What’s New at WDS – July 8, 2020

Collaboration with Trinity College

WDS is collaborating with Trinity College, and we have four highly motivated student interns working with us this summer! The interns are splitting their time between WDS and assisting Trinity Associate Professor of History Jennifer Regan-Lefebvre with editing for her new book, “Food, Wine, and World History,” which is due out this fall. Here is information on the students and what they’ll be doing at WDS this summer.

Doris Wang is from China. She is a rising senior at Trinity and a double major in math and studio arts. This summer her focus is to bring American history to new audiences. She is translating and creating information on WDS and U.S. history for the Chinese audience. Doris will be collaborating with Masho Strogoff on discovering ways to promote WDS to new fans in China.

Masho Strogoff came to the US. from Ethiopia when he was eight years old, and now lives in Massachusetts. He is a junior majoring in anthropology and is considering a minor in human rights. He is a leader in the Promoting Respect for Inclusive Diversity in Education campus organization and a member of the Trinity African Students Association. Masho and Doris will be exploring new ways to promote various aspects of life in the three houses that comprise WDS.

Kyrè William-Smith was born in San Diego and now lives in Chicago. He is a rising senior and a double major in classical studies and creative writing. He is part of the Masculinity Project, a member of the Classical Honors Society, and always offers a hand to anyone who needs it. His project at WDS focuses on Silas Deane’s interactions with classical text. Kyrè will delve into Deane’s education to see what he might have read and how those texts might have affected his work. He will also research ways to display the information on an online format.

Jaymie Bianca is from right here in Bristol, CT and very excited to be a summer intern at WDS. A rising senior, she is a triple major in educational studies, human rights, and English. Her campus activities include being a writing associate, first-year mentor, baton twirler at home football games, Women’s Center volunteer, English Student Advisory Board, and student liaison on task forces for Campus Climate, Women at Trinity, and Title IX regulations. She will work with WDS Acting Co-Director Cindy Riccio to develop new educational programming at WDS and explore how it can be brought to broader audiences through an online format.

Collections A to Z

“L” is for Looking Glass! Among the most prized furnishings of an 18th-century dwelling was the looking glass, what we today would call a mirror. Glass was an expensive commodity, particularly in the colonies where glass making in general was discouraged by British trade policies. Small pieces of glass, such as those used for windowpanes, were costly enough, but looking glasses could measure many times larger than a typical 4 X 5-inch windowpane. The cost of the silvering on the reverse of the looking glass, which provides its reflective quality, only added to the price. Wooden frames in a variety of finishes and motifs completed the object. Looking-glass frames run the gamut from simple to over-the-top elaborate. Frame styles also reflect the popular interior designs of the time. Take, for example, the looking glass that greets visitors in the first-floor hallway of the Webb House.

Dating to the 1790s, this example illustrates the influence of the so-called Adam style, named for three Scottish brothers who promoted this neoclassical interpretation in the mid-18th century. Though constructed of inexpensive pine, the frame bears gold leaf and is topped by an elaborate classical urn motif with trailing swags of cast leaves and blossoms. Despite the British origin of its design, this example, measuring 50 inches tall, is believed to have been made in America.

By the way, the fact that looking glasses show a reverse or flipped image likely inspired Lewis Carroll’s 1871 novel, “Alice Through the Looking Glass,” in which such a glass provided Alice with a portal to an alternate, bizarre universe. Don’t try this at home, kids!

Around the Grounds

This week in “Around the Grounds,” Acting Co-Directors Cindy Riccio and Rich Malley are checking out components of the elevator that is being installed in the new Education and Visitor Center. This is no ordinary elevator, folks. It will allow for transport of exhibit objects and archival materials from the workshop and storage areas on the lower level up to the Exhibit Hall on the first floor. It will also allow people easier access to the library and offices on the lower level. And, perhaps most importantly, this elevator will bring 21st-century access to a colonial-era treasure for people with disabilities!