a spirited event. The lucky winner, Nancy Mitchell, generously donated her winnings to the ICRC!
            The following is the Board of Directors’ Report, presented at the meeting by Sharon Maynard, providing a nice summary of the organization’s goals and achievements.

“Friends and Members of the ICRC:
            On behalf of the Board of Directors, I would like to offer the 2015 Indian and Colonial Research Center’s Board of Director’s Report. We are proud of what we have accomplished this year. Along with the help of our volunteers:
 We were able to provide research services to the public two days per week.
 We planned and are currently presenting a public photo exhibit at the Mystic and Noank Library. The exhibit opened on October 3rd and has been extended to Nov. 20, 2015.
 We have worked diligently to update the ICRC bylaws. These updates were recently emailed out to all of our members along with the membership renewals. Member input is welcome. Please contact the Board with your comments.
            Although we have moved forward this year on a number of fronts, the ICRC faces some leadership challenges.  We no longer have  a  president  since  Kimberly  Hatcher-White‘s resignation.  If the ICRC is to grow during its next 50 years a dedicated person is  needed.  This person should not only be interested in preserving local history  but should have some organizational skills.
            We are excited to share with you a few of our goals for this year. We shall:
 Continue fundraising efforts to ensure ICRC remains a viable and stable organization.
 Continue to offer outreach to the community such as the photo exhibit and to offer other programs if possible.
 Continue to upgrade our website to promote the ICRC and its research possibilities.
 Continue to find new ways to care for our collections such as the digitalization of video and audio recordings.
 Recruit new volunteers in order to open on Saturdays, along with Tuesdays and Thursdays. These new initiatives are important because not only will they help us carry out the mission of the ICRC, they will move our organization into the 21st century.
            In closing, we would like to emphasize that, as a membership, all volunteer organization, your continued support makes it possible for us to attain our goals and share our wonderful collections with the public.”

(Note: The annual reports of the Treasurer, Recording Secretary, and Membership Coordinator are printed at the end of this newsletter and are on file at ICRC.)

 

    Making Fragile Documents Safe and Accessible

By Christopher Rose

 

 The ICRC has a remarkable collection of documents and photos. Most of these items have been cataloged and are indexed so researchers can access the documents for inspection. But, and this is a big ‘but’, the actual paper and negatives are so fragile that they should only be handled under very meticulous conditions. For these records to become more accessible to our members and researchers, we have begun the process of digitizing these documents.
    The process is rather simple but must be carefully executed.  There are X number of boxes containing paper records in the vault at the Center. Each box contains Y number of folders with a corresponding item number in our Past Perfect database. Each folder may contain one or more documents with different reference numbers. Some of the documents have information on both sides of the paper and many of the documents have several pages. So it is important to save the digitized page with the appropriate box number, file number, document identifier and page number. Sound simple, right? It actually is.
    A file is established on the computer and documents are scanned. Each page is opened in Photoshop and inspected to determine the quality of the scan. Adjustments can be made to make the document more readable. For example, if the writing or print has faded on the original, the contrast can be adjusted. Some documents were written with ink that has bled through the paper, making the words on the other side illegible. It is possible to carefully scrub out the bleed through making the words clear on both sides of the digitized document. Once the document is fully adjusted, it is saved in the appropriate file and linked to the item number in Past Perfect making the fragile information available to our researchers without jeopardizing damage to the original piece of paper.

 

(Editor’s note: Chris not only wrote this article, he is doing the work described.)

 

     ICRC Building Bundled Up for the Winter!

 

 

Thanks to efforts by Board members Robert Mohr and Allen Polhemus, the ICRC qualified for a state neighborhood assistance program and secured a donation from Rosetto Builders of Mystic to cover the cost of attic insulation. C&R Insulation was hired to do the installation.  The work was completed in  early November, just in time for us to begin enjoying the benefits of lower fuel bills and warmer feet!

