PO Box 411, 2-4 Boston Road, Westford, MA 01886
Tel: (978) 692-5550, Fax (978) 692-5550

 
The Westford Museum houses several permanent exhibits. Temporary exhibits highlight parts of our collections which cannot be displayed permanently. A large percentage of our collections are in storage. If you are interested in something in particular, please contact us to set up a time to view objects in storage.

Feature Artifact of the Month

February 2013

Copper Plate of Town Farm

Copper plate over wood block
Made after 1893
8" x 4 ¾" x 1"

The Town Farm, also known as the Alms House or Poor House, was founded in 1824, while the barn was built in 1893. It functioned as the town's early form of social security by aiding and housing the poor, mentally ill, and the elderly. Its basement was also used as the town's jail. As the Town Farm, it closed in 1959. The barn subsequently burned down, but the main building is still owned and operated by the town's recreation department.

The art of making and using printing plates goes back to fifteenth century Germany. Rembrandt of the seventeenth century practiced the art, while Juan Miro is a twentieth century example that used plates. This copper printing plate is in the style of Intaglio Printing. Ink is applied to the recessed area of the plate, and strongly pressed onto damp paper. Copper plates are made in the photogravure style, or heliogravure. The image is created through sensitizing the copper plate and exposing it to light. Resin or similar substance is spread over it. Variations in tone are utilized to create the image instead of etched lines, while other plates may be applied to further vary the tones. It is not unlike the use of pixels on a computer monitor. Machines can be used to replicate the process, leading to the cylindrical pate known as the rotogravure.

Donated to the Westford Museum by the Town of Westford. W.1998.89

December 2012-January 2013

Mary Atwood's Handkerchief

Handkerchief
10" x 10.5" (unfolded) 5" x 5.5" (folded)
Probably cotton Green
White machine embroidered "M"

Christmas Gift Tag
1.5" x 4"
Tan, brown, red, and green ink

Handkerchiefs (hankies) are used for both hygienic and decorative purposes. They existed as far back as the Roman Empire. However, they did not become a major a part of a person's attire until the Renaissance. They came in many colors and styles for both men and women, while feminine designs tended to be more elaborate. While originally seen as a sign of wealth, they became more common heading into the twentieth century, due to the advent of machine made fabrics. By the latter half of the twentieth century, disposable, more hygienic alternatives like tissues and less formal attire becoming more popular made hankies uncommon.

This hanky was given as a Christmas gift, probably to Mary Atwood around 1900. It was given by Mabelle, presumably a family friend or relative.

Donated by Deborah Stein-Sharpe in 2008, and is part of the Atwood Collection. W.2008.13.6.37

November 2012

Civil War Bayonet and Scabbard

Bayonet:
1861
17" blade, notched handle, rear reinforcing band with notch to allow entry of barrel stud, with zigzag slot in socket to lock against barrel stud. Adjustable band to tighten against barrel.
Donated by Elwin Bagley W.2002.54b

Scabbard:
17" Long
Leather and Brass
Civil War bayonet scabbard design varied, but adhered to the same general design. The top was designed to attach to a soldier's utility belt, while the brass bottom housed the tip. Modern bayonet holsters are considerably smaller to accommodate the Bowie Knife style.
Donated by George Shepherd

 

October 2012

Native American Artifacts

The Westford Museum has numerous Native American Artifacts. Most were donated by the Fletcher Library in the 1980s. The two pictured here have strong connections to the town or are unique to the collection.

Pestle:
35.5cm x 6cm variable
Dense, dark gray stone

Pestles were grinding tools often used in grinding seeds and other foods. They were common during the Late Woodland Period (400 – 1,000 years ago). Inked inscription: "I-M-5 / Found By W. Fletcher 6/1/1954 / [Near] Depot, Westford, MA / Tadmuc Tribe" A "Tadmuc Tribe" is not mentioned in Hodgman's History of Westford, which briefly discusses the Native American inhabitants. It is unclear if this tribe ever existed. The name "Tadmuc" is likely related to the local Tadmuck Brook and its general area. The Fletchers had farmland nearby. N.2010.1.4

Effigy:
8.5cm x 3.8cm
Dark gray stone pitted from weathering

Effigies such as this Birdstone Effigy are from the Early Woodland Period (2,000 – 2,700 years ago), and are associated with the Adena culture. Their use is no longer clear, but their theorized use ranges from ceremonial to atlatl weights. Atlatls are spear throwing devices common in most ancient cultures. N.2010.1.6

 

August 2012

Noah Prescott's Personal Storage Trunk

Wood with leather covering, leather hinges, a metal latch with lock mechanism, and paper lining.
Made before 1889.

Noah Prescott, who owned this trunk by 1889, was born June 21, 1848, and died Nov 11, 1900. He worked at the Forge Village Horse Nail Company, which was founded in 1710 by ancestor Jonas Prescott (1678 – 1870) as the Westford Forge Company, and stayed in the family until 1865, before the company ceased in 1876. Noah also owned stone yards at Brookside and Westford Station in town.

Inside the trunk is a Boston Herald newspaper dated February 9, 1899 (Vol. CV, No. 40). It includes an article on an upcoming speech by President McKinley in Boston. There is also an article on New York Governor Roosevelt approving money for the Buffalo Pan-American Fair held in 1901. The fair was the site of McKinley's assassination. It was common for newspapers to be used to line the bottom of trunks such as this one. Lockable trunks such as these were often used for the storage of valuables. Other than the newspaper, it is not known what Noah stored in this trunk.

