Prominent Women

The New Hartford Historical Society’s new exhibit: ‘Prominent Women’ introduces people to authors, singers, and businesswomen: opera, late nineteenth/early-mid twentieth century fiction, Connecticut politics and business in late twentieth century… 

Studying Nelia Gardener White, for example, leads one to World War II, the reaction of authors to it, and the use of fictional short-stories to explain the war’s impact.  Or perhaps one is curious about religion and responses to chronic illness in New England during the mid 1800’s: Chloe Langkton’s life is a fascinating glimpse.  Perhaps it is the story of Clara Louise Kellogg: a native of New Hartford who was one of the first American opera singers to travel to and successfully perform in Europe, at a time when the United States was only beginning to take its place on the world stage.  Perhaps it is the story of Lillian Ludlam, whose Foothills Trader paper remains an icon of Litchfield County.  All of these stories, and others, lead into a range of experiences that no one individual could encompass.

Maybe the questions that arise have less to do with the individuals and more to do with New Hartford.  Why New Hartford, after all?  What forces created a veritable artists’ colony between the 1870’s and the 1950’s?   Does the fact that many of these women knew each other play a role?  For they did: an intricate web of relationships can be traced in the letters, diaries, and guest-books.  Perhaps it was the location: an easy trip from New York City by train made it ideal for weekend retreats and summers.  One answer leads to another question.


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