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American Stories

From The Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area

As lived-in landscapes, National Heritage Areas reflect a distinct cultural, industrial, natural or historical heritage. National Heritage Areas (NHAs) have always put people – and their stories – first.

From Akron, Ohio to Yuma, Arizona, NHAs are places where American History happened, where American Culture was cultivated, and where Freedoms have been fought for in every generation. Encompassing 591 communities across 35 states, National Heritage Areas leverage public-private partnerships to tell the full American story, from our most difficult truths to our most inspiring triumphs.

Many of these ‘American Stories’ are well-known, with Presidents and industry tycoons as the main characters, but there are thousands more featuring ordinary Americans doing extraordinary things. These are the stories that are foundational to the American experience, and that we aim to tell.

Here are some of those special stories of America, from the Upper Housatonic Valley National Heritage Area…

  • Catharine Maria Sedgwick’s Mighty Pen

Catharine Maria Sedgwick wrote “As slaves must be trained for freedom, so women must be educated for usefulness, independence, and contentment in single life.” Sedgwick herself lived according to this dogma. Throughout her career, the independent author’s stories shaped American literature and society… Read More.

  • Catherine Roraback Defends the “Dissenters and Dispossessed”

Phone in hand, Catherine Roraback took a moment to consider Fowler Harper’s plan. He had just asked if she would defend Estelle Griswold and Lee Buxton as they challenged Connecticut’s birth control restrictions. “Are you asking me as a single woman or as a lawyer?” She finally responded… Read More.

  • The Immortal Words of James Mars, Freedman

James Mars sat at his desk in 1863, prepared to write his autobiography. Few Black men escaped slavery, and fewer still wrote books about it. Yet Mars knew that his task was important. As time passed on, fewer people remembered that slavery once existed in Connecticut. Fully understanding the significance of his work, Mars got to work… Read More.

  • Elizabeth Freeman’s Fight for Liberty

On a spring day in 1781, Mum Bett rushed toward Theodore Sedgwick’s office. She just heard that the Declaration of Independence declared “all men are created equal.” Immediately, she knew that her status as a slave contradicted the law. With Sedgwick’s help, Bett challenged the institution denying her freedom… Read More.

  • The Revolutionary Mohicans of Stockbridge

During the early spring, Stockbridge Mohicans set up camp in sugar bushes. For these people, sap harvesting is more than a step of maple sugaring. It honors the spring and the maple trees. Much like this custom, the Mohicans have influenced both local and national history. And as their tradition survives, the Stockbridge Mohicans remain active to this day… Read More.