 

 
Spring Will Bring Return of a Tasty Tradition

 By Jane Schoonover, ICRC Volunteer  

            "March is the traditional time of the year to get out your galvanized buckets and collect one of nature's finest products - maple sugar." Maple sugar season varies in different parts of the country depending on whether Spring comes early or late. The sap flows best when the change from winter to spring is a slow one. A succession of bright warm days followed by frosty nights is ideal "sugar weather."
            Indigenous peoples of the Northeast, the first to enjoy this special treat, taught the colonists their technique, and as early as 1641 settlers in New England and New York were maple sugaring, too.
            At the time of tapping the maple trees, some of the tribes held a Dance, believing that this would bring on the warm weather needed to make the sap flow and to encourage the flow to become stronger. A ceremonial fire was built under the largest maple tree (often 2 feet in diameter), and as soon as the tap began to flow the leader of the Maple Thanksgiving Ceremony dropped pinches of sacred tobacco on the fire and made a prayer of thanks to the Creator for once again keeping His promise of renewed life. Parents danced their thanks, holding up their infant sons, praying that one day they might become stalwart braves.
            For six long weeks they tapped, gathering and boiling sap, granulating sugar, and eating bear meat cooked in sugar. Toward the end of the season, which can last one or two months, no sugar was made, only molasses which was usually boiled. It takes 7 to 8 gallons of sap to make one pound of sugar – obviously a lot of work, work that traditionally fell mainly to the women to perform.    
            Located in Exeter, Rhode Island, the Tomaquag Museum (established by Eva Lutz Butler over 50 years ago) sometimes hosted a Maple Sugaring Festival, tapping trees in the traditional Indian way. This museum is Rhode Island's only native operated facility dedicated to the sharing of indigenous culture, arts and history, It focuses on tribal communities of Southern New England, especially the Narragansett and Niantic tribes.                               
            I am sure many of you readers have discovered one or more of Connecticut's maple sugaring farms. Enjoy the season beginning in March, if not earlier! Delicious!!   

 

Note: This information about Indian maple sugaring practices was taken from ICRC Notebook #51. The quote at the start of this article is found on page 123 of that notebook  in an unidentified newspaper article dated April 6, 1982.

 

 

  Welcome New Members!
                                             

   A warm welcome to our newest members: Seth Hoyt and Margaret Favretti
Happy to have you on board!
Also recognizing members Chris Rose and George Crouse who have recently accepted positions on the ICRC Board of Directors!


Consider Volunteering at ICRC!

We thank all members for their financial support.  Consider volunteering a little of your time between 10:00 to 4:00 on Tuesdays and Thursdays.  It would be an opportunity to get to know our collections better and to greet visitors to the center. With more volunteers we would consider opening on an occasional Saturday to attract those visitors that cannot come on a weekday. If you are interested in volunteering or would like more information contact us at: icrc06372@yahoo.com.


Membership Dues - a Friendly Reminder

If you haven’t renewed your ICRC membership yet, we hope that you will! Payments may be sent to the Indian and Colonial Research Center, P.O. Box 525, Old Mystic, CT  06372. For those who have already renewed, many thanks! With no endowments or other financial safety nets, your dues are the financial mainstay that pays our bills, keeps our doors open, and enriches our community.  
 

 

A Question from Hawaii!

Volunteer Joyce Tessier fields many questions and research requests from ICRC members and the public at large, but she doesn’t usually receive inquiries from as far away as Hawaii! Last summer a descendant of Capt. John Fish was applying for entry into the National Society Daughters of the American Colonists (NSDAC). The person facilitating the application was based in Hawaii. What was needed was an official document about Capt. Fish that predated the Revolution. Although Joyce found several documents about Fish, only one met the date requirement, and that one was not the type of document NSDAC was looking for. Even though the result was disappointing, our Hawaiian researcher exclaimed, “What treasures you have!” How true!

 

Additional Annual Reports for 2015 Submitted at Membership Meeting

Treasurer’s Report Presented by Robert Mohr

“On October 31, 2015 The ICRC had $19,370.43 on deposit at Charter Oak Credit Union.  This compares to $18,718.31 on October 31, 2014.
During the fiscal year we had income of $10,407.68 and expenses of $9,755.56 or net income of $652.12.
The largest income categories were Membership fees of $4245, donations of $3745, the Whist donation from the Women’s club of $1036 and the annual Luncheon of $640.
Major expenses were computer related expenses of $1055, heating - $2372, Insurance $1055 and Utilities - $2559.”

