War of 1812 Exhibit Awarded “Best in the State”
POMFRET, CONN. – The Association for the Study of Connecticut History (ASCH) has honored “The Rockets’ Red Glare: The War of 1812 and Connecticut” with two awards. 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 displayed from July 2012 through January 2013. 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, the Robert G. Albion Historian at 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 organizations worked together in creating the exhibition, the book, and a website. Fred Calabretta, curator of collections at Mystic Seaport, was the guest curator for the exhibit, and Mystic Seaport Exhibit Designer Jeff Crewe was the exhibit’s designer. The exhibition showcased historical objects from each of the partners’ collections. The 12’ x 18’ American flag that flew over Stonington during the attack by the British navy in 1814, a treasured artifact in the Stonington Historical Society collection, was a highlight of the exhibition.
In presenting the Bruce Fraser Award, ASCH Chairman Peter Hinks commented on the exemplary nature of the exhibit, saying, “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 Gordinier’s expert guidance as well as the insight of numerous scholars. Speaking of the project, he remarked that the collaboration 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 Leadership in History Award from the American Association for State and Local History at their annual fall meeting in September.
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.