EDWIN ONLINE grew out of a desire to allow more access to the Westfield
Athenaeum's rare and fragile papers. The Westfield Athenaeum has been collecting papers and artifacts that document Westfield life for over 140 years and carefully protects over 500 linear feet of papers in the Donald W. Blair Research Center, which is a climate-controlled space. Although the Athenaeum has an extensive collection of papers, diaries and photos of Westfield events that spans into the current century, it was decided to present a well-rounded view of Colonial Westfield.
The collection starts with the small amount of information available on the Woronoco Indians and early maps and then proceeds to Joseph D. Bartlett's copies of the Proprietor Records and other early documents (no longer extant) that describe the first settlers from Connecticut. Bartlett's notebooks of land transactions, fences and laws overlap the minister's diaries from the First Congregational Church. The ministers sermons relay the religious zeal of the times, while their diaries tell the larger story of the agrarian life, such as of mowing hay, keeping bees, the weather and travel conditions as well as social events such as births, deaths, marriages, and unrest. Diaries and daybooks from other citizens help depict the economy and daily concerns of Westfield's early citizens, including the first library company.
Since military entanglements were a part of colonial life, diaries and letters from Westfield citizens are included as well as extensive correspondence to General William Shepard and his day-book under General John Glover.
This project was funded by the generosity of the Edwin Smith Family Fund. We hope that this collection will bring Westfield's history into better focus for citizens, scholars and children. We invite you to participate by contributing a story, recollection or photograph, and welcome your feedback and comments.
Note: Description of items does refer to the items and not the digital facsimile, so dates and authors/creators refer to the original. Images have been enhanced to make them more readable.