Membership Report Presented by Joyce Tessier

“During our fiscal year, November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015, the Indian and Colonial Research Center has added 14 new members. 
The Spring mailing, to encourage unpaid members, resulted in 3 renewals. 
There are 54 unpaid memberships for the year.  The Total membership for the year November 1, 2014 through October 31, 2015 stands at 243.
Members lost to death include Raymond Overton and Will Ottery.
Respectfully submitted, Joyce Tessier Membership Coordinator”

 
Recording Secretary’s Annual Report Presented by Barbara Fontanella

“With thanks to you, our members, our dedicated volunteers and our contributors: 2015 can be called a successful year.  Looking back, looking at 2015 and looking ahead were three points of focus I saw this year.
The Collection:
Looking back
It was on December 9, 1965, that The Indian & Colonial Research Center, Inc., a nonprofit corporation, was formed for the purpose of preserving and carrying forward the historical collection of Mrs. Eva Lutz Butler, a teacher, local historian and anthropologist who made history and helped keep history alive.
Looking at 2015:  
As part of the 50th Anniversary Events, the Center participated in this year’s Connecticut Open House Day on Saturday June 13th with a special front room display and with plans to change the front room display from time to time so that visitors can see new as well as familiar presentations.  50th Anniversary Events celebrating the formation of the ICRC were held throughout the year. In October of 2015 (held over through November) an exhibit of forty or more Elmer Waite photographs from the Center’s extensive collection were selected, prepared, framed and displayed in the Ames Room at the Mystic Noank library. An event offered free to the public.
With a view towards communications:  Improvements were made to the Center's Website and Facebook; computers were updated to Windows 7 and library software to Past Perfect 5.  ICRC’s newsletter carried articles with a unique historical focus and the use of signs and posters were employed in different ways.
Looking ahead:
Dedicated volunteers and members (and we need more of them) seem prepared to ensure the preservation, protection, digitization, growth, updating and responsible sharing (local and worldwide) of ICRC’s resources.
The Building:
Looking back: 
The red brick Mystic Bank building on Main Street in Old Mystic was built in 1856 and in the 1960s, it became ICRC’s home.
Looking at 2015:
The ICRC and the Mystic Bank made history, when, after years of efforts, Historic Plaques (Federal and State) were installed on the front of the Bank Building.  An official notification letter, received in January of 2015, informed the ICRC that the Mystic Bank building is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places by the National Park Services as of August 8, 2014.  And for those who want to know more about this event, just check the spring 2015 issue of our newsletter, “The ICRC Insider”, which at present, can be found on the Center's website.
Updating and maintaining the building are always considerations and contributions were made in 2015 that helped install extra Front Room lighting.  An insulation Grant was obtained.  The Mystic Woman’s Club contributed improvement monies.  In addition, there were membership monies; individual and corporate contributions; Annual Meeting proceeds and a 50/50 raffle contribution that helped to heat, cool, light, insure, repair and improve the building and the collections housed by the building.
Looking ahead: 
There are ideas for exhibits, improvements and room arrangements. And what is a building without people?  So, there are ideas for attracting and keeping ICRC volunteers, members, and contributors to help keep the doors open.
The Community:
Looking back: 
Community has always been an important part of the Center.
Looking at 2015: 
There was ICRC participation in the 6th Annual History Fair, offered free to the public and hosted by the Groton Public Library September 26th.  Many local history organizations had tables full of history along with an item or two for sale.  The event even offered door prizes and a colonial magician.
The Center embraced the local community by joining in with the Community Association, Old Mystic’s Fire Department, the Baptist Church and the United Methodist Church in sponsoring summer fun, food and entertainment at a Community Picnic offered free to sponsors and their members and friends and free to Old Mystic residents and friends.
The Center joined with local Community organizations in sponsoring an "Old Mystic Office of Tourism" poster inviting people to visit us.
Which leads us to today – another Annual Meeting with members and their friends – and another outstanding meal at “Go Fish” donated by Mr. Jon Kodama.  We hope you enjoy dining, meeting with one another, and listening to the wonderful speaker we have planned for you.
And looking ahead:
Here’s hoping the ICRC, with your help and ours, with the help of those who could not be with us today and with the help of new volunteers, will continue to thrive.  Thank you.
Respectfully submitted, Barbara Fontanella, Recording Secretary”


 

 

 

Copyright © 2016 The Indian & Colonial Research Center, Inc., All rights reserved.


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