Written by D.F. Karppi Friday, 30 September 2011 00:00
Raynham Hall Museum just opened its new exhibit “A Scrap-Book for the Ages: Four Generations of Alices of the Weekes Family of Oyster Bay.” To celebrate the opening they held a reception set up in a tent in the museum’s Victorian Garden. A fundraiser for the RHM collections, about 60 guests attended.
RHM Director Harriet Gerard Clark said of the reception, “We had a great turnout with our stal wart friends and supporters. Rita Ravenel Weekes and her daughter-in-law, Phyllis Weekes, attended as well as residents of the hamlet and local villages. Add to that, it was a beautiful day for a party.”
During the reception, many guests had time to visit the exhibit. Ms. Clark said, “It would be a good show for anyone interested in genealogy or scrapbooks, or who has particularly interesting women in their family. It covers an aspect of genealogy that is usually overlooked because it is the history of the women in the family.”
Ms. Clark gave an overview of the exhibit. She said, “The scrapbook the exhibit is centered around was started by Alice Russell Howland Delano of New Bedford, who spent much of her short life aboard the packet ships of which her husband, Joseph C. Delano, was captain. Her daughter, the only one of her five children to survive her, also named Alice, was 7-years old when her mother died in childbirth in 1834. That Alice treasured the scrapbook and added to it her own mementos, including many drawings made by her beloved husband, John Abeel Weekes, with whom she had six children.
“One of those was also named Alice, and that Alice, who was a horticulturist, writer, painter and historian, owned the scrapbook until her death in 1949.
“There was one Alice Delano Weekes who was not a party to the scrapbook: the great-granddaughter of the first Alice, she was the niece of the Alice who was the horticulturist. Like the horticulturist, she never married and never had children. Instead, she devoted herself to a professional career as a dancer, an unusual and somewhat scandalous choice for a girl of her background in the 1920s, and particularly unusual given that she was reportedly entirely deaf,” commented Ms. Clark.
The show is interesting in that it uses modern technology to help tell the history of the Alices, including a looped tape of an interview of Ms. Clark talking to Rita and Townsend Weekes about the scrapbook.
Collections Manager Nicole Menchise and Director Clark were co-curators for the show. Ms. Menchise said, “We used digital picture frames, photographed all the images, transcribed the diary and then made word documents that reflected each page in a type script, scanned and uploaded the images into the digital picture frames. It’s a good way to be able to display something and see the entire work. You can’t have the entire scrapbook exposed.
“It was a hard decision on what page to open it to.
“Most of all, we didn’t want to deny anyone the images. We worked hard on the exhibit displays, and the idea was to make it all look like a scrapbook – in the cases,” said Ms. Menchise.
The museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. It is located at 20 West Main Street, Oyster Bay. For information please call 922-6808.