The Beehive: the official blog of the Massachusetts Historical Society

Beehive series: On Loan

A Patriotic Shawl for Mrs. Andrew

On Wednesday, 24 April 1861. the following story ran in the third column of page two of the Boston Evening Transcript  (Vol. XXXII, no. 9507):

"APPROPRIATE PRESENTATION TO MRS. GOV. ANDREW. A large and elegantly wrought shawl, patriotic in every feature, was this morning presented to Mrs. Gov. Andrew, by Messrs. R. H. Stearns & Co., Summer street. It is of the finest worsted, in red, blue and white stripes, with thirty-four stars and the Union shield of the same material, so arranged as to give the whole a symmetrical appearance and an exceedingly fine effect. It was designed and executed by a lady in Newton, and for its novelty and appropriateness to the times is well worthy of examination. It may be seen for a few days in Messrs. R. H. Stearns & Co.’s window, 15 Summer street." (View the original page online through Google News.)

In May 1922, Edith and Henry Hersey Andrew, the children of Gov. & Mrs. Andrew, gave the shawl described in the Transcript to the MHS and it has been part of our collections since that time.  Currently Anne Bentley, our art curator, is preparing the shawl to be loaned to the American Textile History Museum in Lowell, Massachusetts. The shawl, along with other MHS artifacts, will be displayed as part of the ATHM's upcoming exhibition Homefront & Battlefield: The Civil War through Quilts and Context, which is scheduled to open in spring/summer 2012.  Anne's recent work with the shawl has given many MHS staff members a chance to view the item up close.  It is an interesting and intricate piece, as you can see in the detail photograph below. 


You can contact the library staff if you are interested in making an appointment to view the item at the MHS.  Naturally it will not be available for viewing here during the time it is out on loan, but can otherwise be made available to researchers on an appointment basis.

Photography by Anne Bentley, Curator of Art



comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Tuesday, 26 April, 2011, 8:00 AM

Surgeon's Kit on Display

A fitted case containing surgeon's instruments belonging to William Swift, M.D., United States Navy, in the War of 1812 is on display in the USS Constitution Museum’s newest exhibition: “All Hands on Deck: A Sailor’s Life in 1812.”  

William Swift (1779-1864), an 1812 graduate of the Harvard Medical School, served in the U.S. Navy from 1812 until his retirement in 1861. He sailed to the coast of Africa in the frigate Chesapeake, and was serving on her when she fought the British vessel Shannon in Boston Harbor, 1813. He later served as naval surgeon in the brig Syren.

The kit was given to the Society by Dr. Lucy H. Swift, 26 October 1991. The MHS also holds Dr. Swift's papers (Ms. N-162): see the collection guide for more information.

Curators at the USS Constitution Museum have installed Swift's surgeon's kit in their "Aftermath" area that very effectively illustrates the realities of war at sea.  You can see it there through December 2010. The grand opening of the exhibit, featuring Boston mayor Tom Menino, will be held on 3 July at 11 a.m.

comments: 0 | permalink | Published: Thursday, 25 June, 2009, 4:58 PM