Recent Acquisitions to the Archives
We are pleased to share that we recently added several significant items to the JPWL Archives. The materials include a Bible inscribed “William A. Burr of West Hartford, June 29th 1846,” a small hymnal (Happy Voices, ca. 1840) inscribed “C.W. Mallory,” and, significantly, two meeting house pew diagrams dated 1814 and 1834.
The pew diagrams are especially exciting to have because they give us a glimpse of church cultural norms in the early 19th century. We can see who sat near the front during services and meetings — and who sat in the back. “Mr. Perkins’ Pew” is clearly noted, as is a section for “Old Maids.”
The items were donated by Ms. Tena Benson, the great granddaughter of Rev. Thomas M. Hodgdon, who was pastor of First Church from 1891 to 1926. Ms. Benson, of Milwaukee, WI described finding the materials in a trunk filled with old books and papers that her mother had intended to donate to First Church. This is the second group of items from the family; in 2017 Ms. Benson donated two boxes of antique books (Bibles, songbooks, religious instruction guides), and a wonderful quilt dedicated to Rev. Hodgdon that had been “signed” (stitched) by members of the church at his retirement.
We are delighted to add these valuable documents and books to our already outstanding historical collection, and we hope to have them on display in the near future.