March 2017 Newsletter

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Release Date: 
Thursday, March 2, 2017

March Newsletter 2017


On March 24 and 25, hundreds of schoolchildren from Delaware and Chester Counties will compete in CCHS’s 28th National History Day, whose 2017 theme is “Taking a Stand in History.” The students in grades 6 – 12 will present their research projects within the very walls where American values have been debated over the years.

The serpentine stone side of the CCHS building, the structure we affectionately call “Hort Hall,” has hosted many public meetings, from political and anti-slavery conventions to an 1863 speech by Frederick Douglass to recruit African American men for the United States Colored Troops. Most notably, in June 1852 it housed the first women’s rights convention in Pennsylvania, when participants took a public stand for gender equality, supporting fair and equal access to the vote, education and jobs.

I find it powerfully moving to be physically present where great events happened, like Philadelphia’s Independence Hall or Washington D.C.’s National Mall, the scene of many presidential inaugurations, memorable speeches and gatherings. Locally, our own Horticultural Hall served as the place for airing concerns and voicing opinions.

This has been an amazing season for political action by today’s American citizens. Folks have been “Taking a Stand” to express their beliefs in very public ways. The great issues of American history span the centuries, and on National History Day our local students will be “Taking a Stand” on subjects of race, gender, immigration, America’s place in the world, and the role of the media and the military. Perhaps among our 2017 NHD students will be some future leaders who help define their generation’s thinking on these timeless American themes.

Happy National History Day to us all!

For Chester County Historical Society,
Elizabeth Laurent, President
Chester County Historical Society
610-692-4800 ext. 237
News & Updates

Collections Department

Naturalist Graceanna Lewis

Among Chester County’s noteworthy naturalists was Graceanna Lewis (1821-1912) of Kimberton, who is also well-known as an abolitionist involved in the Underground Railroad.  She was recognized in her lifetime for her work with ornithology and jellyfish, among other subjects.  Lewis was a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences and the Delaware County Institute of Science.  She exhibited her work at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia and won awards at the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 and the St. Louis World’s Fair in 1904.  CCHS is fortunate to have more than two dozen of her botanical drawings.  Six of them are reproduced as notecards in recognition of the Antiques Show theme of botany.  The notecards are available in the Museum Shop.


Upcoming Events 

National History Day

Appoximately 300 students from all over Chester and Delaware counties are gearing up to participate in the 28th Annual SE Pennsylvania Regional National History Day (NHD) at CCHS on Friday, March 24 and Saturday, March 25, 2017 on this year's theme "Taking a Stand in History." NHD is a challenging academic competition that invites middle and high school students to present projects in five categories (paper, exhibit, documentary, website, or performance) showcasing their research and presentation skills. About 100 volunteer, trained adult judges will evaluate projects and determine which finalists go on to the PA State National History Day Competition in Carlisle, PA. Parents and friends cheer on students at the awards ceremony at the end of both competition days. For more information about our regional NHD, visit

In addition, any student in grades 6 through 12 is invited to participate in our related photography contest ( 

Please direct questions to Joana Arruda, NHD Coordinator at, 610-692-4800 x. 202

The Chester County Antiques Show:  Then and Now

Thanks to our wonderful archives and library staff, I have on my desk an original catalog from the Chester County Historical Society’s very first Antiques Show.  Back in 1983, when the idea was first germinated, the Show was held in two locations—CCHS’s Horticultural Hall and the old Armory building across from CCHS on High Street (this was well before we expanded into the brick YMCA building). Two dozen antiques dealers filled the Armory with several others located in CCHS.  I am told that volunteers descended the stairs of CCHS with platters of food, destined for the Armory across the street, and that the trays were empty before they arrived.  Roland Woodward was then President and Wesley Sessa began what would become his long career as the Show Manager, which continues to this day.  Later venues for the show included West Chester University, QVC, and the Westtown School .

Looking back over the years, much has changed but the high quality of the show remains.  Many of our nearly 50 exhibitors representing 12 states have been with the Show for many years as have many volunteers. 

This year’s Show, now in its 35th year, is to be held at the Phelps School in Malvern on Saturday, April 8th and Sunday, April 9th.  There will be something, from furnishings, to books, to fine arts, to jewelry and china, which everyone, at any age and at any budget, will want to see, purchase and be inspired by.  We look forward to seeing you there!

Tickets to the Show and the fabulous Preview Party are now on sale!  Please visit www.chestercohistorial/2017antiquesshow.  For media inquiries or information on sponsorship opportunities, please contact Sylvia Bastani, Senior Director of Development and Communication  at 610-692-4800, ext. 267 or at

A Century of Early Quilts

A Quilt Turning at Chester County Historical Society 

Saturday, May 13, 2017

 View 18th- and 19th-century quilts up close from the permanent collection. 

This all-day program includes:

24 turned quilts, w guided tour of the 2nd rotation of Quilts: The Next Layer (reopens end of April with 24 different quilts), quilted artifacts from storage (Ann Marsh quilted petticoat, pieced pocket, stuffed work, etc.), and Show and Tell.

Participants may share one artifact or up to three digital images.  Send digital images in advance.

Personal use photography is permitted.  Acknowledgement of CCHS as the source is appreciated.


9 – 9:30 a.m.               Registration

9:30 – 11:45 a.m.        Activity #1 Quilt Turning (half of the group)

                                    Activity #2 Exhibit Tour and Behind-the-Scenes Artifacts (half of the group)

11:45 – 12:45              Lunch 

12:45 – 3:00 p.m.        Groups reverse activities.

3:10 – 4:00 p.m.          Show and Tell, Wrap-Up


Cost: $60 CCHS members, $70 non-members (includes catered buffet lunch)

Registration required.  Maximum: 30 (15 per activity) or 610-692-4800 by May 3.

$30 of the registration fee is designated for goods and services. $40 of the fee is tax deductible.

Proceeds from this workshop will be used to photograph quilts in the CCHS permanent collection

Checks may be mailed to:
225 North High Street
West Chester, PA 19380

Support Our Neighbors!
A Night of Kings, Queens & Stars 
A Fundraising Event for RTC
Monday, March 13, 2017
Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center
226 N. High St. West Chester
Enjoy Live Broadway Music from your favorite QVC Hosts, David Venable & Nancy Hornback along with the leads from the spamalot cast.  Plus food, beverage, and a live auction. 

Buy Tickets Here