Who was Edna Dean Proctor?

Miss Proctor – FHC Collections

Featuring: Storyteller Libby Franck
Sunday, September 17th at 2:00 p.m.
Edgell Memorial Library
3 Oak Street, Framingham, MA

She was a prolific poetess who supported herself with her writing of poems, essays, stories and travelogues. 

She was a passionate patriot whose poetry in support of the Union Cause, elicited a response from President Lincoln.Read more >>


A Truly Wonderful Summer, and a Truly Grateful Intern!

By Clare O’Connor, 2017 Tom Desilets Memorial Intern
August 9, 2017

As my time at the Framingham History Center dwindles down to only a few days, my thoughts pertaining to this summer are marked by self-growth and learning a lot about what I like to do, what I can do, and what I want to do. It seems cliche (well, is it cliche) to start my goodbye blog post with a bit of a flashback, but I will just imagine it as a classic story-telling device. When I first got the email from Laura (FHC Museum Assistant/Education Coordinator) that I had been accepted as the 2017 Tom Desilets Memorial Intern, I re-read it maybe three times and could barely contain my excitement.  I couldn’t wait for it to start and was imagining the work I would be doing. Since I had decided that my career was going to be involved with history, I had not had a job that supported this or offered any chance at getting my feet wet in the field.  I didn’t know exactly what I was in for, but I knew that no matter what the opportunity to get involved with my chosen career path was going to be exceptional.

(left to right) Katie, Jennifer, Clare, Stacen, and Laura

Despite my excitement, I was apprehensive.  I had started to think that I did not want to be a high school history teacher anymore, and wanted to possibly pursue working a museum or getting my PhD to teach at the college level, and this was my chance to see if those options were viable for me. But I was still nervous- what if I started this internship, and realized I didn’t want anything to do with museums, education, or history ever again? Going back to the drawing board as a senior in college seemed scarier to me than any Stephen King book I had ever read. Or, what if I discovered that I wasn’t good at it, and my confidence as a young historian was unfounded? These thoughts were invasive in the weeks that led up to starting my internship, but were gone in a matter of days as I started the various projects I was tasked with. I couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the museum world as Laura, Annie, Stacen, Katie, Jennifer, and all the volunteers at the FHC provided me with a wealth of knowledge and assurance that allowed me to be successful these past 10 weeks. I had no idea that Framingham had such an extensive, unique, and downright important history. Getting to know this town (soon to be city)  was not only enlightening but I also got to think about what I am capable of doing and learning. I can honestly say that I learned so much valuable information this summer – both historical content and about my future aspirations.

I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to experience many facets of working in a museum, from administrative tasks, to setting up exhibits, to costume collections and research. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to the FHC and the Desilets family who sponsor this internship, because even though I still don’t know what’s in store for me after I get my diploma, the FHC has shown me that I love researching and learning, and helped me to think about my career goals.

In conclusion, I would like to thank the Desilets family and everyone at the Framingham History Center for providing me the opportunity to truly have an amazing summer. Without this experience, I would not have known how much I enjoy working in a museum setting and doing research to put together stories of the past. Moving forward, I am excited for what post-graduation brings and cannot wait to visit the FHC in the future to see the great things I know they will continue to do!


Deborah Sampson’s Story – Summertime on the Centre Common

By Clare O’Connor, Tom Desilets Memorial Intern 2017

The Summertime on the Centre Common series, put on by the Framingham History Center and sponsored by Eastern Bank, has a great variety of programs for various ages to enjoy. Last week’s performance broke the mold a bit, as Judith Kalaora, founder of History at Play, masterfully told the story of Deborah Sampson – Massachusetts State Heroine and the first professional female soldier. Before attending this program, I recalled learning about Sampson at some point during my education and associated her name with “Mulan.” I wasn’t totally wrong (Judith, in character as Sampson, made mention of Mulan during the show) but I quickly learned there was so much I did not know.

Kalaora as Deborah Sampson

While signing in people on the downstairs level of Village Hall, I heard the fife and drum music playing upstairs and thought to myself “this is going to be so awesome”! The program was intended for children ages eight years and older, and there were some present but for the most part, the performance was attended by adults. As I watched, I felt like I was experiencing two different shows at once. There was Judith; who’s acting, period clothing, props and script were superb. Then there was Deborah; who’s incredible story of triumph and hardship seemed to be a show of its own. Deborah Sampson, born in 1760 in Plympton, MA, began work as a seamstress at the age of five years old. After growing up in poverty and taking various jobs, she ultimately enlisted in the Continental Army during the American Revolution. Using her deceased brothers name, she hid any trace of her womanhood and fought for liberty for a year and a half before being honorably discharged. I found myself holding my breathe in anticipation throughout the performance, a testament to both Judith’s amazing acting and character portrayal, as well as the sheer impact of Deborah’s story.

I remember in the fourth grade, my class had to do a living wax museum project for which we had to write a script, wear a costume, and portray someone from the past. I chose “the unsinkable” Molly Brown (though admittedly I think this was because of my desire to wear  high heels, lipstick and costume jewelry as opposed to a true appreciation of Brown’s legacy) and to this day that project sticks out in my mind as one of the most effective learning experiences I ever had. So for me, living histories are really second to none, and Judith’s performance was no exception! She engaged the audience and brought some kids up to perform with her, so I am sure they will remember Deborah Sampson’s name.  The story and the performance came together in a way that had everyone captivated – the children in attendance were regularly on the edge of their seats. Textbooks have their place, but nothing beats a living history that completely acquaints you with an era long gone, and gets you so involved with the historical figures that are coming to life right in front of you. 

Judith Kalaora does various other productions through History at Play, and there is still one more Summertime on the Common program coming up, so make sure you check it out!