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Three Days Of Special Events Planned By Historical Society

Newtown Historical Society has three days of special events planned this month. The first program is for its current crew of docents, but is special in that it is also being opened to those who are interested in becoming a docent and would consider volunteering their time to the society. The second program will be an open house and living history demonstration, and the third will be an evening program on the history and traditions of Ellis Island.

An educational seminar for those interested in the society’s docent program has been scheduled for Saturday, April 12.

A docent is a greeter and tour guide at a museum or historic house. The historical society utilizes senior and junior docents.

Junior docents are students 10 years old through high school. They greet visitors, play games with them, and some of the more experienced junior docents give tours. Senior docents give tours and supervise the junior docents.

Most of the society’s docents are not expects in history. They simply have an interest in all things Colonial, although most do have a special area of interest that they like to focus on. Whether it is furniture, clothing, farming or gardening, colonial activities, the Curtiss family, or the social aspects of life, visitors will enjoy learning about any topic a docent wishes to discuss.

Docents continue to learn as they go, so newcomers can start with little or no knowledge of Colonial history. All that is needed is the desire to learn, and share that knowledge.

The educational seminar being offered during the afternoon of April 12 is for the historical society’s current docents, as well for those who are interested in learning more about the program, and perhaps joining.

Adrienne Saint Pierre, curator of the Barnum Museum, will present “Costume in Context: A Close Look at 18th Century American Dress with Hints on Making Good Reproductions.”

Ms Saint Pierre has been working in historic clothing and textiles for 30 years and has made a number of exact reproductions. Among her projects are two copies of Emily Dickenson’s only extant dress, commissioned by the Emily Dickinson Homestead in Amherst, Mass.

Registration is required for this program, and can be done by sending e-mail to bkwilsonhistory@yahoo.com. Barbara Wilson will provide additional information about the start time and location of the seminar to those who reach out to her.

For more information on becoming a docent with Newtown Historical Society, visit www.newtownhistory.org or contact Head Docent Amy Kerr at amyfallaskerr@gmail.com.

The following day, the historical society will host an open house at its headquarters, The Matthew Curtiss House, 44 Main Street. The Sunday, April 13, event will run from noon until 4 pm.

This month’s special guest will be Jim Degen of Brookfield, who plans to bring his portable lathe to present a woodturning demonstration. Woodturning is a form of woodworking that creates wooden objects, such as bowls and cups, on a lathe. It differs from most other forms of woodworking in that the wood is moving while a stationary tool is used to cut and shape it.

The public is invited to visit and tour The Matthew Curtiss House, the circa 1750 Connecticut saltbox structure that serves as the headquarters for the historical society. Junior and senior docents will be available to answer questions about the house and its history, as well as provide guided tours by request.

Admission is free, but donations will be welcomed.

On Monday, April 14, a presentation by Arthur Gottlieb will concern “The History & Traditions of Ellis Island.” Hosted by Newtown Historical Society, this program will be at C.H. Booth Library, at 25 Main Street.

Between 1892 and 1954, 12 million people passed through Ellis Island upon arriving in America, offering a common heritage to millions more in later generations. Named after Samuel Ellis, an early owner of the property, the once-small oyster island was used by the state to hold a 20-gun battery protecting New York Harbor from 1794. Ceded to the federal government in 1808, Fort Gipson was erected during the War of 1812 and maintained until it was decided to use the island as an immigration station.

Annie Moore, a 15-year-old from Ireland arriving to join her family, was the first person to be processed at the station on January 1, 1892, and she was given a $10 gold coin to mark her place in history.

The daily record of 11,747 immigrants processed was set on April 17, 1907, and the yearly record was 1,004,756, also set in 1907. A Norwegian named Arne Peterssen brought closure to the station, as the last person admitted in 1954.

Arthur Gottlieb was technical director of exhibits at the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City, working with veterans from all services toward the creation of exhibits illustrating the history of 20th Century warfare. Later he coordinated with all service branches toward the recovery and preservation of artifacts, ships, aircraft and armor from around the world.

Mr Gottlieb was an auxiliary officer of the Coast Guard for 17 years, and served as the commander of a flotilla in Long Island Sound.

He currently offers pro bono trauma counseling for veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.

Newtown Historical Society programs are free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.

For further information visit newtownhistory.org or call 203-426-5937.

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