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News of Note June 8, 2021

Smith Donates Sophia Smith Items to Hatfield Museum

Family register sampler made by Sophia Smith, circa 1806. Photo courtesy of the Hatfield Historical Museum.

Smith College announced today the donation of a collection of more than 30 items that belonged to Sophia Smith (1796-1870) or her family to the Hatfield Historical Museum in Hatfield, Massachusetts. The museum is owned by the Town of Hatfield and managed for the town by the nonprofit Hatfield Historical Society.

The Smith College gift represents a homecoming of many items to Sophia Smith’s birthplace. Smith College was chartered in 1871 with a bequest from Sophia Smith’s estate.

“We are thrilled to join together items that had been in our care with a larger collection of objects related to Sophia and her family,” said Denise Wingate Materre ’74, vice president for alumnae relations at Smith College. “The Town of Hatfield and the Hatfield Historical Society are best positioned to preserve and interpret these historic artifacts as they curate the story of Sophia’s life.”

Amy Hahn, chair of the Hatfield Historical Commission, noted, “The importance of Sophia Smith’s legacy to the Town of Hatfield and the significance of her contribution to the education of women cannot be overstated. The Hatfield Historical Commission is grateful to Smith College for giving us this opportunity to expand our collection of Sophia Smith artifacts, and in so doing, helping us to tell the story of this remarkable woman.”

The donated items are specialty collections that require environments appropriate to their preservation and care. These include textiles, silver and pewter tableware, glassware and ceramics, metal tools, daguerreotypes and assorted furniture. The items are not part of the college’s archives and, until recently, have been housed in the college’s Alumnae House.

A highlight of the collection is an embroidered sampler Sophia Smith made as a girl of 9 or 10. “This sampler, with its Smith family register, is very exciting for us because it’s one of the few artifacts we have from Sophia’s youth. Together with the other textiles in this collection, it presents a side of Sophia we have not yet explored,” said Kathie Gow, curator of the Hatfield Historical Museum. “Adding these artifacts to others in our collection will help us present a richer narrative about Sophia Smith and her family.”