Donated in 1985 by Westford resident Gordon Seavey (1906 – 1996). W.1985.2.1

 

Minstrel toyJune 2012

Bojangles Mechanical Minstrel Toy

This mechanical toy was made in the 1930s. It is likely in the image of Bill "Bojangles" Robinson, who was an actor and dancer around the same time. The mechanism used is a metal coil wound by a key on the side. Energy from the coil is transferred to the numerous gears to create movement not unlike some mechanical clocks. The overall construction is metal, and it is dressed with fabric clothing. Windup mechanisms were made by Leonardo da Vinci in the sixteenth century, and windup toys are still sold today.

The toy was donated to the Fletcher Library by Frank and Edith Jarvis, and donated to the Westford Museum in 1983. Francis "Frank" Jarvis was born in Westford on August 10, 1906, and died in Westford on April 28, 1998.

W.1983.17.1

April 2012

What's up with the Wood?

This set of seventeen different wooden artifacts was donated to the Westford Museum in 2001 by the J.V. Fletcher Library. Prior to the existence of the Museum, historical artifacts from various local donors were collected by the Library. Starting in 1983, some of the Library's historical artifacts were transferred to the Museum. Although all interesting, the objects' only connections to Westford are through their donors. G.2001.1

Wood collectionPieces of Charter Oak: The Charter Oak Tree was cut down by Simon Brown. Location of the tree is unknown. One piece of the tree is bark, and the other is a cross cutting. Donated to Library by E.F. Fletcher.

Sparrow Hawk: This is a piece of the ship Sparrow Hawk. Six months after the Pilgrims landed in Plymouth, the Sparrow Hawk was shipwrecked near present day Orleans, Cape Cod, in 1626. It was bound for Virginia. Donated to Library by Augustus Bunce.

Cumberland: This piece of wood is likely a piece of the USS Cumberland, which was active between 1843 and 1862. It was sunk by Ironclad CSS Virginia in 1862. Donated to Library by Elizabeth Whitney.

Kearsarge: The Kearsarge sunk the Confederate ship Alabama in 1864. These are two pieces of the Kearsarge: one is a piece of the keel, and the other is unknown. Donated to Library Elizabeth Whitney.

Wood Cross: This wood cross was made from the Shiloh Church in Pittsburg Landing, TN, near the Civil War battle on April 6 and 7, 1862. Donated to Library by E.F. Fletcher.

Bark of Tree: The bark came from the tree that served as a flagstaff during the Revolutionary War. The location of this flagstaff is unknown. Donated to Library by Elizabeth Whitney.

Washington Elm: Bark from a Washington Elm in Cambridge, MA. Donated by E.F. Fletcher.

Piece of Tree used for Railroad Ties: This wood is from a tree used for the last railroad ties on the Central Pacific Railroad. Donated to Library by Augustus Bunce.

Relic from Hancock House: The house from which this wood came was built in Boston in 1737 and was owned by John Hancock's cousin Thomas. The house was demolished in 1863. A replica of the house was built by 1926 as a museum in Ticonderoga, NY and is currently run by the Ticonderoga Historical Society.

Constitution: This wooden peg is from the USS Constitution. Donated to Library by Elizabeth Whitney.

In addition, there are four unidentified pieces.

February 2012

Frye's Grammar School Geography, New England Edition

The Frye's Grammar School Geography, New England Edition, was written by Alexis Everett Frye, who was previously the Superintendent of Schools in Cuba. It's a hard cover book containing color maps and instructional text. It was published in Boston, MA, in 1902 by Ginn and Company Publishers, which was part of the Athenaeum Press. Ginn and Co. was later bought out by the Penguin Group.

The preface of the book states that "In this book, man is the central thought … [The book has] a single purpose, namely, to present the earth as the home of man…"

Color printing was uncommon in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. The color pictures in the book were engraved primarily from photographs. The specific method behind the coloring process for this book is not stated. However, a common method used around nineteen-hundred was chromolithography. It is a form of lithographic printing. The image is first applied to a flat zinc plate with a grease crayon. A gum and weak acid solution is then applied. It is then dampened, inked, and pressed onto the paper. A separate plate for each color is required, which makes the process labor intensive and expensive.

This book was owned by Alice "Ella" Prescott, a lifelong Westford resident. She was born on December 2, 1886. On August 4, 1914, she married Frank Collins. She died October 24, 1984.

Frye's Grammar School Geography W.2001.83j

atlas Zoom to Westford

January 2012

The "Candid" Television

These televisions were made starting in 1948 by Pilot Radio Corp (Later Pilot Electric Manufacturing Co) of New York City. Pilot was formally organized in 1922 by Isidor Goldberg, and later bought out by Emerson Radio Corp in 1965. The full name of this TV was the "TV37V AC Portable Television Receiver." Its dimensions are fourteen inches wide, thirteen inches deep, and nine and a half inches high. Due to its unusually small three inch screen, a magnifying lens accessory was available.

This TV was designed to be cheaper for 1948 standards. The suggested retail was only $99, as compared to the $435 RCA 630TS of 1946. The very small screen is one example of cost saving. Another cost saving measure is seen through a variable tuner, which requires less parts than a clicking turner. A heavy power transformer is also not included, which forces the set of twenty-one tubes to be placed in two "series strings."

This 1948 television was donated by Connie English, formerly of Carlisle Rd in 1998. Connie English was a very active member of the Historical Society in its early days.

W.1998.9

 

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PO Box 411, 2-4 Boston Road, Westford, MA 01886, Tel: (978) 692-5550