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Witness Stones West Hartford To Hold Virtual Learning Series

Retired educators (from left) Denise deMello, Elizabeth Devine, and Town Historian Tracey Wilson. Photo credit: Lisa Brisson (we-ha.com file photo)

Witness Stones West Hartford will offer the second installment of its community history project this May, as a free virtual learning series.


The public is invited to attend a series of free online classes this May offered by Witness Stones West Hartford. In the series of four, one-hour classes, you will work with project directors Dr. Tracey Wilson and Liz Devine to remember the lives of enslaved people who lived in the West Division of Hartford.

208 N. Main St. West Hartford the home where Ned and Rubin lived. Courtesy photo

Under the tutelage of Tracey Wilson and Liz Devine, the current series of classes will analyze historical documents to learn more about Ned and Rubin who were enslaved by the Whitman family. The house where Ned and Rubin lived still stands at 208 N. Main St., West Hartford.

Witness Stones West Hartford offered its first series of online classes in April to rave reviews. Participants commented that the classes “give credibility and connection to our history” … “help us to look at a fuller more true picture of the truth” … and “publicly validate enslaved people’s lives and experiences here in West Hartford.”

Since 2018, Witness Stones West Hartford has taught over 800 students and provided research and resources for students to learn about West Hartford and write the public history of the town. The project seeks to restore the history and honor the humanity and contributions of enslaved individuals who helped build our communities. In 2019, the project and student participants from Renbrook School were instrumental in adding the name of “Prut” (who died at Fort Ticonderoga) to the Revolutionary War Monument in the Veteran’s Memorial in West Hartford.

Classes take place Wednesdays in May and participants can choose from attending at 11 a.m. or 4:30 p.m. Classes are appropriate for adults and students in grades 5 and up. This community project is FREE and open to the public! For more information and to register, visit the website or email [email protected].

Witness Stones West Hartford could not take place without the support of the Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society and funders including the Winter-Lehman Family Foundation, the Sandra and Arnold Chase Family Foundation, CT Humanities, the Foundation for West Hartford Public Schools, and other generous donors. If you are interested in supporting this project please visit the project website.

Witness Stones West Hartford is led by Dr. Tracey Wilson, West Hartford Town Historian, retired history teacher Liz Devine, and Library Media Specialist Denise DeMello. The Witness Stones project is modeled after the Stolpersteine (stumbling) stones that commemorate those who died in the Holocaust with over 70,000 stones in 22 countries across Europe.  In West Hartford, the project is teaching students about Connecticut’s slave holding past and commemorating enslaved individuals whose stories have not previously been told.  In 2018, the first Witness Stones for Jude and George were installed.

The Noah Webster House & West Hartford Historical Society is a cultural destination where citizens can learn to understand and appreciate the past. The museum preserves the birthplace of Noah Webster, the founding father, educator, author, and lexicographer who taught generations of Americans what it means to be American. This National Historic Landmark is also a repository for the history of West Hartford, the community that molded Noah Webster’s future and is still thriving over 250 years later. For information on the museum’s extensive school and public programs, please visit www.noahwebsterhouse.org or call 860-521-5362.

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