A thick, brown cable braided bracelet with a cameo sat on the display table. The brown cable was not made of synthetic fibers or leather…but real human hair. Not just any human hair, the hair of Harriet Beecher Stowe, anti-slavery advocate and author of the world famous Uncle Tom’s Cabin. This October, members of the Greater Hartford Arts Council’s young professional membership group, CANvas, received an exclusive behind-the-scenes experience at Stowe’s former Hartford residence, which is now the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center, a non-profit organization and museum.
Members huddled around a table in the cold basement vault in the museum’s Katharine Seymour Day House to view some of the more macabre objects in the archives. Objects that Collections Manager Beth Burgess said, “rarely see the light of day,” including an alligator claw wristlet; Stowe’s own sketch of a Grim Reaper; and John Hooker’s (Stowe’s brother in-law and descendant of Thomas Hooker) Spirit Friends journal, an alphabetical record of those he contacted from the spirit world.
The fun didn’t end in the vault. Outside the wind howled through Stowe’s Nook Farm property as Stowe Center Program Coordinators Maura and Emily led members to Stowe’s home for an private Spirits at Stowe tour. A K2 meter, used by ghost hunters to detect changes in electromagnetic fields, was passed around the group as we walked through the home hearing stories about the five deaths that occurred in the house and staff experiences with the paranormal. The tour isn’t a hokey ghost hunting experience; it is a tour filled with Stowe’s own connections to the spiritualist movement which included attending séances and her husband’s lifelong apparitions with those on the other side of “the veil.”
The night wrapped up with a raffle of two tickets to the Hartbeat Ensemble’s world premiere production of Talvin Wilks’ Jimmy & Lorraine. Congrats to Pamela from Conning & Company!
Interested in networking with fellow young professionals while enjoying exclusive arts opportunities, like this one, in Greater Hartford? Join CANvas today!
The Harriet Beecher Stowe Center preserves and interprets Stowe’s Hartford home and the Center’s historic collections, promotes vibrant discussion of her life and work, and inspires commitment to social justice and positive change.
To learn more about the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center visit: www.harrietbeecherstowecenter.org