Whately History Presentations

Some recent Whately Historical Society presentations are available online thanks to FCAT community television.


“Whately Cemetery Preservation” by Darcy Tozier and Paul Fleuriel, WHS presentation, March 3,2016

“Curtains Without Borders”  the story of the 1930s theater curtain in Whately Town Hall by Chris Hadsel, WHS presentation, September 11, 2019


The Whately Town Hall Curtain (c. 1938) was designed as a backdrop for the stage in the second-floor auditorium of Whately Town Hall. In the early 20th century, such painted murals and scenic landscapes were installed at hundreds of stages across New England. Whately’s curtain was painted by Robert Naves (1916-1944) of the Crystal Arts Studio in Exeter, N.H., which made individualized curtains for theaters and auditoriums in many towns. Mr. Naves used a standard design format, the Advertising Street Scene shown below, for his curtains. More information

“An Evening with Lois Bean,” WHS presentation, April 4, 2018

“The Kingsley Brothers: Artists in Whately Glen,” by Allison Bell with an introduction by Donna Wiley, WHS presentation, March 16, 2023

Smith College students in Whately Glen, May 1889. Courtesy Smith College Archives

“Whately Farm Tales,” with Jim LaSalle, WHS presentation, May 4, 2017

“Whately’s Farming History”   by Dereka Smith, WHS presentation, Oct. 6, 2016

“Whately Tobacco,” by Harold Swift, WHS presentation, Nov. 3, 2016

Geological History of the Pioneer Valley,” WHS presentation, April 18, 2022

John Brady , Professor Emeritus of Geosciences at Smith College. His research interests are wide-ranging, and he prizes teaching outdoors where learners can see firsthand the evidence offered by rocks, outcrops, and landscapes. Among his publications is the book Fifty Hikes in Massachusetts, co-authored by Brian White. Co-sponsored by Valley Neighbors.

“Whately’s Post Offices”  by Judy Markland, WHS presentation, Nov. 7, 2019

“When the Roads Came Through: The Building of I-91” by Barry Dietz, WHS and Hatfield Historical Society presentation, March 5, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the American Chestnut,” WHS presentation, December 11, 2022

Forest giant, wild food, lumber resource, epidemic victim and science project—the American chestnut has fascinating history. Presenters Ann Lomeli, Allison Bell, and Paul Wetzel from Smith College’s Macleish Station discuss this iconic tree’s past, present and future in Whately and beyond. Jono Neiger on developing his farm, Big River Chestnuts, in Sunderland.

“Whately Stories from the Civil War”  by Dereka Smith, WHS presentation, Februrary 6, 2020.

“A Canterbury Tale of Whately’s Evolving Natural and Human Landscape,” WHS, Whately 250, & Mass Cultural Council Presentation, June 19, 2022

Anthropologist Peter A. Thomas discusses 12,000 years of climate change and its impact on the settlement patterns of Native peoples in Whately and the Connecticut River valley.

See Peter Thomas’s slides

Whately’s Belated Birthday Party, Franklin Community Access Television video highlights of the town’s 250th anniversary events, 2021-22.

A Whately Sampler, November 12, 2023

Three Whately stories from Ann Lomeli, Dereka Smith, and Donna Wiley.

World War II V-mail letters of Marshall Pease, 1943-45 by Ann Lomeli

Four Cornish Miners in West Whately, by Dereka Smith

The Three Lives of Laura Sanderson, 1851-1949, by Donna Wiley