Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Happy Helen Keller Day!

Helen Keller Day is a commemorative holiday to celebrate the birth of the famous Helen Keller. However, most people probably don't know her connection to the Mount Washington Valley and the Conway Public Library's Henney History Room. 

The Henney History Room is named in memory of Nella Braddy Henney who was a great friend of Helen Keller. 
While we already had number of resources on Helen Keller including a bio of Keller by Nella (see link here). a recent donation from Peter and Joyce Blue has exponentially expanded our opportunity for additional insights.

Included in the donation are a number of photo albums that explore many aspects of the Henney and Keller relationship such as their shared love of dogs. nature and poetry. 

The photo above was taken October 6, 1946. Note that Nella is using hand signals to communicate with Helen.

The caption below the photo reads "NBH (Nella Braddy Henney), Helen Keller, and Polly Thompson in the back dooryard after breakfast shortly before their trip to Europe to study the needs of the post-war blind." For more on this trip see this link here
The caption goes on to read "In November, while they were in Greece their house in Westport Conn Burned."

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Happy Dairy Month!

Do you recognize the company behind this image?

How about this one? 

Your answer can help date you as well as help you date cows. 

The answers can be found on pages 84 and 88 in the book The Illustrated Guide to Cows by Celia Lewis at the Conway Public Library. See this link here

So how do you date cows? It has to do with the changing tastes for dairy products over time. White Mountain paintings before the 1970s show small diverse herds of mostly brown cows. These types of cows were known for the high percentage of butterfat in their milk.  Elsie the Borden cow seen above is one of these. 

(You can click on images to enlarge them). For details on this painting from the Saco River with White Horse Ledge in the background see this link here

Today most dairy farms, such as the Sherman Farm, raise Holsteins which produce larger amounts of milk but with low butterfat. These are the cows shown above in the Ben and Jerry logo. 

The Conway Public Library's Henney History Room provides free outreach programs for schools and community groups to explore the history of many topics including dairy history. 

Earlier this week we did a dairy history program at the Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Center. 

We also cover dairy history in our "pizza box time machine" program in which the audience explores historical ways of food preservation and processing. 

After exploring the role of pepper, pickling, smoking and fermentation they examine maps of the area to determine the best places to raise cows vs logging, maple sugaring, and so on. 

This program in part of our larger overall Colony to Country series of how the area was settled and how we changed from a British Colony to an American state.  

We can then use Google maps and street view, photos, and other archival materials to map out and examine physical remnants of our local dairy history such as ...

... Abbot's Dairy and old wooden silos 

Over the years we have done a number of living history events in which we demonstrated how these structures worked. 

Even more rare than the wooden silos is the silage chopper that was used to chop and feed the corn into the silo. 

You can see the kids lined up to take their turn on the machine (under careful supervision). 
For more information or to schedule a program, contact us at the Conway Public Library.