War of 1812 Collaboration wins “Best in the State” Award

POMFRET – At their fall annual meeting, the Association for the Study of Connecticut History presented two awards to “The Rockets’ Red Glare” project.  The Bruce Fraser Award, recognizing the finest public history presentation in the state in 2012, was presented to the Lyman Allyn Art Museum, where the exhibition was on display from July 2012 through January of this year. The Betty M. Linsley Award, recognizing the best work on Connecticut history published by a historical society in 2012 was presented to the New London County Historical Society for the companion book to the exhibit, of which Glenn Gordinier, of Mystic Seaport, was the primary author.

“THE ROCKETS’ RED GLARE” was created by a partnership of the New London County Historical Society with Mystic Seaport, the Stonington Historical Society, the New London Maritime Society, and the Lyman Allyn Art Museum to commemorate the bicentennial of the beginning of the War of 1812. The museums and historical societies worked together in creating the exhibition, the book, and a website (available at http://warof1812ct.org). Fred Calebretta, Curator of Collections at Mystic Seaport was the curator for the exhibit, and Jeff Crewe, the exhibit designer.

In presenting the Bruce Fraser Award, Chairman Peter Hinks extolled the exemplary nature of the exhibit. “Working with a limited but exciting pool of documents and artifacts that included the famous Stonington Battle flag from 1814, the designers smartly deployed all to stage a rich narrative of a Connecticut assailed and transformed by the era’s naval, commercial and political frays.”

Awarding the Linsley prize, Hinks praised Dr. Glenn Gordinier’s expert guidance as well as the insight of numerous scholars. Speaking of the entire project he lauded the value of the collaboration that made it possible: “Key to the exhibition’s merit is its modeling of how a consortium of some of the state’s numerous local historical societies can combine their resources, knowledge, and energies to serve the people of the state through commendable public history.” The project also received a national level “Leadership in History Award” from the American Association for State and Local History at their annual meeting in September, in Birmingham, Alabama.

The bicentennial of the British attack on Stonington will be August 2014. Look for additional commemorative events being planned by the Stonington Historical Society. The book is available for sale from both the Stonington Historical Society and the New London County Historical Society.

The book and exhibition were supported by grants from Connecticut Humanities, the Coby Foundation, and the Edgard and Geraldine Feder Foundation. Creating the website was funded through a grant from the Community Foundation of Eastern Connecticut.